Obtaining a fishing license can feel like a daunting task, especially if you are new to fishing. Saltwater vs. freshwater; shoreline vs. vessel; combination licenses; sportsman licenses; additional permits; lifetime licenses. It can all just be too much! We have provided all that info in one neat location. Learn about each license and choose which one fits your needs best.
Recreational Saltwater: Fishing Licenses & Permits
Whether fishing off a structure, shoreline or vessel, a license is required for anyone 16 and over. Any one over the age of 16 that wishes to try to catch, remove or harvest any living organism from saltwater is required to have a current Saltwater Fishing License.
However, exemptions may apply, the most notable one being fisherman over the age of 65 do not require the basic saltwater or freshwater fishing licenses. Learn more about other exemptions below.
Specific saltwater species require additional permits, tags or trap registrations. Most require a Saltwater Fishing License in addition to the desired permits, tags or traps. The prices for these licenses can range from free to almost $500.
Saltwater Fishing License
Florida Fishing Licenses are required by anyone 16-65, who wishes to harvest or attempt to harvest any live organism out of any body of saltwater throughout Florida and its surrounding oceans. This includes state and federal waters. Any non-resident that wishes to participate in non-commercial fishing while visiting Florida will need to purchase an annual or short-term Saltwater Fishing License.
Saltwater Shoreline-only Fishing License
A Shoreline License is restricted to those fishing from the shoreline or a structure that protrudes from the shore. This license is not valid if caught fishing off a vessel or a shoreline reached solely by said vessel, like an island off the coast. Collecting wildlife by swimming or diving offshore are also not covered under this form of license. This license is available only to Florida residents. For residents that already have a Saltwater Fishing License (above), you DO NOT need to also have this license.
Fishing and Hunting Combination Licenses
Florida offers combined fishing and hunting licenses to help reduced the cost for those who enjoy both sports. This special combination is only offered to Florida residents. You can purchase a Dual Fishing License or a license that encompasses fishing and hunting.
The Hunting Combination License comes with the simplest form of hunting licenses. The hunting license will allow the holder to take or hunt game and furbearing animals by various methods; however, trapping is not included. You will need to require an additional permit if you wish to hunt by trapping.
Gold Sportsman’s License
The Gold Sportsman’s License is for anglers who mean business! This license encompasses a collection of the most popular licenses and permits offered in Florida, such as saltwater & freshwater fishing and hunting licenses. Included in this license are these special permits: Wildlife Management Areas, Archery, Muzzleloading Guns, Crossbows, Deer, Turkey, Florida Waterfowl, Snook and Lobster Permits. This license is specially offered for Florida residents only. If you are a non-resident, you will want to look into commercial charters that will guide you during these events.
Military Gold Sportsman’s License
This license includes the same as the ‘Gold Sportsman’s License’ but is greatly lowered at a special rate for currently active and retired military. Resident and military ID will be required to receive this form of license and must be renewed annually.
For kids under the age of 8, Fishing Licenses are not required. Fishing Licenses are optional for kids 8-15; if purchased, the cards are valid until their 17th birthday. Once they turn 16, your little angler-in-training will need their own license. If you wish to purchase the Youth Gold Sportsman’s License, your youngin’ will need to complete the hunter educational requirements beforehand.
Gulf Reef Fish Designation
A Gulf Reef Fish Permit is required for any angler over 16 that wishes to fish for reef fish in gulf state waters. There are no exemptions for this permit. Yes, this does include anyone over the age of 65. Residents and non-residents must have a Gulf Reef Permit if they wish to catch any of the 10 reef fish species protected under this permit: Red Snapper, Gag Grouper, Greater & Lesser Amberjacks, Banded Rudderfish, Almaco Jack, Red Grouper, Black Grouper, Vermillion Snapper and Gray Triggerfish.
Shore-Based Shark Fishing
This license has recently been updated. As of July 1st, 2019, this Shark Fishing License is required for any fisherman over 16. The angler, if not exempt, must also have a Saltwater Fishing License when taking a shark from shore or any structure affixed to the shore, including jetties, bridges and piers. Even if the fisherman is exempt from fishing license requirements, they must have this specific permit if they wish to catch a shark on shore or off an affixed structure. Each angler must also complete a Shark fishing educational course before acceptance.
Snook are popular in our Florida waters, and this brings non-residents into the area during fishing season. Non-residents and residents alike attempting to target Snook (including shoreline) must have a Saltwater Fishing License AND this additional Snook Permit. Currently, Snook are on the catch-and-release only list in specific counties until August 2020. In the Atlantic, Snook season is closed between Dec. 15th – Jan. 31st and June 1st – Aug. 31st. Gulf season is closed Dec. 1st – end of February and May 1st – August 31st.
Anglers flock from all over to participate in bug season. As a popular tourist trap, non-residents can participate, but must have a Non-resident Saltwater Fishing License AND a Spiny Lobster Permit. In addition to the Saltwater Fishing License, any residential fisherman targeting Spiny Lobster will also need to have this lobster permit. Spiny Lobster has a mini-sport season, taking place on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July each year. The regular lobster season begins on August 6th and ends March 31st.
When landing Tarpon, every angler will need a Saltwater Fishing License and this additional tag. These Tarpon Tags are only available at your local Tax Collectors Office. This tag is only required if you plan on catching a Tarpon in pursuit of an IGFA (International Game Fish Association) record. Each angler is only allowed a single tag per year.
Remember, Tarpon are a catch-and-release only fish. You may not catch any Tarpon for consumption and can only have one on board at a time when trying for the world record.
Stone Crab Trap Registration
In 2019, Trap Registration was made necessary for all recreational harvesters 16 and older. As of October 15th, 2019, Trap Registration is necessary, in addition to a Saltwater Fishing License. Even if an angler is exempt from normal fishing license requirements, they will still need to register their Stone Crab traps. Trap registration can only be completed online at gooutdoorsflorida.com. Each recreational angler is limited to 5 traps submerged at a time. Stone Crab season runs from October 15th – May 15th.
Blue Crab Trap Registration
No permit exemptions apply. Effective January 1st, 2020, registration of recreational Blue Crab traps is required. Any harvester, resident or non-resident 16 and older must register their Blue Crab traps. Trap registration can only be completed online at gooutdoorsflorida.com. During even years there are 3 sets of closure dates along the east coast, while on odd years there are trap closure dates along the west coast. Annually, there are additional Gulf water trap closures from Sept. 20th – Oct. 4th from beyond 3 miles and into federal waters.
Fishing Licenses & Permits
Freshwater species are monitored by scientists across Florida. To ensure our fisheries remain populated, data is needed. Licenses and permits are put in place to help the continued efforts to keep Florida’s waterways alive. Specific species may require additional permits, tags or registration.
Each time a license or permit are purchased, the contributions are put into a conservation pool. This pool allows the state of Florida to keep our waterways, fisheries and ecosystems running smooth and to help in the aid when a disaster strikes.
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Freshwater Fishing Licenses
A Freshwater Fishing License is needed when taking or attempting to take native or non-native freshwater species from their freshwater habitats. Whether a Florida resident or a non-resident, all are required to purchase this base license; however, children under 16 and adults over 65 are not required to have this license. Additional exemptions can be found on myfwc.com. Check and see if you are exempt!
Hunting and Fishing Combination Licenses
For Florida residents, you can combine your Freshwater Fishing, Saltwater Fishing and Hunting Licenses to help lower the cost. These rates are specially offered to Florida Residents; non-residents will need to purchase each license separately. These combination packages do not include any additional permits and must be renewed annually. See any of the Freshwater ‘Sportsman’s Licenses’ below for included permit packages.
This version of the Sportsman’s License includes Freshwater Fishing and Hunting Licenses only. In addition, this collection includes the following permits: Wildlife Management Area, Archery, Muzzleloading Gun, Crossbow, Deer, Turkey and Florida Waterfowl. Notice: If you would like the additional Saltwater License with Snook and Lobster Permits, see ‘Gold Sportsman’s License’ above. Anglers sixty-four and older can save big on the same licenses and permits with the ‘Silver’ package below. The Sportsman’s License is only offered to valid Florida Residents.
Silver Sportsman’s License
Florida residents 64 years or older are eligible for this Silver Sportsman’s License. This package includes Freshwater Fishing and Hunting Licenses, along with the following permits: Wildlife Management Area, Archery, Muzzleloading Gun, Crossbow, Deer, Turkey and Florida Waterfowl. Notice: If you would like the additional Saltwater License with Snook and Lobster permits, see ‘Gold Sportsman’s License’ above. Generally, Seniors 65+ don’t require licenses; however, to fish and hunt with these additional permits, they will need to purchase this license, regardless of age.
For kids under the age of 8, Fishing Licenses aren’t necessary. Fishing Licenses are optional for kids 8-15, but if purchased before their 15th birthday, they remain valid until their 17th birthday. If purchased once 16, your little angler in-training will need their own license renewed annually.
Lifetime Licenses are for parents, grandparents or other family/friends that would like to pass down a love of the outdoors to the youngin’ in their lives. These licenses will remain valid for use in Florida, even if the license holder moves out of state. This will grandfather the minor into a life of fishing and hunting in Florida’s unique outdoor climate.
Lifetime Licenses can only be purchased in person at your county’s Tax Collector’s Office. Profits from the purchase of a Lifetime License will go into a trust fund-style investment portfolio to help conservationist contribute to the long-term maintenance of Florida’s natural resources. For longevity, the youth will receive a credit card-like license, instead of a paper card.
Lifetime Gold Sportsman’s Licenses
The Lifetime Gold Sportsman’s License includes all the permits and licenses that the non-lifetime Gold Sportsman’s License carries, but for a better price and longer period. This includes Hunting, Saltwater & Freshwater Licenses with these additional permits: Wildlife Management Area, Deer, Archery, Muzzleloading Gun, Crossbow, Turkey, Florida Waterfowl, Snook and Lobster. The younger the Florida minor, the cheaper the license.
Lifetime Saltwater Fishing Licenses
A Lifetime Saltwater Fishing License will include the license itself plus Lifetime Snook and Spiny Lobster Permits. Once the minor grows older, any additional licenses or permits, whether freshwater or hunting, will have to be purchased by the individual at that time. This offer is only valid for current Florida residents.
Lifetime Freshwater Fishing Licenses
Freshwater Fishing Licenses for a lifetime simply include the Freshwater License. This allows any native or non-native species to be caught from any freshwater source within Florida state limits. These offers are only extended to current Florida residents; both the elder and the minor must be residents.
Where to purchase/order a license or permit?
Do I need to carry my Licenses with me when fishing?
Yes. Whether on land, boat, or structure, you should always have your up-to-date Fishing/Hunting Licenses on you. If you ever get inspected or caught without your License, you could face some hefty fines.
What qualifies as Florida Residency?
A resident is any person that has made Florida their main home. As a ‘Home State’, the resident will have a Florida license plate with a permanent Florida address. Active duty US Military stationed in Florida will also qualify as a ‘resident’, as will their spouses and any dependent children living within the Florida household. Military orders and ID will be needed to verify.
What are acceptable Proofs of Identity?
– Florida Driver’s License or ID Card
– Florida Military Orders
Alternate Proof (for Florida residents without a Driver’s License or ID Card)
– Up-To-Date Florida Voter Registration Card
– Declaration of Domicile obtained from County Clerk’s office
– Florida Homestead Exemption
Proof of ID for Minors
– Student ID Card from a Florida School
– Parent’s Proof of Residency (minor must be with parent at time of purchase)
Proof of ID for Lifetime Licenses (you need all 3 for kids Under 13)
– Certified Copy of child’s Birth Certificate
– Social Security Card
– Copy of a Parents Florida Driver’s License (parent must be listed on Birth Certificate)
Proof of ID for Lifetime Licenses (You need both for kids between the age of 13 and 18 who don’t have a Driver’s License)
– Student ID Card from a Florida School
– Parents Proof of Residency (child must be with parent)
Proof of ID for Lifetime Licenses (minors 16-18 with a Driver’s License)
– May purchase license by themselves with valid Florida License or ID Card
Where can I see a list of my current Licenses?
You can view your current Hunting and Fishing Licenses on gooutdoorsflorida.com. Login to your account. View your expired Licenses by clicking ‘Show License History’.
What are the regulations for Youth’s fishing without a License?
Youths under 16 are not required to have an active fishing license. They do, however, still need to adhere to the bag, size and gear regulations for their targeted species.
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