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South Carolina Fishing Licenses

South Carolina fishing licenses are required for anglers to enjoy fishing in state public waters. Fishing licenses are issued to both residents and non residents by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The two main types of SC fishing licenses issued by the department are freshwater fishing licenses and saltwater fishing licenses. Fishing licenses are further categorized based on the applicant’s residency status, age, the length of the license’s validity and the type of fish being caught. Applicants can request a South Carolina fishing permit through the Department of Natural Resources in a number of ways. The most common methods used to buy fishing licenses are over the phone, by mail, online or in person. Applicants planning on getting SC fishing licenses online will need to visit the state’s Department of Natural Resources website to apply through the online marketplace. Annual freshwater fishing licenses and saltwater fishing licenses are valid for a period of one year starting on the date that the fishing permit was purchased. Anglers dealing with stolen or misplaced South Carolina licenses to fish can submit an application for a duplicate license by visiting an authorized license vendor or a local Department of Natural Resources office. Anglers who have received their South Carolina fishing permits must have the fishing license on them at all times. Read the sections outlined below to find out more about how to get fishing licenses in South Carolina:

  • Freshwater licenses to fish
  • Saltwater licenses to fish


South Carolina Freshwater Fishing Licenses

Buying freshwater fishing licenses can be done through the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, whether you are a resident or a non resident. The department offers two types of residential freshwater fishing licenses: the annual fishing license and the three-year fishing license. In order to get an SC resident freshwater fishing license, applicants must submit proof of residency in the form of a valid state ID card or driver’s license. Other groups that are given residential rates for fishing licenses include college students currently enrolled on a full-time basis at one of the state’s educational facilities and military members currently stationed in the state for a period of 30 days or more.

Non residents can also buy freshwater fishing permits at the non resident rate. Non residents must present any necessary documentation along with the appropriate payment for fishing license fees. Additionally, anglers will also be asked to provide their Social Security Numbers when submitting a fishing license application. International anglers without Social Security Numbers can show a government-issued credential or passport instead.

Note: Individuals who intend to fish in a private state pond do not need to purchase a freshwater fishing permit to fish in these waters.

South Carolina Saltwater Fishing Licenses

Saltwater fishing permits are issued by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to anglers planning to catch or harvest marine species such as crab, oysters, finfish, clam or shrimp. Both annual saltwater fishing licenses and three-year saltwater fishing licenses are available through the department. Interested applicants can also purchase a separate shrimp baiting license as well.

Similar to freshwater fishing licenses, South Carolina licenses to saltwater fish can also be obtained through the Department of Natural Resources by placing the order by phone, online, by mail or in person. To buy fishing licenses by phone, call the customer service line at: 1-866-714-3611. For mail-in requests, send the appropriate fishing license application (resident license order form or nonresident license order form) to the state’s fishing department, along with a check or money order for fees.

In certain cases, a permit to saltwater fish is not required in South Carolina. Anglers who are fishing on a charter boat that is licensed and under hire are exempt from saltwater fishing license requirements. Likewise, anglers who are fishing on a public pier that is licensed, are using three drop nets or less, are using three fold-up traps or less, or are using three handlines or less without any hooks and one bait per line are all exempt from saltwater fishing license requirements.

Senior residents who are 64 years of age or older can apply for a deep sea fishing license in South Carolina at a very low cost. To get a lifetime fishing license, visit one of the following Department of Natural Resources branch offices: Charleston, Florence, York, Clemson or Columbia.

Fishing Frequently Asked Questions

Oftentimes you can buy a fishing license through your state’s fishing department website. You will most likely need to create an account on the webpage and have a printer nearby to finalize your transaction. Make sure to also have a valid credit card on hand, as no other form of payment is accepted by state departments online. Take note that, as proof of your residency, you may be required to enter your driver’s license number.
In a general sense, a good number of states offer the following types of fishing licenses: a regular fishing license and a commercial fishing license. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to get a saltwater license to fish, if you are by coastal waters. In addition to these permits, you may be required to buy a fishing stamp, depending on the specific type of fish species you intend to catch.
A regular fishing permit is often valid for the period of a full year. However, you may also have the option to obtain a license to fish that is good for 24 hours or 72 hours, for example. In some instances, a weekly fishing license or a lifetime license may also be available. Lifetime licenses to fish are the most suitable option for those anglers who intend to fish for the duration of their lives. Keep in mind that if you would like to continue fishing after the expiration date of your current licensure, you will be required to get a new permit to fish.
The fees related to a state fishing license may vary, depending on a few factors. But senior residents and military veterans can usually get a fishing license that is free of charge, as long as they can present official documentation that supports their residency or military service. Resident licenses to fish are often more affordable than nonresident licenses. The most costly licenses are for those who would like to get lifetime credentials.
In the event that you have lost your fishing license or it was stolen, the most common way to obtain a duplicate is through your state’s fishing department. You may be required to make an in-person visit to a nearby office or to contact a licensed agent directly. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to order a fishing permit replacement online. But, to be sure, it is important that you double check with your state department first, as you may also need to bring in certain documentation, such as your driver’s license or ID card.
This site is privately owned and is neither affiliated with, nor endorsed by, nor operated by a government agency.