A recreational saltwater fishing license is your ticket to exploring 200 miles of Atlantic shoreline and thousands of miles of tidal creeks in South Carolina. It’s one of the most important thing you can bring on a fishing trip, and in addition to the memories you’ll make on the water, the $10 you spend on one goes directly toward the protection of South Carolina coastal resources.
Residents and visitors in South Carolina need a recreational saltwater fishing license if they plan to do any of the following:
· Fish or shrimp anywhere on saltwater side of the freshwater-saltwater dividing line (see below) using a bush line/pole line, hook and line (rod and reel), gig/spear, or cast net
· Use a crab pot to catch crabs (up to two pots per recreational license)
· Harvest oysters from public grounds
A few activities, such as shrimp baiting, trotlining, seining, and gill netting, require specialized licenses (learn more here), so make sure you understand all the license needs for the fishing or harvesting activity you plan to engage in.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers a number of ways to obtain a saltwater license. Read up and decide what works best for you:
Online – DNR’s online portal offers an easy way to buy hunting and fishing licenses and permits. Start by clicking here, enter your personal information, and follow the prompts to find and order the license(s) you want to purchase.
By Phone – Ordering a fishing license is as easy as dialing 1-866-714-3611, DNR’s license hotline. The phone line’s open 24/7, so everyone in your party can get licensed even in time for a last-minute fishing trip. Follow the prompts for the license you’re interested in purchasing, and be prepared to submit your date of birth, social security number (if you’re an American citizen), a debit or credit card number, and, if you have purchased an SC hunting or fishing license before, your customer ID (this number can be found on an old license or tag).
In Person – DNR works with hundreds of vendors in South Carolina (primarily local tackle, sporting goods, and hardware stores) to give residents the option to fill out a fishing license order form in a convenient location. Kill two birds with one stone (or two fish with one worm) and get to know your local tackle store while you’re applying for or renewing your fishing license. While you’re there, check out fishing gear or chat up the staff, who are often invaluable sources of local fishing knowledge. Find a list of vendors here.
By Mail – For the pen-and-paper folks out there, DNR still offers the option to submit your application for a fishing license by mail. The order form is available online here (nonresident application here), and you have the choice of filling it out digitally or printing a copy and filling it out manually. Pop it in the mail and send your check or money order to:
SCDNR PO Box 11710 Columbia, SC 29211-1710
Still have questions? Check our FAQs or call the Charleston licensing office at 843-953-9301.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.