Getting A Fishing License In Florida (Everything You Need To Know)

PUBLISHED 05 MAY 2021

by Robert Ceran

Florida boasts some of the finest fishing in the USA, and so it’s hardly surprising that sportfishing is one of the most popular hobbies in Florida. Whether you’re looking for top-notch saltwater or freshwater fishing, the Sunshine State offers it all.

But if you’re planning to try your hand at angling in Florida, make sure to get a valid fishing license before you head out on to the water. Luckily, this is relatively easy to do, and doesn’t cost a lot.

In order to help make your fishing experience more enjoyable (and legal), we are going to cover everything you need to know about getting a fishing license in Florida in this article.

Who needs a Florida fishing license?

All residents between the ages of 16 and 64 need a fishing license in Florida, as well as all non-residents over the age of 16. In other words, the majority of both residents and non residents need to buy a license before they can fish in Florida.

If you’re planning to fish in the ocean, you need to get a saltwater fishing license (which also applies to collecting crabs, lobsters, or shellfish). And if you want to fish in rivers or lakes, you’ll need a freshwater license. Even if you practice catch and release, you’ll still need a license. In fact, you’ll need to get one even if you don’t catch anything at all, since Florida regulations require a license just for the attempt to take fish.

Sometimes you might find yourself fishing in areas where saltwater and freshwater species are both present (in river estuaries, for example), which makes things a little more complicated. In cases like that you can easily end up catching some fish that belong in the freshwater category, and others that belong in the saltwater category.

The simplest solution to this problem is to buy a combination license, which covers both saltwater and freshwater (though this is only available to residents), or to buy both licenses individually. If you don’t want to do this, but find yourself catching a species that’s not covered by your license, make sure to release it right away.

If you’re planning to go on a saltwater fishing charter trip, you don’t need to worry about getting a license, since the charter boat covers that for all anglers on board. This is a great option if you’re visiting for a short time, and just want to enjoy a day of ocean fishing on a charter boat. 

At what age do you need a fishing license in Florida?

You need a fishing license at the age of 16 or above in Florida (which applies to both residents and non-residents). This means that anyone under the age of 16 counts as a youth, and can fish without a license. If this applies to you, make sure you carry a proof of age with you at all times while you’re on the water.

If you are a Florida resident over the age of 64, you count as a senior, and also don’t need a license to fish. If this applies to you, make sure to have both a proof of residency and a proof of age with you during your fishing trip. And it’s important to keep in mind that the exemption for seniors doesn’t apply to non-residents.

Do non-residents need a fishing license in Florida?

Yes – all non residents over the age of 15 need a fishing license in Florida. In addition, the cost of a license is higher for non-residents, and fewer exemptions apply to them. For example, even if they’re over the age of 64, non-residents need to buy a license to fish in Florida (while residents are exempt at this age).

Can you fish in Florida without a license?

You can fish in Florida without a license if one of the following conditions apply:

  • If you’re under 16 (applies to both residents and non-residents)
  • If you’re a resident over 64
  • On free fishing days
  • On fishing charters
  • On a licensed fishing pier

On free fishing days, anyone can fish without a license, although other limitations may still apply (such as size and bag limits).

In Florida, free freshwater fishing days are on the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in April, and on the second consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June. Free saltwater fishing days are on the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June, the first Saturday in September, and the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

If in doubt, it’s always best to check with the local authorities if one of these cases applies to you.

Who is exempt from a Florida fishing license?

The following people are exempt from a Florida fishing license:

  • Residents and non-residents under the age of 16
  • Residents over the age of 64
  • Residents with severe disabilities
  • Military personnel on home leave
  • Residents who want to do saltwater fishing from shore

If you belong in any of these categories, always make sure to bring proof of your age and your status. 

How much is a fishing license in Florida?

The table below shows the pricing for the different types of licenses:

Type of licensePrice for residentsPrice for non-residents
Annual freshwater$17$47
3-day freshwaterN/A$17
7-day freshwaterN/A$30
5-year freshwater$79N/A
Annual saltwater$17$47
3-day saltwaterN/A$17
7-day saltwaterN/A$30
5-year freshwater$79N/A
Annual saltwater & freshwater combo$32.50N/A

As you can see from the table above, only the annual license is available to both residents and non-residents (although at a higher cost for the latter). The 3-day and 7-day licences are only available to non-residents, while the 5-year option and the saltwater/freshwater combo are only available to residents.

See also: what is the cost of a fishing license?

How much is a saltwater fishing license in Florida?

An annual saltwater fishing license in Florida costs $17 for residents and $47 for non-residents. For non-residents there is also a 3-day saltwater license (which costs $17)  and a 7-day license (which costs $30). Residents can also get a 5-year license, which costs $79.

How much is a freshwater fishing license in Florida?

An annual freshwater fishing license in Florida costs $17 for residents and $47 for non-residents. Non-residents can also get a 3-day freshwater license (for $17)  or a 7-day option (for $30). For residents there is also a 5-year option, which costs $79.

How much is a non resident fishing license in Florida?

A non resident fishing license in Florida costs $47 for an annual license, or $17 for a 3-day license, and $30 for a 7-day license. These prices are the same for either freshwater or saltwater. If you want to fish in both freshwater and saltwater, you’ll need to buy each license individually, as there is currently no combo option available to non-residents.

Additional permits required in Florida

In addition to having a valid fishing license, you also need to get a separate permit for the following cases:

  • Reef fishing: required for reef fishing from a private boat (FREE)
  • Shore-based shark fishing: required if you attempt to catch sharks from shore (FREE)
  • Snook: required if you attempt to catch snook ($10/year, or $50/five years)
  • Spiny Lobster: required if you attempt to catch spiny lobsters ($5/year, or $25/five years)
  • Tarpon: required if you attempt to catch tarpon ($51.50/year)
  • Blue Crab/Stone Crab: required if you want to trap crabs (FREE)

It’s important to keep in mind that you need to get these permits even if you’re exempt from having to get a fishing license (for example, if you’re fishing on a licensed pier). The purpose of the free permits it to keep track of the number of people engaging in specific types of fishing activities, and also to inform you of bag and size limitations. 

How to get a fishing license in Florida

Here are the ways to get a fishing license in Florida:

  • Online at the official website of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: GoOutdoorsFlorida.com
  • In person at a tax collector’s office
  • In person at an authorized agent (including Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and some tackle shops)
  • By calling the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission at 888-347-4356
  • By using the Fish|Hunt FL mobile app, which is available for both iOS and android

While the easiest option is to get it online, keep in mind that you still need to print it out after you complete the purchase. If you’re unable to do this, but are in a rush, you can also save a copy to your smartphone before you head out onto the water, and present this if it’s necessary.

See also: getting a fishing license online (guide)

Can you get a Florida fishing license at Walmart?

Yes, you can get a Florida fishing license at Walmart, by going to the sporting goods section, and choosing the type that you want. Usually they also have a small booklet that informs you of all the options available.

How much is a Florida fishing license at Walmart?

The price of a Florida fishing license at Walmart is the same price as set out by the state Fish & Game Commission, with a small processing fee of 50 cents added to it. For example, a resident annual license costs $17.50 if you buy it at Walmart, while it costs $17 if you buy it from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission. 

What are the Florida fishing license requirements?

The requirements for a resident Florida fishing license are that you have declared Florida as your only state of residence, and have a Florida driver’s license or ID card with an officially verified Florida address. If you don’t have either of these, you can also use a current Florida voter registration card, a declaration of domicile, or a homestead exemption as proof of residency.

In addition, you can also qualify as a resident if you’re an active member of the US military stationed in Florida, and this status is extended to include other household members. If this case applies to you, you need to provide Military Orders as proof of residency.

If you’re a non-resident, you’ll be asked to provide your Social Security number and last name on your Driver’s License during signup for online purchase.

For both residents and non-residents, an additional requirement is that you must be age 16 or older in order to qualify.

Does Florida have a lifetime fishing license?

Yes, Florida offers a lifetime fishing license to residents. But if you get a lifetime license as a resident, and later move away from the state, the lifetime license remains valid. You can get this license for either freshwater or saltwater fishing, or you can get a Lifetime Gold Sportsman’s license, which covers both (plus hunting).

How much is a lifetime Florida fishing license?

The table below shows the pricing for the different types of lifetime licenses:

Type of lifetime licensePrice
FreshwaterAge 0-4: $126.50
Age 5-12: $226.50
Age 13+: $301.50
SaltwaterAge 0-4: $126.50
Age 5-12: $226.50
Age 13+: $301.50
Gold Sportsman (covers all waters, plus hunting)Age 0-4: $401.50
Age 5-12: $701.50
Age 13+: $1,001.50

As you can see in the table above, the price for the saltwater and freshwater options are the same, while the Gold Sportsman is more expensive. The latter also covers hunting privileges, and includes several additional permits (such as snook and lobster permits) that are not included in the individual lifetime licenses.

The pricing for all lifetime options depends on your age, and is most expensive for adults over the age of 13. Lifetime licenses can only be purchased at tax collectors offices.

Can you use a Florida license in Georgia?

You can use a Florida fishing license in two specific locations in Georgia: the St. Mary’s River (not including its tributaries), and Lake Seminole, which is bordered by both states. The two states have a reciprocity agreement in these locations, where a license from either state is accepted as valid.

How to renew a fishing license in Florida

You can renew your fishing license in Florida by logging in to your account on GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, and ordering a new one (assuming that you originally purchased it there). Alternatively, you can renew it at any of the authorized agents, including Walmart and fishing tackle shops.

How long is a Florida license good for?

The expiration date of a Florida fishing license is printed on the license itself, so it’s easy to check when it will expire. If you buy an annual license, it will be valid for 12 months from the date of purchase, so the exact date of expiration depends on the date it was issued.

Additional resources:

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