How to Get a Firearms Licence in the UK
Here in the UK, there are a lot of myths that surround getting a firearms licence. Some of the more common myths that you may hear include:
- You need land in order to get a firearms licence
- You won’t get one if you have any history of significant physical or mental health
- You’ll need to set up Fort Knox to keep your guns safe
- It’s very expensive
During today’s guide we want to help walk you through getting your first firearms and/or shotgun licence. The forms for Shotgun and Firearms Licence applications are almost identical but there are slight differences.
One of the biggest differences is that with firearms you must prove that you have a reason to own one; with shotguns the police must prove there is a reason for you not to have one. During this guide we are going to concentrate on getting a Firearms Licence Application and if our readers want it, we will cover the Shotgun Licence Application in a separate article.
There are four steps involved that you must do in order for this to be successful. These are:
- You must complete an application form
- Provide 1 passport photograph
- Have 2 referees for a firearm certificate and 1 referee for shotgun certificate
- Pay the fee for the certificate you are applying for
You can print the form off online from your local police force website or just go ahead and download it below from our site.
Page 1 – Part A and Part B
As we are only covering the firearms licence in this post, and this is for a first timer, go ahead and tick the box at the top that states you want to be granted a firearms licence.
Fill in your own personal details and your doctors details into sections A and B. Be sure to sign and date the bottom of page 1.
Page 2 – Part C
On page 2, we get down to whether you’ve been convicted of any offences, including any driving offences. Write down the dates and the conviction and be honest.
You will also need to list any previous addresses from the last 5 years if different from your current address stated on page 1 of your application.
Page 3 – Part D
In part D, question 14, we need to list any firearms that are currently owned. As this is for a first timer, we shall just write ‘NONE’ into the box provided.
In question 15 however, we need to list the firearms in which we want to acquire. The calibre, the type, and the reason why we want it. In this section you are not writing a shopping list and you should have already done some research into a suitable calibre for your needs.
A “. 17hmr” or “22lr” are common and popular rifles for rabbits/vermin control, and the .243 Winchester is a popular deer and fox rifle, so these will be used as examples.
Calibre – this must be suited to (and lawful for) the reason you will state later. I.e. a .22LR is suitable for mid-range rabbit/vermin shooting and not long-range deer shooting.
Type – Pistols are not used for hunting, so you will simply state, “rifle”.
Reason – “in case of zombies” or “self defence” are not suitable answers and you will not get granted your licence. Firearms are tools for hunting or target shooting, NOT weapons! Think about the reason why you want one and state this simply on the form. If you apply for a target rifle this is what you will be licenced for – you will not be able to use it for vermin control (and vice versa). If you want to use your rifle at your rifle club for target shooting and on a farm for vermin control you must state, “target shooting and vermin control”.
The police want to see that you need your rifle or firearm on a regular basis for work, sport or leisure. It is up to the chief officer to decide what constitutes a good reason. However, chief officers can exercise their discretion over what constitutes a good reason.
Most land in England has a code that allows the police to check to see if it has been inspected for suitability for firearms use. If it has not been approved the police will send a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) to inspect it. You will need a signed permission form for each piece of land you intend to use your firearms on, or proof of membership to an approved rifle club. If you do not have land and you are not a member of a rifle club you have two options – you can book several “paid stalks/shoots” and apply for a rifle to use on paid outings, or you can pay to join a syndicate. In certain cases if you have enough letters from friends who will take you out with them this can also be used as a legitimate reason for having a firearms licence.
Page 4 – Q16 – Q17
Question 16 goes into the calibre and quantity of ammunition that you want to possess. This is where you need to do your research: How many do you need to buy from your local Registered Firearms Dealer (RFD) to get a discount? How many rounds per pack? How many will you shoot of each calibre? How far away is your RFD? You should list a sensible amount that is convenient for you but does not look like you’re stockpiling for World War 3! Be prepared to justify your requirements to your FEO.
In question 17 you need to write down what your proposed security arrangements are. In 17:a we will tick the box for ‘Yes’ that the arrangements are for our home address. For 17:b you need to state the kind of security. A proper gun safe is recommended but a dedicated room can be OK but it will be inspected before you are granted a licence. For 17:c we will tick ‘No’ as this will be a single licence for yourself. For 17:d write down the storage for the ammunition which should be the same as 17:c.
As we are not filling this out for a shotgun licence, we don’t need to fill out page 5 and 6 and go straight onto page 7.
Page 7 – Declaration
This page is self explanatory. Tick the box for ‘Firearms Licence’. Tick the following 5 boxes and sign and date the form.
Pages 8 and 9 – Referees
You need to give details of two different referees on your application form. These need to be “of good character” (not convicts etc.) who will agree to act as your referees. These two people must have known you at least two years, and must not be a member of your immediate family. Police and Police Employees may not act as referees. RFD’s may not act as referees unless they are an official at an approved club that is being used on your licence as the place of use. Referees must be residents of Great Britain.
As well as filling in their details on your application form and signing it, the referees must also:
- Each fill in a referee form and send it themselves – you might want to provide them with a stamped addressed envelope for ease.
- Each sign the back of a passport photo with the words “I certify that this is a current true likeness of [your name]” and date it.
On page 11 you just need to take note if you have a disability, Mark down your ethnicity, gender, and age group.
Read pages 12 – 15 carefully as these will give you details about your application and what happens next.
As you can see, the application form is really not too difficult once you break it down into sections.
You need to include 4 passport photos with your application form. Two of which must be signed and dated on the back by your referees, one signed and dated on the back by you, and one left blank on the back.
You will be contacted by your Firearms Enquiry Officer when they are processing your application, but there is no reason to panic! The Firearms Enquiry Officer is there to establish your suitability to possess firearms. Some organisations would have you believe they are out to get you and don’t want anyone having firearms, this simply isn’t true as if it were and they succeeded, they’d be out of a job.
During the interview simply relax and be yourself. Be polite and answer all questions with a considered answer, and if you don’t know the answer just say so.
If you react badly and the FEO deems you unsuitable this is not his/her fault – it’s yours! They are trained to pick up on unstable people and aren’t going to give a firearms licence to someone who can’t keep their cool.
Now you just have to sit back and wait – unfortunately due to government cuts many licensing departments are under-resourced and it can take many months to process an application. Try and be patient, they won’t forget about you.
Young People and Firearms
Young people aged 14 – 17 can legally use an air rifle without supervision on private premises where they have permission to do soand have a reasonable reason for doing so if in a public area. They can’t hire or receive a firearm or ammunition as a gift. It must be bought and looked after by an adult.
Children under 14 can use an air rifle but they need to be surpervised by someone at least 21 years old.