High temperature superconductors (HTSs) are developed for applications in HTS power devices such as power transmission cables, transformers, superconducting fault current limiters (SECLs) superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES). Over-current performance of YBCO tapes at power frequency has been well studied by previous researches. However, in a power gird, superconducting apparatus might also experience a lightning impulse current. This paper will mainly focus on the performance degradation of YBCO tapes after suffering lightning current. The standard 8/20 μs lightning current is applied to the YBCO tapes. The critical currents and n-values of each YBCO tape before and after the lightning current experiment are tested and compared. The microstructure of the damaged tapes is showed by SEM. Moreover, a numerical model is also used to study the distributions of current and temperature in YBCO different layers. The results of this paper will provide fundamental understanding for the intrinsic mechanism of the performance degradation of YBCO tapes after suffering a lightning impulse current.