Who needs a License to Fish in Florida?

Do you always have to have a license to fish in Florida?

Whether you are a resident or a visitor to Florida, if you fish in salt or freshwater, you will need to have a fishing license. The state of Florida has a few different options for purchasing a license ranging from the day permit to the yearly licensing. There are a few exceptions to who needs to have a permit which will be listed below. That being stated, if you are not fully sure if you need to acquire a fishing license or not, please visit the FWC website or call the FWC, as there are fines and penalties for fishing without the proper licensing.

Types of licenses

Florida issues both Saltwater and Freshwater fishing licenses. There is not a license that covers both, so any angler who wishes to fish in the Gulf and Atlantic as well as inland should purchase both the saltwater and the freshwater license. Additionally, those who are fishing for Snook and Spiny Lobster will need to have additional permits. Thereby, if you are a charter vessel or if you are operating any boat in Florida’s waters, you will need to have the proper tag and licensing for the vessel as well.

There is also a difference in the types of license depending on whether you are a resident or a visitor to the state. The cost is lower for residents of Florida. When purchasing your license ensure that you have the proper identification as well as understand what type of fishing you will be conducting.


Generally, everyone is required to have a fishing license in the state of Florida. There are a few exemptions where a license is not needed. These exemptions are:

  • If you are under the age of 16 or over the age of 65 (and a resident)
  • You fish on your homestead in freshwater
  • You are a certified totally disabled person and possess a Florida Residential permanent disabled fishing license
  • You are a resident and in the Armed Forces of the US, you are not stationed in FL, and you are on home leave for over 30 days or less
  • You are filming someone fishing and are not assisting in any way to the fishing.
  • You are a disabled veteran or on active/reserve duty and an assistant who is participating in a permitted outdoor recreational event which has a Commissioned permit
  • You are an accepted Client for developmental disability services
  • You are fishing on a private pond (must be less than 20 acres). Should the pond be more than 20 acres a $3 fee per acre is applied.
  • If you have a commercial fishing license a personal saltwater license is not needed

Charter fishing and Pier Fishing

If you hire a charter, you do not have to have a fishing license so long as the boat has the proper vessel permit from Florida. Additionally, if you fish from a pier for recreational purposes and that pier has a valid pier saltwater fishing license you do not have to have a permit.

Uncommon Exceptions

A few uncommon exceptions to licensing include Georgia residences who fish in the St. Mary’s river or in Lake Seminole. Georgia residences need to have fishing licenses to fish, but they do not have to have Florida permits.

The only other exception to obtaining a license for fishing is if a person is fishing with a pole which does not have any type of line retrieval system (such as a bamboo pole and line) and the person is using live or natural bait.

Florida Management areas

Any people fishing in the Florida Management areas must have permits. There are no exceptions to this rule. To find out where the management areas are located, see the Vessel Vendor location pages or contact the FWC.

Find an offshore fishing boat or Charter boat

Once you have all your licensing in order and are ready to go out into the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico, visit Vessel Vendor’s site to browse our selection of pre-owned angler boat, or read up on articles pertaining to fishing and boating in Florida. Vessel Vendor specializes in all things related to boat and Yacht ownership.

Are you not sure if you need a boat? Do you need to know more about a fishing vessel before opening a charter? Not a problem. Our site has several resources which can help you. We have brand reviews, manufacturer reviews, location pages, and help pages (such as this).

Should you have any questions about who needs a license to fish in Florida, if you wish to purchase a fishing boat for Florida, list your Charter boat with Vessel Vendor, or if you have general questions about Vessel Vendor, please contact us through the appropriate form on our site. We look forward to hearing from you.