Shellfish Operation License

What is the purpose of this license?
The Commercial Shellfish Licensing & Certification Program is responsible for issuing licenses to Washington state commercial shellfish operations and certifying the sites from which they harvest. A variety of species are harvested commercially in Washington's Puget Sound and coastal regions, including oysters, clams, mussels, geoduck, and scallops. Since these species are filter feeders capable of concentrating chemicals, bacteria, viruses, or marine biotoxins, an ongoing evaluation of commercial shellfish growing areas, certified harvest sites, and licensed facilities is essential to protect the shellfish-consuming public.
Who issues this license?
Department of Health
What activities require this license?
Commercially harvesting and/or processing and shipping molluscan shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops).
How much will this license cost?
License fee: $263 to $1,210.00. The license fee will vary depending on the type of shellfish license.

Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) testing fee: $173.00 to $1,189.00. The PSP testing fee is additional if you plan on harvesting species other than geoduck intertidally and is dependent on type of operation and the number of harvest sites with your shellfish license.

Biotoxin fee is $353.00 to $2,412.00. The biotoxin fee will vary depending on the type of shellfish license and number of harvest sites.
Where can I get the application for this license?
The application is online and can be accessed at
Do I need to include anything with my application?
1. The application packet that includes all necessary forms.
2. All applicable fees.
Is the decision on my license dependent on anything besides the information in my application?
All operations must meet stringent state and federal sanitation standards.
How long will it take to review my application?
Varies but it's normally about 4 weeks, depending on the complexity of the application.
Where do I submit my application?
Washington State Department of Health
Accounts Receivable
PO Box 1099
Olympia, WA 98507-1099
How long is my license valid?
Licenses must be renewed annually.
What is the appeal process for the license?
An applicant has the right to an adjudicative proceeding to contest the decision. An adjudicative proceeding is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act Chapter 34.05 RCW.
Notes / Comments:
Applications may be obtained from:
    Washington State Department of Health, Office of Environmental Health and Safety
    Physical Address: 101 Israel Rd SE, Tumwater, WA 98501
    Mailing address: PO Box 47824, Olympia, WA 98504-7824
    Phone: (360) 236-3330
    Fax: (360) 236-2257
There are 3 major types of commercial shellfish operations:
Harvesters harvest shellstock (live, unshucked product) and sell only to other licensed Washington state shellfish dealers; Shellstock Shippers grow and harvest shellstock and buy/sell in or outside of Washington State; Shucker Packers activities may include those of harvesters and shellstock shippers, plus shucking and packing of product.
Legal Authority:
Permit Timeliness Results

Permit Timeliness data collection is in response to a State Auditor’s Performance Audit and RCW 43.42A. Each regulatory agency developed a plan to improve permit clarity, predictability, and timeliness. Each agency considers the customers experience to ensure permit assistance is simple to use, easy to access, and designed in a customer-friendly manner. Agencies report progress to the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). ORIA prepares and distributes reports, with participation from the State Auditor’s Office and Results Washington. See latest report here:

All permits submitted for reporting were entered into this Regulatory Handbook. Here are the results of the performance data:

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Process a Permit Application (Definition)
Average number of days from Receipt to Complete: 4.3
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 45

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 7.7
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 37

(Summary results based on 318 submittals in 2023)

Where can I get permitting assistance?
Helpdesk phone: 360-236-3330
Subject matter expert phone: 360-236-3330
Subject matter expert email:
Statewide Contact:
Department of Health
Office of Environmental Health & Safety
101 Israel Rd SE
Tumwater, WA 98501
Telephone: (360) 236-3330
Fax: (360) 236-2257
Triggering Questions:
  • Do you intend to harvest, sell or ship shellfish?
* Permit information last updated 10/19/2022