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California Saltwater Fishing License Information

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations California Saltwater Fishing


A resident is defined as any person who has resided continuously in California for six months or more immediately before the date of application for a license, or any person on active military duty with the armed forces of the United States or an auxiliary branch, or a Job Corps enrollee (FGC, Section 70).

Identification Required for License Purchase (CCR T-14, Section 700.4)

Any person applying for any license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement issued via the Automated License Data System (ALDS) shall provide valid identification. Acceptable forms of identification include:

  1. Any license document or GO ID number previously issued via ALDS
  2. A valid driver’s license or identification card issued to him or her by the Department of Motor Vehicles or by the entity issuing driver’s licenses from the licensee’s state of domicile
  3. U.S. Birth Certificate
  4. U.S. Certificate or Report of Birth Abroad
  5. A Tribal ldentification Card, issued by a sovereign tribal nation
  6. Birth Certificate or Passport issued from a U.S. Territory
  7. U.S. Passport
  8. U.S. Military ldentification
  9. Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship,
  10. A foreign government-issued photo identification

Applicants less than 18 years of age may provide any form of identification described above, or a parent or legal guardian’s identification as described above.

Telephone Number Required for Angler Surveys

Anglers are required to provide their telephone number when purchasing a sport fishing license. Collection of telephone numbers allows California to conform with a federal mandate for purposes of establishing a National Saltwater Angler Registry and will prevent California anglers from having to pay an additional registration fee each year to the federal government (CCR T14, Section 700.3).

License Format

Licenses issued through the ALDS are printed on durable thermal paper. They are waterproof, stainproof and tear resistant. All licenses are imprinted with your permanent ID number (GO ID). Your GO ID can be used to retrieve your customer information in the future. Report cards issued through ALDS have a different look and size. All the information is printed on one side of the paper, so report cards can be quite long. They can be folded to fit in your wallet. You must use indelible ink to make entries on your report card(s).

Protect Your License from Heat

Licenses subjected to extreme or prolonged heat may darken and become difficult to read. To protect your license, keep it away from heat sources.

Purchasing a License for Another Person

Regulations provide that a person may purchase a hunting or sport fishing license, tags, or validations for another person, as long as the licensee’s customer identification number issued from the ALDS and date of birth are provided. If a person wishes to purchase a sport fishing license for another person but does not have the required information, a gift voucher may be purchased for that person that may be redeemed for a resident sport fishing license. Gift vouchers are non-refundable and valid only for the year specified (CCR T-14, Section 700.3).

License Provisions

Any person who is 16 years of age or older must have a sport fishing license to take any kind of fish, mollusk, invertebrate, amphibian or crustacean in California, except when taken from a public pier in ocean or bay waters. A sport fishing license is required to take reptiles, except for rattlesnakes.

Report Card Requirements

Anglers who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as anglers who are under 16 years of age and anglers who will be fishing on Free Fishing Days, are required to have report cards to fish for: abalone, spiny lobster, and sturgeon.

Important Reminder: Return of Report Cards is Mandatory. Report cards must be reported online at or returned to the CDFW at the address specified on the report card by January 31 of the following year (except Spiny Lobster Report Cards, which must be reported by April 30, following the close of lobster season).

Any person who fails to report online or return his or her report card to the CDFW by the deadline may be restricted from obtaining the same card in a subsequent license year or may be subject to an additional fee for the issuance of the same card in a subsequent license year (CCR T-14, Section 1.74).

A $21.60 non-return fee will be charged when purchasing a spiny lobster report card if the previous year’s report card is not returned or reported by the April 30 deadline. To avoid the fee, you may either return or report your card by the deadline, or skip one lobster fishing season. After skipping one season, you can purchase a spiny lobster report card the following season at no extra cost.

Possession of License

Every person, while engaged in taking any fish, amphibian or reptile, shall have a valid sport fishing license on their person in their immediate possession except when diving as provided in FGC Section 7145 and CCR T-14, Section 700.

Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards of shore, respectively (FGC, Section 7145).

Duplicate Sport Fishing Licenses

If you lose your sport fishing license and validations, visit any license agent or CDFW license sales office, or log in to the license sales service at to obtain a low-cost duplicate and validations. Duplicate Abalone Report Cards and Sturgeon Report Cards may only be purchased at CDFW license sales offices.

Refund Policy

Refunds will not be issued for sport fishing licenses, vouchers, validations or report cards. These items are considered in use from the date issued, and therefore are non-refundable.

Free and Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing Licenses

CDFW offers reduced-fee sport fishing licenses to honorably-discharged veterans with a service-connected disability rating of at least 50 percent, to recovering service members, and to resident low-income seniors who are at least 65 years of age. The term ‘‘recovering service member’’ means a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or a Reserve, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy and is in an outpatient status while recovering from a serious injury or illness related to the member’s military service (FGC, Section 7150). Disabled veterans and recovering service members can pre-qualify for reduced-fee sport fishing licenses via e-mail. To pre-qualify, email your CDFW-issued GO ID and a letter from the Veteran’s Administration documenting your service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or greater to After your customer record has been updated, you will be able to purchase a reduced-fee fishing license anywhere licenses are sold.

Free sport fishing licenses are available to eligible persons who are blind, low-income American Indians, developmentally disabled persons, and residents who are so severely physically disabled that they are permanently unable to move from place to place without the use of a wheelchair, walker, forearm crutches, or a comparable mobility-related device.

Eligibility for free and reduced-fee sport fishing licenses will be verified. Applications and additional information are available online at

License Sales by Telephone

Sport fishing licenses, validations, and report cards may be purchased via telephone from Active Network’s telephone license sales line at (800) 565-1458. Items purchased by telephone sales will be delivered by mail within 15 days of purchase.

Reminders for CPFV owners, CPFV operators, and anglers on CPFVs

The cooperation of owners and operators of commercial passenger fishing vessels (CPFVs) has been critical to the success of the California Recreational Fisheries Survey (CRFS) since its inception in 2004. The data collected by CRFS is used to estimate the catch (total number of fish by species) and effort (total number of fishing trips) of saltwater recreational anglers, and to assist in the establishment of regulations aimed to maximize fishing opportunities while conserving fisheries for future use.

CRFS samplers interview anglers and crew, and examine catch onboard CPFVs both at sea and dockside. CPFV owners and operators are reminded that accurate catch and effort estimates depend on access to both kept and discarded catch information by CRFS samplers. In addition, CRFS samplers must observe both open party and chartered trips, and must gather effort data frequently to ensure the best possible estimates.

By law (California Code of Regulations T-14, Section 105.5), owners or operators of CPFVs must carry and accommodate CRFS samplers on fishing trips when asked. If sampler coverage of a trip is denied by the owner or operator of the vessel, the CDFW may request a written explanation for the denial, and CPFV owners or operators who deny sampler coverage of a trip may have their fishing permits or licenses revoked.

Anglers are encouraged to answer CRFS samplers’ questions; however, angler participation in the survey is voluntary. CRFS samplers will ask anglers aboard CPFVs about the species they kept and discarded, how often they fish, and their zip code. CRFS samplers will also ask the crew about fishing target(s), descending device usage, and bottom depth. Onboard the vessel, while anglers are fishing, CRFS samplers will collect data on catch rates, species composition, fishing locations, and length of fish that the anglers do not keep. After anglers have completed fishing for the day, CRFS samplers will record the lengths and weights of fish that were kept.

Further information about CRFS, and a link to recreational catch and effort estimates, is available on the CDFW website at

Purchase Licenses and Submit Harvest Info Online

You can now purchase California sport fishing licenses and validations and submit report card information online. For more information, visit CDFW’s license sales website at

License Fees

Saltwater Fishing License Fees

Annual Licenses

Resident Sport Fishing License


Non-Resident Sport Fishing License


Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing License


Short-Term Licenses

One-Day Sport Fishing License (resident or nonresident)


Two-Day Sport Fishing License* (resident or nonresident)


Ten-Day Non-Resident Sport Fishing License**


Report Cards and Validations

Sport Ocean Enhancement Validation


Abalone Report Card


Spiny Lobster Report Card


Spiny Lobster Report Card Non-Reporting Fee


Sturgeon Fishing Report Card


Other Permits

Declaration for Multi-day Fishing Trip


Duplicate Fees

Sport Fishing License (Annual)


Ocean Enhancement Validation


Abalone Report Card (available at CDFW license sales offices only)


Sturgeon Fishing Replacement Card (available at CDFW license sales offices only)


Lifetime Sport Fishing Licenses

Age 9 years or younger


Age 10 to 39 years


Age 40 to 61 years


Age 62 years or older


Additional Lifetime Fishing Privileges
(includes: Ocean Enhancement Validation and three items that apply only to inland freshwater fishing: Second Rod Validation, North Coast Salmon Report Card, and Steelhead Report Card)