Updates Related to COVID-19 »

Boating Access Site Use FAQ

Beginning January 1, 2021, any person using a Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR)-owned or managed facility, including boating access sites, must have a valid Virginia hunting, trapping, or fishing permit, a Restore the Wild membership, an access permit, or current certificate of boat registration issued by DWR to use the facility. This does not apply to persons under the age of 17 or passengers with a permitted operator. The operator must have a permit.


Why do I need a permit?

This change is due to state legislation that brought rules governing DWR-owned and managed boating access sites in line with rules at other DWR access sites in order to allow all users of DWR access sites to have equitable access.

Which boating access sites will require a permit?

DWR has created a list of the Department-owned or managed boating access sites that will require a permit.

What do I need to launch my kayak or paddleboard at a DWR-owned or managed access point?

You must have a valid Virginia hunting, trapping, or fishing license, a DWR Restore the Wild membership, an access permit, or current certificate of boat registration issued by DWR.

Do I need a permit if I am a passenger in a kayak or boat?

No. If you are a passenger in a boat with a permitted operator, you do not need a permit.

I am 16 years old. Do I need a permit?

No. You don’t need a permit if you are under 17 years old.

Where can I buy this permit if I am already at the access site?

You can download the Go Outdoors Virginia licensing app at or you can log in at GoOutdoorsVirginia.com and purchase a permit.

What happens if a law enforcement officer or Conservation Police officer determines that I used a DWR access without a permit?

You may receive a summons for the violation and be subject to a $50 fine plus court costs.

What does the permit fee go toward?

Funding generated by these fees will help DWR meet the increasing demand for outdoor recreational opportunities through land purchased, ongoing maintenance of current boating access sites, construction of new boating access sites, and maintaining more than 225,000 acres that are open to the public to enjoy.

If I’m participating in a group trip with a kayak, canoe, or tubing tour or rental company, do I need a permit?

Each operator over the age of 16 of a kayak, canoe, or tube using the facility is required to have a permit. While tour or rental companies may provide guidance in purchasing the permit, it is the responsibility of the individual using the DWR access site to ensure they have the appropriate access permit.

When do I need a special use permit in addition to a hunting, trapping or fishing license, access permit, or Restore the Wild membership to use a DWR-owned or managed boating access site?

Special use permits, along with the necessary access permits, are required for any commercial use (to include tournaments) or for any non-boating or non-fishing activity at DWR boating access sites and associated parking lots.