Importing fish is regulated to protect the health of Vermont's fish populations and prevent the introduction of fish and fish diseases that could harm the state’s fisheries.

The importation and possession of fish species in Vermont is controlled through a permitting process.  A Fish Importation Permit is required before importing or possessing certain fish in Vermont.

Review the following lists to determine if a permit is required.

  • Prohibited Fish Species List
    Fish species on this list cannot be imported or possessed in Vermont except through a Prohibited Fish Species Permit. This list includes species not native to the state that are known to pose a threat to Vermont's fish populations and or aquatic ecosystems.

  • Restricted Fish Species List
    This list includes native and certain naturalized fish species that are regulated through other department permits including but not limited to Importation of Fish ( 10 V.S.A. § 4605 (b)), Protection of Endangered and Threatened Species (10 V.S.A. § 5403), and Fish Regulations (10 V.S.A. Appendix § 122). A permit is needed to import or possess fish species on this list.

  • Unrestricted Fish Species List
    This list includes species commonly imported into the state for the pet or aquarium trade and are currently considered to pose minimal or no risk to Vermont fish populations. No permit is required.

    Any species not on the Unrestricted, Restricted and Prohibited  lists and which natural global distribution range occurs entirely within the bounds of the 30 degrees North latitude and the 30 degrees South latitude may be imported or possessed in Vermont without prior review and approval.

All fish species not included on the Restricted Fish Species List and Unrestricted Fish Species List is considered to be Prohibited Fish Species and cannot be imported or possessed in Vermont.

In addition to the above lists, other conditions may determine the need for a permit

  • Introducing Fish to State Waters
    An importation permit is required for any fish brought into the state which are intended to be introduced into waters of the state, and no fish can be introduced into any waters except private ponds lacking access to other waters of the state.

  • Transgenic Fishes
    Importing or possessing transgenic fishes is prohibited unless explicitly included in the Unrestricted Fish Species List.  A transgenic fish is any fish that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology--not including diploid, triploid, or hybrid-crossed fish.

How do I get a Fish Importation Permit?

To obtain a permit, complete the Fish Importation Permit Application Form (Word format / pdf format) and submit it with the $50 application fee to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department PRIOR to importing the fish.  Include with the application written fish health inspection reports made by a qualified fish health inspector and invoices indicating the source of the fish to be imported. Allow at least 30 days for permit issuance.


What are the criteria for issuing a Prohibited Fish Species Permit?

A Prohibited Fish Species Permit may be issued based on these considerations:

  • How the fish are being kept in a controlled environment including but not limited to artificial tanks without inflow or outflow, and without connection to waters of the state
  • Whether the purpose is for research
  • Whether the purpose is for education
  • Whether it is for public purpose
  • Whether there are available alternatives
  • The health of native or naturalized fish species

When a permit is issued it will include conditions that ensure the health and safety of Vermont's fish population.


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