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Licensed Guide Program

The Environmental Conservation Law Section 11-0533.8 requires DEC to publish a list of guides. A list of current New York State Licensed Guides is available on-line. You do not need to be a resident of New York State to receive a guide's license.

In general terms, a guide is a person, at least 18 years of age, who offers services for hire, part or all of which includes directing, instructing, or aiding another in fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, whitewater rafting/canoeing/kayaking, or rock and ice climbing.

Individuals engaging in the business of guiding on all lands and waters of the state shall possess a license issued by DEC. There are, however, some exceptions. They include persons operating or assisting upon a public vessel for hire (passenger carrying vessels), licensed by the United States Coast Guard or New York State while on the following waters:

  1. The Atlantic Ocean
  2. All other marine, coastal, and tidal waters including:
    • The Hudson River up to the Troy Barrier Dam
    • The St. Lawrence River and the navigable portion of its tributaries
    • The Great Lakes and the navigable portion of their tributaries
    • Lake Champlain and the navigable portion of its tributaries
    • Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake and the navigable portion of their tributaries

The first step in obtaining a guide's license is to submit to this office a completed application. This application package contains three sections:

  1. The application, including taxable income disclosure form and examination location sheet
  2. Physician's Statement of Physical Ability to Guide
  3. The Law and Rules and Regulations that govern outdoor guides

At the time of licensing and throughout the term of the license, applicants for a guide's license must hold current certification in First Aid, CPR, and Water Safety. These certifications are not needed when applying to take the exam, but are required before a license will be issued.

Other requirements include the submission of the Physician's Statement of Physical Ability which must be completed on the DEC form and must also have the physician's original signature. The physician's statement is not needed to take the exam, but must be received prior to a license being issued and cannot be more than 30 days old when it is submitted to this office.

Hunting and fishing guide applicants must submit a copy of a current hunting and/or fishing sporting license.

Whitewater rafting/canoeing/kayaking applicants must submit documentation of having completed five trips on each river they wish to be licensed. Rivers on which a guide's license is required include: Black, Boreas, Cattaraugus, Indian/Hudson, Moose, Raquette, Salmon, and Schroon.

Whitewater canoe/kayak applicants must hold current instructor status for whitewater canoeing and/or kayaking.

Rock and ice climbing applicants must submit a notarized climbing resume. This resume will be reviewed and must meet a minimum level of climbing experience as listed on the Rock and Ice Climbing Information Sheet. This information sheet is included as the last page of the Rules and Regulations section of the application package.

Licenses are valid for a period of five years from date of issue. Approximately two months before a license is due to expire, a renewal application package will automatically be mailed to the license holder. It is the responsibility of the license holder to contact this office with any address changes in order for the renewal application to reach him/her. Proof of current first aid and CPR are required to renew a license and must remain current throughout the term of the license. A new Physician's Statement must be submitted in addition to a valid hunting and/or fishing sporting license, if applicable. The license renewal fee is the same as the original license: $100 for one category; $20 for each additional category.

Licensed guides who violate any provision of Environmental Conservation Law or related rules and regulations may have their license revoked by DEC for up to one year.

Exam locations are listed on the last page of the guides examination application.

The Following Dates and Times Are the Only Dates and Times that the Examination Will be Scheduled During 2021 (DUE TO COVID-19, THESE DATES ARE SUBJECT CHANGE OR CANCELLATION):

2021 Examination Schedule
Exam Date Exam Start Time Application Must
be Received by
February 4, 2021 6:00 pm January 27, 2021
March 6, 2021 6:00 pm
(NYSOGA meeting only)
February 24, 2021
April 22, 2021 6:00 pm April 14, 2021
May 13, 2021 6:00 pm May 5, 2021
June 17, 2021 6:00 pm June 9, 2021
September 16, 2021 6:00 pm September 8, 2021

For more information on how to become a NYS Licensed Guide, contact DEC at 518-402-8985 or download the application forms from the top right-hand column of this page. You may also find a list of New York State Licensed Guides on-line.

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