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VIRGINIA SALTWATER RECREATIONAL FISHING LICENSES

Important Note: the Commission (VMRC) will implement a free state saltwater angler identification program in January of 2011 in order to exempt saltwater anglers from having to register yearly with the National Saltwater Angler Registry and pay an annual federal registration fee. The Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) will require unlicensed saltwater anglers age 16 and older to register for free with the VMRC and receive an identification number annually. If someone plans to saltwater fish without needing to buy a license, they'll need to register with VMRC. Adult anglers who fish for anadromous or marine species in Virginia's freshwaters will need to register as well. If you plan to only fish from a licensed charter boat you do not have to register. You may register online at www.mrc.virginia.gov/FIP or call toll-free 800-723-2728. Phone operators can only take registrations and cannot look up FIP information or answer program questions. For more information on the FIP, visit www.mrc.virginia.gov/FIP or call the VMRC at 757-247-2200. 

Saltwater recreational fishing license and FIP registration requirements when fishing in VA tidal waters and not on a VA or PRFC licensed charter or head boat:

Younger than 16 years of age: no paid license or FIP no-cost registration required.

16 years or older and less than 65 years old (16-64 years old): a paid license is required unless one of following exemptions applies:

fishing from a public fishing pier with a VMRC issued license that allows pier anglers to fish without license
any non-license holder fishing from a private boat with a VA or PRFC saltwater boat license
fishing from the angler's private property/pier
fishing in VA with a reciprocal MD saltwater license

Individuals fishing without license under these exemptions are required to obtain a no-cost FIP registration prior to fishing.

65 years of age or older: No license is required, but these older anglers are required to obtain a no-cost FIP registration prior to fishing.  Effective 7/1/13 there is a $5 optional lifetime saltwater fishing license for VA resident anglers 65 or older, if a person has purchased this optional license they do not need to register in FIP.

Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing Licenses:  The fishing licenses listed below are required for recreational, non-commercial use of a rod-and-reel (hook and line), handline, spear or gig, cast net, or up to two eel pots  in Virginia tidal saltwater areas including the Atlantic Ocean out to the three mile limit.  Click here for a description of Saltwater/Freshwater Licensing Boundaries.  Exemptions from licensing requirements and license reciprocity information are listed below.

Recreational Saltwater Fishing License Fees

 

Individual SW, Resident 

$17.50

Individual SW, Nonresident

$25.00

Individual FW/SW, Resident 

$40.00

Individual FW/SW, Nonresident

$71.00

SW 10-day temp, Resident 

$10.00

SW 10-day temp, Nonresident

$10.00

FW/SW 5-day temp, Resident 

$24.00

FW/SW 5-day temp, Nonresident

$31.00

* SW Recreational boat, Resident 

$48.00

** SW Recreational boat, Nonresident

$76.00

Reissuance of SW Recreational Boat License

$5.00

*** Tidal Boat Sport Fishing, Resident 

$126.00

*** Tidal Boat Sport Fishing, Nonresident

$201.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (Under 45), Resident 

$276.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (Under 45), Nonresident

$500.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (45-50), Resident 

$132.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (45-50), Nonresident

$240.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (51-55), Resident 

$99.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (51-55), Nonresident

$180.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (56-60), Resident 

$66.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (56-60), Nonresident

$120.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (61-64), Resident 

$35.00

**** Individual Lifetime SW (61-64), Nonresident

$60.00

****Individual Resident Lifetime License age 65 and older (available 7/1/13)*****

$5.00

****Individual Lifetime SW Disabled, Resident 

$10.00

****Individual Lifetime SW Disabled, Nonresident

$10.00

* This entitles a registered boat owner listed as the licensee to an individual fishing license valid for all Virginia saltwater recreational fishing.  Non-Residents purchasing the Non-Resident SW Recreational Fishing Boat License must have a boat registered in VA.  Non-residents without a boat registered in VA are not eligible to obtain the NR Boat License.  MD or PRFC license holders with reciprocity privileges can fish in VA without purchasing the NR license - see below for more on reciprocity.

** Non-Residents purchasing the Non-Resident SW Recreational Fishing Boat License must have a boat registered in VA.  Non-residents without a boat registered in VA are not eligible to obtain the NR Boat License.  MD or PRFC license holders with reciprocity privileges can fish in VA without purchasing the NR license - see below for more on reciprocity.

*** The tidal boat license is a new type of boat license that became available 7/1/11.  This entitles a registered boat owner listed as the licensee to an individual fishing license valid for ALL Virginia freshwater and saltwater, which would include fishing from shore. In addition, when the boat owner/licensee is aboard any of their own registered boats while fishing in only Virginia tidal waters, they and their passengers may fish without additional license (unlicensed passengers do however have to comply with FIP registration requirements).  Non-resident tidal boat licensees are not required to have their boats registered in Virginia to qualify to purchase this license.

**** Click here to visit the DGIF web site that describes how to obtain a lifetime or disabled saltwater fishing license.

***** This new resident lifetime license for individuals age 65 and older is an optional license which can be purchased to allow fishing in MD waters under the VA/MD reciprocity agreement or to avoid annual FIP registration requirements.  The license is optional and individuals age 65 and older may still fish Virginia tidal waters for saltwater species without a license if desired, although they still must comply with annual FIP registration requirements if they have not purchased a license.

The saltwater recreational hook and line licenses listed above are sold by  licensing agents administered by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).  Click here to view a list of licensing agents maintained by DGIF.  Note that although this linked page refers to hunting license agents, DGIF agents sell saltwater recreational fishing licenses, freshwater recreational fishing licenses as well as hunting licenses.

 Get your saltwater fishing license by phone at 1-866-721-6911 (M-F 8-5) !  Click on link to learn more.

Note for saltwater recreational boat licenses purchased by phone: boat stickers are mailed separately by the DGIF & should be received within 10 days after receipt of the paper license from BPS; remember to keep your BPS license to use as an individual license.

 Get your saltwater fishing license online!  Click on link to learn more.

Note for saltwater recreational boat licenses purchased online: boat stickers are mailed separately by the DGIF & should be received within 10 days after the online purchase; remember to keep your online PDF license to use as an individual license.

If you hold a valid fishing license in Maryland or from the Potomac River Fisheries Commission you may not need another license to fish in Virginia.  Read the comments below on license reciprocity for more information.

License Exemptions from 28.2-302.5 (Note beginning January 1, 2011 most anglers fishing under the exemptions below still will need to complete a FIP registration before fishing - click on following link for more information, www.mrc.virginia.gov/FIP).

A. The following persons shall be exempt from the requirements of obtaining a saltwater recreational fishing license as set forth in 28.2-302.1:

1. A person under the age of sixteen or a person who has attained the age of sixty-five.

2. A person fishing from private real property that he owns or rents, the nonpaying guest of such person, or a member of the immediate family of such person.

3. A person fishing from a licensed recreational boat licensed pursuant to 28.2-302.7.

4. A person fishing from a licensed headboat, charterboat or pier licensed pursuant to 28.2-302 or 28.2-302.8.

5. A person fishing with gear licensed by the Commission.

6. The holder of a valid recreational fishing license issued by another state or jurisdiction, upon determination of reciprocity of the license by the Commissioner.

7. Members of the following groups, as determined by the Commissioner:

a. Organized groups of individuals with physical or mental limitations;

b. Organized groups of military veterans residing in veterans' hospitals; and

c. School groups, grades kindergarten through twelve, participating in school-sponsored trips.

8. A permanently and totally disabled person as defined in 58.1-3217 holding a special lifetime saltwater recreational fishing license issued pursuant to 28.2-302.10.

9. A person holding a lifetime saltwater recreational fishing license issued pursuant to 28.2-302.10:1.

10. A person fishing from a federally owned park or reserve with boundaries extending into an adjoining state that does not require a saltwater fishing license.

B. No saltwater recreational fishing licenses shall be required on days that are designated as free fishing days. The Commissioner shall designate no more than three free fishing days in any calendar year. This exemption shall not apply to headboats, charterboats, or rental boats.

Reciprocal Recreational Saltwater Fishing Licenses:

Chesapeake Bay and Seaside - Anglers with saltwater licenses from either Virginia or Maryland may fish in any portion of the Chesapeake Bay, or any of the saltwater reaches of its tributary rivers, as well as seaside bays and creeks and the Atlantic Ocean where a Virginia saltwater license is required. Virginia licenses honored include: 1) individual annual licenses; 2) individual temporary licenses; 3) private boat licenses covering all persons fishing on the boat; 4) annual licenses for charter boats, headboats, and partyboats; and 5) annual licenses for rental boats.

Note:  MD licensees may fish in VA tidal waters as described above without additional license, but must register in the new VA Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) beginning January 1, 2011.  Click on following link for more information, www.mrc.virginia.gov/FIP.

Potomac River
- Anglers with saltwater licenses from either Virginia or the Potomac River Fisheries Commission may fish in any portion of the mainstem of the Potomac River to the lower border of D.C.. Virginia licenses honored include: 1) individual annual licenses; 2) individual temporary licenses; 3) private boat licenses covering all persons fishing on the boat; 4) annual licenses for charter boats, headboats, and partyboats; and 5) annual licenses for rental boats.

Note:  PRFC licensees may fish in VA tidal water as described above without additional license and do not have to register in the new VA Fisherman Identification Program (FIP).  Click on following link for more information, www.mrc.virginia.gov/FIP.

Effective 7/1/13 there is a $5 optional lifetime saltwater fishing license for VA resident anglers 65 or older, if a person has purchased this optional license they do not need to register in the VA FIP.  This optional license can be used by the holder to fish in MD waters under the reciprocity agreement, but the licensee must abide by MD rules and likely will need to register in the MD Angler Registry Program .

Virginia saltwater recreational licenses purchased for fishing in ocean waters are the same license used for Bay waters and have the same reciprocity described above.

MD/VA Reciprocity documents:  <2009 MD/VA Reciprocity Agreement Amendment> <Current MD/VA Reciprocity agreement>

For more information on reciprocity consult the DGIF web site  or the PRFC web site.

[Other saltwater recreational licenses]…[Other Commission licenses]…[Saltwater/Freshwater Licensing Boundaries]

Click here to visit the DGIF site related to freshwater recreational fishing in Virginia

[Application to Transfer Saltwater Recreational Boat License]… Print out the application. Fill in all required information and attach all documentation. Remember to sign and date the last page. Mail to the address listed on the application. Incomplete applications will NOT be accepted.

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