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Fishing license, fishing license and fishing examination explained

Fishing is a fascinating and enthralling hobby that is great to have fun with. But to be able to fish in Germany you need him, the fishing license. Actually, the name is wrong, because you need 3 different licenses to be allowed to fish in Germany.

First of all, you need that Fishing exam (a certificate of competence), then you need a valid one Annual fishing license and finally you need one permission for the respective body of water in which you want to fish. But because we are in Germany, there are exceptions and special regulations for everything. Since fishing law is a matter of the federal states, there are also special regulations of the federal states and the legal situation is different in each federal state! Even fishing without a fishing license is allowed in some federal states for adults. There are also special regulations for vacationers.

These are the possibilities to fish in Germany without a fishing license.

  • First of all it is at least on in many federal states Fishing ponds such as Trout lakes fishing is allowed without a license. Of course, you need the operator’s permission for this. In these ponds you usually pay per kilogram of fish caught or you can buy a day pass.
  • Another possibility to be able to fish as an adult angler without a fishing license is of course ours Neighbore states (Austria, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic) in which there is no fishing test. A permit for the respective body of water is still required there! The licenses are often quite straightforward to get there.
  • Children and adolescents From 10 to 16 years (sometimes from 7 or 8) do not need a fishing exam in many federal states, but they can get a cheap one Youth fishing license apply for.
  • In some federal states like Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg is fishing too possible for adults without a fishing exam. However, somewhat restricted, only one rod can be used and you can only fish for non-ferrous fish.
  • Another exception for people who do not need a fishing license are anglers, the holders of an annual fishing license were before the regulation with the fishing examination came into force and for which, due to their long-standing hobby, it is assumed that they have expertise.
  • Last but not least, there is on Exceptions for international waters such as Lake Constance and border rivers such as the Rhine, special regulations. Lake Constance has its own fishing law, which differs slightly from the national laws. For tourists it is possible there to get a fishing permit without an annual fishing license or a fishing exam!
  • As a Tourist In almost all federal states you also have the opportunity to get a fishing permit without a fishing license.

A really good overview of the topic with performances of all federal states and the exact regulations is available from the Straubing District Fisheries Association and the Av Hamburger Oper

The youth fishing license

The youth fishing license is basically the same as the annual fishing license for adults, except that it can of course be obtained without a fishing license.

In most federal states, the youth fishing license is already available from the age of 10. It is usually authorized to fish with one rod in Accompaniment of an adult fishing license holder, who also has the fishing license for the respective water. The youth fishing license is usually available in the community in the citizens’ office. Simply call the citizens’ office and find out whether an application to the municipality is possible. The youth fishing license is relatively cheap and costs around 10-20 €, the costs vary depending on the municipality. After receipt, it is valid up to the age of 16 and does not need to be renewed. For the youth fishing license you often only need a photo and an applicant who is of legal age.

The fishing exam

Depending on the federal state, the fishing examination can be taken from 10 years of age. I took and passed my fishing exam myself when I was 10 years old. From the age of 16, the certificate of competence of a passed fishing exam is the Prerequisite for receiving the annual fishing license.

A prerequisite for the fishing exam is usually a Preparatory course, where attendance is compulsory. There are also federal states in which the preparatory course is not compulsory. In the preparatory course, there are various specialist areas such as general fish science, aquatic ecology, equipment science and law. In my opinion, you learn interesting and important things about fishing and fish in the course.

How exactly the test runs is also a matter of the country! There is no standardized fishing test in all of Germany. Sometimes there is a practical part in which the correct device for a type of fishing is queried. Due to the rapid market development, this part is of little practical relevance.

It is usually recommended not to take the fishing exam until the age of 16, but in every federal state it is also possible for younger students. For me personally it helped a lot for my school career to take the fishing exam so early because I had to learn properly for the first time.

Frequently asked questions on the subject of fishing exams and fishing licenses

Where can I take the fishing exam?
Many clubs offer 1-2 preparatory courses per year. Just ask the nearest fishing clubs whether they are going to take a course, if not, then they are sure to be happy to help!

What does the fishing exam cost?

The cost of the course and examination fee varies from club to club. Usually the total costs are around 110–180 €

Is my fishing examination / annual fishing license also valid in other federal states?

In the meantime, all federal states recognize a passed fishing test from another. The annual fishing license is also recognized everywhere.

Is my fishing exam recognized abroad?

In Switzerland there is also an angler test to be able to fish with most fishing techniques. The German fisherman’s examination is usually also recognized there as a certificate of competence.

What happens if you fish without a fishing license / permit?

Most of the time it is fish poaching or theft. The fine can range from a few hundred euros to a good 1000 euros. Other penalties such as imprisonment are also possible. In addition, in the event of serious offenses or repetition of the offense, an exclusion from the possibility of ever being allowed to take the fishing test can be imposed.

Annual fishing license Lifetime fishing license

The annual fishing license is available as well as the youth fishing license at the community in citizens’ offices. An annual fee of usually € 5 per calendar year and a processing fee must be paid for this. You also need a photo, you can usually have your annual fishing license issued for a year, 5 years or 10 years. The processing fee is always the same per exhibition and not per year. Therefore it is cheaper to get the 10 year fishing license right away.

Fishing in the North and Baltic Seas

You can fish for free by the sea, right? Unfortunately, this is not correct and also applies in many other EU and non-EU countries.

To fish in the North and Baltic Seas you need a valid annual fishing license of the respective federal state.

Special regulation for vacationers

The exception: Since July 2012, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have had their own regulation and holidaymakers receive a fishing license for 28 days. According to the latest state of knowledge, the certificate costs € 10 and can be bought twice a year from local authorities.

  • For Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania there is detailed information, forms and applications here: Link
  • For Schleswig-Holstein, the fishing license can even be conveniently applied for online. All information here: Link >>

The fishing permit

The fishing permit for the water is the last requirement to really go fishing. You normally show your valid annual fishing license and get a permit for a fee. Of course you can also join a fishing club, usually permission cards are included.

  • Tip: Often there are day tickets at the local fishing shop or at many tourist offices.

The meaning and purpose of the fishing test

One can argue about the meaningfulness of the fishing test. The fishing test has its origin on the basis of the Animal Welfare Act. “No animal may be hurt without a reasonable reason ..”. So you need a certificate of competence and a reasonable reason to kill vertebrates. This is achieved with the fishing exam. Part of the preparatory course is also the proper anesthetic and killing of fish.

In my opinion, a proper and respectful treatment of the creature fish is important and I think the fisherman’s examination makes sense. The further bureaucracy and restrictions of the angler on the individual waters is a different matter.

The basic knowledge imparted does no harm and is usually very useful when fishing.


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