Florida is one of the biggest fishing hubs in the entire world. People from all over the United States, and the world, flock to Florida every year to fish! But to fish in Florida safely and legally, you must have an appropriate Florida fishing license.

In this article, we will share everything you need to know about Florida Fishing Licenses, so you can get the right license for your fishing adventures. And, we will share where and how you get a Florida fishing license!

Florida Fishing Licenses

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History of Fishing Licenses

There are records of fishing licenses that date back as far as the 1760s! Colonial administrators devised the idea of setting limits on anglers. Millions of people fish throughout the US. If not moderated,  the fishing rate would far exceed the spawning rate. To keep fish species from becoming extinct, there are limits on how many licenses, equipment, and the number of fish that the people can take home with them.

In the 1900s, fishing licenses were implemented across the US, even for those who just wanted to try fishing. The practice continued, and fishing licenses are now required in all states.

Fishing License Statistics in Florida

In the fiscal year of 2019-2020, 2.4 million people (both residents and non-residents alike) held an active fishing license in Florida. This protects Florida’s fish species and generates annual revenue between $4 million to $10 million per year.

How Do Fishing Licenses Assist Conservation Efforts?

Fishing licenses assist conservation efforts in several different ways. They help control how much fish is being caught and removed from the rivers and seas. When every angler is accounted for, it’s easier to control how much fish is caught, and limits can be imposed on everyone.

It’s also easy to reprimand the people who go unlicensed and try to slip through the cracks, so the marine life in the area stays at a safe population level, and the numbers won’t deplete.

In addition to this, the revenue brought in by the license is used for conservation research and projects. This enables improving the bodies of water, cleaning the water, and ensuring the environment is projected. There are lots of different ways, direct and indirect, that fishing licenses assist conservation efforts.

Consequences Of Fishing Without A Fishing License

Some people assume that fishing licenses are just a formality and that you don’t need to get one. In reality, if you are caught fishing in Florida without a Florida fishing license, you get a penalty under section 379.354. While this is a noncriminal offense, you’ll still have to pay a fine of over $50 and the cost of a license the first time you’re caught.

If caught another time within a 36-month window, you may face a $100 fine or even a fine up to $500. And, if you are caught, you may also have to appear in court.  Failure to show up in court puts you at risk of having to pay $25000, get a second-degree misdemeanor, and potentially a year in jail.

It’s serious business and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) patrols all the bodies of water in Florida. They check anglers and boats frequently.

Fishing License

Florida Fishing License Costs

There are a few different types of Florida fishing licenses, and the costs for each vary by the type of license you choose. So you need to narrow it down to the type of license you need based on where you plan to fish. Costs vary from $17 to around $80 for individual fishing licenses.

What are the different kinds of fishing licenses?

In Florida, you have the following types of fishing licenses. They’re split between resident and non-resident licenses.

Florida Residents

  • Annual Freshwater-Only Fishing License (cost $17.00).
  • Annual Saltwater-Only Fishing License (price $17.00).
  • Optional Youth License (cost $17.00).
  • 5-year (Freshwater-Only) Fishing License (price $79.00).
  • 5-year (Saltwater Only) Fishing License (price $79.00).
  • Annual Combination Fishing (Freshwater and Saltwater) License (cost $32.50).
  • Annual Freshwater-Only Fishing and Hunting License (cost $32.50).
  • Freshwater and Saltwater, Fishing and Hunting Combination License Annual (cost $48.00).
  • Annual Sportsman’s License (cost $80.50).
  • Lifetime License. For this one, the cost depends on your age when applying. They cost upwards of $80-$100.


  • Annual Freshwater-Only Fishing License for Visitors (cost $47.00).
  • 3-day Freshwater-Only Fishing License (cost $17.00).
  • One week Freshwater-Only Fishing License (cost $30.00).
  • Annual Saltwater-Only Fishing License for visitors (cost $47.00).
  • 3-day Saltwater-Only Fishing License (cost $17.00).
  • One-week Saltwater Fishing License (cost $30.00).

Commercial and Recreational Fishing Licenses – What’s The Difference?

You’ll have to choose between commercial or recreational fishing licenses when applying for a fishing license. Here are the differences between the two:

Recreational Licenses vs. Commercial License

If you are fishing for leisure, you can get a recreational license. This is a basic license for recreational fishers – people fishing for pleasure or to put food on the table. If you plan to go fishing to sell your catch, you must get a commercial license.

Florida Fishing Licenses

Saltwater Fishing

People with a saltwater fishing license can only catch saltwater fish, even if it’s just a catch and release. Saltwater fishing is done from a beach, off rocks, from a pier, or from a boat. Saltwater fishing is a generalized term used in reference to any method of fishing in the ocean or intercoastal waterways. A saltwater fishing license is required to attempt to take any native or nonnative marine organisms, such as crabs, lobsters, and marine plants.

Fishing Licenses

A saltwater fishing license and permits exemptions:

  • You fish from a for-hire vessel (guide, charter, party boat) that has a valid charter license.
  • You fish from a vessel whose operator has a valid recreational saltwater vessel license issued in the name of the operator of the vessel.
  • You are fishing during a free saltwater fishing day.
  • You fish from a pier with a valid saltwater pier license.
  • You have a valid saltwater products license or FWC charter captain license (does not apply to charter boat license or U.S. Coast Guard license).

Freshwater Fishing License

In contrast, anglers that hold a freshwater fishing license can only fish freshwaters such as rivers and lakes.

Freshwater fishing license exemptions:

  • You are fishing in a fish pond of 20 acres or less which is located entirely within the private property of its owner.  A fish pond is a man-made pond constructed for the primary purpose of fishing, entirely within the property lines of the owner and with no surface water connection to public waters.
  • You are fishing during a free freshwater fishing day.

Florida License-Free Fishing Days


  • You are fishing in a freshwater fish pond of 20 acres or more, whose owner has purchased a fish pond license at a fee of $3 per surface acre.
  • You are fishing in the St. Mary’s River or Lake Seminole (but not including tributary creeks in Florida) and have a valid Georgia fishing license.

The people that want to fish both saltwater and freshwater can get a combination license. That will allow them to fish both types without any problems at all.

Fishing License Exemptions

The new shoreline saltwater license requirement allows exemptions for residents who are age 65 or older, all children under age 16, resident disabled persons who meet certain qualifications, active-duty military personnel while home on leave, and all anglers who fish from a licensed pier.

Florida residents receiving benefits or food stamps can do land-based saltwater fishing without a license. Any Florida resident can get a free shoreline fishing license, which allows you to fish for saltwater species from land or from structures attached to the land.

How to Get A Residential Florida Fishing License

You can quickly get a Florida fishing license online by visiting GoOutdoorsFlorida and clicking on the type of license you need. There’s also the Fish|Hunt FL App that you can use on iOS and Android phones to order your license.

Alternatively, you can head to the nearest license agent or tax collector’s office to apply for one in person. You can also get licenses from sporting shops like Bass Pro and Dicks, Walmart, and any registered bait and tackle shop.

Or, if you don’t want to do any of those, call either of the toll-free hotlines available at 888-FISH-FLORIDA (888-347-4356) or 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (888-486-8356)

Whichever way you choose, you can get your Florida fishing license quickly!

How to Get A Visitors’ Licenses (Out of Florida State)

It’s the same process as residents, see above.

Who needs licenses and permits when visiting Florida?

All anglers aged 16 and above need to have Florida licenses and permits before they go fishing. This is because permits or licenses from other states are not valid in Florida. You have to apply to get one from the state itself. The law applies to residents and visitors alike, so make sure you have the correct license before you head to fish in Florida.

Fishing License Renewal

Unlike some states, annual fishing licenses in Florida are valid for 12 months from the date they were issued. You’ll always know whether you’re still covered, as the expiration date will be printed on the license itself. Once it expires, you can renew your fishing license at any official retailer. If your fishing license is lost or stolen, you can purchase a replacement for $2.

Florida Fishing

Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Fishing Licenses

Where can you get fishing licenses?

Florida fishing licenses are available online on GoOutdoorsFlorida, on the Fish|Hunt FL App, at the Florida license agent or tax collector’s office. You can also get licenses from sporting shops like Bass Pro and Dicks, Walmart, and any registered bait and tackle shop.

Is there a lifetime fishing license?

Yes. A lifetime Florida fishing license allows you to fish freely throughout your life. However, the cost for this license type will vary according to how old you were when you applied for it.

Can you get a single license that works in all US states?

Some states accept fishing licenses from other states. However, Florida only accepts their licenses. You cannot fish in Florida without a valid Florida fishing license.

How much is a fishing license in Florida?

There are several different types of fishing licenses that one can get in Florida, and they all vary in terms of validity. Overall, a Florida fishing license cost will range between $17 to around $80 (lifetime licenses can cost more).

Can you fish without a license in Florida?

No, everyone wishing to part-take in any fishing or hunting activities is supposed to carry a valid Florida fishing license. Without it, they may be subject to fines or even arrests. There are some exceptions, see above for the exemptions.

Which fishing license is free in Florida?

The resident recreational saltwater shoreline fishing license is free for residents. However, the condition is that they should be fishing from the shoreline/land itself. If they wish to go to another island or fish from a boat, they will have to get a valid fishing license.

Can I buy a Florida fishing license online?

You can buy the Florida fishing license online by visiting GoOutdoorsFlorida or the Fish|Hunt FL App.

Closing Thoughts

We all love to fish and people love to fish in Florida. Fishing licenses are extremely affordable and the system benefits everyone. If you head out to fish, crab, lobster,  scallop, or catch anything from a body of water in Florida you need a Florida fishing license unless you have a valid exemption.

Don’t make the costly mistake of forgetting to get or renew your license, it’s just not worth it. And, getting on is the right thing to do!

Looking for places to fish in Florida? Start here:

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