Fishing without a license in Florida, or anywhere for that matter, is not worth the risk. The fines are ridiculously stiff so it’s imperative that you obtain a license before casting out a line. I grew up in Florida, have been fishing all my life, and can give you a definitive answer based on recent extensive research.
A Florida freshwater fishing license costs $17 per year for residents and $47 per year for non-residents. A temporary saltwater license can be purchased for 7 days at $30 or 3 days for $17. Florida residents can buy a 5-year saltwater license for $79. Residents can get the combo license for $32.50 a year.
Cost of a Florida Fishing License:
|OR saltwater||5 years||$79||N/A|
Exemptions include non-residents younger than 16 and residents outside of the 16 to 65 age bracket.
Now you have an idea of how much your fishing weekend in Florida will cost you. However, there are several different options to choose from when it comes down to getting your license. Let’s dive in.
Florida Fishing License: Costs and Options
Prices vary depending on whether you are a resident of Florida or not. To be considered as a resident of Florida, you must either be able to prove that you lived in the State for the past months at least or military personnel stationed in Florida. Below you can find a breakdown of the costs, as published by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
If you are planning a vacation in Florida, you cannot miss out on the opportunity to attempt to catch a fish in the fishing capital of the world. Non-residents can take advantage of three offers:
- 3-day license – $17
- 7-day license – $30
- Annual license – $47
If you are a non-resident, you will need to specify whether you need a license for saltwater or freshwater fishing. Mind, the permit will only be valid for one option. If you are planning on fishing in multiple locations, it is recommendable to purchase both saltwater and freshwater licenses.
Residents, instead, benefit from a range of options such as:
- Annual license – $17
- 5-year license – $79
- Annual freshwater and saltwater combo – $32.50
- Saltwater shoreline – $0
- Freshwater, saltwater, fishing, and hunting combo – $48
Other multi-use permits for residents start at $100 (excluding exemptions) and are:
- Silver Sportsman
- Gold Sportsman
- Military Gold Sportsman
- Age 64 or older Sportsman
Once you get a license, I recommend storing it in your tackle box. Forgetting to take it with you is no excuse and will not get you out of the fine. You must have it on your person. I recommend getting a waterproof license holder, like this one found on Amazon.
Florida boasts over 7,000 lakes, 2,200 miles of coastline, and 10,500 miles of rivers. No wonder that it is considered the fishing capital of the world. The bodies of water in the State are home to unique species, making the area a sought-after dream for any fisherman and sportsman.
However, there are some types of fish for which you will need a special permit. If you are attempting to take the following species, make sure to declare it upon ordering your license.
- Snook- you can only keep one snook per year, and a permit for them costs $10.
- Tarpon- a Tarpon Tag costs $51.50. However, these fish are only for catch and release. Or, if you are pursuing an IGFA record, you can keep one per year with such a permit.
- Spiny Lobster- $5 per year.
Can I Fish Without a License in Florida?
Exemptions include resident senior citizens above 65 years of age, below 16 years of age, or with disabilities. Non-residents who are above 16 years of age need a permit. However, you can fish recreationally without a license in designated spots such as licensed piers.
If you are visiting Florida with the specific goal of fishing, you should keep in mind that there are some Free Fishing Days throughout the year.
Free Fishing Days for Saltwater
- June – the first weekend of the month (Saturday and Sunday)
- September – the first Saturday
- The first Sunday following Thanksgiving
Free Fishing Days for Freshwater
- April – the first weekend of the month (Saturday and Sunday)
- June – the second weekend of the month (Saturday and Sunday)
Best Places to Get a Florida Fishing License
If you were not planning a trip to Walmart this week but you need your permit, other available options can be convenient alternatives. Check out what you can do below.
If you have a phone or computer, you will not be struggling to get your permit online. The most straightforward way to do so is to head over to the official Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website. This option is ideal if you would like to select the dates of your next trip in advance. However, you should keep in mind that there will be an additional processing fee of 0.50c.
Via Phone Call
This toll-free system allows you to get in touch and speak to an operator. While it might take you a little longer to get your license, this method is excellent for anybody who is not yet an expert about fishing in Florida. Indeed, if you are not sure about local regulations, locations, and special permits, this is the best way to ensure you are asking for the right license. The toll-free number is 888-FISH-FLORIDA (888-347-4356).
Tax Collector’s Office
If you need individual permissions for certain fish species or you have unique personal requirements, the best way to get them is to visit your local Tax Collector’s Office. The qualified personnel will be able to analyze your request in detail and offer you a range of alternatives.
If you need a license in a brief timescale, you can always visit your local tackle or fishing supply shop that is authorized to sell permits. This method allows you to avoid any additional processing fee and get your license straight away.
How Much Is a Fishing License in Florida at Walmart?
In the next section of this article, we are going to have a look at all the best options you have to obtain your fishing license in advance of your fishing trip. However, Walmart is potentially one of the most popular and convenient ways to buy a permit. Such outlets are everywhere and easily accessible so that you can pick up your license as well as some essential supplies.
However, if you are shopping around to find the cheapest way to buy a license, you should know that Walmart adds a fee of 0.50c on the standard price of the permit. While this might not be an outrageous fee, if you are planning on buying multiple ones or renewing yours often, you might consider finding another way to obtain it.
What Happens If I Fish Without a License?
When I was 19 years old, I went home to visit some friends. One of them suggested fishing behind his house. After growing up on lakes my entire life, I didn’t think twice about agreeing and grabbing a pole. 5 minutes later, a guy in a strange uniform walks up and unceremoniously writes me a ticket for fishing without a license. At the time, I was making $4.25 an hour, so a $60 ticket hurt a lot.
In Florida, the fine for fishing without a license is $50 plus the annual cost of a fishing license. It is considered a level one violation and is not a criminal offense.
What If I Don’t Pay?
Refusing the ticket or not paying is a terrible idea. Failure to comply is a 2nd degree misdemeanor and can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Ouch. This is really silly to even chance since a ticket costs so little.
Why Do They Make Me Have a License Anyway?
No, these regulations and requirements are not there to make your weekend pricier. Licenses and permits are essential to guarantee the conservation of native and non-native species. Indeed, the majority of what you pay to access a fishing zone is redirected to fund conservation projects.
That’s why it is essential to follow these basic rules. Moreover, anybody without a license might need to pay a fine starting from $67. So, if in doubt, it is better to spend a couple of dollars more and get your documentation in check.
Another thing that you should consider when buying a fishing license in Florida is that anybody that is helping you with hooking up baits or even setting up your equipment needs a permit too. Make sure you have the necessary documentation for both you and any friends and family members accompanying you on your trip.
Are you all set up for an unforgettable fishing trip in Florida? Nothing less than the “fishing capital of the world” such a trip will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable memories. However, considering the fines that you could encounter if fishing without a license, you should get your documents in check before baiting your hook.
The price of a fishing license in Florida depends on whether you are a resident or visitor of the State. In the first case, the range of alternatives varies from an annual fishing license to a multi-use, 5-year permit. Instead, visitors can only choose among the annual, 7-day, and 3-day permit options. While there are exceptions to these prices, you should always ensure to have the right permit and documentation before your trip.
For more, check out 4 Best Tasting Freshwater Fish (And How To Prepare Them).
Hey, I’m Jim, and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!