How to Get a South Carolina Fishing License?

Fishing is a popular recreational activity in South Carolina, with abundant freshwater lakes, rivers, and coastal saltwater fishing opportunities. Before casting your line in any South Carolina public waterway, you must obtain the proper SC fishing license for the type of fishing you plan to do. This comprehensive guide explains everything you need to know to get a fishing license in South Carolina.

Who Needs a SC Fishing License?

In South Carolina, a fishing license is required for anyone 16 years of age or older to fish in public waters like lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, and saltwater areas. You need a license whether you are a resident of the state or visiting from out-of-state. Some exemptions apply, such as when fishing on private ponds not open to the public or for children under 16 years old.

Types of SC Fishing Licenses

South Carolina offers several types of fishing licenses based on factors like residency status, age, intended fishing location and species, etc. The main types of SC fishing licenses include:

Freshwater Fishing License – For fishing in SC freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, etc. Separate licenses for residents and nonresidents.

Saltwater Fishing License – For fishing in SC coastal waters and saltwater areas. Separate licenses for residents and nonresidents.

Combination License – Allows freshwater AND saltwater fishing. Offered to residents and nonresidents.

Lifetime Licenses – One-time purchase, valid for life. Offered to seniors and disabled residents meeting specific criteria.

Short-term Licenses – Such as 14-day and 3-day options for nonresidents.

Specialty Licenses – Such as shrimp baiting licenses, fishing pier licenses, charter fishing licenses, etc.

Review all SC fishing license options and fees here.

What Documentation Do You Need to Get a License?

To purchase a SC fishing license, you will need to provide the following documentation:

  • Proof of Residency – SC residents must show ID like a driver’s license or ID card.
  • Social Security Number – Required for all license purchases. Non-residents can provide passport number.
  • Age Verification – All anglers 16+ need a license. Those under 16 are license exempt.

Double check that you have all required documents before applying for your SC fishing license.

Where To Buy a SC Fishing License

There are several ways to purchase a South Carolina fishing license:

  • Online – Purchase fishing licenses online through the SCDNR website. Pay with debit/credit card.
  • In Person – Visit your local SCDNR office or over 500 license agents located throughout the state. Pay with cash, check or card.
  • By Phone – Call 1-866-714-3611 to purchase SC fishing licenses over the phone.

For online and phone purchases, you can print out a temporary license to carry while fishing until the permanent license arrives by mail.

SC Fishing License Fees

License fees in South Carolina vary based on residency status, age, and license duration chosen. Some examples:

  • SC Resident Annual Freshwater License – $10
  • Nonresident Annual Freshwater License – $35
  • SC Resident 3 Year Saltwater License – $45
  • Nonresident 10 Day Saltwater License – $11

View the full SC fishing license fee list here.

Carrying and Displaying Your SC Fishing License

Once purchased, you must carry your SC fishing license on your person at all times when fishing, along with a valid government photo ID. You must show your license to any law enforcement that requests to see it.

For short-term, temporary licenses, you can print out the license or purchase code and carry while fishing until the permanent license arrives by mail.

SC Fishing License Rules and Regulations

When you purchase your fishing license, be sure to also familiarize yourself with the following rules and regulations:

  • License Display – Must carry license visibly on your person when fishing.
  • Fishing Limits – Must abide by SC size, catch, and possession limits for each species.
  • Boating Registration – Any motorized boat must be registered/titled appropriately.
  • Access Permits – Some fishing piers, charters, etc may require additional permits.
  • Reporting – Those with commercial licenses may need to submit harvest reports.

View all SC fishing regulations here. Violating rules may result in fines or loss of fishing privileges.

Fishing License Renewal

Most SC fishing licenses expire after 365 days, with some multi-year exceptions. You can renew an expiring or expired fishing license in the same ways as the initial purchase: online, phone, in-person, etc. Be sure to renew before your license expires to avoid penalties or fines.


Getting a fishing license in South Carolina is easy and essential before fishing in any public waterway. Determine if you need a license based on age and location, choose the right type, provide documentation, purchase online/in-person/by phone, renew annually, and be sure to carry and display when fishing. Tight lines!

For any additional questions on SC fishing licenses, regulations or exemptions, contact the SCDNR at 1-803-734-3886.

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