The Department’s new COMPASS licensing system is convenient and secure. The Department’s COMPASS enrollment process asks for the customer’s personal information only once. The customer receives a DNR id card that identifies them as a DNR customer. The unique DNRid# displayed on the card is the consistent way for DNR associates and sport license agents to accurately identify a customer within the system and to promptly provide the items they wish to purchase.


The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 requires that states establish procedures under which the state has authority to withhold, suspend, or restrict the issuance and use of licenses when individuals have unresolved debt or other court actions related to paternity or child support proceedings.

In response to the very real possibility of losing millions in federal funding, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 115 in 2003, which requires the collection of Social Security numbers upon the issuance of recreational fishing licenses. The requirement to collect Social Security numbers from hunting license applicants dates to the early 1990s.

Statutory and regulatory requirements to collect the Social Security number:

    Annotated Code of Maryland
        Natural Resources Article
            §10-301(e) – hunting
            §4-205(l)(1) – recreational fishing
        Family Law Article
            §10-119.3 – commercial fishing


COMPASS uses modern industry-standard security to protect our customers and the Department. We take security very seriously.

COMPASS employs SSL data encryption that is visually evident to all users because the site is https and has a closed padlock symbol in the browser window. If you click on this padlock symbol, you will see a security report for COMPASS, which verifies that COMPASS has a valid SSL encryption certificate with Network Solutions, and that we employ 128-bit encryption with a TLS 1.0 connection among other levels of protection.

When using Google Chrome to access COMPASS, you will see our https:// prefix is in green, which means Google has verified our security settings and determined that COMPASS is safe for users. Google checks web traffic and sites daily for changes in security. COMPASS has remained green since deployed in April 2012.

COMPASS optimizes use of the higher security capabilities of modern web browsers. These cannot be seen and are not detailed here because they are proprietary to the Department of Natural Resources. This explains why customers must use Internet Explorer 8 or 9, Mozilla FireFox or Google Chrome. If a customer tries to use COMPASS from an unsupported browser, our system alerts them with a system message and prompts them to upgrade their browser. If the customer does not heed these warnings, their experience with COMPASS will be less than optimal.

Customers need at least two pieces of information to login to COMPASS. If they have their COMPASS account, they need only enter their DNRid# and date of birth. They can also create a username and password for future logins. If they have held a recreational license in the past 3 years, they login initially with their date of birth and an identification type of their choosing (driver’s license number, previous recreational hunting or fishing license number, customer number, social security number). If a customer is totally new to the Department, they simply enroll as a new customer.

We have collected social security numbers at our service centers since 1999 and online since 2005. While protection of all customer information is very important, we take special care with social security numbers. Collection at our sport license agent locations was not possible previously because the outdated software program used at those locations was not designed to collect the SSN data element. With implementation of the new COMPASS licensing system, non-compliance is no longer an option.

Social security numbers are entered in COMPASS only at initial registration. The social security number is immediately masked to display only the last four digits for validation purposes. The number is not used as a search criteria or system identification, but may be used by a customer to login to COMPASS if they do not have their username and password set.