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Changes to our licencing fees under the Service Fees Act

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with harvesters to ensure they are made aware of the upcoming fee increase before it takes affect on March 31, 2020.

In 2017, the Service Fees Act received royal assent. All government departments and agencies that charge fees for services are impacted by this legislation, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The Service Fees Act requires we make annual adjustments to fees collected for services, goods, facility use, licences, permits and other authorizations, unless they are exempted from the Act. This will affect the cost of licensing fees for all federally regulated commercial and recreational fisheries in Canada.

Read the full text of the Service Fees Act

Changes to our fees in 2020

All government departments must implement the Service Fees Act by the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year. The Government of Canada fiscal year is from April 1 to March 31, not by the calendar year.

In order to meet this requirement, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will adjust its fees on March 31, 2020, for all fisheries opening on or after April 1, 2020. The last time our fees were increased was in 1996.

The increase in the service fee will automatically be included in the cost to obtain your licence in a given year. The service fee increase is not a separate charge.

Harvesters whose licence fees are available will have the opportunity to pay their fees on the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) at the current price, with no inflationary increase, until March 27, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. ET. After this time, all licences fees will be unavailable for payment while the fee amounts are updated in the system. Fees will be available for payment at the increased rate as of March 31, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. EST. All other functions of NOLS will be operational during this outage.

For 2020 fisheries that open between January 1 and March 31, there will be no inflationary increase until fees become available for 2021 fisheries, even if the licence is obtained after the March 27 deadline.

Adjusting service fees for inflation

Starting March 31, 2020, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will adjust its fees according to the Consumer Price Index, also known as inflation. The rate of inflation is a percentage set by Statistics Canada each year. This year’s inflationary increase is 2.2%.

Since inflation is calculated annually, we will apply a new inflation rate every year when licences become available. The increase will be applied to the previous year’s amount.


A fee that was $50 in 2019 will increase to $51.10 on March 31, 2020, because of the 2.2% inflation rate.

If the inflation rate is set at 2% the following year, the 2020 $51.10 fee will increase to $52.12 in 2021.

Learn more about inflation rates

Fees impacted by the Service Fees Act inflationary increase

Fees affected by the annual inflationary increase:

Fees not impacted by the Service Fees Act inflationary increase

Fees not affected by the Service Fees Act:


The Service Fees Act provides for some specific exemptions from automatic inflation adjustments. Exempted fees are fees set by contract, a market function already subject to automatic adjustment or defined as Low Materiality Fees.

Aquaculture licensing fees

The only aquaculture licences issued in Canada are in B.C. under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations. These licences will not be affected by the Service Fees Act, as the Regulations Section 3(1) already includes an annual adjustment factor that is applied every year to the licence fees.

Paying your fees

There are no changes to the way you pay in the National Online Licensing System (NOLS).

If you have already added funds to your NOLS profile through your financial institution based on last year’s fee, you will need to add the required additional funds. Once you have the needed credit in your profile, you can use it to pay the required fee.

Service standards

There are service standards in place for every service fee. Service standards help clarify expectations for clients and employees in terms of timely responses following the payment of a fee. The service standards are published in the Department’s annual service fee report.

Learn more about our service standards

Fees reports

Our annual Fees Report details individual fees under the department’s authority, along with anticipated increases. 

Explore our Fees Reports

Questions or comments

Questions about the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) can be sent by email to (please include your name and the DFO Region in which you are located), or by calling 1-877-535-7307.

General questions can be directed to your regional DFO office.

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