South Carolina Fishing License

South Carolina

Largemouth bass migrate from shallow to deep waters in May, a perfect time for anglers and beginners to bag a few. Santee State Park, Lake Marion and Hunting Island State Park are just a few of the places you can check out when you visit.

Applying for your very own fishing license is easy. You can easily purchase one online or via phone. Fishing licenses are needed in all fishing related activities in the area. Proceeds go directly to local programs that are aimed to conserve fish populations, natural habitats and in educating the public about preservation efforts.

Before leaving for your trip, do not forget to read about the fishing rules and regulations in the area. It is also important to know about different fish species in order to identify the size and length limits set for each. These protocols are strictly implemented for the protection and proliferation of marine life and their respective habitats for future generations.

Deep-sea fishing is a popular recreational sport in South Carolina. Avid anglers try their luck off the Atlantic coast in the hopes of reeling in black sea bass or red snapper. FishSmart is a program aimed to teach and educate the public about proper catch and release practices. Click on the link below to read more about it.


Getting a valid fishing license in South Carolina is easy, and they come at a very reasonable price. These licenses, which would grant you access to the rich waters of the state, can be conveniently purchased from different vendors, and it pays if you have one. Why? Because South Carolina is a sanctuary to a lot of rare species of fish. 

Before heading to a spot like Santee State Park where you can cast a line out on Lake Marion to catch a largemouth bass or crappie or taking the kids to fish from the pier at Hunting Island State Park and see if the spotted sea trout or flounder are biting, you need to check the SC fishing regulations and purchase your fishing license first. 

Preparing for a fishing trip to South Carolina can be a little taxing for some, but don’t worry because this article will answer all the questions you may have about fishing licenses in the state. 

Read through this page to know more about where to purchase a fishing license, who needs it, and what are the different licenses you can choose from.

Who is required to purchase a South Carolina Fishing License? 

In the state of South Carolina, a fishing license is required for all people age 16 and older. A Saltwater Fishing License is required when harvesting marine resources, including finfish, oysters, clams, shrimp, and crab. A saltwater recreational fishing license is required unless fishing on a licensed public fishing pier; fishing on a licensed charter vessel while under hire; using three or fewer drop nets, three or fewer fold-up traps, or three or fewer hand lines with no hooks and single bait per line (chicken necking); or shrimp baiting (which requires a shrimp baiting license). Meanwhile, a Freshwater Fishing License is required unless you are fishing in a privately-owned pond. A license is not required when fishing in a commercial pay pond that is permitted by SCDNR.

Residency Requirements

Much like any other state, South Carolina sells fishing licenses to both residents and non-residents. However, residents can enjoy several privileges and discounts; hence, it is important to know what is considered a “resident” of the state. A resident is a person who is a domiciled (permanent) resident of South Carolina for 30 days. Proof of residency at license vendors is your unexpired State of South Carolina Driver’s license or Identification Card. Other manners of proving residency can also be used, and all you need to do is submit them to the SCDNR license office. It is important to understand that if you already hold a resident fishing license from another state, you are no longer qualified to apply for a resident fishing license in South Carolina. 

Furthermore, other special residency privileges are given to the following: 

Military Personnel

Military personnel and their dependents stationed in SC for thirty days or longer, or who are domiciled in this state, are eligible for resident privileges. Valid military identification must be presented when applying. Active duty or military personnel who are residents of SC stationed outside of the state and home on leave, may upon presentation of their earnings and leave statement (which must declare SC as their home state), be allowed to fish and hunt throughout the state without purchasing a hunting, freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing license.

Students

Students enrolled full time in an SC educational institution are eligible for resident privileges. A valid student ID must be presented when applying for privileges.

Where to purchase a South Carolina Fishing License? 

There are different ways to purchase a fishing license in the state of South Carolina. The process is pretty straightforward, and the most convenient way is to purchase them from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources website. You can also call at- 1-866-714-3611, and you will be assisted by trained operators on how to purchase a fishing license over the phone. On top of that, is a lot of approved license agents throughout the state. 

What documents are needed to purchase a fishing license in South Carolina? 

Applicants for all SC hunting & fishing privileges must present a state-issued identification document at the time of application. The same information is required for internet/call center transactions. Note that the same identification used to purchase the license should be presented to authorities during license check and should remain in your possession the entire time you are fishing. Applicants from other countries may provide their passport in place of a state identification document.

The disclosure of your social security number or alien identification number is required to obtain SC hunting and fishing licenses.

Different Fishing License in South Carolina

South Carolina offers a wide range of fishing licenses, permits, and tags to both residents and non-residents of the state. The prices of these licenses vary depending upon your residency. Here’s a summary of all available licenses that you can purchase in the state of South Carolina: 

Resident Licenses

Resident Freshwater Fishing License

Duration

Type of License

Price

Notes, Prerequisites

3 Year

Freshwater Fishing License

$30.00

Valid 3 years from date of purchase.

Annual

Freshwater Fishing License

$10.00

Valid 1 year from date of purchase.

14-day

Freshwater Fishing License

$5.00

Valid 14 consecutive days.

Annual

Commercial Freshwater License *

$50.00

Device quantity limits apply in freshwater bodies. See Nongame Areas and Limits. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Jug Permit

$5.00

1 permit per licensee; allows up to 50 jugs subjective to body of water. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Set Hook Permit

$5.00

1 permit per licensee; allows up to 50 hooks subjective to body of water. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Eel Pot Tag*

$5.00

Recreational limit 2 pots per licensee. Reporting Requirements apply. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Gill Net Tag* (Not for Shad or Herring)

$5.00

Recreational limit 3 nets and no more than a total of 100 yds of net. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Hoop Net Tag*

$10.00

Recreational limit 1 net per licensee 65 years and older on the Wateree River only. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Trap Tag*

$5.00

Recreational limit 2 traps per licensee. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Trotline Tag*

$2.50

Recreational limit is 1 trotline with a maximum 50 hooks. Expires June 30, 2019.

Residents of the state of South Carolina can purchase a 3-year, annual, or 14-day Freshwater License in order to fish in the different freshwater fishing sites across the state. The 3-year freshwater license is sold for $30.00, while the annual license can be bought for $10.00. The 14-day license is available for only $5.00. Please see the residency requirements laid down above to know whether you are qualified to purchase a South Carolina Freshwater License as a resident. 

Other special Fishing licenses are shown below: 

Duration

Type of License

Price

Notes, Prerequisites

Resident Saltwater Fishing License

3 Year

Saltwater Fishing License

$30.00

Valid 3 years from date of purchase.

Annual

Saltwater Fishing License

$10.00

Valid 1 year from date of purchase.

14-day

Saltwater Fishing License

$5.00

Valid 14 consecutive days.

Season

Shrimp Baiting License & Tags*

$25.00

Season dates apply, Shrimp Baiting License Application

Annual

Saltwater Public Fishing Pier

$150.00

100 feet or less in length, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Saltwater Public Fishing Pier

$350.00

More than 100 feet in length, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Saltwater Charter Fishing Vessel

$150.00

6 or fewer paying passengers, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Saltwater Charter Fishing Vessel

$250.00

7-49 paying passengers, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Saltwater Charter Fishing Vessel

$350.00

50 or more paying passengers, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Resident Combination Freshwater Fishing & Hunting

3 Year

Combination License

$75.00

Includes State Hunting, Big Game & Freshwater Fishing. Valid 3 years from date of purchase.

Annual

Combination License

$25.00

Includes State Hunting, Big Game & Freshwater Fishing. Valid 1 year from date of purchase.

Annual

Junior Sportsman License

$16.00

Includes State Hunting, Big Game, Wildlife Management Areas & Freshwater Fishing, for applicants 16-17 years of age. Remains valid, regardless of age until expiration. Expires 1 year from date of purchase.

Resident Lifetime Licenses

Lifetime licenses can also be purchased by any resident and the cost varies depending on age. Please see the full list of rates here. 

Non-Resident Licenses

The following are the different fishing licenses that a non-resident can purchase in South Carolina and their corresponding prices: 

Duration

Type of License

Price

Notes, Prerequisites

Nonresident Freshwater Fishing

3 Year

Freshwater Fishing License

$105.00

Valid 3 years from date of purchase.

Annual

Freshwater Fishing License

$35.00

Valid 1 year from date of purchase.

14-day

Freshwater Fishing License

$11.00

Valid 14 consecutive days.

Annual

Commercial Freshwater License

$1,000.00

Device quantity limits apply in freshwater bodies. See Nongame Areas and Limits. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Jug Permit

$50.00

1 permit per licensee; allows up to 50 jugs subjective to body of water. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Set Hook Permit

$50.00

1 permit per licensee; allows up to 50 jugs subjective to body of water. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Eel Pot Tag*

$50.00

Recreational limit 2 pots per licensee. Reporting Requirements apply. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Gill Net Tag* (Not for Shad or Herring)

$50.00

Recreational limit 3 nets and no more than a total of 100 yards of net. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Hoop Net Tag*

$50.00

Recreational limit 1 net per licensee 65 years and older on the Wateree River only. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Trap Tag*

$50.00

Recreational limit 2 traps per licensee. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Trotline Tag*

$50.00

2 or more trotlines or fish trotlines with more than 50 hooks. Expires June 30, 2019.

Nonresident Saltwater Fishing

3 Year

Saltwater Fishing License

$105.00

Valid 3 years from date of purchase.

Annual

Saltwater Fishing License

$35.00

Valid 1 year from date of purchase.

14-day

Saltwater Fishing License

$11.00

Valid 14 consecutive days.

Season

Shrimp Baiting License & Tags*

$500.00

Season dates apply, Shrimp Baiting License Application

Annual

Saltwater Public Fishing Pier

$150.00

100 feet or less in length, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Saltwater Public Fishing Pier

$350.00

More than 100 feet in length, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Saltwater Charter Fishing Vessel

$150.00

6 or fewer paying passengers, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Saltwater Charter Fishing Vessel

$250.00

7-49 paying passengers, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Annual

Saltwater Charter Fishing Vessel

$350.00

50 or more paying passengers, license has reporting requirements. Expires June 30, 2019.

Relevant Fishing Regulations in South Carolina

The state of South Carolina is imposing a strict set of fishing rules that all anglers need to follow. These rules are designed in order for the state to protect its marine and water resources as well as to maintain a healthy fishing population. 

Child Support Violations

Should you become non-compliant with your child support payments, all recreational and commercial hunting and fishing license privileges will be revoked. Once you become compliant with DSS, you will be required to purchase a new license at the current price.

Other Fishing Regulations

Please download the 2019-2020 South Carolina Hunting & Fishing: The Official State Regulation Guide for more comprehensive information about the different fishing regulations and laws observed in the state of Carolina. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if I change my resident status while my resident license is still valid?\

Any person who lawfully acquires a resident South Carolina license, permit, or tag and who then transfers their residency outside of this state may continue to use the privileges until they expire. However, if the licensee applies for privileges not covered by the license, and no longer meets the requirement for a resident, he must purchase the additional licenses as a nonresident.

Q: What to do if I lost/damage my license? 

Duplicate licenses are issued upon an affidavit from the licensee that the original license was lost or destroyed and payment of a $3.00 fee. Duplicates are available at all license sales vendors and SCDNR license offices. Duplicate/replacement tags are issued only through SCDNR offices.

Q: When will my license expire? 

Annual recreational hunting and fishing licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase. Three year recreational hunting and fishing licenses are valid for three years from the date of purchase.