- Residency Qualifications
- Where to Get a Fishing License
- Fishing License Fees
- Lifetime Licenses
- Additional Fishing License Information
Fishing License Information
Every person who is required to have a license to fish, hunt, and/or trap must carry such license with them (electronic copy, printed paper, or annual hard card) and show the license immediately upon request of any officer whose duty it is to enforce the game and inland fish laws, or upon the demand of any owner or lessee, or any employee or representative of such owner or lessee, upon whose land or water such person may be hunting, trapping, or fishing.
Persons meeting the following criteria may purchase a state resident license.
- Individuals who, for two or more months immediately prior to purchasing a license, have been a domiciliary resident of Virginia and who execute a certificate of residency.
- Member of the U.S. armed forces, their spouse, and their dependents when the armed forces member (i) resides in Virginia, (ii) is on active duty, and (iii) is stationed at a military base within or on a ship based in Virginia.
Persons meeting the following criteria may purchase a city or county resident license.
- U.S. citizens who have been a bona fide resident of the city or county for six months immediately prior to purchasing a license for that city or county.
- Legal voter of the city or county for which license is purchased.
- Residents of a city whose limits are wholly within the county for which the license is purchased, provided the resident has physically resided within the city at least six consecutive months immediately preceding purchase.
- Any student regularly enrolled in and boarding at a preparatory school or institution of higher education located in Virginia may purchase a city or county license for the city or county in which the school is located upon presenting a certificate of enrollment to the licensing agent.
All persons, except those listed below, must purchase the proper licenses before fishing.
- Resident or nonresident landowners, their spouses, their children and grandchildren and the spouses of such children and grandchildren, or the landowner’s parents, resident or nonresident, do not need a license to hunt, trap, or fish within the boundaries of their own lands and inland waters.
- Residents under 16 years of age (also do not need a trout license).
- Resident, active-duty members of the armed forces while on official leave. However, when trout fishing they must have copy of their Military Orders in their possession.
- Tenants, on the land they rent and occupy, are not required to have a license, but must have the written permission of the landowner.
- Guests fishing in individually owned private ponds.
- Nonresident children under 16 years of age (also do not need a trout license).
- Legally blind persons.
- Any Indian who “habitually” resides on an Indian reservation or a member of the Virginia-recognized tribes who resides in the Commonwealth is not required to have a freshwater license; however, such Indian must have on his person an identification card or paper signed by the chief of his tribe, a valid tribal identification card, written confirmation through a central tribal registry, or certification from a tribal office. However, a saltwater fishing license is required.
- Stockholders owning 50 percent or more of the stock of any domestic corporation owning land in Virginia, his or her spouse and children and minor grandchildren, resident or nonresident, to hunt, trap and fish within the boundaries of lands and inland waters owned by the domestic corporation.
- Persons 65 years of age or older do not need a saltwater license but must comply with the Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) requirements.
- Any person not fishing but aiding a disabled license holder.
Where to Get a Fishing License
Online: Go Outdoors Virginia
- New Customers: Create a unique customer account to access licenses and other products.
- Existing Customers: Log in using your date of birth, last name, and either your DWR Customer ID, the last 4 digits of your SSN or driver’s license number.
Select the license(s) you want, pay with your credit card and print your license if needed.
- Sold by some clerks of the Circuit Court , license agents across Virginia, and DWR headquarters.
- Not sold at DWR regional offices.
- Find a license agent
By Phone/Mobile Phone:
804-367-1000 during regular business hours, or use your Go Outdoors Virginia mobile app.
The issuance fee is included in the prices below.
Resident and nonresident licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase unless otherwise noted.
|Sportsman’s License (16 years or older)
Includes hunting license, bear license, deer/turkey license (valid July 1–
|County/City Resident Freshwater Fishing*
(For county or city of residence only)
|Resident State Freshwater Fishing License* (age 16 and older)||
|Resident State Fresh/Saltwater Fishing*||$39.50|
|Resident Saltwater Fishing License||$17.50|
|South Holston Reservoir Fishing License
Allows fishing in both Tennessee and Virginia waters of South Holston Reservoir
|Resident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing||$14.00|
|Resident 5-Day Fresh/Saltwater Fishing (5 consecutive days)
Not valid in designated stocked trout waters
|Resident 10-Day Saltwater Fishing (10 consecutive days)||$10.00|
|Resident Tidal Boat Sport Fishing||$126.00|
|Resident 65 and Over Annual Freshwater Fishing*||$9.00|
|Resident Trout Fishing (October 1–June 15)
Required in addition to other resident licenses if fishing in stocked waters.
* A valid trout license (annual or lifetime) is required in addition to other resident licenses only if you are fishing in designated stocked trout waters (October 1–June 15).
|Nonresident State Freshwater Fishing (age 16 or older)**||$47.00|
|Nonresident Saltwater Fishing License||$25.00|
|Nonresident State Fresh/Saltwater Fishing**||$71.00|
|Nonresident 1-Day Freshwater Fishing
Not valid in designated stocked trout waters
|Nonresident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing**
(5 consecutive days)
|Nonresident 10-Day Saltwater Fishing License
(10 consecutive days)
|Nonresident 5-Day Fresh/Saltwater Fishing**
(5 consecutive days)
|Nonresident Tidal Boat Sport Fishing||$201.00|
|Nonresident Annual Fishing License for 70% or Greater Service-Connected Partially Disabled Veterans and Service-Connected Totally and Permanently Disabled Veterans
Nonresident Veterans rated 70% or greater service-connected or as Total and Permanent Service-Connected by the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs Administrative Office may apply for a discounted annual fishing license. All applicable licenses, stamps, or permits are required in addition to this license. Please visit the Forms section of this website for application, instructions, and prices. Applications may be mailed or brought into our Henrico office location only.
|Nonresident Trout Fishing (October 1–June 15)
Required in addition to other nonresident licenses if fishing in stocked waters.
** A valid nonresident trout license ($23.00 annual or $555.00 lifetime) is required in addition to other nonresident licenses only if you are fishing in designated stocked trout waters (October 1–June 15).
|Daily Permit Required at Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, and Douthat State Park Fee Fishing Areas
Required in addition to regular resident, resident 5-day license, nonresident, or nonresident 1-day or 5-day license.
|National Forest Permit
For fishing in the National Forest, this permit is required along with the required fishing licenses (exceptions: residents under 16 and over 65, nonresidents under 16). See National Forest Permit below.
|Virginia State Forest Use Permit
Allows hunting, trapping, fishing, mountain biking, and horse riding. No motorized vehicles on gated roads/trails (open or closed). Sold in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Forestry. See State Forest Use Permit below.
|County Dip Net Permit
To take shad, herring, and mullet. River herring and American shad may not be harvested from tidal waters.
|Public Access Lands for Sportsmen (PALS)||$18.00|
- Available to Virginia residents and non-residents under the age of 2 years upon date of application receipt to Department of Wildlife Resources.
- The legacy hunting lifetime license is valid until the individual’s 12th birthday at which time they must complete an approved hunter education course or equivalent, then transfer the legacy to a regular hunting lifetime at no additional charge.
- Virginia resident and nonresident lifetime licenses available.
- Certain Virginia residents may purchase their lifetime licenses online through www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com provided their Virginia residency status can be verified through Virginia DMV.
- The lifetime hunting license equals the state hunting licenses; all other applicable licenses, stamps, or permits are required in addition to this license.
- Resident Junior Lifetime Hunting license is available to Virginia residents under the age of 12. This license will expire on their 12th birthday, and is transferable when they complete and submit the Youth Hunter Education Compliance form and a copy of their Hunter Safety or equivalent completed certificate.
Senior Combo Lifetime
- Available to Virginia residents 80 years of age and older.
- All other applicable licenses, stamps, and permits (except the bear license and deer/turkey license) are required in addition to this license.
Resident Service-Connected Disability Veteran Lifetime
- Virginia residents who are disabled due to a service-connected disability rated 30% or greater by the U.S. Veterans Administration office may apply for this lifetime license(s).
- Discounted fees for the licenses are based upon the individual’s current U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs disability rating.
- The Veteran lifetime freshwater fishing license does not include a trout license. A trout license will be required if fishing in stocked trout waters. All other applicable licenses, stamps, or permits are required in addition to this license. Please visit the Forms section of this website for applications, prices, and further instructions when applying for a lifetime license.
Additional Fishing License Information
Tidal Boat License
The tidal boat license is available to any boat owner, resident and nonresident. The license is a special combined sportfishing license that gives the boat owner a license to fish in saltwater and freshwater within Virginia. The license also covers all passengers on board the owner’s boat when fishing in Virginia tidal waters (to river Fall Lines) and saltwater only when the registered boat owner is present. There are no decals issued under this license and the VMRC Fisherman Identification Program rules apply for passengers fishing in saltwater under this tidal boat license. See the VMRC website for more information.
National Forest Permit
All persons are required to have a National Forest Permit (with the exceptions listed below) when fishing on National Forest lands except on the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River, the James River, Skidmore Lake in Rockingham County, North Fork Pound Reservoir, Lake Moomaw, the Jackson River below Gathright Dam, and in Wilson Creek below Douthat Lake in Alleghany and Bath Counties. Those exceptions, not required to have a National Forest Permit, are residents under 16 and over 65, and nonresidents under 16.
State Forest Use Permit
Required for those persons aged 16 or older to practice the following activities on a state forest: hunting, trapping, fishing, mountain biking, and horse riding. No motorized vehicles on gated roads/trails (open or closed). The Forest Use Permit is not required for forest visitors who practice the following activities on a state forest: walking, hiking, or boating. Sold in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Forestry.
An access permit is required when using any DWR-owned or managed facility or boating access site. Such permit shall not be required for any person holding a valid hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current certificate of boat registration issued by the Department or persons under the age of 17. The Access Permit requirement does not apply to passengers of vessels launched from Department-owned boat ramps or segments of the Appalachian Trail on Department-owned land. The permit fee is $4 for a daily permit or $23 for an annual permit and may be purchased online or at any license agent.
If you purchased a license from a retail license agent, online or by phone, you can visit Go Outdoors Virginia, select “Manage Your Account” and reprint your license anytime. You can also visit any retail license agent that sells hunt/fish licenses or call the Headquarters office at 804-367-1000 during normal business hours.