Florida Fishing License: A Guide to Sunshine State Fishing

Fishing in Florida is a popular activity for residents and tourists alike. However, before you cast your line, you’ll need to ensure you’re not breaking any of Florida’s fishing laws. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just getting started, having the right license is essential for enjoying this beautiful state’s waterways.

shoreline and pier in tampa florida

Fishing licenses come in various packages depending on the location and species of fish you hope to catch. Check out our comprehensive guide on getting a Florida fishing license, why you need one, eligibility requirements, costs, and where to get one.

Why You Need a Florida Fishing License

A fishing license in Florida helps fund the state’s vital conservation and fisheries management programs. The programs are necessary to help maintain healthy ecosystems and promote sustainable recreational fishing opportunities.

Furthermore, having a valid license also means that you’re following the state’s regulations and restrictions put in place to help protect its natural resources.

The law requires all Florida residents who are 16 years and above to have a fishing license. However, there are exceptions to this regulation. You don’t need saltwater fishing licenses if you’re fishing on a charter boat, aboard a boat whose captain holds a current saltwater recreational vessel license, and during free fishing days.

Furthermore, you don’t require a Florida freshwater fishing license in an artificial pond on private property that’s 20 acres in size and has no public water connectivity. You also fish license-free in a 20-acre or more pond owned by a licensed fish pond operator.

Florida residents 65 years and above and individuals with disabilities qualify for an exemption. Minors under 16 years don’t require a fishing license.

Types of Florida Fishing Licenses

Here are the different types of Florida fishing licenses you can purchase.


A freshwater fishing license allows you to fish in freshwater bodies such as lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds. The license is also valid for use on some private lands. Freshwater fishing licenses limit the fish and other marine life you can keep. For example, some freshwater mussel families and turtle species are illegal to retain.

You can apply for non-resident annual, non-resident three days, non-resident five years, and more. With any of these fishing licenses, you are free to catch freshwater fish around Florida.


Florida requires a recreational saltwater fishing license to remove any living saltwater organisms. That includes all fish, crabs, and clams. Florida residents don’t have to pay for the free shoreline fishing license, but they must still register.

The most popular saltwater fishing licenses are non-resident annual and seven-day fishing. A valid saltwater fishing license allows the harvesting of saltwater species around Florida.

Combination Licenses

Combined licenses are exclusively available for Florida residents and permit you to fish in all the state’s water bodies, including the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, and inland rivers and streams. The fishing license is ideal if you want to fish for various species.

You can opt for annual resident freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing combinations. Alternatively, you can consider a resident freshwater fishing and hunting license.

Other Fishing Requirements in Florida

Besides the general fishing license required in Florida, there are additional permits that you must have when fishing for certain Florida fish species, including:


a happy fisherman holding a snook fish

Snooks is a popular target for anglers because of their deliciousness and their exciting fights when caught. Colder weather has a devastating effect on snooks.

You’ll only find them in Florida’s southern seas and at specific periods of the year. The species faces an extinction danger because of fluctuating weather and excessive harvests. Consequently, the state has legislated measures to control their capture.

It costs $10 per year to obtain a permit that allows you to fish for snook. There is also a five-year license for $50, but it’s only available to Florida residents. In addition, specific snook rules control catch-and-release practices. The rules change with the season and the state’s region.


Tarpon fishing swimming in crystal blue ocean water

You’ll need a special license to go tarpon fishing in Florida. The tarpon is a highly sought-after game fish due to its large size and impressive acrobatics when caught.

The state limits the number of tarpons you can keep or harvest and the type of gear you can use to reduce the overall impact on the species’ population. The specific tarpon fishing restrictions differ according to the state’s location and time of the year.

Spiny Lobster

spiny lobster retreating under a coral reef on the ocean floor

Spiny lobster fishing in Florida requires a regular saltwater fishing license and an additional permit. Locals can purchase a one-year license for $5 or a five-year license for $25. Similar to snooks, there are also special rules for catching spiny lobster.

The rules entail minimum sizes, per-person bag restrictions, and bans on taking egg-laying females. Authorities restrict sport and economic spiny lobster fishing to specific times of the year.

Other Required Permits

You’ll need a valid saltwater pier license and the basic fishing license when fishing for blue and stone crabs Florida fish species. The permits for catching these species are separate from recreational fishing licenses and require additional paperwork.

Blue crabs can be caught with a cast net and dip nets. You don’t need a recreational license to use these items. However, you must follow the Wildlife Conservation Commission catch, size, and daily harvest limits.

You must obtain a special permit to use traps to catch stone crabs. The permit has several restrictions on the types of traps you can use. There are closed seasons for blue and stone crab fisheries in Florida. It’s illegal to take or possess crab species during these seasons.

How To Apply for a Florida Fishing License

Getting a fishing license in Florida is easy. First, you can purchase a fishing license online. You’ll need a valid Florida driver’s license or state-issued identification card. You can then visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website and use their online licensing system to purchase your license.

You can also get a fishing license by visiting a local vendor such as a tackle shop, sporting goods store, Walmart, or marina. One advantage of making an in-person purchase is evading the processing costs associated with online purchases. The vendors are also ready to answer any questions you may have. 

Suppose you prefer not to go through the hassle of purchasing a fishing license online or in person. You can apply for a free temporary fishing license by completing an application and providing proof of residency.

The permit is only valid for a particular calendar year and is not applicable for commercial purposes. It’s not mandatory, but you can request a physical license card. That comes with a $5 surcharge, but the state will send it to you in the mail.

Cost of a Florida Fishing License

Here’s a quick guide on how much you can expect to pay for a Florida fishing license.


For a freshwater fishing license, expect to pay the following:

  • Residents: 3-day freshwater fishing (N/A), 7-day freshwater fishing (N/A), annual freshwater fishing ($17), 5-year freshwater fishing ($79).
  • Non-residents: 3-day freshwater fishing ($17), 7-day freshwater fishing ($30), annual freshwater fishing ($47), 5-year freshwater fishing (N/A).


You will pay the costs below for a saltwater fishing license.

  • Residents: 3-day saltwater fishing (N/A), 7-day saltwater fishing (N/A), annual saltwater fishing ($17), and 5-year saltwater fishing ($79).
  • Non-residents: 3-day saltwater fishing ($17), 7-day saltwater fishing ($30), annual saltwater fishing ($47), 5-year saltwater fishing (N/A).

Combination Licenses

Here are the costs you will incur for combination licenses.

  • Residents: Annual freshwater/saltwater combo ($32.50).
  • Non-residents: Annual freshwater/saltwater combo (N/A).

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions people ask about Florida fishing permits.

Are there penalties for fishing without a license in Florida?

If you qualify for a fishing license and the authorities find you fishing without one, you’ll have to pay the license’s cost and additional fines ranging from $50 and above.

Can I use a Florida fishing license in other states?

It’s dependent on where you live. You can use your Florida license in Lake Seminole regions if you don’t have a valid Georgia fishing license. But your license is not valid for fishing in any Alabama waters.

How do I replace a fishing license in Florida?

You replace a fishing license in Florida by visiting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website. To begin the process, you’ll need to enter your driver’s license number, date of birth, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN).

Is it easy to renew a fishing license in Florida?

Yes, it’s easy to do a fishing license renewal unlike in many states. You can do it by phone or person at a certified agent or tax collector’s office.

Do licenses cost more for foreign nationals?

No. Foreigners can purchase regular non-resident fishing licenses like Americans from other states.

Do I need a license to fish in Florida if I am disabled?

Yes, but there are no charges. You’re going to require a disabled fishing license to fish in both freshwater and saltwater and harvest snook and lobster.

Tommy Bull
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