Hunting 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. We recommend the electronic carrying of licenses through the use of our App. Electronic carry does not require a signature.
- Persons who have been a bona fide resident of the city, county, or state for six consecutive months immediately preceding the date of purchasing a license.
- 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 Department.
- Legal voters in Virginia.
- 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.
- Students (including nonresident students boarding on campus) residing in Virginia who are enrolled in bona fide Virginia schools.
- Any unnaturalized person who owns real estate in the county or city and who has actually resided there not less than five years preceding the date of the application for the license in the county or city.
All persons, except those listed below, must purchase the proper licenses before hunting or trapping. Where exempt, the exemption means the individual is exempt from the basic hunting license; bear license, deer/turkey license, archery license; muzzleloading license; trapping license; and Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp. All seasons, bag limits, and checking requirements apply.
- 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 (on inland waters) within the boundaries of their own lands.
- Tenants, on the land they rent and occupy, are not required to have a license, but must have the written permission of the landowner. Persons who lease property and do not permanently reside there are not exempt from license requirements.
- Residents, 65 years of age and over, do not need a license to hunt or trap on private property in their county or city of residence.
- Resident hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a hunting license or hunter education. Nonresident hunters under the age of 12 need a hunting license but do not need hunter education to purchase one. All hunters under the age of 12 may not hunt unless accompanied and directly supervised by a licensed adult.
- Residents under the age of 16 are not required to have a license to trap when accompanied by any person 18 years of age or older who possesses a valid Virginia trapping license.
- Any person who is not hunting, but is aiding a disabled person to hunt when such disabled person possesses a valid Virginia Disabled Resident Lifetime hunting license or a Virginia Resident Disabled Veteran Lifetime license is not required to have a license.
- 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 hunting or trapping 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.
- 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, do not need a license to hunt, trap and fish within the boundaries of lands and inland waters owned by the domestic corporation.
Which Licenses Do I Need?
To hunt in Virginia, a resident or nonresident hunting license is required, unless you are license exempt. Other licenses, permits, or stamps may also be required depending on species hunted and location of hunt. Before purchasing a hunting license or permit, make sure you understand what qualifies as a Virginia residency, that you really need a license or permit based on the exemptions, and you have met the hunter safety requirements.
To Hunt Small Game
A hunting license is required. A National Forest Permit or State Forest Use Permit may also be required.
To Hunt Dove, Woodcock, Snipe, Gallinules, or Rails
A hunting license and HIP authorization are required. Register for HIP online at www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com or call (888) 788-9772. A National Forest Permit or State Forest Use Permit may also be required.
To Hunt Bear, Deer, or Turkey
A bear license and/or a deer/turkey license is required in addition to a hunting license. (These licenses are valid from July 1–June 30 only.) A National Forest Permit, State Forest Use Permit, or Bonus Deer Permits may also be required.
To Hunt With Archery Tackle
An archery license is required in addition to a hunting license when using archery tackle during a designated archery season for bear, deer, turkey and bobcat. A bear license, deer/turkey license, National Forest Permit, State Forest Use Permit, or Bonus Deer Permits may also be required.
To Hunt With a Muzzleloader
A muzzleloading license is required in addition to the hunting license if hunting with a muzzleloading firearm during a designated muzzleloader deer or bear season. A bear license, deer/turkey license, National Forest Permit, State Forest Use Permit, or Bonus Deer Permits may also be required.
If hunting with archery tackle or muzzleloading rifle during any firearms deer season, you do not need an archery or muzzleloading license.
- A trapping license is required to trap. A National Forest Permit or State Forest Use Permit may also be required
To Hunt Waterfowl
- A hunting license, Federal Duck Stamp, Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and HIP authorization are required. Register for HIP online at www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com or call (888) 788-9772. A National Forest Permit or State Forest Use Permit may also be required.
Apprentice Hunting License
The apprentice hunting license is a one-time purchase and serves as a first-time Virginia resident or nonresident hunting license and is good for two years. Previous Virginia hunting license holders are not eligible to purchase an apprentice license. Apprentice license holders have two years to take an approved Hunter Safety course.
The apprentice license holder must be accompanied and directly supervised by an adult over the age of 18 who has, on his person, a valid Virginia hunting license. “Accompanied and directly supervised” means the adult maintains close visual and verbal contact with, provides adequate direction to, and can immediately assume control of the firearm from the apprentice hunter. When buying a hunting license, the apprentice hunting license cannot be used as proof of previously purchasing a hunting license.
However, if you purchase an apprentice hunting license and then complete hunter education, you may use the apprentice license as a basic license to hunt until it expires. You will not need supervision unless otherwise required by law to be supervised, such as in the case of hunting on a youth/apprentice hunting weekend. You must carry proof of hunter education while hunting unsupervised with an apprentice license.
If you purchased a license from a retail license agent, online, or by phone you can visit www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com, select “Manage Your Account” and reprint your license anytime. You can also visit any retail license agent that sells hunt/fish licenses or call the Headquarters office at (804) 367-1000 during normal business hours.
Where to Get a License
- Create Your Customer Account: The GoOutdoors Virginia site allows you to create a unique customer account to access licenses and products that apply to you based on age and residency.
- Existing Customers: Log in using your date of birth and either your DWR Customer ID or your previous year’s DWR license number and license year.
Select the license(s) you want, pay with your credit card and print your license if needed.
Sold by some clerks of the Circuit Court, at license agents across Virginia, and DWR headquarters. Not sold at DWR regional offices.
To find a license agent visit: https://license.gooutdoorsvirginia.com/Licensing/LocateAgent.aspx
By Phone/Mobile Phone:
(804) 367-1000 during regular business hours, or use your GoOutdoors Virginia mobile app.
Q: If you buy the apprentice license do you still need to buy a Bear License or Deer/Turkey License, etc?
A: Yes, the apprentice license is in place of the basic hunting license. Any additional licenses, stamps, or permits would still be required.
Q: If you turn 16 after you purchase a junior license is it still good or do you need to purchase another license for 16 and older?
A: Your license is good until it expires.