Do You Need a License for Spearfishing? [Why and Where?]

Do You Need a License for Spearfishing

Spearfishing is like no other form of recreational fishing. It actually resembles hunting, and spearos need a high level of physical fitness to be successful.

Of course, it is strictly regulated, in some countries even more than angling. This is why many anglers ask do you need a license for spearfishing and what are the rules.

When it comes to spearfishing, license is required. Most often, it can be done with regular saltwater license, but some additional permits and stamps may be necessary for certain areas of fish species. Law also regulates permitted equipment, size and bag limits, and a lot more.

Before I even go into details, I have to mention that it is your personal responsibility to check up to date info provided by the local authorities.

Also, before you head out for a spearfishing adventure, especially as a beginner, learn is spearfishing dangerous, and check out some specific dangers that may be present in your area.

Here I will tell you more about spearfishing and license requirements in popular spearfishing destinations!



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Do You Need a License for Spearfishing? [If Yes - Why?]

I can skip info about what is spearfishing and listing the types of spearfishing, as that is not directly related to this topic. It doesn’t matter if you are spearfishing from shore or a boat, because license is required for both.

It is illegal to spearfish without a license. The same goes for angling to. You can safely assume that you always need a license, unless stated otherwise by the authorities.

License for spearfishing is required for the same reason as it is for angling. Money goes towards conservation and various projects, and you as a license holder must obey all the rules and regulations that come with it. In addition to that, states and countries can keep track about numbers of people fishing.

Of course, everything stated here is valid if spearfishing is allowed. In some areas (like protected marine parks and similar) fishing activities are against the law. In some countries, you may use only certain types of spearfishing gear, and license does not give you right to do something else.

How and Where to Get [Buy] a Spearfishing License?

When you check is spearfishing legal, you may proceed to buying a license. There are various options to get it. I personally like to buy fishing license online. It is very convenient, you can read a lot of info on official authorities’ websites, and you can do it at any time. This is especially important if you are travelling somewhere for spearfishing. Take care of everything in time to avoid complications.

Otherwise, you can buy licences in authorities offices, bait stores, tackle stores, or even supermarkets. All of this depends on a country, everything I listed here goes for USA. In other countries, you may have less options.

There may be some exemptions when it comes to do you need a license for spearfishing. Most often, there is an age limit, so those younger than 16 or 18 may not need one. The same goes for seniors or disabled. But, don’t mix no license required with free license. If you are in a group of people who can get a free license that means that you don’t have to pay for it, but you still need one.

If you want to know how to get a spearfishing license the best way is to check official websites. Depending on a license category, you may have to provide certain documents like proof of residence for a discount. There is a form to fill and submit. Every state/country has a bit different procedure, but they are usually quite simple.

Do You Need a License for Spearfishing - How to Get

Do You Need a License for Spearfishing in ...

Here is a list of popular destinations and license requirements. In the USA, you can even go spearfishing with scuba gear!


California spearfishing license is required for all recreational spearos. This license is basically a saltwater fishing license. There is no special one just for spearfishing. Of course, some restrictions apply, like closed season for certain species and some off-limits areas. All rules (age requirements, discounts for special categories of people and similar) are the same as for saltwater anglers. Those younger than 16 are exempted from having a license.

Learn more about spearfishing in California <<< HERE!

San Diego

San Diego is a spearfishing paradise for both experienced spearos and beginners! When it comes to license requirements, it is the same as in the rest California state and other USA states. You need a saltwater license. Just keep in mind that states can have different bag limits and other rules.

Learn more about spearfishing in San Diego <<< HERE!


Florida spearfishing license is also required, and again, it is a saltwater license. If you plan to collect a lobster when you are fishing, you need additional stamps. I have to mention that freshwater spearfishing is against the law here. Of course, spearfishing is prohibited in the vicinity of public beaches.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is one of the most popular spearfishing destinations. If you plan to do it in federal waters, you don’t need a license. In state waters you need a saltwater fishing license to be able to do it legally. Scuba gear is prohibited. Authorities are rarely asking for licences, but I would advise you to get it despite this fact.

Learn more about spearfishing in Puerto Rico <<< HERE!


Hawaii spearfishing license is not required for residents. They are in a process of implementing a rule that will make it mandatory for tourists, and this will happen soon, so check before you go! This goes for saltwater spearfishing, and other forms of recreational fishing in the ocean.

For freshwater you need a license, and freshwater spearfishing is not allowed.

Do You Need a License for Spearfishing - Hawaii


Anyone who is older than 14 year needs a fishing license for recreational fishing in Mexico, and that includes spearos. Scuba gear is prohibited everywhere in Mexico, and authorities can be very strict to tourists who don’t obey local laws.

All types of spearguns are allowed, and you can use only one per person.


Australia has very strict laws. Spearfishing is not allowed everywhere, scuba gear is prohibited, and gun types are also restricted. In addition to all that, spearos must have a valid license. Bag and size limits apply, as well as restrictions considering fish species.

United Kingdom

And lastly, here is UK. I have good news for you! You don’t need any license to spearfish there. But there are rules about it. It is prohibited in freshwater, and you can only spearfish in tidal areas. There are protected locations that must be avoided at all times. And there is a law that prohibits spearfishing at night, as it is the case in all European Union countries. Although UK left EU, this law still applies.

Related articles about best locations for spearfishing in the world:

• Spearfishing in Long Island

• Spearfishing in Costa Rica

What Happens if You Get Caught Without a Spearfishing License?

Among the best tips for spearfishing, I would list the one that says “get a license”. Otherwise, you are risking a lot. Depending on a state, or even a country, you can get in all kinds of trouble.

You can get a fine, you can end up in court. The worse thing is that you can end up in jail! If you get caught, your catch will be confiscated, and your gear may get confiscated too. This is a lot of inconvenience that can be prevented by simply buying a license. It is cheaper and it will make sure that your spearfishing holiday doesn’t get interrupted by authorities.

Things may get even worse if you are caught with protected marine species or in protected areas. Fines go up to thousands of dollars.

Be responsible, check the laws, and buy a license.

Here are a few more tips: Mark your position when diving to be visible to passing boats, never go alone, learn about dangerous species in the area, don’t point your gun towards anyone, carry a diving knife, and check the weather forecast. In addition to that, invest in a good gear, including proper fins, wetsuit, and the best mask for spearfishing.

If you are a beginner I would advise you to hire a guide instead of self-discovering unfamiliar waters around the world.

Do You Need a License for Spearfishing - Fine


Now you know all about do you need a license for spearfishing or not. As you can see, it is required almost everywhere, with rare exceptions.

If you are in an exempted age group you may not need it, otherwise, you should get it. Licences are available in various price ranges, depending on your residency, age, and disability status.

When compared with a price of ruined vacation or confiscated gear, licenses are cheap, and you should buy one. Be responsible, obey the limits, and you will be able to enjoy in healthy fish population in the future!

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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