Unlocking the Secrets: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining a Commercial Fishing License in Florida

How to Obtain a Commercial Fishing License in Florida


Fishing has always been an integral part of the Sunshine State’s culture, attracting both recreational enthusiasts and commercial fishermen alike. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in commercial fishing in Florida, acquiring a commercial fishing license is essential. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of obtaining a commercial fishing license with detailed steps and important information.

Determine the Type of Commercial Fishing License Required

Before diving into the licensing procedure, it’s crucial to identify the specific type of commercial fishing license that suits your intended activities. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers various licenses targeting different species or areas. These include licenses for shellfish harvesting, freshwater/saltwater fish catching, and lobster trapping among others.

1. Shellfish Harvesting License

If your focus is on gathering oysters, clams, mussels or other shellfish from Floridian waters for sale purposes, you’ll need to obtain a Shellfish Harvesting License.

2. Saltwater/Freshwater Fisheries Licenses

For those involved in capturing saltwater fish or freshwater species such as catfish or tilapia commercially within state waters (up to 9 nautical miles offshore), acquiring either a Saltwater Products License (SPL) or Freshwater Fisheries Certificate is necessary.

3. Lobster Trapping License

If lobster trapping off Florida’s coast captures your interest as a means of livelihood, securing a Lobster Trap Certificate/License becomes vital before engaging in any related activities.

Fulfill Requirements & Documents

Once you’ve determined which type of license aligns with your commercial fishing goals:

A. Gather Personal Information/Documents:

– Social Security number (or proof of ineligibility)
– Valid photo identification (e.g., driver’s license, passport)
– Proof of residency (for Florida residents) or alien registration card
– Vessel registration/documentation number and details
– Business tax receipt/registration information

B. Provide Fishing Vessel Information:

If you own a fishing vessel or plan to operate one for commercial purposes, gather the following details:
– Vessel name, make, model, and year
– Hull material and color
– Length overall (LOA), draft depth, beam width

Application Process

After gathering the necessary information and documents:

A. Online Application:

Visit the FWC’s official website to apply online for your desired commercial fishing license. Ensure all entered data is accurate before submitting.

B. Mail-In Application:

Alternatively, you can download an application form from the FWC website and send it by mail with copies of required documents enclosed.

Pay Fees & Await Approval

A. Calculate Licensing Fees:

Consult the official fee schedule available on FWC’s website to determine your specific licensing costs based on factors like license type, duration, vessel size/type.

B. Submit Payment:

Make sure to provide payment either online during the application process or via check/money order if applying by mail.

Once you’ve paid the fees and submitted your application:

i) Online Applications:

Upon successful submission and payment completion online through FWC’s portal, expect your approval status within a few days via email notification.

ii) Mail-In Applications:

For mailed applications sent with payments included as checks/money orders – processing times may vary but typically range between 2 – 6 weeks depending on volume.

License Renewal & Additional Information

Commercial fishing licenses in Florida generally last for one year, expiring on August 31st. However, it’s important to note that some specific licenses may have different expiration dates or additional requirements.

To keep your commercial fishing endeavors legal and uninterrupted:

A. License Renewal:

Approximately two months before the license expiration date, FWC will issue a renewal notice via mail or email containing instructions for renewing your license online.

B. Stay Informed:

It is crucial to stay up-to-date with any changes or regulations related to commercial fishing in Florida. Regularly check the FWC website, subscribe to their newsletters, and engage with local industry groups to remain informed about any new developments.


Acquiring a commercial fishing license in Florida is an essential step towards turning your passion into a lucrative career opportunity. By understanding the type of license you require, gathering necessary information and documents, following through with the application process diligently, paying fees promptly, and staying informed about renewals and updates; you can begin your journey as a licensed commercial fisherman while respecting state regulations. Remember that persistence pays off—so cast your net wide and seize this fantastic opportunity!