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License Information

Fishing Regulations Icon Virginia Fishing

Fishing License Information

Every person who is required to have a license must carry such license and shall show the license immediately upon request of any officer whose duty it is to enforce the game and inland fish laws, or upon the demand of any owner or lessee, or any employee or representative of such owner or lessee, upon whose land or water such person may be hunting, trapping, or fishing. Any person who is required to carry certain hunting, trapping, or fishing licenses or a hunter education certificate on their person can meet the requirement by carrying an electronic copy of the relevant license or certificate.

Residency Qualifications

  1. Persons who have been a bonafide resident of the city, county, or state for six consecutive months immediately preceding the date of application for license;
  2. Persons who have been domiciliary residents of the state for at least two months upon approval of a completed affidavit to be furnished by the Game Department;
  3. Legal voters in Virginia;
  4. Any member of the armed forces of the United States, or a member of the immediate family of such a member as defined in § 2.2-3101, upon execution of a certificate of residence if the member (i) resides in the Commonwealth, (ii) is on active duty, and (iii) is stationed at a military installation within, or in a ship based in, the Commonwealth;
  5. Students (including nonresident students boarding on campus) residing in Virginia who are enrolled in bonafide Virginia schools;
  6. Any unnaturalized person who owns real estate in the county or city and who has actually resided there not less than five years next preceding the date of the application for the license in the county or city where they qualify.

Exceptions

All persons, except those listed below, must purchase the proper licenses before fishing.

  • Resident or nonresident landowners, their spouses, their children and grandchildren and the spouses of such children and grandchildren, or the landowner’s parents, resident or non­resident, do not need a license to hunt, trap, or fish within the boundaries of their own lands and inland waters.
  • Residents under 16 years of age (also do not need a trout license).
  • Resident, active-duty members of the armed forces while on official leave. However, when trout fishing they must have copy of leave papers in their possession.
  • Tenants, on the land they rent and occupy, are not required to have a license, but must have the written permission of the landowner.
  • Guests fishing in individually owned private ponds.
  • Nonresident children under 12 (except in designated stocked trout waters), when accompanied by a properly licensed adult. When fishing designated stocked trout waters, a nonresident child under 12 will need a nonresident freshwater fishing license and a nonresident trout license.
  • Legally blind persons.
  • Any Indian who “habitually” resides on an Indian reservation or a member of the Virginia-recognized tribes who resides in the Commonwealth is not required to have a freshwater license; however, such Indian must have on his person an identification card or paper signed by the chief of his tribe, a valid tribal identification card, written confirmation through a central tribal registry, or certification from a tribal office. However, a saltwater fishing license is required.
  • Stockholders owning 50 percent or more of the stock of any domestic corporation owning land in Virginia, his or her spouse and children and minor grandchildren, resident or nonresident, to hunt, trap and fish within the boundaries of lands and inland waters owned by the domestic corporation.
  • Persons 65 years of age or older do not need a saltwater license but must comply with the Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) requirements.
  • Any person not fishing but aiding a disabled license holder.