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Firearm - frequently asked questions

What can I shoot?

Information about the Law on Shooting birds and animals is found in the Home Office guidance on Firearms Licensing Law 2016 (see chapter 14).

How long does a certificate last for?

Gun Period
Shotgun 5 years
Firearm 5 years
Dealer 3 years
European Firearms Pass lasts until the relevant/current firearm/shotgun certificate expires
Explosives Max 5 years, in line with shotgun/firearm certificate


How can I pay for my certificate?

All applications must be completed online with the exception of Explosives and for Registered Firearms Dealers. In these instances we are only able to accept cheque or card payments.

Young person information

The minimum age to carry a firearm or shotgun is complicated. The Home Office Guide on Firearms Licensing Law (Appendix 4 and chapter 7) will clarify the law on this.

Is my current certificate required at the time of renewal?

No, please hold onto your current certificate when applying for a renewal.

Can a partner or member of family transport a shotgun or firearm?

Shotgun – only if they have a valid Certificate.

Firearm – only if they have a valid Certificate with the relevant authority.

What makes a person prohibited from possessing weapons?

Sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months up to three years will prohibit a person for 5 years from the date of release. This also includes suspended sentences. Sentenced to three years or more will prohibit an individual for life.

At what point does an air weapon require a firearm certificate?

Air Rifles over 12 feet pounds muzzle energy.

Will I be visited at time of grant/renewal?

Yes, all applicants will be visited by a Firearms Enquiry Officer or Explosives Liaison Officer.

When are reminders for renewal of firearm/shotgun/explosives sent out?

Reminders are sent out 16 weeks before the expiry of your current certificate(s). The onus remains on you to ensure that you send in the relevant paperwork within good time, prior to the expiry of your current certificate. Smooth administration of the application process is aided by the early receipt of a fully completed application form. A large amount of time is wasted chasing or returning incomplete forms.

Must I declare all convictions?

Yes, including all traffic convictions and any offences committed abroad. See notes 13 & 14 on the Application of the grant or renewal of a firearm and/or shotgun certificate, Form 201 in the Firearm/Shotgun Certificate section opposite.

Must I declare all medical conditions?

Yes, (please also see notes 4 -12 on the Application for the grant or renewal of a firearm and /or shotgun certificate, Form 201 in the Firearm/Shotgun Certificate section opposite).  You must disclose any physical or mental health condition that may affect your ability to safely possess and use a firearm (including a shotgun).  Examples of relevant medical conditions include:-

  • Acute stress reaction or an acute reaction to the stress caused by a trauma.
  • Suicidal thoughts or self harm.
  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Dementia.
  • Mania, bipolar disorder or a psychotic illness.
  • A personality disorder.
  • A neurological condition, for example, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases.
  • Alcohol or drug related abuse.

Note that making a false declaration on your application form may result in offences being committed

Will I be charged for a medical report?

If you are not currently a firearms certificate holder and are applying for your first licence then you will need to provide a GP report at your own expense.

When we receive your application form and a medical declaration has been stated, your General Practitioner (GP) will be asked to check your medical records and report factual medical details and any concerns.  The GP may require payment for this service and the cost of this will be the responsibility of the applicant.

For all certificate holders, whether a medical declaration has been made or not, your GP is advised once your firearm and/or shotgun certificate has been issued.  An encoded reminder will be placed on your patient records to indicate that you are a certificate holder.  The GP may require payment for this service and the cost of this will be the responsibility of the applicant.

If, during the term of your certificate, we or your GP have any concerns, a report will be requested from your GP to assist with the assessment of your continued suitability to possess a firearm or shotgun. We will pay for this report.

Must I notify sales and/or acquisitions?

Firearms legislation requires that all notifications must be sent to the Firearms Licensing Department by recorded delivery or registered post within 7 days. Faxes or emails will also be accepted.

What is the process for destroying or disposing of a weapon?

Arrangements can be made with either a Registered Firearms Dealer or your local police station.

What do you do if you lose a weapon?

Inform your local police and the Firearms Licensing Department immediately, giving full details of the weapons and its loss.

How can you take your weapons abroad?

You will require a European Firearms Pass (EFP) if you are travelling within the EU, which can be obtained from the Firearms Licensing Department. You can ring or send a letter (a proforma can be downloaded from the Permits section of this web page) to the Firearms Licensing Department, detailing which weapons you require adding to the permit. If you intend taking Firearms abroad, please make sure that your Firearm Certificate is conditioned to allow you to do this.

Who can act as a referee?

The referee(s) who have agreed to act for you must have known you personally for at least two years and must be resident in Great Britain. Referees must not be a member of your family, a registered firearms dealer, a serving police officer or police employee. Referees must be of good character and references must be given freely and not on payment.

What is a co-terminous certificate?

A co-terminous certificate is when you hold both a firearm and shotgun certificate that both expire at the same time.

What happens if I am convicted of an offence?

The department is informed of any arrest or conviction of a certificate holder. On notification of the arrest/conviction we will conduct further background checks and your continued suitability will be assessed by the Manager and any appropriate action needed will be taken.

What should I do if I discover a shotgun/firearm on a deceased relatives premises?

Contact the Firearm & Explosives Licensing department for advice, as this will depend on the circumstances.

What is an antique weapon?

See the Home Office guidance, chapter 8.

Indications of whether a weapon is an antique include:

  • Date of manufacture
  • Technical obsolescence
  • Lack of commercially available ammunition
  • Written opinion of an accredited expert

If there is any indication that a firearm is to be fired, it is not an antique.