How does the duck stamp program work?

Important Notice: will be shutting down on January 2, 2019. However, most of the content found here will now be available on the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program website.

“Duck Stamps,” or Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, are pictorial stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). They are not valid for postage. The stamps were originally created in 1934 with the enactment of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, and serve as the federal license required for hunting migratory waterfowl. Stamps are valid for one year. Sale of stamps for the 2010-2011 season began on June 25, 2010. Junior Duck stamp sales also began on June 25, 2010.

Hunting and fishing licenses are issued by states, but the Act requires anyone older than 16 to also have a Federal Duck Stamp affixed to a state hunting license when hunting waterfowl.

The fees generated from the sale of the Federal Stamps are used to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. In addition to serving as a hunting license and a conservation tool, a current year’s Federal Duck Stamp also serves as an entrance pass for National Wildlife Refuges where admission is normally charged. To view a list of National Wildlife Refuges, please visit

For information on where the stamps can be purchased, please visit

Please note that the FWS, in partnership with nine state fish and wildlife agencies, is implementing a three-year pilot program to make it easier to buy Federal Duck Stamps. The new program, which debuted September 1, 2007, allows the fish and wildlife agencies of Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Wisconsin to sell stamps electronically through their individual automated licensing systems, providing a special receipt as proof of purchase.

Each year’s Duck Stamp design is selected as a result of a contest open to the public. For information on the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, please visit

For more information on the Federal Duck Stamp Program, please visit

Finally, information on the Federal Junior Duck Stamp is also available.

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