What Permits and Licenses Are Required for Boating and Fishing in Florida?

Here’s how it works for boaters…A boating license is not required in Florida, but boater education is mandatory for all Florida residents born after January 1, 1988 who operate a powered watercraft of ten horsepower or greater. Once you obtain your recreational credentials, you will be issued a Florida Boating Safety ID. You must be at least 14 years of age to operate a powered watercraft; and it is illegal to rent, hire or lease a watercraft if you are under 18 years of age. You also need a boat towing permit if you tow a vessel larger than eight feet, six inches.

As far as fishing – whether saltwater or freshwater – if you cast a line or catch and release in Florida, you are required to have a fishing license in your possession. This applies to harvesting shellfish like clams, crabs and lobsters as well. Florida residents who are exempt include:

  • Those under 16 and over 65 with proof of residency and age
  • Recreational pier fishermen in possession of a pier fishing license
  • Fishermen on a for-hire vessel
  • Military members who are on leave for 30 days or less
  • Fishermen in their own county who are fishing with live or natural bait on poles without a fish retrieval mechanism
  • Those with proof of eligibility for food stamps, temporary cash assistance or Medicaid
  • Those with proof that they are clients of developmental disabilities services.