A beach tag (also beach badge or beach token) is an admission pass that must be purchased to access a beach. It is commonly associated with the New Jersey Shore. The system restricts summer beach access to residents and paying visitors. Visitors and residents in communities with the beach tag system typically pay a fee for a daily, weekly or seasonal pass. Staff patrol the beach looking for people who are not displaying their tag, and visitors without one are asked to purchase a tag or leave. Beaches with a beach-tag program use the proceeds to offset the maintenance and staffing costs associated with running a beach, such as funding lifeguards, restrooms, and trash removal.
Daily, weekly, and seasonal tags are usually available at beaches, and each municipality sets its own rates and policies. Beaches typically do not charge for children under the age of twelve and may offer discounts to seniors. In certain municipalities, discounts are given for seasonal passes purchased before a specific date (e.g. May 15 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey).
Beach tags are controversial because the public trust doctrine generally gives the public the right to access the intertidal zone, and guests may feel that a beach with beach tags should offer a superior service to free beaches. Detractors debate whether beach tags are actually to restrict beach use to people who are paying visitors of hotels, beach house rentals and local residents. The beach tag offered by one municipality does not grant access to beaches in other municipalities because each town has its own rules. For example, Long Beach Island is about twenty miles long, but there are six municipalities, each with its own beach tags; beach-goers cannot purchase one tag and use it in a different municipality.  Proponents of beach tags suggest that they improve the cleanliness and safety of the beaches, making them akin to user fees that prevent freeloading. In addition, proponents note that the beaches that require beach tags are those located in smaller cities, and beach tags allow small towns to offer a similar product to the larger centers.
In Evanston, Illinois, "beach tokens" may be required for entrance to the beach for people and even pets. The beach tokens are often made of metal or other durable material, to enable them to withstand swimming. The bearer may just carry them around their neck or on their swimsuit. The goals of beach tokens is to restrict the beach to only community members or to generate user fees for lifeguards and maintenance (e.g. trash removal).
- Amodio, Aimee. What are Beach Tags, visitnjshore.com.
- Seaside Heights Beach Information
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- Degener, Richard. Ruling expands access to beaches, Atlantic City Press, May 21, 2004.
- Smith, Shaun. Commissioners at odds over raising beach tag fees Archived November 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Shore News Today, November 17, 2010.
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