The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Virginia Fishing License

Last Updated on June 2, 2023

Are you planning to go fishing in Virginia? You’ll need a valid fishing license before you can dip your line into the state’s rivers and lakes. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of getting your Virginia fishing license so that you can enjoy all of the excellent recreational fishing opportunities available. 

From learning which type of license or permit is best for your needs, to understanding the costs and duration of a Virginia fishing license, this article will provide everything you need to know about obtaining your license with ease.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Virginia?

VA Fishing License Age RequirementResidentNon-Resident
Virginia freshwater fishing license16-64 Years of Age16+ Years of Age
Virginia saltwater fishing license16+ Years Years of Age16+ Years Years of Age

Virginia offers tons of great fishing, in fact, it takes the sport so seriously, Virginia Tech has one of the best bass fishing programs in the state. 

However, keep in mind that DWR fishing regulations require that anyone over the age of 16 holds a valid fishing license if they are participating in the sport in any designated fishing areas.

Those exempt from needing a fishing license in Virginia:

• Resident and nonresident landowners in VA, their spouses, children, and grandchildren, and the spouses of such children and grandchildren, or the landowner’s parents.

• Fishing on one’s own land, private property, and inland waters do not require a license.


  • Virginia residents 16 and older must get a paid saltwater recreational fishing license to fish in tidal waters unless they meet certain exemptions;
  • Anglers younger than 16 are exempt from paying for a license or FIP no-cost registration;
  • Anglers aged 65 or older do not require a paid license, although they must obtain a no-cost FIP registration prior to fishing;
  • VA resident anglers 65 or older have an option of buying a lifetime saltwater fishing license for $5; doing so means they do not have to register in the FIP system.


This license includes a hunting license, bear license, deer/turkey license (valid July 1–June 30), archery license, muzzleloader license, and freshwater fishing license.

South Holston Reservoir Fishing License

Fishing in the South Holston Reservoir requires a special, additional license to fish upstream of the dam.

This license is valid for fishing in both the Tennessee and Virginia waters of the reservoir, but it does not replace the need for a valid resident fishing license. 

State regulations for bag limits, seasons, and other rules should be reviewed in advance to ensure compliance with state law. 

Virginia Fishing Seasons

Virginia has a continuous, year-round season for all freshwater fish, with some exceptions such as designated stocked trout waters and youth-only stocked trout waters. 

Additionally, special methods and limited closures may be available for taking nongame fish. 

Regulations set by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission are also in place for anadromous (coastal) striped bass, alewife, and blueback herring in tidal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as anadromous (coastal) American shad and hickory shad -all other saltwater fish below the fall line in tidal rivers of the Chesapeake Bay. 

Trout License

trout fish underwater

When fishing designated stocked trout water in Virginia, an additional trout license is required. This separate license must be obtained in addition to the regular resident fishing license.

To fish these waters, both the regular fishing and trout licenses must be presented at all times.

 It is important to note that a resident may not use a 5-day freshwater license in combination with a trout license when fishing for trout. 

Tidal Boat License

This license entitles the registered boat owner (the licensee) to an individual fishing license valid for all Virginia freshwater and saltwater areas, including fishing from shore. 

When the boat owner/licensee is present on any registered boat while fishing in only Virginia tidal waters, they and their passengers may fish without needing an additional paid license.

What Age Do You Need a Fishing License in Virginia? 

Both residents and non-residents need a fishing license if they are over the age of 16. 


Virginia residents are those individuals who have physically been present in the state or have maintained a place of abode here for more than 183 days during the taxable year. 

These days do not need to be consecutive, allowing for residency to be intermittent or seasonal. 

Virginia resident veterans rated 70% or greater service-connected or as Total and Permanent Service-Connected by the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs Administrative Office can receive a discounted annual fishing license. 

All required licenses, stamps, and permits must be purchased in addition to this license. Applications for the discounted license can be found on the website’s Forms section with instructions and prices for submission. 

Applications may only be submitted via mail or at the Henrico office location. 


Anyone who does not meet the criteria above must purchase a Virginia non-resident fishing license, which is priced slightly higher than the resident license,

How to Buy a Virginia Fishing License

Virginia landscape

You can purchase your Virginia fishing license in two ways. Online or in person. 

However, if you get stuck and need help, you can call or email Virginia’s customer service team is available to help.

Call the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 1-866-721-6911 or send an email Monday through Friday during business hours for license information.


To purchase your Virginia fishing license online, visit the Go Outdoors Virginia website, create a customer account,  fill out the application, and print the license. 

License Agents

If you would rather purchase your license in person, you can visit one of the hundreds of license agents located throughout the Commonwealth. 

How much is a fishing license in Virginia

Resident Fishing License
TitleLicense Fee
Sportsman’s License (16 years or older)$100.00
County/City Resident Freshwater Fishing June 30), $16.00
Resident State Freshwater Fishing License1-year license: $23.00
2-year license: $44.00
3-year license: $65.00
4-year license: $86.00
Resident State Fresh/Saltwater Fishing*$39.50
Resident Saltwater Fishing License$17.50
South Holston Reservoir Fishing License$21.00
Resident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing$14.00
Resident 5-Day Fresh/Saltwater Fishing (5 consecutive days) Not valid in designated stocked trout waters$24.00
Resident 10-Day Saltwater Fishing (10 consecutive days)$10.00
Resident Tidal Boat Sport Fishing$126.00
Resident 65 and Over Annual Freshwater Fishing*$9.00
Resident Trout Fishing (October 1–June 15) Required in addition to other resident licenses if fishing in stocked waters.$23.00
Non-resident Fishing License
TitleLicense Fee
Nonresident State Freshwater Fishing (age 16 or older)**$47.00
Nonresident Saltwater Fishing License$25.00
Nonresident State Fresh/Saltwater Fishing**$71.00
Nonresident 1-Day Freshwater Fishing$8.00
Nonresident 5-Day Freshwater Fishing (5 consecutive days)$21.00
Nonresident 10-Day Saltwater Fishing License (10 consecutive days)$10.00
Nonresident 5-Day Fresh/Saltwater Fishing (5 consecutive days)$31.00
Nonresident Tidal Boat Sport Fishing$201.00
Nonresident Trout Fishing (October 1–June 15)$23.00

Lifetime License

grandfather and grandson fishing in Virginia

​​With a Virginia Lifetime Hunting, Freshwater, Trout, and/or Saltwater Fishing License, you can hunt, fish, or trap for the rest of your life.

Note that lifetime license holders may still need to purchase annual licenses for bear, deer or turkey, archery, muzzleloader, or other permits as required. 

Both residents and non-residents qualify.

Lifetime Licenses
License TitleLicense Price
Resident Junior (age 2 thru 11)Not Available
Resident 44 and Under$265.00
Resident 45 to 50$215.00
Resident 51 to 55$165.00
Resident 56 to 60$115.00
Resident 61 to 64$65.00
Resident 65 and Older$25.00
Non-Resident Junior (under age 12)Not Available
Non-Resident 44 and Under$580.00
Non-Resident 45 to 50
Non-Resident 51 to 55
Non-Resident 56 to 60
Non-Resident 61 to 64
Non-Resident 65 and Older
Disabled Resident (allows Hunting, Trapping, Freshwater Fishing, and Saltwater Fishing)$15.00
Saltwater Licenses
Resident Junior (age 2 – 11)Not Available
Resident 44 and Under$276.00
Resident 45 to 50$132.00
Resident 51 to 55$99.00
Resident 56 to 60$66.00
Resident 61 to 64$35.00
Resident 65 and Older$5.00
Non-Resident Junior (under age 12)Not Available
Non-Resident 44 and Under$500.00
Non-Resident 45 to 50$240.00
Non-Resident 51 to 55$180.00
Non-Resident 56 to 60$120.00
Non-Resident 61 to 64$60.00
Non-Resident 65 and OlderNot Available
Non-resident Disabled$10.00
Trout Permit
Resident Junior (age 2 thru 11)Not Available
Resident 44 and Under$265.00
Resident 45 to 50$132.00
Resident 51 to 55$99.00
Resident 56 to 60$66.00
Resident 61 to 64$35.00
Resident 65 and Older$5.00
Non-Resident Junior (under age 12)Not Available
Non-Resident 44 and Under$580.00
Non-Resident 45 to 50
Non-Resident 51 to 55
Non-Resident 56 to 60
Non-Resident 61 to 64
Non-Resident 65 and Older
Legacy License (Under 2)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you fish without a license in Virginia right now?

You can fish without a license in Virginia right now if you are under the age of 16, or if it is a free fishing day.

How much is a fishing license in Virginia?

How much a fishing license in Virginia is dependent on the license purchased and whether or not you are a resident. 

The most popular license option is the annual license which allows anglers to fish in Virginia for one year. 

Resident Price: $23.00
Non-resident price: $25.00

Does a 65 year old need a fishing license in Virginia?

A 65 year old does need a fishing license in Virginia. 

There are multiple options for anyone 65+ with durations ranging from a few days to lifetime licenses.

Final Thoughts

Getting a fishing license in Virginia is an easy process that both allows anglers to fish legally in the state, but also protects the waterways and abundance of game fish available in the state.

Once you get your Virginia fishing license, be sure to download our bass fishing lure cheat sheet, so you always know the best lure to throw, no matter where you’re fishing.