Florida Fossil Permit

Florida Statute 1004.57

Florida Statute 1004.57 sets forth the State of Florida's declared intent to protect and preserve vertebrate fossils and vertebrate paleontology sites. All vertebrate fossils found on lands owned or leased by the state belong to the state with title to the fossils vested in the Florida Museum of Natural History for the purposes of administration. Field collection of vertebrate fossils may be conducted under the authority of a permit issued by the Program of Vertebrate Paleontology in accordance with FS §1004.575 and the University of Florida RULE 6C1-7.541 F.A.C. The purpose of the fossil collecting permit is not only to manage this non-renewable part of Florida's heritage, but to help paleontologists learn more about the range and distribution of the state's fossil animals.

What Areas are Covered?

The state intends to encourage preservation of its heritage wherever vertebrate fossils are discovered; the state encourages all persons having knowledge of such fossils to notify the Program of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. A permit is required for most collecting activities on all lands owned or leased by the state. This includes sites located either on submerged lands or uplands. Please note that existing regulations prohibit collecting in state parks and certain other managed areas. Check the regulations to see if your activities are covered. Fossil collecting on private land does not require a permit (but you will need the permission of the land owner or manager to enter, collect on, and retain fossils from private property). Having a permit does not give you the right to collect fossils on private property without the permission of the land owner.

What Objects are Covered?

It is Florida's public policy to protect and preserve vertebrate fossils, including bones, teeth, natural casts, molds, impressions, and other remains of prehistoric vertebrate animals. Fossil sharks teeth are specifically excluded from these regulations, as are the fossils of plants, invertebrate animals (e.g., mollusks, sea urchins, crabs, etc.), and other organisms, so no permit is required to collect such specimens. A permit is required to collect fossils of all other kinds of vertebrates, namely fish (except sharks teeth), amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Who May Obtain a Permit?

Any person with an interest in Florida vertebrate fossils may apply for a permit. These regulations apply to both residents and non-residents of Florida. Minors can apply for permits, but may also collect with a permit-carrying adult parent or guardian who assumes all responsibilities and obligations for the collected specimens.

Who Must Obtain a Permit?

  • Any person or entity buying, selling or trading vertebrate fossils found on or under state-owned or leased land; and/or
  • Any person or entity engaged in the collection, acquisition, or restoration of vertebrate fossils found on state-owned or leased land.

How is a Permit Obtained?

Any person wishing to engage in field collection of vertebrate fossils on land owned or leased by the state of Florida should apply for a permit by printing out and completing an application form and mailing it to the FLORIDA PROGRAM OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-7800, USA.

The application must be accompanied by a self-identification document such as a photocopy of the applicant's birth certificate, driver's license, or passport, and a check or money order for $5.00 US made payable to the University of Florida. Permits will be issued for one year. A multiple-user permit will be granted to an individual representing an organization or institution. Multiple-user permits are not intended for collective use by separate adult members of a family or household; they should each apply for their own permits.

***Due to Staff Vacations, no permits will be renewed or issued in person from June 12 to June 26, 2019*** 

Permits can also be obtained in person at the Florida Museum of Natural History's research and collections building, Dickinson Hall, between 9 AM and 5 PM Monday-Friday. Please contact Dr. Hulbert (see below) before traveling beforehand to make sure he or his assistant will be present to issue you a permit. Dickinson Hall is located on the south side of Museum Road on the UF camplus just to the west of the campus police station and to the east of the Vistors' Welcome Center and Reitz Student Union.

What Obligations does a Permit Carry?

As a permit holder you can help unlock the secrets of Florida's fossil heritage and preserve this knowledge for future generations. Each year permittees add new discoveries to Florida's fossil heritage. The holder of a permit must report any unusual specimen or unusually rich site to the PROGRAM OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY as soon as possible. At any convenient time, no later than the end of the permit year, the permit holder shall submit to the PROGRAM OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY a list of all vertebrate fossils collected during the permit year along with appropriate locality information; or the actual collections with appropriate locality information. If within sixty (60) days of receipt of the list or the actual collection the PROGRAM OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY does not request the permittee to donate one or more of the fossils collected, they may be released as 'non-essential fossils' to be disposed of however the permit holder may choose.

If you already have a fossil permit, you should renew it about three to four weeks before the expiration date to ensure that you receive your new card before the old one expires. Unless you indicate otherwise, the starting date for the renewed permit will be one day after your current permit expires.

Questions about Florida Program of Vertebrate Paleontology may be directed to:

Dr. Richard Hulbert
Program of Vertebrate Paleontology
Florida Museum of Natural History
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611
Tel: (352)273-1821 (***DO NOT call from June 12 to June 26, 2019***)
E-mail: Dr. Richard Hulbert (***You can email, although response time may be delayed***)