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Virginia Fishing Licenses

Anglers statewide must buy a Virginia fishing license from the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in order to fish recreationally on state waters either inland or off the coast. Groups that are considered exempt by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are not required to buy a fishing license in Virginia. Exempt groups include residents younger than 16 years of age, residents who are members of the military on official leave, legally blind applicants and assistants to disabled anglers who are already licensed. Other individuals must choose between the various options for recreational fishing licenses, including separate licenses for freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing. Additional factors that further categorize fishing licenses include the applicant’s age, residency status, the type of fish being caught and the length of the license’s validity period. Fishing license fees are also dependent on these same factors, with residents getting fishing licenses at a discounted rate. Applicants for fishing licenses in Virginia must decide which categories they fit under and buy fishing licenses that are appropriate to their circumstances. Fishing licenses must be kept on your person at all times while out on any fishing expeditions to avoid any fines issued by Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officials. To find out more about freshwater fishing licenses and saltwater fishing licenses in Virginia, including the various fishing license application processes and appropriate fees, take a look at the information provided in the sections below:

  • Freshwater recreational fishing licenses
  • Saltwater recreational fishing licenses


Virginia Saltwater Fishing License

Buying a saltwater fishing license from the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is required for all off-coast fishing in the state. However, before you plan your next saltwater fishing trip, get acquainted with the different licensing options provided by the department. The following Virginia saltwater fishing permits are available to both residents and non residents, depending on their budget and the amount of time they would like the license to be valid for:

  • Annual saltwater resident fishing licenses
  • Annual saltwater non resident fishing licenses
  • Resident five-day saltwater fishing licenses
  • Nonresident five-day saltwater fishing licenses
  • Lifetime VA saltwater fishing licenses

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries does not offer senior citizens a dedicated license to saltwater fish. Fishermen who are 65 years of age or older can fish in saltwater without licensure as long as they follow state rules.

Saltwater credentials also come with an additional allowance for freshwater fishing. Therefore, saltwater licenses are beneficial for anglers who like to have a wide variety of options when choosing their next fishing location Once you have chosen your desired saltwater fishing license, select the most convenient method for submitting your fishing license application. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries allows applicants to submit fishing license applications online by visiting the official department website. Online applicants must pay the licensing fees with a valid credit card. Additionally, anglers can apply for fishing licenses over the phone by calling 1-866-721-6911 during operating hours, from Monday through Friday. To apply in person, visit a local license agent office or a Circuit Court clerk that has been approved to sell licenses.

Virginia Freshwater Fishing License

Anglers who do not plan to fish off the state’s coast should consider buying a Virginia freshwater fishing license. Freshwater fishing permits give anglers the privilege to fish in any approved freshwater location in the state. A number of freshwater licensing options are available through the wildlife department, including:

  • Annual county/city resident licenses for freshwater fishing.
  • Annual state resident licenses for freshwater fishing.
  • Annual senior licenses to fish in fresh water.
  • Five-day resident freshwater permits.
  • Five-day non resident fishing permit.
  • One-day non resident fishing permits.
  • Annual nonresident licenses for freshwater fishing.
  • Lifetime resident/nonresident fishing licenses.

Prospective anglers who are interested in both saltwater and freshwater fishing can purchase freshwater/saltwater combination licenses. Resident fishing permits in Virginia are issued at a reduced rate in comparison with nonresident fishing permits. To apply for resident fishing licenses, provide proof that you have lived in VA for at least six consecutive months directly prior to submitting your application. To complete a residential fishing license application, submit a form online through the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website. You can also submit applications in person at a local licensing agent or over the phone by calling 1-866-721-6911.

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.