How to Get Your South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License in 2024: The Ultimate Guide

Are you ready to cast your line into the rich, teeming waters of South Carolina’s coastline? Before you embark on your fishing adventure, there’s one crucial step you can’t overlook: getting your saltwater fishing license. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about obtaining your 2024 South Carolina saltwater fishing license, from understanding the different types of licenses available to the most convenient ways to make your purchase. So grab your tackle box and let’s dive in!

Why You Need a South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License

South Carolina is renowned for its incredible saltwater fishing opportunities, boasting a diverse array of species like red drum, flounder, and spotted seatrout. However, before you can reel in your catch of the day, you’ll need to make sure you’re properly licensed. Here’s why:

  1. It’s the Law: In South Carolina, anyone aged 16 or older must have a valid saltwater fishing license to fish in the state’s saltwaters, including the Atlantic Ocean, estuaries, and saltwater rivers.
  2. Conservation Efforts: The fees collected from fishing licenses directly support the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) conservation and management efforts, helping to ensure healthy fish populations for generations to come.
  3. Avoiding Fines: Fishing without a valid license can result in hefty fines and legal consequences. Play it safe and get licensed before you start fishing.

Who Needs a South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License?

While most anglers aged 16 and older need a saltwater fishing license, there are a few exceptions:

  • Anglers fishing on a licensed public fishing pier
  • Anglers fishing on a licensed charter vessel while under hire
  • Anglers using 3 or fewer drop nets, fold-up traps, or handlines with no hooks and single bait per line (a method known as “chicken necking” for catching crabs)
  • Anglers participating in shrimp baiting (which requires a separate shrimp baiting license)

Types of South Carolina Saltwater Fishing Licenses

South Carolina offers several types of saltwater fishing licenses to cater to the needs of both resident and non-resident anglers:

Resident License Options

  • Annual License: $15 – Valid for 1 year from the date of purchase
  • 3-Year License: $45 – Valid for 3 years from the date of purchase
  • 14-Day License: $10 – Valid for 14 consecutive days

Non-Resident License Options

  • Annual License: $75 – Valid for 1 year from the date of purchase
  • 7-Day License: $35 – Valid for 7 consecutive days
  • 1-Day License: $10 – Valid for 1 day

It’s important to note that to qualify for resident license pricing, you must have been a domiciled resident of South Carolina for at least 30 days and be able to provide proof of residency, such as a valid South Carolina driver’s license or identification card.

Where to Buy Your South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License

Now that you know what type of license you need, let’s explore the most convenient ways to make your purchase:

Online Purchase

The quickest and easiest way to get your South Carolina saltwater fishing license is by purchasing it online through the SCDNR website. Simply visit the Go Outdoors South Carolina portal, create an account or log in, and follow the step-by-step instructions to complete your purchase. You can print out a temporary license immediately after the transaction, and your official license will be mailed to you.

In-Person Purchase

If you prefer a face-to-face transaction, you can visit one of the many authorized license vendors throughout the state, such as bait and tackle shops, sporting goods stores, or SCDNR regional offices. Be sure to bring a valid form of identification and proof of residency if you’re a South Carolina resident.

Phone Purchase

You can also purchase your saltwater fishing license by calling the SCDNR licensing office at 1-866-714-3611. Have your credit card information ready, and a customer service representative will guide you through the process. After the transaction, you’ll receive a confirmation number to serve as your temporary license until your official one arrives in the mail.

Additional Permits and Tags

In addition to your saltwater fishing license, you may need to obtain additional permits or tags depending on the type of fishing you plan to do:

  • Shrimp Baiting License: Required for individuals participating in shrimp baiting. The cost is $25 for residents and $500 for non-residents.
  • Charter Fishing Vessel License: Required for charter boat operators. The cost varies based on the number of passengers the vessel can carry.
  • Public Fishing Pier License: Required for owners or operators of public fishing piers. The cost varies based on the length of the pier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a saltwater fishing license if I’m fishing from the shore? 

Yes, a saltwater fishing license is required whether you’re fishing from a boat, pier, or shore.

Can I use my saltwater fishing license to fish in freshwater?

No, you’ll need a separate freshwater fishing license to fish in South Carolina’s freshwater bodies.

How long does it take to receive my official license after purchasing it online?

Your official license should arrive by mail within 7-10 business days. In the meantime, you can use your printed temporary license.

Do I need a saltwater fishing license if I’m fishing on a licensed charter boat? 

No, the cost of your fishing license is typically included in the charter fee.

What happens if I lose my fishing license?

You can easily replace a lost or damaged license by visiting the SCDNR website and logging into your account, or by visiting an authorized license vendor.


Obtaining your South Carolina saltwater fishing license is a simple, straightforward process that grants you access to some of the most incredible fishing opportunities in the country. By purchasing your license, you’re not only ensuring that you’re fishing legally, but you’re also contributing to the conservation and management of South Carolina’s valuable marine resources. So whether you’re a seasoned angler or a first-time fisherman, make sure to get your 2024 saltwater fishing license before heading out on your next fishing adventure. Tight lines and happy fishing!

For the most up-to-date information on South Carolina saltwater fishing licenses and regulations, visit the official SCDNR website at

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