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College of Arts & Sciences
Maritime Research Division

Hobby Licenses

The Maritime Research Division issues Hobby Licenses to collect artifacts from state waters and manages quarterly reports submitted by licensed individuals to ensure proper reporting and recording of finds as allowed by the license.

The Hobby License program is a State-mandated program that began in the 1970s to manage the artifact and fossil collection activities of South Carolina's sport divers.  Athough many participants are scuba divers, anyone wishing to search and recover submerged property on a recreational basis must obtain this license. The Institute's Maritime Research Division works closely with the South Carolina State Museum concerning the collection of information on fossils and fossilized ecofacts found in State waters by licensed individuals.

A Hobby License is required for anyone wishing to conduct recreational (temporary, small scale, non-commercial) search and recovery of submerged property.  It is a state-wide license. Recovery of submerged property must be by hand and must not involve mechanical devices or excavation, Hobby Licensees are never permitted to dig or move sediment to expose material.  Hobby Licensees may recover a reasonable number of artifacts and fossils from submerged lands over which the state has sovereign control, but may recover only ten artifacts from a shipwreck site. PLEASE NOTE: Activities such as Magnet Fishing are prohibited in South Carolina waterways and SCIAA does not issue Hobby Licenses for this potentially destructive practice. Each Hobby Licensee must report his/her finds to the Institute (for artifacts), or the State Museum (for fossils) on a quarterly basis and, within 60 days of receipt of each report, the Institute shall release title to all finds to the licensee. All Hobby License applications are processed at the Charleston office and license cards will be mailed to the address provided by each applicant within four weeks of receipt.   Please see the Hobby License Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about the program, licenses, license requirenemts, and licensee reporting obligations.  

Hobby License (6-month) $5.00 $10.00
Hobby License (2-year) $18.00 $36.00

* Please note there is a $5.00 License Replacement Fee if your license card is lost or stolen.

To download the Hobby License application, Renewal application, Artifact Report Form, and Fossil Report Form, please visit our Forms page or contact us at for more information.

As Hobby License operations transition to the Columbia office allow additional processing time when submitting applications for the foreseeable future.  Thank you for your understanding and patience.