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Metal detecting laws can be complicated enough even within one single country, and this especially true for countries that have states, regions, or provinces with autonomous government, like the US. There is no single set of federal laws on hobby metal detecting and treasure hunting, meaning that every state has its own specific regulations. This is why metal detecting laws by state were collected and listed by Detect History!
Check out the regulations for states you are interested in, to be updated about local requirements. Please be aware that the local laws can change quickly, so always double-check them with your local authorities, metal detecting clubs, or management of particular locations where you want to metal detect.
Only digging in state parks with the permission of a park authority is possible. The park staff is to review the finds in order to see whether the finds are not someone else’s personal possessions that should be reported. Aboriginal grounds cannot be a location for metal detecting. Alabama has access to the coast, but unfortunately detecting on the beaches or in the water is legally impossible.
The government of Alaska does not mind hobby metal detectorists, until they do not disturb national parks, archaeological sites, and recreational areas. In most cases, metal detecting on the beach is not accepted kindly, but you can generally detect on the coast if it is not a recreational area. On the other hand, this is Alaska, do you know many people relaxing on the beaches often? However, Alaska is a very attractive region for gold prospecting, because there are many locations where gold dust and even nuggets can be found. Even today, when so many detectorists comb through the area, especially in summer, Alaska still brings some impressive finds, sometimes in the most unexpected places.
Overall, hobby metal detecting Arizona is allowed on any type of territory (but for private property of course), but for every specific case, you need permission from authorities. No relic hunting on archaeological sites is ever permitted, but other than relics, whatever objects are okay to hunt for. Metal detecting for gold in Arizona is popular, but not in places that are “ not ecologically, geologically or culturally sensitive”.
Ironically, Arkansas that has no access to the coast allows detecting on the beaches, in contrast to many other states. In any case, hobby metal detecting Arkansas and whatever else detecting is only possible with the permit from local authorities. Arkansas is a popular state for treasure hunting, though, because many parks allow detectorists, and they bring some awesome finds from time to time.
According to California metal detecting laws, metal detecting is only allowed on the beaches, in shallow waters, and generally only in salt waters. Digging any holes and pits in the ground anywhere else but on the beach is prohibited, and destroying vegetation is prohibited, too, meaning that metal detecting also makes no sense (if you can’t dig the object out!). However, even in such limited locations as salt water beaches, some treasures and even gold nuggets can be found. If you are able to dig clean plugs, the park authorities won’t mind your digging, either.
Colorado metal detecting laws are quite interesting. Legally, detecting is allowed, and you can detect around with the permit of the local authorities, or public park stuff. However, you are not allowed to dig holes, or remove any objects you spot in the ground. This way, metal detecting Colorado makes little sense.
In Connecticut, treasure hunters are allowed to detect on the lands of the Department of Environmental Science without special permits. Metal detecting Connecticut is allowed in public parks, but with permits. According to the local laws, any holes dug out should be filled and removed. Also, if the detectorist finds personal belongings like jewelry or phones, etc., they must report to the authorities.
In state parks, detecting is allowed with a permit during regular hours. On the beaches, only deeper water detection is possible. Artifacts older than 100 years must be reported to the authorities. In all other aspects, Delaware is a nice state for detectorists, because they are allowed to treasure hunt almost in all state parks around the state.
In Florida, most salt water beaches allow treasure hunting without any permits, which is a pleasant contrast to other beaches in other states. However, there are few restrictions. Firstly, Florida metal detecting laws state that only shallow water detecting is allowed. Secondly, hunting on private property is strictly prohibited (that’s kinda an obvious rule for all states, but in the case of Florida, perhaps private property of hotels and other entities is considered, which may seem to be the best Florida beaches for metal detecting). Thirdly, artifacts older than 50 years are claimed property of the state.
In Georgia, according to the Georgia metal detecting laws, metal detecting is not allowed. Theoretically, this hobby is allowed on specific beaches designated for it, but these places do not seem to be a lot. Civil war sites are strictly forbidden for any detecting or digging. You are allowed to treasure hunt on private lands, if you have the landlord’s permission, and even digging out relics is allowed in this case.
Metal detecting Hawaii on sand beaches requires no permit, so you can pursue this hobby on most beaches without any problems. There is no info about other locations like public parks, but the law underlines only sand beaches as unrestricted locations. Please keep in mind that any aboriginal lands, and also archaeological sites, are strictly prohibited for treasure hunting.
There are really no clear regulations about metal detecting in the state of Idaho. On the one hand, any detecting on private lands, or on historical lands, is strictly prohibited. On the other hand, you can dig in state parks if you have permission, but it seems that the parks are unlikely to grant it to metal detectorists. In theory, it seems that detecting is allowed somewhere between private territory, historic lands, and public parks, but what kind of places are those - like, parking lots?
Illinois laws create an impression that metal detecting Illinois is not popular in this state. You need permits to dig anywhere, from state parks to public lands. Moreover, rules for every city, and even every park in every city, vary. So the situation is unclear, and it seems that there is no decent public request to bring all these mismatches rules in order.
You can treasure hunt on recreational areas like picnic areas, if you have permission from the local authorities. On some beaches, metal detecting Indiana with permission is also possible. State parks, however, can’t be locations for detecting, and no permit will be granted for state parks. In any case, removing man-made artifacts that are 100 years old or older is prohibited.
Metal detecting Iowa requires permits for every specific beach or public park. Moreover, metal detecting permits have allowed dates and hours. From May 22 to September 27, detecting is allowed from 4 am to 11 am. During the rest of the year, detecting is allowed from 4 am to 10:30 pm daily.
Kansas does not allow and does not prohibit metal detecting Kansas directly. As a result, it is safe to say that hunting with a metal detector is okay on public lands. However, there is a specific law that prohibits digging holes and pits in public parks.
In Kentucky, no hobby metal detecting is allowed. Detecting on state lands is possible in rare cases with very specific permits from the local and state authorities. There is a possibility to treasure hunt on privately owned lands.
In Louisiana, no detecting on land is possible. In theory, some fresh water body underwater detecting is possible upon getting a permit from the US Army Corps Engineers, but only for certain lakes, and for specific purposes.
All types of hobby detecting require written permission from local authorities. Any detecting and digging on historical sites is strictly prohibited. There are many parks and other areas where detecting can be done for fun, and even with some interesting finds.
In Maryland, no permission is needed to metal detect in parks and public places during normal park hours. However, to dig in public parks, permit is allowed, meaning that as long as you pick things up from the ground or find them in the grass, it is okay, but for digging holes and disturbing the vegetation, permits are necessary. Also, historical sites and places with cultural value cannot be locations for detecting, even without digging.
Massachusetts allows free detecting in fresh and salt water bodies. To detect and dig on the beaches (meaning digging the sand) and campsites, the local manager’s or local authority’s permit is needed. Talking about places other than beaches, camping sites and shallow water, each city and town in the state has its own rules considering hobby treasure hunting. Metal detecting Massachusetts is pretty much regulated.
Michigan allows metal detecting in specific areas in public parks, and there are plenty of parks that have those areas. However, park staff must review the Michigan metal detecting finds in case there are any valuable personal belongings that should be reported to police. There is no particular law that would ban metal detecting Michigan on the beaches, but it makes sense to double-check with the local management about each particular beach.
Metal detecting Minnesota regulations prohibit any non-official use of metal detectors on any lands and areas. Only licensed archaeologists or other official staff are allowed to use metal detecting devices. Any artifacts found in the ground belong to the state.
To treasure hunt in state parks, permission is needed from every park’s management, separately. Also, the law states that detecting on landmarks is not allowed, however, there is no clear definition and description of what can be considered a landmark, so it is better to double-check with local authorities to be on the safe side.
Certain sandy beaches allow metal detecting, including shallow water detecting. According to the metal detecting laws in Missouri, to hunt in state parks, one needs a permit; at the time of writing, 13 state parks issue permits for detectorists. The permit is valid for 1 calendar year, detecting is allowed during normal park hours.
According to Montana, digging holes and pits on any public lands is prohibited. In theory, you can dig on private lands if the owner allows you to, but there is no clear information on that aspect, and it is not clear how the local authorities will treat any finds discovered on private lands. On the other hand, digging in the forests or on the fields does not allow permits.
Only certain sandy beaches allow metal detecting on sand and in shallow waters, after permission of the local authorities that communicate the restrictions for each particular case. In other public places like state parks, even carrying a metal detector around is illegal.
Written permit is necessary to detect on any public lands that are not landmarks or historical sites. Also, detecting is possible near the mines, but another special permit is required.
State parks, picnic areas, playgrounds, and beaches are open for metal detecting NH, although one should double-check with the local authorities or site management before they start detecting and digging.
You can use metal detectors without a permit anywhere except state parks and national parks. To be able to detect in state or national parks, special metal detecting in NJ permission is required from authorities.
In theory, the detectorist can acquire a permit for treasure hunting, but the metal detecting New Mexico law does not specify which areas are actually allowed for this activity. Tribal lands or tribal burial grounds are strictly prohibited.
For metal detecting NY, the situation differs depending on the park, beach, or region. The general law is that a permission is needed for detecting, but some places (Like Central Park) never allow metal detecting. Some sandy beaches have no problem giving a permit. So, the treasure hunter should double-check with the local management every time.
Some metal detecting NC beaches allow treasure hunting. In parks, you need a permit to metal detect in order to find a lost personal item, but nothing more. Nags Head beaches are strictly forbidden for treasure hunting.
Generally, metal detecting as a hobby for the sake of treasure hunting is not allowed. Some parks may give allowance to find lost personal items, but they will not allow digging anything out.
According to Ohio metal detecting laws, to detect on the beaches and in state parks, the detectorist can get a permit from local authorities and this permit will work for several locations, for a certain period of time. However, it is always a good idea to double-check how it works for every particular location for metal detecting Ohio.
Permit is necessary to use metal detectors anywhere on public lands, or in the parks. Historical sites are of course prohibited.
Metal detecting Oregon without permit is possible on the beaches, and only for recreational purposes. If you’d like to treasure hunt in state parks, a permit is necessary for every park.
Treasure hunting is possible in certain parks after permission of the local authorities. On the beaches, metal detecting in pa is allowed only on certain days, please double-check with the local management. Digging out relics and precious items of cultural value is strictly prohibited.
It is allowed to metal detect in specific areas during specified time periods. For these areas, a permit is not needed. For any other public lands, permit is required, but for specific occasions, and it is unlikely to be granted for recreational purposes.
Some state parks allow metal detecting in SC, but only in limited designated areas. Detecting beaches is allowed, but only in public areas, in order to prevent destruction of the soils, and erosion.
The general law is that the permit is necessary to treasure hunt. Most state parks, however, will only allow metal detecting in their area for the sake of finding lost personal items. On the beaches, metal detecting is only possible in public places, not on the dunes.
The only search for lost personal items is allowed. Any types of treasure hunting or usage of detecting devices for recreational purposes are prohibited. The only possible exception is on swimming beaches.
Most of the land in Texas is private, and treasure hunting on public lands is prohibited without a permit which is complicated to get. The obvious option is asking for permission to treasure hunt on private lands from the owners, but make sure you communicate your actions if you find anything valuable on someone else’s property. Metal detecting laws Texas are tough.
Metal detecting Utah is only possible with a permit, in public parks. However, according to the law, any finds should be handled to the park staff. Removing any items that are not your personal property, is prohibited, even if it is a general natural object.
Permit is not necessary before you start metal detecting Vermont, but according to the law, you should inform local authorities. Most detecting is allowed in areas already disturbed by construction, camp sites, parking lots, etc. In any case, historical sites and archaeological locations cannot be places for treasure hunting.
To treasure hunt on any state lands, permission is necessary. There are generally no prohibited locations (except private property of course), but nearby historical areas, artifacts cannot be removed from the ground. Metal detecting Virginia beach is possible with a permit from local management.
Most parks in the state allow metal detecting Washington for recreational purposes without a permit. For other parks, permission of local authorities is necessary. Some parks, regardless of the permission, allow metal detecting Washington only on specific limited locations.
Hobby detecting of any kind and metal detecting in WV in general is not allowed in this state. Metal detecting is not illegal as it is, however, disturbance and removal of objects by non-official persons is prohibited.
Metal detecting Wisconsin as a hobby is only allowed on some sandy beaches that have no vegetation, without shallow water or underwater search. It is prohibited to search on land, or on any water bodies in the state. Exceptions can be made for finding lost personal items, but only after getting a permit.
Hobby metal detecting is not allowed, only detecting for official purposes. To use metal detecting on land to find a lost personal item, permission is needed.
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