Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take to process my application?
Providing there are no issues in respect of your application, e.g. medical concerns, previous convictions etc. then we try to process all applications within 8 weeks of receipt.
How much does a certificate cost?
Please refer to the following link: Licensing Fees.
Who do I make cheques and postal orders payable to?
Please make cheques payable to the PCC for Gwent.
How long does my firearm/shotgun certificate last?
Both certificates last for 5 years.
Can my partner or member of my family transport my firearm or shotgun for me?
Not unless they hold either a certificate or a permit in their own right for the firearm or shotgun.
What constitutes a 'prohibited person' in terms of possessing firearms/shotguns?
Sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of three months will prohibit an individual for five years from release. Sentenced to more than three years will prohibit an individual for life.
At which point does an air weapon require a certificate?
Air rifles over 12 foot/pounds of muzzle energy.
Who do I send my application to?
Firearms Licensing Department, Gwent Police, Police Headquarters, Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran, Gwent, NP44 2XJ
Must I declare all convictions?
Yes, including all traffic convictions and any offences committed abroad. For more information please see: Disclosure of Convictions.
Must I notify of sales/acquisitions of firearms?
Firearms legislations requires that all notifications must be sent to the Firearms Licensing Department within 7 days of the transaction date, including sales/acquisitions abroad; we also accept facsimile notifications as long as they are a good quality copy. Transfer of Firearm/Shotgun Form may assist you.
When are renewal reminders sent out?
Reminders are sent out to renew certificates 8 weeks prior to expiry. The onus remains on the certificate holder to ensure that the application form is submitted to the Firearms Licensing Department within good time to prevent its expiry.
What do I do if I change address?
Conditions on your certificate state that you must notify a change of permanent address without undue delay. You must send your certificate to the Firearms Licensing Department together with a covering letter providing details of your new address/security location. Change In Permanent Address Form may assist in this process.
What is an antique firearm?
The word ‘antique’ is not defined anywhere in the Firearms Acts Regulations. To understand what is considered antique it may be useful to know that ‘modern’ firearms are those which have been manufactured during or since the Second World War.
Some old firearms are capable of firing a modern centre fire cartridge and therefore not classified as an antique. Every firearm will be judged on its own merits, but the following may be used as a guideline:
- All muzzle loading firearms, except replica models of modern manufacture
- Breech loading firearms capable of discharging a rim fire cartridge exceeding .23” calibre (or its metric equivalent), but not 9mm
- Breech loading firearms using ignition systems other than rim fire or centre fire, e.g. pin-fire and needle-fire
- Breech loading firearms incapable of firing a centre fire cartridge
- Breech loading firearms capable of firing either centre fire cartridges, rim fire cartridges not exceeding .23” (or its metric equivalent) 9mm cartridges
- All firearms of ‘modern’ manufacture – even if they are replicas or very old flintlocks, etc.
- All ammunition
If the firearm is determined to be antique, it is no longer subject to the provisions of the Firearms Acts, providing it is kept as an object of curiosity or as an ornament.
No ammunition can be classified as antique and the possession of suitable ammunition, for use with an otherwise antique firearm, may indicate that the firearm is not possessed simply as an ornament.
How can I take my licensed weapons abroad?
If you are the holder of a shotgun or firearms certificate and you wish to take your weapons abroad within the EEC, you will need a European Firearms Permit (EFP). The EFP is issued free of charge, upon written application to your Firearms Licensing Department. You will need to specify what weapons you will be taking with you, as well as which countries you require it for. A European Firearms Pass cannot have an expiry date later than the expiry date on the firearms or shotgun certificate on which the weapons are held. You may also need to send us a current photograph of yourself when you request an EFP, depending on whether there are any spare photographs available on your file.
Before taking your weapons abroad, seek advice from the embassy or consulate of that country. Even with the EEC, other documents may be required in addition to the European Firearms Permit. All weapons must be declared to customs and to the travel company carrying you, whether by land, sea or air.
Holders of British firearms and shotgun certificates, who wish to take their firearms to Northern Ireland, should be aware that a valid certificate of approval, from the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is also required. Air weapons are also required to be licensed in Northern Ireland, and the same approval granted by the Chief Constable of the PSNI is necessary. Advice on obtaining this approval can be found on the PSNI website.
How can a visitor to the UK possess firearms or shotguns?
Under Section 17 of the 1988 Act, a visitor to Great Britain may, if granted a Visitor’s Permit, have in their possession firearms, shotguns or ammunition without holding a certificate.
The holder of a Visitor’s Firearms Permit may have in their possession (but cannot purchase) any firearm and they may purchase acquire or have in their possession any ammunition to which section 1 of the 1968 Act applies.
The holder of a visitor’s shotgun permit may have in their possession, purchase or acquire shotguns and is exempt from the requirement to produce a Shotgun Certificate when purchasing cartridges.
Both permits are valid for up to 12 months and must show the full details of weapons covered and, in the case of a Firearms Permit, details of the quantity of ammunition to be purchased/acquired and held. Territorial and other such conditions that would appear on a normal Firearm Certificate, will usually be imposed on a Visitor's Permit. Separate permits for different Police Force areas are not required as visitor’s permits cover the visitor throughout Great Britain.
How do I apply for a visitor's permit?
Applications for visitor’s permits for both firearms and shotguns must be made on Application for a Visitor’s Firearm/Shot Gun Permit Form (Form 107).
Applications must be made on behalf of the visitor, to the Chief Officer of Police, by a person resident in that Police Force area. In most cases a private sponsor will be a certificate holder, but this is not a requirement.
The sponsor may be a private individual, or may make the application in the capacity of a club, shooting syndicate, country estate or shooting organisation.
Group applications can be made for parties of between six and twenty people, provided they are all shooting at the same location and at the same time, or are participating in the same event or competition. In such circumstances a reduced fee is available. Click here for Licensing Fees.
Applications should be made well in advance of the required date, to allow the proper enquiries to be made. The information required must be provided by the Sponsor, to whom all enquiries will be made.
Criteria for granting a permit:
To grant a permit, the Chief Officer of Police must be satisfied that the applicant is visiting or intends to visit Great Britain and either:
- In the case of a Visitor’s Firearm Permit, have good reason for having each firearm and the ammunition to which the permit relates in his possession or, in the case of ammunition, for purchasing or acquiring it while a visitor is in Great Britain
- In the case of a Visitor’s Shotgun Permit, the applicant has a good reason for having each shotgun to which the permit relates in his possession, or for purchase or acquiring it, while they are a visitor in Great Britain
A Chief Officer of Police will not grant a permit to any person if he or she has reason to believe that:
- Their possessing weapons or ammunition would present a danger to the public safety or to the peace
- They are prohibited from possessing such weapons or ammunition
When a permit is granted, it will be sent to the sponsor who should forward it to the visitor in their country of origin, for presentation to customs on arrival in Great Britain. A visitor’s permit will be accepted in lieu of a Department of Trade & Industry import licence. Failure to produce the permit at the time of importation may lead to the firearms/shotguns being detained or seized.
Members of EU countries must be in possession of a European Firearms Pass which must be forwarded to the Firearms Licensing Department with the application submitted by the Sponsor, and will be returned with the permit.
Do I need a certificate for an air weapon?
Conventional air guns, air rifles and air pistols do not require the owner or user to hold a Firearms Certificate, unless they are of a type declared especially dangerous by the Firearms, (Dangerous Air Weapons) Rules 1969.
It is possible to measure the velocity of pellets discharged from an air weapon, to a satisfactory degree of accuracy, by using an electronic chronograph. The measure is the kinetic energy of the pellet, at the muzzle.
The Rules provide that any air weapon is especially dangerous, if it is capable of discharging a missile with a kinetic energy in excess of:
- 6 ft/lbs – in the case of an air pistol
- 12 ft/lbs – in the case of an air weapon other than an air pistol
Air weapons exceeding these prescribed limits can only be lawfully held on a Firearms Certificate and are subject to all the rules and regulations pertaining to all Section 1 Firearms
How do I get rid of an unwanted weapon?
If you possess a shotgun, legally held on a Shotgun Certificate, and you decide that you no longer wish to keep it, there are various options regarding its disposal. You can:
Sell, give or transfer its ownership to another shotgun certificate holder who has adequate safe storage for the weapon
- Sell, give or transfer ownership to a Registered Firearms Dealer
- Surrender it at any Police Station, from where it will usually go for destruction, unless it is of particular historical interest. In the latter case it could be given to a museum or other interested official party
- Have the weapon deactivated, after which it ceases to be a "firearm" within the meaning of the Acts
- Consequently it no longer falls within the restrictions imposed on "firearms" by any of the Firearms Acts and Regulations
- Deactivation must be done officially and proved at one of the proof houses that issue the weapon with a deactivation certificate and also proof mark it. This renders the weapon incapable of being fired and incapable of being converted back to a firing condition
- You cannot deactivate a weapon yourself, for instance by filling in the barrel or filing off the firing pin. In such circumstances the weapon will still remain a "firearm" and must be held on a certificate
- Deactivation must be carried out by a qualified gunsmith in order to meet the standard necessary for proofing. If you hold weapons on a firearms certificate, the scenario is slightly different with regard to selling, giving or transferring them to another firearms certificate holder
If you hold weapons on a firearms certificate, the scenario is slightly different with regard to selling, giving or transferring them to another firearms certificate holder.
Unlike shotguns, firearms certificate holders can only possess those firearms authorised on their certificate. Before transferring firearms to another firearms certificate holder, you must ensure that their certificate carries the authority for the calibre and weapon in question.
No such restrictions generally apply to Registered Firearms Dealers, except possibly in respect of Section 5 (prohibited) weapons. Even Registered Firearms Dealers need special authorisation from the Home Office to handle prohibited weapons.
The option to surrender weapons at a Police Station or have them properly deactivated applies equally to firearms as it does to shotguns.
Never destroy and/or dispose of a firearm/shotgun yourself. Every weapon needs to be accounted for and irrespective of what you do with a licensed weapon, you must inform the police authority which issued your certificate, exactly what you have done with it.
Unwanted Section 1 ammunition can be disposed of through another authorised firearm certificate holder, Registered Firearms Dealer, your target shooting club or surrendered at any Police Station.
What is a shotgun?
A shotgun is a smooth bore gun (not being an air weapon) which:
- Has a barrel not less than 60.98 cm (24 inches) in length and does not have any barrel with a bore that exceeds 5.08 cm (2 inches), in diameter and…
- Has no magazine, or a non detachable magazine incapable of holding more than two cartridges and…
- Is not a revolver gun
Other smooth bore guns may require a firearms certificate or even be prohibited weapons. There are weapons other than conventional shotguns which also require a shotgun certificate, e.g. smooth bore muskets used for re-enactments.
Genuine antique shotguns, with flintlock, matchlock and percussion cap firing mechanisms, which are not kept to be fired, will not normally need to be certificated. If in doubt, please contact the Firearms Licensing Department.
What is a firearm?
"Firearm", within the definition of the Firearms Acts, means a lethal barrelled weapon of any description, from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged. It includes any prohibited weapon, any component part of such a weapon and any accessory to such a weapon designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by the firing of the weapon.
Firearm, within the terms of what you are allowed to hold on a firearm certificate, obviously does not include any prohibited weapons. Neither does it include shotguns, as they must be held on a separate shotgun certificate – except for Section 1 shotguns, which can only be held on firearm certificate.
What is a Section 1 shotgun?
A Section 1 shotgun differs from a conventional shotgun in that it has a magazine capable of holding more than two cartridges. These are known as "pump action" or "semi-automatic" shotguns, where cartridges from the magazine are loaded by hand pumping the action, or by the discharge of the previous round. These weapons must be held on a firearm certificate.
What is a prohibited weapon?
Common sense dictates that there are many types of firearms, especially those designed for military use, that have no place in the sporting field or hobby of shooting. There are others, for instance some hand guns, which have been brought into the prohibited category by Acts of Parliament.
All of the following weapons and ammunition are prohibited:
- Any firearm which is designed or adapted that two or more missiles can be successfully discharged without repeated pressure on the trigger
- Any self-loading or pump-action rifled gun other than one that is chambered for .22 rim fire cartridges
- Any firearm which either has a barrel less than 30cm in length or is less than 60cm in length overall, other than an air weapon, a muzzle-loading gun or a firearm designed as signalling apparatus
- Any self-loading or pump-action smooth bore gun which is not an air weapon or chambered for .22 rim fire cartridges and either has a barrel less than 24 inches in length or
- Any smooth bore revolver gun other than one which is chambered for 9mm rim fire cartridges or a muzzle-loading gun
- Any rocket launcher, or any mortar, for projecting a stabilised missile, other than a launcher or mortar designed for line throwing or pyrotechnic purposes of signalling apparatus
- Any air rifle, air gun or air pistol which uses, or is designed or adapted for use with, a self-contained gas cartridge system
- Any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other substance
- Any cartridge with a bullet so designed to explode on or immediately before impact, any ammunition containing or designed or adapted to contain any such noxious substance as is mentioned in paragraph (viii), and, if capable of being used with a firearm of any description, any grenade, bomb or other like missile, or rocket or shell designed to explode as aforesaid
- Any firearm which is disguised as another object (e.g. walking stick)
- Any rocket or ammunition not falling within paragraph (ix) of subsection 1 of this section which consists in or incorporates a missile designed to explode on or immediately before impact and is for military use
- Any launcher or other projecting apparatus not falling within paragraph (vi) of that subsection which is designed to be used with any rocket or ammunition falling within paragraph (viii) above or with ammunition which would fall within that paragraph but for its being ammunition falling within paragraph (ix) of that subsection
- Any ammunition for military use which consists in or incorporates a missile designed so that a substance contained in the missile will ignite on or immediately before impact
- Any ammunition for military use which consists in or incorporates a missile designed, on account of its having a jacket and hard core, to penetrate armour plating, armour screening or body armour
- Any ammunition which incorporates a missile designed or adapted to expand on impact
- Anything which is designed to be projected as a missile from any weapon and is designed to be, or has been, incorporated in: any ammunition falling within any of the preceding paragraphs; or
any ammunition which would fall within any of those paragraphs but for its being specified in subsection (1) of this section
- In England and Wales, the Home Secretary is responsible for granting authorities to manufacture, sell, transfer, purchase, acquire or possess prohibited weapons or ammunition.
Applicants should write to:
The Home Office, Public Order & Police Cooperation Unit, Firearms Section, 5th Floor, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
What can be held on a Firearm Certificate?
Any weapon apart from Section 2 shotguns (which are held on a shotgun certificate) can be held on a firearm certificate providing you can supply a "good reason".
Most applicants require small or full bore rifles for target shooting, as a member of a Home Office approved club. Others request muzzle-loading hand guns for the same reason. Others use rifles for vermin control or deer stalking. As long as satisfactory reasons are given, all these weapons can be legally held on a firearm certificate.
How are applications refused or certificates revoked?
A firearm certificate can be revoked/refused if the holder is:
- Of intemperate habits
- Of unsound mind
- Unfit to be entrusted with such firearm
- No longer has good reason for possession
- A danger to the public safety or to the peace
A shotgun certificate can only be revoked/refused if the holder is a danger to the public safety or to the peace.
How do I deactivate a weapon?
What are 'Deactivated' weapons?
Deactivated weapons are any firearms which have been converted, in such a manner that they can no longer discharge any shot, bullet or other missile. More importantly, deactivation is intended to be permanent and such firearms should be incapable of being reactivated without specialist tools or skills.
Deactivation work carried out in the UK since 1st July 1989 will generally have been endorsed by one of the Proof Houses, the weapon proof-marked and a certificate of deactivation issued.
To these ends, any weapon, even a prohibited weapon such as a machine gun, can be deactivated. The outcome is that the weapon is no longer a firearm within the meaning of the Firearms Acts, and consequently may be possessed without a firearm or shotgun certificate and may be displayed in the owner's home, rather than be locked in a gun cabinet.
Deactivation of a firearm is not something to be undertaken by the layman. There are stringent requirements before a weapon can be proofed as deactivated and such work is best left to a gunsmith. A Registered Firearms Dealer is the best person to speak to if you require a weapon to be deactivated. He can make all the necessary arrangements for you, including deactivation of the weapon and getting it proofed.
Although the above references to proofing and certification do not preclude the possibility that a firearm which has been deactivated in some other way may also have ceased to be a firearm within the meaning of the 1968 Act (as amended), it is important that care is taken when acquiring any firearm which is described as deactivated. You should ensure that you are shown the Proof House mark and certificate issued in respect of any gun deactivated in the UK since 1st July 1989.
Deactivation of Firearms
Section 8 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 provides that a firearm which has been certified by one of the Proof Houses as having been deactivated in a manner approved by the Secretary of State, and marked to that effect, shall no longer be regarded as a firearm.
Firearms so deactivated and proof marked, are no longer subject to any of the conditions or controls contained in any of the Firearms Acts or Rules.
The following diagram shows those proof marks, approved by the Secretary of State under Section 8 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, for denoting that guns have been so deactivated. The figures “89” relate to the calendar year and change as appropriate.