Firearms application guidance notes
These are the Home Office notes to support applications for the grant and renewal of firearms and shotgun certificates.
Please read these before you start your application. You'll be asked on the first step of the application form to confirm that you have read them.
New and expired certificates
If you’ve never previously had a firearm or shotgun certificate or you’ve got a certificate that’s now expired, you must apply for a new certificate.
Renewing current certificates
If you have a current certificate that you want to renew, you must do it before your current certificate expires. We will send you a reminder letter that will explain when you need to renew your certificate.
Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended) applies to all firearms except:
- a shotgun
- an air weapon (unless declared ‘specially dangerous’)
- prohibited weapons such as centre fire self-loading rifles, handguns, machine guns etc (unless specifically authorised)
Section 1(3)a of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended) defines a shotgun as:
- a smooth bore gun (not being an air weapon)
- having a barrel not less than 24’’ (60.96cm) in length and a bore not exceeding 2’’ (5.08cm) in diameter
- either having no magazine, or a non-detachable magazine incapable of holding more than two cartridges
- not a revolver gun
When applying for a firearm certificate, you should have gained the permission of two people who have agreed to act as referees for you.
When applying for a shotgun certificate you should have gained the permission of one person to act as a referee for you.
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.
A referee must not be a member of your immediate family, a registered firearms dealer, a serving police officer, a police employee, a Police and Crime Commissioner or a member of their staff, or a member of, or a member of staff of, the Scottish Police Authority.
Referees must be of good character and any references they agree to provide must be given freely and not on payment.
To apply for both a firearm certificate and a shotgun certificate and to have them expire at the same time (coterminous certificates) you should complete the sections for firearm and shotgun certificates.
The fee payable for such certificates may be less than the normal fee for the grant or renewal of a shotgun certificate if both of your applications are dealt with at the same time.
You must disclose any relevant physical or mental health conditions that you have been diagnosed with or treated for in the past as this may affect your ability to safely possess and use a firearm or shotgun.
Sections 27 and 28 of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended) specify that in order to issue a firearm or shotgun certificate the chief officer of police must be satisfied that an applicant can be permitted to possess a gun ‘without danger to the public safety or the peace’.
Medical fitness is one of the factors police must consider when assessing a person’s suitability.
Relevant medical conditions which must be disclosed are:
- Acute Stress Reaction or an acute reaction to the stress caused by a trauma
- suicidal thoughts or self harm
- depression or anxiety
- mania, bipolar disorder or a psychotic illness
- a personality disorder
- a neurological condition: for example, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases, or epilepsy
- alcohol or drug abuse
- any other mental or physical condition which might affect your safe possession of a firearm or shotgun
If in doubt, consult your GP or contact the police firearms licensing department.
If you have disclosed a relevant medical condition the police may ask you to obtain a medical report from your GP/specialist. You are expected to meet the cost if a fee is charged for this. If further information is required the police may request and pay for a further report.
Where no relevant medical conditions are disclosed the police will contact your GP asking if they are aware of any relevant medical conditions or have any concerns about the grant of the firearm or shotgun certificate.
Depending on the reply, the police may ask you to obtain a medical report from your GP/specialist. You are expected to meet the cost if a fee is charged for this. If further information is required the police may request and pay for a further report.
The police will ask your GP to place an encoded reminder on your patient record to indicate that you have been issued with a firearm or shotgun certificate. The GP is asked to notify the police if, following issue of the certificate, you are diagnosed with or treated for a relevant medical condition (listed above), or if the GP has other concerns about your possession of a certificate that might affect your safe possession of firearms.
Following contact from your GP there may be a need for a medical report to be obtained to assist with assessment of your continued suitability to possess a firearm or shotgun certificate. The police will pay if a medical report is required.
Following the issue of a firearm or shotgun certificate please note that the declaration you have signed consenting to information sharing between your GP and police applies during the application process and during the validity of any firearm or shotgun certificate, which may be up to five years.
You are expected to inform the police if, following issue of the certificate, you are diagnosed with or treated for a relevant medical condition while the certificate remains valid.
You should inform the police if you change your GP practice and provide contact details for the new practice.
You are asked to provide details of GP practices over the past 10 years and whether you have consulted medical practitioners other than at your GP practice so that all relevant information is available to police to assist with their assessment of suitability to possess a firearm certificate.
Military personnel who are posted abroad and have a service GP may still be regarded as resident in the UK for the purposes of the application.
You must not withhold information about any conviction.
This includes motoring offences (including speeding offences), bindovers, formal written cautions and convictions in and outside Great Britain, and (by virtue of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975) convictions which are spent under the 1974 Act.
A conditional discharge and an absolute discharge both count as convictions for this purpose.
Details of parking offences and fixed penalty notices do not need to be declared.
Section 21 of the Firearms Act 1968 places restrictions on the possession of firearms and ammunition by those previously convicted of crime.
A person receiving a sentence of imprisonment of three months or more is prohibited from possessing a firearm, shotgun, antique firearm, air weapon or ammunition for five years from the date of their release.
In the case of a suspended sentence the prohibition applies from the second day after being sentenced.
If the sentence is three years or more the prohibition applies for life unless lifted by the Crown (or Sheriff) Court.
Please allow the police to inspect your guns and security when requested as in the absence of a warrant, consent is required for the police to inspect premises.
A digital photograph must be used for online applications.
Photographs must be of a professional standard, against a plain cream or grey background and without other objects or people in the background.
The photograph must be a true likeness and full face without a head covering (unless it is worn for religious or medical reasons).
In your photograph you must be looking straight at the camera, have a neutral expression, with your eyes open and mouth closed.
You must not wear sunglasses or tinted glasses, and the photographs must not have any ‘red eye.’
The equality monitoring information you provide aims to assist the force in meeting its duties as a Public Authority.
The information will be kept separately from the application.
The receipt for electronic applications, where these are available, will be automatically generated by the system.
If an application is being made for a variation the certificate to be varied must be included with your application. (You may wish to keep a copy of the certificate.)
To acquire or possess firearms or ammunition under Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968, you have to provide evidence that you have a good reason to do so.
This applies to the grant, renewal or variation of a firearm certificate.
This evidence can take several forms: permission to shoot over land or membership of a target shooting club, or a booking or invitation to go deer stalking are examples, but these are not exhaustive.
Please provide the address of one area of land where you have permission to shoot, together with the name, address and telephone number of the person who has given you that permission or the details of a Home Office approved club of which you are a full member.
NB: You will not necessarily be limited to shooting over that individual piece of land or at that club.
I understand that all information submitted will be handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and connected legislation. I understand that the information contained within my application form or obtained in the course of deciding the application may be shared with: my GP, government departments, regulatory bodies or enforcement agencies in the course of deciding the application or in pursuance of maintaining public safety or the peace.
Please note: Any information shared will be shared in accordance with data sharing protocols. The police do not share your personal details with other applicants or members of the public and treat information in connection with the application in confidence, but individuals should be aware that the police may disclose some information in accordance with the legislation referred to above.