National Online Licensing System

Using the System – General FAQs

Q1. Do I need to use the national online licensing system?

A1. Holders of fishing licences managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, including commercial licences, commercial-communal licences, recreational fishing licences in Eastern Canada (Atlantic Canada and Quebec) and registered fish harvesters need to use the system.

Q2. Does the system apply to recreational fishing licences in British Columbia?

A2. No. The Tidal Water Recreational Fishing Licence System will continue to be used.

Q3. What can I do on the system?

A3. Renew licences, pay licence fees, print licences and licence conditions, as well as renew vessel registrations and update personal information. You can also appoint a representative to perform licensing transactions on your behalf. To learn more, refer to the DFO client or DFO client representative sections of this site.

Q4. What should I do if my licensing business cannot be done through the system?

A4. Licensing personnel are available to provide you with licensing services not yet available through the licensing system. Call Client Support toll free at 1-877-535-7307 or send an e-mail to fishing-peche@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

Q5. Will the Department continue to send me licence renewal reminders, licence conditions and/or other licensing documents by mail?

A5. No. These documents will be available in your account on the system for you to print. DFO will e-mail you when new information is available in your account. The Department may also continue to mail you other types of information.

Q6. I need to renew my licence but I don’t have the Internet. What do I do?

A6. Public access to the Internet is available at kiosks in libraries and Internet cafes. Call 1-877-535-7307 to find out if your community (or a nearby community) has access to the Internet. Once you have registered on the system for the first time, you may also appoint a representative to handle licensing transactions on your behalf. This includes renewing your licence, paying the associated fees, and/or printing documents. Refer to the Appointing a Representative step-by-step guide or video tutorial for more information about this option.

Q7. I need my licence urgently and I don’t have time to register and learn how to use the system. What can I do?

A7. The system has been available for licence holders to register and learn to use since spring 2013. In addition, the Department provided transitional service delivery options, including counter service, to ensure that everyone had time to get their licence for the 2013 fishing season.

We encourage you to take the time now to register and learn how to use the system prior to the 2014 fishing season. It is your responsibility to plan ahead to ensure that your licensing needs are met prior to the next fishing season.

Q8. What if I don’t know how to use the Internet or a computer?

A8. Basic Internet skills are required to access and use the system. Once you have registered on the system for the first time, you may also appoint a representative to handle licensing transactions on your behalf. This includes renewing your licence, paying the associated fees, and/or printing documents. Refer to the Appointing a Representative step-by-step guide or video tutorial for more information about this option.

Q9. What if the system is down? How will I ensure I get my license on time?

A9. You need to plan ahead to ensure that your licensing needs are met prior to the next fishing season. If the system ever “goes down” it should not be long before it is “back up again”. That said, should a technical issue occur, DFO will process requests through a combination of e-mail, telephone, fax and in-person service, as required.

Q10. Would the Department consider issuing all of the licences at the same time so we don’t have to use this system several times each year?

A10. DFO has not changed its regulatory, policy or management requirements for the authorization and issuance of fishing licences. As such, not all licences are ready to issue at the same time.

Q11. Is the system capable of conducting a high number of transactions or, like some other Government of Canada online services, will there be “peak times” when it can't handle everything?

A11. To date, the system has been able to handle a high number of transactions. We will continue to verify its capabilities as the system continues to evolve and is used by more and more users.

Registering to Use the System

Q12. What do I need to register to use the national online licensing system?

A12. You need three things: a GCKey or Sign-In Partner user ID and password; a DFO passcode; and an e-mail address. You may also wish to have a paper and pen on hand to write down important information during the registration process. Refer to the DFO client information for videos and step-by-step guides to help you with the registration process.

Q13. Why do I need a GCKey or Sign-In Partner user name and password?

A13. A GCKey user ID and password (or Sign-In Partner username and password) is a secure way for the Department to recognize the identity of a person using the system.

Q14. Can I use the GCKey I already have to access the online licensing system?

A14. Yes.

Q15. What if I’ve lost my GCKey or forgot my GCKey password?

A15. If you have forgotten your GCKey password, call GCKey Support at 1-855-438-1102. Customer Service Representatives are available to assist you by telephone, year round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will be asked questions to validate your identity before a new password is issued, so you should have the answers that you provided during the GCKey registration process ready.

If you have lost your GCKey user ID, you must sign up to get a new GCKey user ID and password. You must also contact DFO client support to be provided a new passcode to be able to connect your new GCKey user ID and password to your national online licensing system account.

Getting your GCKey step-by-step guide and video tutorial

Q16. How do I get a Sign-In Partner user name and password?

A16. Visit the SecureKey concierge website.

Q17. The bank I do business with is not on the list of Sign-In Partners. How will I register and use the system?

A17. You need to get a GCKey user ID and password. Refer to the Getting your GCKey step-by-step guide or video tutorial if you need help with this process.

Q18. Why do I need a DFO Passcode to register on the system?

A18. When you register to use the system for the first time, you need to connect your GCKey or Sign-In Partner user ID and password to the licensing information that DFO has about you as a client. This is done by entering your DFO passcode in a secure area of the DFO website. You will only need to do this the first time you sign on the system.  

If you have not yet received your passcode, call Client Support toll free at 1-877-535-7307.

Q19. How can I replace an expired or lost passcode?

A19. Call Client Support toll free at 1-877-535-7307.

DFO Passcode Step-By-Step Guide

Q20. I received a letter in the mail with my DFO passcode but it expired. How do I get a new one?

A20. You do not need to request a new passcode.

Q21. What is the difference between a GCKey and the DFO passcode?

A21. The first time you register to use the system, you need to connect your GCKey user ID and password to the information DFO has about you as a client. This is done by entering your DFO passcode in a secure area of the DFO website. You will only need to do this the first time you sign on the system. After that, you only need to type in your GCKey user ID and password to log on to use the system.

Q22. Why do I need an e-mail address?

A22. You need an e-mail address when you register on the system as the Department will e-mail you when you have a message on the system. If you don't have an e-mail account, set one up by searching “free e-mail services” on the Internet.

Using the System – Payments and Printing

Q23. My payment was refused. What do I do?

A23. If you are attempting to pay using a credit card, make sure you have entered the card information correctly. If your payment is refused again, call the toll-free number on the back of your card to make sure there are no issues with the card or credit. If this is not the issue, call Client Support toll free at 1-877-535-7307 or e-mail fishing-peche@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

Q24. I have a debit card from one of banks that are registered for online debit card payments, and I am registered for online banking, but I can’t get my payment to go through on the system. What’s wrong?

A24. First, check to see if your debit card is a Visa debit card, as these cards are not recognized through the Receiver General Buy Button payment process and cannot be used. If this is not the case, contact Client Support toll free at 1-877-535-7307.

Q25. Can I pay the fees to fish in more than one fishery at the same time using the system?

A25. Yes.

Q26. How can I trust that the online payments are going to work?

A26. The system’s online payment options (Receiver General Buy Button and Bill Payment Services) are commonly used by other federal departments and agencies to accept online payments and securely store related payment information.

Q27. Why can’t I open the document that I downloaded from the system to my computer?

A27. Documents downloaded from the system are in Portable Document Format (PDF). To access PDF files, you must have a PDF reader installed on your computer. There are many PDF readers available for free download or for purchase on the Internet, including:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Foxit Reader
  • xPDF Reader
  • xPERT PDF reader

Q28. I can’t print a document from the system. What should I do?

A28. You may need to download and save the document on your computer (or a data storage device, such as a USB key) before you can print it. To do this, click on a document hyperlink and select “save as”.

  • If you receive an error message when trying to save the documents, contact Client Support toll free at 1-877-535-7307 or email fishing-peche@dfo-mpo.gc.ca. Please provide the error message, if possible.
  • If you are able to save and open the document, but cannot print it, you may have a problem with your printer. Make sure the printer cable is properly plugged into your computer or that your wireless router is working properly if you have a wireless connection.
  • If you are still unable to print, you should either review your print manual or seek outside technical assistance

Q29. Can I reprint my licence if I’ve lost it? What if the licence is lost at sea?

A29. Licences issued through the system can be reprinted. The process for licences lost at sea today is still in effect.

Q30. Can I simply store my licence, licence conditions and other licensing documents on an electronic device to have onboard my vessel while fishing?

A30. A paper copy of your licence and licence conditions (and any other required paperwork) must be onboard your vessel during fishing activity to be in compliance with Regulations.

Using the System – Training and Assistance

Q31. Where can I get some help to learn how to register and/or use the system?

A31. Training tools are available in a number of formats. Client support (1-877-535-7307 toll free) is also available to answer your questions or concerns.

Q32. Will Client Support personnel understand regional needs?

A32. Yes, call agents are familiar with regional needs and regional licensing processes. However, please note that for complex requests or problems, the agent may need to research the issue before responding to your request or query.

Using the System as a Representative

Q33. What do I need to register to use the national online licensing system as a representative?

A33. You need four things: a GCKey or Sign-In Partner user ID and password; a DFO passcode* or a DFO online profile; a delegation code; and an e-mail address. You may also wish to have a paper and pen on hand to write down important information during the registration process. Refer to the DFO client representative information for videos and step-by-step guides to help you with the registration process.

*If you have never been a DFO client, you will need to register an online profile with the Department. This process is explained on the DFO client representative webpage.

Q34. Why do I need a delegation code?

A34. You need to provide your delegation code to all of the DFO clients that you wish to represent as they need this code to be able to appoint you as their representative. Refer to the Appointing a Representative or Getting your Delegation Code step-by-step guides for more information.

Q35. Can a fisherman and his or her representative perform the same transactions?

A35. Yes.