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Ultimate Guide to Virginia Fishing License Costs in 2024

As an angler in Virginia, understanding the state’s fishing license requirements and costs is crucial for enjoying a successful and responsible fishing experience. In 2024, Virginia offers a variety of licenses tailored to both residents and non-residents, catering to different fishing preferences and durations.

Purchasing a fishing license is not only a legal requirement but also an investment in the future of Virginia’s aquatic resources. License fees directly support vital conservation efforts led by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), including:

  • Fish stocking and habitat improvement projects
  • Fishing access site maintenance and development
  • Aquatic education programs
  • Fisheries research and monitoring
  • Enforcement of fishing regulations

By obtaining a valid license, anglers help maintain Virginia’s diverse fisheries while avoiding costly fines for non-compliance. This comprehensive guide breaks down the types of licenses available, their costs, and how to purchase them, ensuring you have all the information needed for a worry-free fishing adventure in 2024.

Types of Virginia Fishing Licenses

Virginia provides a range of fishing license options to accommodate the diverse needs of resident and non-resident anglers alike. The most popular licenses include:

Resident Licenses

License Type Description
Annual Freshwater Fish in all public freshwater bodies for one year
Annual Saltwater Access tidal waters for a full year
Combination Freshwater/Saltwater Covers both freshwater and saltwater fishing
County/City Resident Freshwater Valid only within respective county/city boundaries
5-Day Freshwater Short-term license for residents or their guests
5-Day Fresh/Saltwater Brief freshwater and saltwater fishing combo
10-Day Saltwater Shorter duration license focused on saltwater
65+ Annual Freshwater Discounted license for residents aged 65 and above

Non-Resident Licenses

License Type Description
Annual Freshwater Year-round freshwater fishing for non-residents
Annual Saltwater Full year of saltwater access for non-residents
Combination Freshwater/Saltwater Combined freshwater and saltwater license
1-Day Freshwater Ideal for single-day freshwater fishing visits
5-Day Freshwater Suitable for brief non-resident freshwater trips
10-Day Saltwater Ten consecutive days of saltwater fishing
5-Day Fresh/Saltwater Short-term combination license for non-residents

Additional Licenses and Permits

Some fishing activities may require additional licenses or permits, such as:

  • Trout License: For fishing in designated stocked trout waters.
  • National Forest Permit: Required for most waters in Virginia’s George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
  • Virginia State Forest Use Permit: May be needed for fishing access on State Forest lands.
  • Daily Permits: Certain fee-fishing sites or special regulation waters may require specific daily permits.
  • Tidal Boat Sport Fishing License: Covers all passengers on a boat fishing in tidal waters when the registered owner is present.

2024 License Fees for Residents and Non-Residents

Virginia’s fishing license fees vary based on residency status, license type, and duration. The following tables detail the costs for each category in 2024:

Resident License Fees

License Type Fee
Annual Freshwater $23
Annual Saltwater $17.50
Combination Freshwater/Saltwater $39.50
County/City Resident Freshwater $16
5-Day Freshwater $14
5-Day Fresh/Saltwater $24
10-Day Saltwater $10
65+ Annual Freshwater $9

Non-Resident License Fees

License Type Fee
Annual Freshwater $47
Annual Saltwater $25
Combination Freshwater/Saltwater $71
1-Day Freshwater $8
5-Day Freshwater $21
10-Day Saltwater $10
5-Day Fresh/Saltwater $31

Additional Fees

Permit/License Resident Fee Non-Resident Fee
Trout License $23 $47
National Forest Permit (per day) $4 $4
National Forest Permit (annual) $15 $15
Virginia State Forest Use Permit Varies Varies
Daily Permits for Specific Fishing Areas Varies Varies
Tidal Boat Sport Fishing License $126 $201

To help save money, Virginia offers cost-effective multi-year licenses. For example, residents can purchase a 2-year freshwater fishing license for $44, a 3-year license for $65, or a 4-year license for $86.

Exemptions and Discounts

Virginia provides several exemptions and discounts for specific groups:

  • Youth anglers under 16: Children under 16 can fish without a license, encouraging youth participation.
  • Senior citizens aged 65+: Virginia residents aged 65 and above can purchase a discounted annual freshwater fishing license for $9.
  • Disabled veterans: Veterans with a 70% or greater service-connected disability may qualify for discounted or complimentary licenses.
  • Landowners and immediate family: Resident landowners and their immediate family can fish within their property boundaries without a license.

Where and How to Purchase a Virginia Fishing License

Anglers have several convenient options for purchasing a Virginia fishing license:

  1. Online: Buy a license online through the Go Outdoors Virginia website. Create an account, select the desired license, pay with a credit card, and print your license or save it on your mobile device.
  2. In-person: Purchase licenses from authorized license agents, such as sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, convenience stores, local Circuit Court clerk’s offices, or DWR offices.
  3. By phone: Call the DWR customer service center at (866) 721-6911 during regular business hours.
  4. Mobile app: Download the Go Outdoors Virginia mobile app for iOS or Android to purchase and store your fishing license on your smartphone.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can disabled anglers obtain assistance with fishing license requirements?

Disabled anglers can contact the DWR for information on license exemptions, discounts, or accommodations based on their specific needs. Some disabled veterans may qualify for free or discounted licenses.

Can I fish without a license during Virginia’s Free Fishing Days?

Yes, Virginia typically offers a few Free Fishing Days each year, during which residents and non-residents can fish without a license. However, all other fishing regulations still apply. Check the DWR website for the current year’s Free Fishing Days.

Do I need any special permits to fish in specific areas or for certain species?

Some fishing areas, such as fee-fishing sites, special regulation waters, or certain trout streams, may require additional daily permits or tags. Anglers targeting specific species like trout or saltwater fish might need supplementary licenses or permits. Always check the current fishing regulations for the area and species you plan to target.

What should I do if I lose or damage my fishing license?

If your fishing license is lost or damaged, you can easily replace it online through the Go Outdoors Virginia website. Log into your account, access your license history, and reprint your license. You can also visit an authorized license agent or contact the DWR customer service center for assistance.


Obtaining a Virginia fishing license is an essential step for any angler looking to responsibly enjoy the state’s abundant aquatic resources. By purchasing a license, you ensure compliance with the law and contribute to vital conservation efforts that maintain and enhance Virginia’s fisheries for generations to come.

Before embarking on your next fishing adventure, review the current regulations, familiarize yourself with any special requirements for your target area or species, and select the appropriate license for your needs. With a valid fishing license, you’re ready to explore the diverse fishing opportunities Virginia has to offer, from pristine mountain streams teeming with trout to productive coastal waters filled with saltwater species.

So gear up, purchase your license, and embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure in the beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia. Tight lines and happy fishing!

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