Virginia.gov

Access Permit: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please check back with this page as questions and answers will continue to be added as needed.
Last Update: October 2, 2014

  1. Why was an Access Permit created?
  2. Who has to purchase an Access Permit?
  3. How much does the Access Permit cost?
  4. Why wouldn't I just buy a freshwater fishing or hunting license?
  5. Does the Access Permit cost the same for residents of Virginia as non-residents?
  6. Does the $23 Annual Permit allow access to all WMAs statewide?
  7. Does the $4 Daily Permit allow access to all WMAs statewide?
  8. If I am planning on visiting a public lake, how do I know if a lake is owned by DGIF?
  9. Is the Annual Access Permit good for the calendar year or a year from date of purchase?
  10. Can I set the date on the Daily Access Permit?
  11. If I purchase more than one Daily Access Permit do they have to be for consecutive days?
  12. Where can I buy an Access Permit?
  13. If I purchase a Daily Permit and do not use it will refunds be available?
  14. Do my children need to have an Access Permit to accompany me on a WMA or fishing lake if I have a hunting or fishing license?
  15. Why does the child exemption end after age 16?
  16. I belong to a group that would like to visit DGIF's WMAs or public fishing lakes, is there a Daily Group Access Permit available?
  17. Is there a Lifetime Access Permit available?
  18. Is there a discounted 65 or older annual Access Permit like the fishing/hunting license?
  19. If I am participating in a field dog trail do I need an Access Permit?
  20. If I am exempt from purchasing a license (for example landowners do not need a license to hunt on their own property) do I still need to purchase an Access Permit to visit a WMA or public fishing lake within my county or city of residence?
  21. Do I have to purchase an Access Permit if I am not hunting or fishing but am aiding a disabled person with a disabled license to hunt or fish on a WMA or DGIF-owned public fishing lake?
  22. Will having a Virginia saltwater license be sufficient to allow access to WMAs? What about WMA's with saltwater frontage (such as Saxis WMA or Mockhorn WMA)?
  23. I have a fishing license; do I need to purchase an Access Permit to go bird watching on a WMA?
  24. I purchased a conservation license plate for my car; do I still need to purchase an Access Permit to go on a WMA?
  25. I will be accessing a family grave site on a Wildlife Management Area; do I need an Access Permit?
  26. I will be driving through a WMA to reach a DGIF boat ramp, my residence, or property I own inside the boundaries of a WMA; do I need an Access Permit?
  27. Do I need an Access Permit to park my vehicle or my horse trailer on a WMA parking lot even if I am not entering the WMA but riding on a trail or visiting an adjacent property?
  28. If I am from out-of-state and have purchased a Non-Resident 3-Day Hunting License or 5-Day Freshwater Fishing License; do I still need to purchase an Access Permit to hunt on a WMA or fish at a public fishing lake?
  29. Will I need to carry an actual copy of the permit, license or boat registration on my person at the property?
  30. What happens if I purchase an Access Permit and lose it?
  31. How will this be enforced?
  32. If I am age 17 or older and do not possess a valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping)valid Virginia, boat registration, or are otherwise waived from this requirement and only want to accompany someone who will be hunting, fishing, trapping but not participating in the activity myself, do I need an Access Permit?
  33. If I am age 17 or older and launching a boat, such as a kayak or canoe that is not a registered boat in Virginia, from a WMA location other than a DGIF boat ramp do I need an Access Permit?
  34. If I am going tubing and departing from a boat ramp at a WMA do I need an Access Permit?
  35. Do I need an Access Permit to go swimming at a DGIF-owned public fishing lake?
  36. Do I need an Access Permit to launch a kayak or canoe that is not a registered boat at one of DGIF's public fishing lakes?
  37. Do I need an Access Permit if I am canoeing, kayaking, or tubing through a Wildlife Management Area on public water?
  38. How much revenue do you project the Access Permit will generate?
  39. Is there a list of WMAs and DGIF-owned lakes available?
  40. How did you arrive that the cost of the Access Permit? What is it based on?

Why was an Access Permit created?

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries was given authority by the Virginia General Assembly to charge a facility use fee in 2003. At their May 3, 2011 meeting, after an extensive regulatory process that included considerable public input, the Board passed the regulation establishing an access permit to go into effect January 1, 2012. The regulation applies to Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and DGIF-owned public fishing lakes. Lists of WMAs and DGIF-owned lakes can be found on the agency website. The purpose of this new fee is to diversify the funding base for maintaining our properties by involving all those who directly benefit from using our properties. DGIF had the legal authority to institute such a fee since 2003 and felt that the move was justified now since the Board decided to raise selected hunting, fishing, and trapping license fees effective July 1, 2011. Rather than loading even more of a financial burden on hunters, anglers, and trappers the Board wanted to broaden the financial support.

Who has to purchase an Access Permit?

Anyone age 17 and older who wants to access a Wildlife Management Area or DGIF-owned public fishing lake must purchase an Access Permit unless they possess a valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping), valid Virginia boat registration, or are otherwise waived from the requirement.

The authorizing regulation allows for the Department's Director to develop additional waivers when such waivers are in the best interest of the department or to offer special discounts to encourage use. Please view the current policy guidance to view these waivers and process. This guidance will be updated over time as warranted

How much does the Access Permit cost?

The cost for the Daily Access Permit is $4 per person. The cost for the Annual Access Permit is $23 per person and both prices include the $1 per transaction license agent fee. Group discounts are available for daily use and the leader of the group must purchase the permit, carry it while on the property, and maintain a list of group participants for inspection when visited by a Conservation Officer. Group pricing, listed in groups of a dozen, includes the $1 license agent fee.

  • 01-12 = $26
  • 13-24 = $51
  • 25-36 = $76
  • 37-48 = $101
  • 49-60 = $126

Groups larger than 12 will also need to apply for a no-cost Special Use permit (PDF) so that the Department is aware if the planned use may interfere with others users of the property. Groups larger than 60 will need to purchase multiple group permits. There is no annual permit for groups.

Why wouldn't I just buy a freshwater fishing or hunting license?

That would be an excellent way gain the access privileges and provide additional funds to help manage and maintain the area. Annual Access Permits cost Virginia residents the same amount as an annual freshwater fishing or hunting license, but when you purchase a freshwater fishing or hunting license DGIF will receive more money due to the federal match on those licenses. Currently the federal match for a hunting license is $12 per license sold and the federal match for a freshwater fishing license is $7 per license sold. To maximize your support of WMAs and public fishing lakes, we encourage you to purchase a freshwater fishing or hunting license. This approach will not only generate additional funds for the agency, but will provide you with the opportunity to freshwater fish or hunt statewide for a year. Note that you must pass the Hunter Education class to purchase a hunting license. Hunter Education classes are taught statewide free of charge. Non-resident fishing and hunting licenses do cost more than the Access Permit.

Does the Access Permit cost the same for residents of Virginia as non-residents?

Yes. The cost is the same for residents and non-residents.

Does the $23 Annual Permit allow access to all WMAs statewide?

Yes and public fishing lakes owned by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

Does the $4 Daily Permit allow access to all WMAs statewide?

Yes for the date of the Permit, and for public fishing lakes owned by DGIF on that day.

If I am planning on visiting a public lake, how do I know if a lake is owned by DGIF?

A list of public fishing lakes owned by DGIF is available on this website.

Is the Annual Access Permit good for the calendar year or a year from date of purchase?

If you purchase the Annual Permit, the permit is good for one year from the date of purchase.

Can I set the date on the Daily Access Permit?

Yes.

If I purchase more than one Daily Access Permit do they have to be for consecutive days?

Purchase of each Daily Access Permit will be a separate transaction so they do not have to be purchased for consecutive days.

Where can I buy an Access Permit?

Beginning January 1, 2012, you can purchase one from this website, or by calling DGIF Customer Service at 1-866-721-6911 during regular business hours Monday through Friday; or at any license agent located in many sporting goods stores, bait shops, and DMV Customer Service Centers statewide. Please note that the Daily Group Access Permit is new and is not yet available due to coding requirements from our online point of sale or at our license agents. Please call DGIF Customer Service at 1-866-721-6911 to purchase Daily Group Access Permits for the time being.

If I purchase a Daily Permit and do not use it will refunds be available?

No. Purchase of an Access Permit, either the annual or daily, is not refundable due to non-use.

Do my children need to have an Access Permit to accompany me on a WMA or fishing lake if I have a hunting or fishing license?

If your child is 17 years or older and does not have their own hunting or fishing license, they will need an access permit regardless of you having a hunting or fishing license.

Why does the child exemption end after age 16?

The authorizing Code language in §29.1-113 sets forth that any person 16 years of age or younger are exempt from any admittance or use fee.

I belong to a group that would like to visit DGIF's WMAs or public fishing lakes, is there a Daily Group Access Permit available?

Yes. Group leaders will need to determine the proper size pass to purchase and should take into consideration that anyone otherwise exempt (valid DGIF license holder or registered boat owner or anyone under 17 years old) would not need to be included in the Group's headcount. The Group leader must purchase the Daily Group Access Permit, carry a copy while on the property, and maintain a list of group participants for inspection by a Conservation Police Officer. Group rates, including the $1 license agent fee, are:

  • 01-12 = $26
  • 13-24 = $51
  • 25-36 = $76
  • 37-48 = $101
  • 49-60 = $126

Groups larger than 12 will also need to apply for a no-cost Special Use permit (PDF) so that the Department is aware if the planned use may interfere with others users of the property. Groups larger than 60 will need to purchase multiple Daily Group Access Permits. There is no annual permit for groups.

Is there a Lifetime Access Permit available?

No. This is not authorized in the Code of Virginia section that gives the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries authority to create a lifetime permit. You do have the current option of buying a Lifetime Freshwater Fishing or Lifetime Hunting License that will provide the lifetime access privileges for life.

Is there a discounted 65 or older annual Access Permit like the fishing/hunting license?

No. This is not authorized in the Code of Virginia section that gives the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries authority to create this permit. You do have the current option of buying a 65 and older annual freshwater fishing or hunting license that will provide lifetime access privileges.

If I am participating in a field dog trail do I need an Access Permit?

If you are age 17 or older and do not possess a valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping), valid Virginia boat registration, or are not otherwise waived, you will need to purchase an Access Permit to participate in any event on a WMA. Access Permits are available for either daily or annual visits or there is an optional Group permit available at the following rates which include the $1 license agent fee.

  • 01-12 = $26
  • 13-24 = $51
  • 25-36 = $76
  • 37-48 = $101
  • 49-60 = $126

Groups larger than 60 will need to purchase multiple Daily Group Access Permits. There is no annual permit for groups.

If I am exempt from purchasing a license (for example landowners do not need a license to hunt on their own property) do I still need to purchase an Access Permit to visit a WMA or public fishing lake within my county or city of residence?

You will still need to purchase an Access Permit to visit a WMA or DGIF-owned public fishing lake even if you are exempt from purchasing a license for hunting, fishing or trapping. Your Access Permit will also allow you to visit WMAs and DGIF-owned public fishing lakes statewide.

Do I have to purchase an Access Permit if I am not hunting or fishing but am aiding a disabled person with a disabled license to hunt or fish on a WMA or DGIF-owned public fishing lake?

No. The Department appreciates your help in assisting disabled outdoorsmen and women. Of course, if you wish to participate in hunting or fishing, then you would need to have a valid license for that activity.

Will having a Virginia saltwater license be sufficient to allow access to WMAs? What about WMA's with saltwater frontage (such as Saxis WMA or Mockhorn WMA)?

No. The revenue from a saltwater fishing license goes to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and does not support the maintenance of DGIF Wildlife Management Areas or public fishing lakes.

I have a fishing license; do I need to purchase an Access Permit to go bird watching on a WMA?

No. Anyone who possesses a valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping), valid Virginia boat registration, or is otherwise waived does not need to purchase an Access Permit to visit a WMA or DGIF-owned public fishing lake.

I purchased a conservation license plate for my car; do I still need to purchase an Access Permit to go on a WMA?

Yes. If you are age 17 and older and do not possess a valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping), valid Virginia boat registration, or are not otherwise waived, you will still need to purchase the Access Permit. The conservation license plate program is another funding source for the agency, but it is not directly related to maintenance of Wildlife Management Areas and the revenue is split with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I will be accessing a family grave site on a Wildlife Management Area; do I need an Access Permit?

The Department does not want to interfere with your visiting a family grave site and you will not be required to have an Access permit to do so. If you enjoy the property for more than simply accessing the grave site, then an Access permit will be required if you are not otherwise exempted or waived from this requirement. Please see the current list of exemptions and waivers.

I will be driving through a WMA to reach a DGIF boat ramp, my residence, or property I own inside the boundaries of a WMA; do I need an Access Permit?

No. If you are simply using the roads on a WMA to access property that is not covered by this Access Permit regulation, then you are not required to hold an Access Permit. Any use of the WMA property other than for the transit to the non-covered property will require an Access Permit if the person is not otherwise exempted or waived by policy guidance.

Do I need an Access Permit to park my vehicle or my horse trailer on a WMA parking lot even if I am not entering the WMA but riding on a trail or visiting an adjacent property?

Yes. If you are age 17 or older and do not possess a valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping), , valid Virginia boat registration, or are not otherwise waived, you will need an Access Permit to park on DGIF property located at WMAs and DGIF-owned public fishing lakes even if you are not accessing the WMA or lake.

If I am from out-of-state and have purchased a Non-Resident 3-Day Hunting License or 5-Day Freshwater Fishing License; do I still need to purchase an Access Permit to hunt on a WMA or fish at a public fishing lake?

No. You will not need to purchase an Access Permit for the days you will be hunting on the WMA or fishing on a public fishing lake. Also, if you purchase any annual Non-Resident license you will NOT need to purchase an Access Permit in addition to that license.

Will I need to carry an actual copy of the permit, license or boat registration on my person at the property?

Yes. You will need to have a copy in your possession. If you purchased the Access permit using the onsite "QR" codes on the property sign, a copy of the Access Permit confirmation on your Smartphone will also be acceptable.

What happens if I purchase an Access Permit and lose it?

Valid Access Permits, regardless of where they were purchased, can be reprinted at any license agent. Permits purchased online can also be reprinted from the online site as long as the permit holder has the receipt information. If you have any questions call DGIF's Customer Service at 1-866-721-6911 during normal business hours.

How will this be enforced?

DGIF's Conservation Police Officers routinely patrol WMAs and DGIF-owned public lakes and will ask anyone age 17 years of age or older to see their Access Permit or valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping) or valid Virginia boat registration unless the person is otherwise waived from this requirement.

If I am age 17 or older and do not possess a valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping)valid Virginia, boat registration, or are otherwise waived from this requirement and only want to accompany someone who will be hunting, fishing, trapping but not participating in the activity myself, do I need an Access Permit?

Yes. The Access Permit allows you to legally access the property.

If I am age 17 or older and launching a boat, such as a kayak or canoe that is not a registered boat in Virginia, from a WMA location other than a DGIF boat ramp do I need an Access Permit?

Yes. The Access Permit allows you to legally access the property to launch your boat. No Access Permit is required if you are launching a boat from a DGIF boat ramp. Each boat ramp is identified by signage and is an improved water access point.

If I am going tubing and departing from a boat ramp at a WMA do I need an Access Permit?

Launching of tubes is not an authorized activity at boat landings on WMAs unless the angler or hunter is using a tube in association with fishing or hunting.

Do I need an Access Permit to go swimming at a DGIF-owned public fishing lake?

Swimming is not an authorized activity at DGIF-owned public fishing lakes and is not allowed.

Do I need an Access Permit to launch a kayak or canoe that is not a registered boat at one of DGIF's public fishing lakes?

Yes. An Access Permit would be required unless the person is otherwise exempted or waived. Please note that at most DGIF fishing lakes a kayak or canoe must be used in association with fishing or hunting before it is allowed on the lake.

Do I need an Access Permit if I am canoeing, kayaking, or tubing through a Wildlife Management Area on public water?

As long as you remain on the water, you do not need an Access Permit. If you get out of the water on DGIF-owned land, you would then be accessing the property and would need an Access Permit if you age 17 and older unless you possess a valid Virginia license (hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping), boat registration, or are otherwise waived.

How much revenue do you project the Access Permit will generate?

The Agency used data from State Forests who also has a use fee program in order to estimate potential revenue. We project we could receive $200,000 a year. Since the Access Permit will be implemented halfway through this fiscal year, we expect revenue in FY12 to be approximately $100,000. Much is unknown because people may opt to go ahead and purchase a fishing license or other license or may opt for the Daily Access Permit at $4 versus an Annual Access Permit at $23. People are encouraged to visit our website at www.dgif.virginia.gov to see information about the Access Permit. They can find a list of WMAs and a list of DGIF-owned public fishing lakes.

Is there a list of WMAs and DGIF-owned lakes available?

If you go to this link you will see information about the new Access Permit with a link in the first paragraph to a list of the WMAs and a link to a list of the public fishing lakes owned by DGIF.

How did you arrive that the cost of the Access Permit? What is it based on?

The Annual Access Permit costs the same as the Virginia resident basic statewide hunting licenses or the Virginia resident basic statewide freshwater fishing license. This permit is the same cost for residents and non-residents. Please note that anyone under age 17 will not need to have an Access Permit.