Metal Detecting

Legalities Regarding Metal Detecting

August 10, 2020

Recently Hurricane Isaias passed by the east coast of Florida. Some customers came into our store with an interest in doing some metal detecting after the storm passed.  The currents, caused by any storm, churn up the seabed. Lost treasure is sometimes uncovered and washed up onto the shore, ready for discovery. So they stock up on metal detectors, pinpointers and sand scoops. They seek waterproof machines using multi frequency VLF technology or pulse induction. Continue reading about the legalities regarding metal detecting…

The possibility for finding lost riches is exciting, but one should understand the legalities of this activity. It is important to respect the rights of local land owners and federal/state laws. This blog seeks to keep you in the right as you conduct your search.

The local metal detecting club is the Suncoast Research and Recovery Club. They list a code of ethics on their website, and it’s a good guide to your explorations. Metal detecting is not a sneaky covert operation, but respectful and thoughtful.


Know Federal, State, County and local laws:

Rules can be complicated and vary by location. Metal Detecting in Florida is governed by the State Laws of Antiquities and also by the federal law ARPA (Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979). Violation of laws could result in a ticket, imprisonment and/or confiscation of equipment. National parks are off limits as well as waters adjacent to them. Archeological site are off limits, except for supervised events held by authoritiesObjects more than 50 years old are owned by the state, and are not retrievable. Replace, and notify authorities (Florida Department of Historical Resources or Bureau of Archaeological Research (BAR) at 850-245-6444).

Obtain permission from private land owners before metal detecting. It is best to do so in writing. Negotiate expectations when an object of value is found. If in a non-national park, obtain the permission from its park authority. The object of treasure hunting ethics is to minimize your impact. This means filling your holes.  Leave things the way they were found. If one leaves an area trashed, it reflects poorly on the hobby as a whole.

At the beach, one may search from high tide mark up to the base of dunes with permission. Hotels may own the beach down to the high tide mark, and some may send security to speak with you if done without permission. Separate laws and salvage leases apply below the high tide mark. If you infringe on someone else’s salvage rights, you risk legal action. This is more the case on the east coast of Florida versus the west. More ships have sunk on that side do to the Atlantic’s harsher weather compared to the Gulf.

Last word:

We hope, if you choose metal detecting as an activity, you will be an ambassador for the hobby. Choose the way of metal detecting ethics. Above all, be respectful and lawful. Lastly, if you have any questions, Bill Jackson’s is always available to answer your questions. Call us at 727-576-4169 or email at