Guide to Carrying Hunting Licenses in Virginia

Overview of Hunting License Requirements

In Virginia, it is mandatory for hunters, trappers, and anglers to possess the appropriate licenses while engaging in these activities. This requirement is not just a formality but a legal obligation, emphasizing the importance of regulation and conservation in wildlife activities.

License Display and Verification

Immediate License Presentation

  • Who Must Show: Anyone required to have a license.
  • When to Show: Instantly upon request by:
    • Officers enforcing game and inland fish laws.
    • Land or water owners/lessees, or their representatives, where the hunting, trapping, or fishing occurs.

Electronic License Carry

  • Recommended Method: Carrying an electronic copy of the license or certificate.
  • Advantages:
    • Convenient and secure.
    • No need for a physical signature.
  • App Suggestion: The Department’s official app for easy access and management of electronic licenses.

Virginia Residency Requirements for Hunting Licenses

Understanding Residency for Licensing

Virginia's regulations specify various criteria to qualify as a resident for the purpose of obtaining hunting licenses. These criteria ensure that licenses are issued appropriately, reflecting the individual's genuine connection to the state.

Key Residency Qualifications

  1. Six-Month Continuous Residency

    • Eligibility: Individuals who have lived in a specific city, county, or throughout the state for six consecutive months before buying a license.
  2. Two-Month Domiciliary Residency

    • Eligibility: Individuals who have been domiciliary residents of Virginia for at least two months.
    • Requirement: Completion and approval of an affidavit provided by the Department.
  3. Legal Voters

    • Eligibility: Registered and legal voters in Virginia.
  4. Armed Forces Members and Their Families

    • Eligibility:
      • Active duty members of the U.S. armed forces.
      • Immediate family members as defined in § 2.2-3101.
    • Criteria:
      • Residence in Virginia.
      • Stationed at a military installation within Virginia or on a ship based in the state.
    • Requirement: Execution of a certificate of residence.
  5. Students in Virginia Schools

    • Eligibility: Students residing in Virginia, including nonresident students living on campus.
    • Criterion: Enrollment in bona fide Virginia schools.
  6. Unnaturalized Property Owners

    • Eligibility: Unnaturalized individuals owning real estate in a specific county or city.
    • Criterion: Actual residence in that location for not less than five years before applying for the license.

Virginia Hunting License Exemptions

Understanding License Exemptions

In Virginia, certain individuals are exempt from the requirement to obtain hunting licenses, including basic hunting, bear, deer/turkey, archery, muzzleloading, trapping licenses, and the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp. These exemptions are designed to recognize specific circumstances, ensuring fair and practical application of hunting regulations.

Specific Exemptions

  1. Landowners and Their Families

    • Eligibility: Resident or nonresident landowners, their spouses, children, grandchildren, and their spouses, and the landowner’s parents.
    • Exemption Scope: Hunting, trapping, or fishing (inland waters) within their own lands.
  2. Tenants, Renters, or Lessees

    • Eligibility: Individuals residing on leased or rented land.
    • Requirement: Written permission from the landowner.
    • Note: Those leasing property but not residing there are not exempt.
  3. Senior Residents

    • Eligibility: Residents aged 65 and over.
    • Exemption Scope: Hunting or trapping on private property within their county or city of residence.
  4. Young Hunters

    • Resident Hunters Under 12: No license or hunter education required. Must be supervised by a licensed adult.
    • Nonresident Hunters Under 12: Need a hunting license but no hunter education. Must be supervised.
    • Residents Under 16: No license required for trapping if accompanied by an adult with a valid Virginia trapping license.
  5. Assistants to Disabled Hunters

    • Eligibility: Individuals aiding disabled hunters possessing a valid Virginia Disabled Resident Lifetime or Resident Disabled Veteran Lifetime license.
    • Requirement: No license necessary for the assistant.
  6. Indigenous Peoples

    • Eligibility: Indians residing on reservations or Virginia-recognized tribe members residing in the Commonwealth.
    • Requirement: Must carry tribal identification or certification from a tribal office.
  7. Corporate Landowners

    • Eligibility: Stockholders owning 50% or more of a domestic corporation’s stock, their spouses, children, and minor grandchildren.
    • Exemption Scope: Hunting, trapping, and fishing within lands and inland waters owned by the corporation.

Key Points

  • Applicability: All seasons, bag limits, and harvest reporting requirements still apply.
  • Purpose: These exemptions recognize the rights of landowners, the needs of older and younger residents, the support for disabled hunters, and the respect for indigenous rights.
  • Contribution to Wildlife Management: While exempt from licensing, these individuals still play a role in Virginia's wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Virginia Hunting License Requirements


In Virginia, different hunting activities require specific licenses, permits, or stamps. It's crucial to understand Virginia residency qualifications, exemptions, and hunter safety requirements before obtaining any license or permit.

License Requirements by Hunting Activity

1. Small Game Hunting

  • Required: Hunting license.
  • Additional: National Forest Permit or State Forest Use Permit may be needed.

2. Hunting Dove, Woodcock, Snipe, Gallinules, or Rails

  • Required: Hunting license and HIP (Harvest Information Program) authorization.
  • Registration for HIP: Online at or call (888) 788-9772.
  • Additional: National Forest Permit or State Forest Use Permit may be needed.

3. Hunting Bear, Deer, or Turkey

  • Required: Bear license and/or deer/turkey license in addition to the hunting license.
  • Validity Period: July 1 - June 30.
  • Additional: National Forest Permit, State Forest Use Permit, or Bonus Deer Permits may be needed.

4. Archery Hunting

  • Required: Archery license in addition to the hunting license during designated archery seasons for bear, deer, turkey, and bobcat.
  • Additional: Bear license, deer/turkey license, National Forest Permit, State Forest Use Permit, or Bonus Deer Permits may be needed.
  • Note: No archery license needed during firearms deer season.

5. Muzzleloader Hunting

  • Required: Muzzleloading license in addition to the hunting license during designated muzzleloader deer or bear seasons.
  • Additional: Bear license, deer/turkey license, National Forest Permit, State Forest Use Permit, or Bonus Deer Permits may be needed.
  • Note: No muzzleloading license needed during firearms deer season.

6. Trapping

  • Required: Trapping license.
  • Additional: National Forest Permit or State Forest Use Permit may be needed.

7. Waterfowl Hunting

  • Required: Hunting license, Federal Duck Stamp, Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp, and HIP authorization.
  • Registration for HIP: As above.
  • Additional: National Forest Permit or State Forest Use Permit may be needed.

Important Considerations

  • Residency: Understand your residency status as it impacts license requirements.
  • Exemptions: Familiarize yourself with the exemptions to see if you are legally required to have a license.
  • Hunter Safety: Ensure you've met all hunter safety requirements before applying for licenses.

Apprentice Hunting License: An Overview

The Apprentice Hunting License in Virginia is specifically designed for first-time hunters, whether residents or non-residents. This license is valid for a period of two years and can only be purchased once. It's important to note that individuals who have previously held a hunting license in Virginia are not eligible for this apprentice license.

Key Requirements and Regulations

  • Supervision Requirements: Individuals holding an apprentice hunting license must be under the direct supervision of an adult over 18 years old. This adult supervisor must possess a valid Virginia hunting license and is required to maintain close visual and verbal contact with the apprentice. They should be able to provide immediate guidance and, if necessary, take control of the firearm.

  • Eligibility and Usage: The apprentice hunting license cannot serve as a proof of previously purchasing a hunting license. However, if the holder completes a Hunter Safety course within the two-year validity period, the apprentice license can then be used as a basic hunting license until its expiration. Post completion of the hunter education, the requirement for supervision is waived, except in specific circumstances mandated by law, such as hunting during a youth/apprentice hunting weekend.

  • Carrying Proof of Education: It is mandatory for apprentice license holders to carry proof of completing the Hunter Safety course when hunting unsupervised.

Process for Obtaining Replacement Hunting and Fishing Licenses in Virginia

Easy Steps to Replace Your License

If you need to replace a lost or damaged hunting or fishing license in Virginia, the process is straightforward and user-friendly. Here's how you can get a replacement:

Online Replacement

  1. Visit the Website: Go to
  2. Account Management: Click on “Manage Your Account.”
  3. Reprint License: Follow the prompts to reprint your license.
    • Convenience: This can be done at any time, offering immediate access to your license.

Replacement through Retail License Agents

  1. Locate a Retail Agent: Find a retail license agent who sells hunting and fishing licenses.
  2. Request for Replacement: Visit the agent and request a reprint of your license.

Replacement via Headquarters Office

  1. Contact Number: Call the Headquarters office at (804) 367-1000.
  2. Business Hours: Make the call during normal business hours for assistance.

How to Obtain a Virginia Hunting License

Online License Acquisition

For those seeking to acquire a Virginia hunting license, the process can be conveniently initiated online. The official platform for this is Here's how to navigate the process:

  • New Customers: If you're new to the system, you'll need to create a unique customer account. This account grants access not only to licenses but also to various other products and services offered.
  • Existing Customers: For those who have previously interacted with the system, logging in is straightforward. Use your date of birth, last name, and one of the following: your DWR Customer ID, the last four digits of your Social Security Number, or your driver’s license number.
  • License Selection and Payment: Once logged in, select the desired license(s), complete the transaction using a credit card, and print the license if necessary.

In-Person License Purchase

Alternatively, licenses can be purchased in person:

  • Locations: Licenses are available at select clerks of the Circuit Court, various license agents throughout Virginia, and at DWR headquarters. However, it's important to note that DWR regional offices do not sell these licenses.
  • Finding a License Agent: To locate a nearby license agent, visit the following link: Locate a License Agent.

Acquiring a License via Phone

  • Phone Purchase: For those who prefer the convenience of a phone call, licenses can be purchased by dialing (804) 367-1000 during regular business hours.
  • Mobile App: The GoOutdoors Virginia mobile app offers another practical option for purchasing a license.

Understanding the Apprentice License and Additional Licenses in Virginia

Apprentice License and Its Purpose

The apprentice license in Virginia serves as a substitute for the basic hunting license. It is designed primarily for new hunters, providing an opportunity to learn and experience hunting under the guidance of a more experienced hunter.

Requirement of Additional Licenses

Even with an apprentice license, there are specific additional licenses, stamps, or permits that you may need to legally hunt certain species or in particular seasons. These include:

For Hunting Bear, Deer, or Turkey

  • Requirement: You must purchase a bear license or a deer/turkey license in addition to your apprentice license.

Other Possible Requirements

  • Archery and Muzzleloading Seasons: If hunting during designated archery or muzzleloading seasons, an archery or muzzleloading license is necessary.
  • Waterfowl Hunting: Requires a Federal Duck Stamp and Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp.

Validity of Junior Licenses After Turning 16

Understanding License Expiration

If you purchase a junior hunting license and then turn 16, the key factor to consider is the expiration date of the license. Here's what you need to know:

  • License Validity: Your junior license remains valid until its expiration date, regardless of age changes during its validity period. This means if you turn 16 after acquiring the junior license, it continues to be valid until the date of expiry.

  • No Immediate Repurchase Necessary: There is no requirement to purchase a new license for those aged 16 and older immediately after your 16th birthday, as long as your current junior license is still valid.

Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.