Permits & Passes


During normal operations, passes are available at Refuge Fee Booth from April - October. Current Fee Booth hours are Fridays - Mondays, 8:00am-5:30pm. Additionally, passes are available year-round at the Visitor Center located at 4005 Sandpiper Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456. Payments may be made by cash or check only. NOTE: The Visitor Center is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Passes are only available at the Fee Booth.

There is NO FEE to visit Back Bay NWR from November 1 - March 31. Beginning April 1st all passes are available at the Fee Booth, located at 4005 Sandpiper Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456, Fridays - Tuesdays, 8:00am-3:30pm.

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is one of approximately 100 national wildlife refuges participating in a fee collection program under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). This Act gives federal agencies the ability to charge entrance fees on their lands. Eighty percent of all collected fees go directly back to the station to improve the visitor experience. The remaining twenty percent is distributed among other stations which do not have a fee program, allowing improvement of visitor facilities in those locations. National passes associated with FLREA are also accepted and sold at Back Bay NWR. Fees are collected from April 1 to October 31. 

Payments may be made in cash or check only.   

The passes sold at the Refuge are the following:

  • Vehicle Day Pass - $5.00
  • Hiker/Biker Family Day Pass - $2.00
  • Groups (20 people or less) - $25.00
  • Groups (over 20 people) - $30.00
  • Refuge Annual Pass - $15.00
  • Federal Duck Stamp - $25.00 (entrance to any national wildlife refuge)
  • America the Beautiful Senior Pass - $80.00 for lifetime pass; $20.00 for annual pass
  • America the Beautiful National Annual Pass - $80.00
  • America the Beautiful Military Pass - Free for Active Duty, Veterans, Retired Service Members and Gold Star Family Members (see below for further information)
  • America the Beautiful Disabled Access Pass - Free
  • Every Kid Outdoors Pass - Free for 4th grade students who present a voucher; see the Every Kid Outdoors website for instructions and further information
  • 5th Grade Free Access - Free entrance for 5th graders and their families for the 2020-2021 school year; see the 5th Grade website to download your voucher.

    Several activities require Special Use Permits at Back Bay NWR. Commercial activities, such as commercial photography, filming and kayak tour operation, are permitted by Special Use Permit and when in line with U.S. Fish and Wildlife policy. Special tram tours, weddings and conservation-related special events are permitted on a case-by-case basis. Fees for these activities are as follows:

    • General Special Use Permits (group events, weddings): $35.00
    • Special Tram Tours: $200.00
    • Commercial Photography: $35.00
    • Commercial Outfitters:     
      • 1-5 trips/season: $20/trip
      • 6-10 trips/season: $100/season
      • 11-20 trips/season: $200/season
      • 21+ trips/season: $300/season 

    Night surf fishing and hunting permits may be obtained during the season these activities are offered. Contact the refuge for more information about these activities. Biological research and collection are also allowed when approved by refuge management. Please contact the Visitor Services Specialist at (757)301-7329 ext.3106 to obtain a permit. Permit fees may apply. 


    Military Pass Details:

    U.S. Military personnel and their dependents who present, in person, a U.S. Department of Defense CAC identification, DD Form 1173 dependent identification, DD Form 2, DD Form 2765, Veteran's Health ID Card, Veteran ID Card or Driver's License with Veteran Designation and are in the following military personnel classifications are eligible for this pass:

    • Current members of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard
    • Dependents of current U.S. military members with DD Form 1173
    • U.S. Military Cadets
    • U.S. Active Reservists (Do not need to be deployed)
    • U.S. Retirees and Veterans
    • Gold Star Families (must visit Gold Star Family Voucher Site to download and print a voucher)


    The following individuals/groups do not qualify for the interagency Military Annual Pass:

    • Foreign military members (including those stationed in the U.S. and have a CAC card)
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employees
    • Public Health Service (PHS) members
    • Inactive U S Reservists
    • Civilian military contractors
    • Civilian military employees