virginia fishing license

Virginia Residency Qualifications and Exceptions

To buy a state resident fishing license in Virginia, you must have lived in the state for the past two months and sign a residency certificate. This also applies to U.S. armed forces members, their spouses, and their dependents residing or stationed in Virginia.

For city or county licenses, U.S. citizens who have lived in the area for at least six months, legal voters, or those physically residing in a city within a county for six consecutive months qualify. Students enrolled in Virginia schools can also get a local license with proof of enrollment.

Some groups are exempt from needing a license. This includes:

  • Resident and nonresident landowners and their families fishing on their own land
  • Residents under 16
  • Active-duty armed forces members on official leave (with Military Orders)
  • Tenants fishing on rented land with written permission
  • Guests in private ponds
  • Nonresident children under 16
  • Legally blind persons
  • Recognized Indian tribe members
  • Stockholders and their families
  • Residents 65 or older (for saltwater fishing)
  • Anyone helping a disabled license holder

If you’re buying a license, make sure to bring along proof of eligibility.

Where and How to Get a Fishing License

Getting your fishing license is a breeze, whether you prefer doing it online, in person, or over the phone.

To get your license online, head to the Go Outdoors Virginia website. New customers will need to create an account, while existing customers can log in using their date of birth, last name, and either their DWR Customer ID, the last four digits of their Social Security Number, or their driver’s license number. Once logged in, choose your desired licenses, pay with your credit card, and print your license if needed.

If you prefer the human touch, you can purchase your license in person through various clerks of the Circuit Court, license agents across Virginia, and at the DWR headquarters in Henrico. Just remember, regional offices don’t handle license sales.

You can also call 804-367-1000 during regular business hours or use the Go Outdoors Virginia mobile app to get your license sorted quickly.

Once you’ve got your license, keep it handy as an electronic copy on your smartphone, a printed paper version, or an annual hard card. You never know when an officer or landowner might ask to see it.

Virginia Fishing License Fees and Categories

Virginia offers various fishing license options for residents and non-residents, with different fees and durations. Here’s a breakdown:

For Virginia residents:

  • Resident State Freshwater Fishing License: $23 (1 year), $44 (2 years), $65 (3 years), $86 (4 years)
  • Resident State Fresh/Saltwater Fishing Combo License: $39.50 (1 year)
  • Annual Freshwater Fishing License (65+): $9
  • Resident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing License: $14
  • Combined Fresh/Saltwater 5-Day License: $24
  • Resident Saltwater Fishing License: $17.50
  • Resident 10-Day Saltwater Fishing License: $10
  • Tidal Boat Sport Fishing License: $126

For non-residents:

  • Nonresident State Freshwater Fishing License: $47
  • Nonresident Fresh/Saltwater Combo License: $71 (1 year)
  • 1-Day Freshwater Fishing License: $8
  • 5-Day Freshwater License: $21
  • 10-Day Saltwater License: $10
  • Nonresident Tidal Boat Sport Fishing License: $201
  • Discounted annual fishing license for nonresident veterans with significant service-connected disabilities

Additional licenses:

  • Trout Fishing License (required from October 1 to June 15): $23 for residents and nonresidents
  • National Forest Permit: $4
  • Daily Permit (for areas like Clinch Mountain and Douthat State Park Fee Fishing Areas): $8

Virginia also offers lifetime fishing licenses with prices varying based on the buyer’s age and the type of fishing they plan on doing.

Additional Licenses and Permits

In addition to your main fishing license, Virginia offers several additional permits and licenses for specific scenarios or for using particular types of equipment:

  • National Forest Permit: Required for fishing in Virginia’s National Forests, with some exceptions. Cost: $4.00
  • State Forest Use Permit: Essential for hunting, trapping, mountain biking, and horse riding in state forests. Cost: $16.00
  • Access Permit: Required for using DWR-owned or managed facilities or boating access sites. Cost: $4.00 daily or $23.00 for an annual pass
  • Trout Fishing License: Required for fishing trout in designated stocked waters from October 1 to June 15. Cost: $23.00
  • Daily Permit: Required for fishing in specific places like Clinch Mountain or Douthat State Park Fee Fishing Areas. Cost: $8.00
  • County Dip Net Permit: Required for dip-net adventures taking shad, herring, and mullet. Cost: $4.50
  • Tidal Boat License: Covers saltwater fishing for the boat owner and passengers
  • PALS permit: Required for accessing public lands for sports activities. Cost: $18.00

Some of these additional permits and licenses can be bundled with your primary fishing license when purchasing online at Go Outdoors Virginia or acquired individually at licensed agents or the DWR headquarters.

A collage featuring images of the different fishing areas and activities that require additional permits in Virginia, like trout fishing, fishing in state parks, or using specific equipment

Understanding the right fishing license for your needs can make all the difference in enjoying your time on the water. Keep your license handy and have a great fishing adventure!

  1. Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Fishing Licenses & Permits. Published 2023.
  2. Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Recreational License Fees.
  3. Go Outdoors Virginia. Licenses & Permits.

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