At Teesside Law, we understand the importance of adhering to legal standards, especially when it comes to firearms licensing in the UK. To possess, purchase, or acquire a firearm or shotgun, including buying ammunition, you must have a valid firearm or shotgun certificate. The process, rigorously regulated by the local police force, ensures that applicants demonstrate the necessity of owning a shotgun while also proving that they pose no danger to public safety or peace. 

For anyone wondering how to get a shotgun licence in the UK, it is essential to navigate the application procedure with thorough knowledge and compliance to legal requirements. In this article, we aim to simplify the seemingly complex process, making it accessible for our clients who seek to understand and fulfil the legal prerequisites of shotgun licence acquisition. 


Eligibility Requirements

  1. Criminal Record Restrictions: Applicants must not have been sentenced to imprisonment for three years or more. Those sentenced between three months and three years are prohibited from possessing firearms for five years from their release date.
  2. Disclosure of Convictions: All convictions must be disclosed, including motoring offences and any convictions outside of Great Britain. This transparency is vital in assessing suitability for a shotgun licence.
  3. Age and Supervision: Applicants under 18 years must have a parent or guardian sign off on their behalf. In specific regions like Northern Ireland, individuals must be 18 or older to possess a firearm, though those over 16 can use one under adult supervision with a licence.


Assessment of Suitability

  1. Mental and Public Safety: The chief officer of police will assess whether an applicant poses a danger to public safety or the peace. This includes evaluating the applicant’s mental health history and any potential risks they may present.
  2. Reason for Possession: Applicants must demonstrate a valid reason for possessing a shotgun, such as employment needs, sport, or leisure activities. Studying for qualifications like the Deer Stalking Level 1 can further substantiate the applicant’s suitability.
  3. Character and Trustworthiness: Two referees, known to the applicant for at least two years and of good character, must vouch for the applicant’s trustworthiness and suitability to hold a firearm.


Prohibited Factors and Firearms

  1. Prohibitions on Certain Firearms: Some firearms, including all handguns post the 1996 Dunblane massacre, are entirely prohibited. Licences for these firearms cannot be obtained.
  2. Chief Officer’s Discretion: The chief officer of police holds the authority to refuse a licence if there is any reason to believe the applicant should not possess a shotgun under the Firearms Act.


Step-by-Step Application Guide

  1. Application Submission: Begin by applying for your shotgun licence through your local Police Force, typically via their online platform. This initial step involves completing the application form, which requires detailed personal information, reasons for acquiring a shotgun, and specifications of the firearms you intend to own.
  2. Documentation and References: Attach one passport-quality photograph and arrange for the necessary references. For a shotgun certificate, you will need one referee, while a firearm certificate requires two. Ensure that your referees are not relatives, police officers, or police employees and that they have known you for at least two years.
  3. Medical and Background Checks: Complete a GP form to disclose your medical history, which is crucial for assessing your suitability to own a firearm. The police will conduct thorough background checks and may interview you and other adult household members. This is to ensure there are no concerns regarding the safety and security of having a firearm at the residence.


Home Inspection and Security Verification

  1. Security Arrangements: A Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) will visit your home to inspect your security arrangements. You must demonstrate that your gun storage meets the British Standard 7558 for gun safes. The officer will assess the security of the storage and the suitability of the location to ensure it prevents unauthorised access.
  2. Interview and Assessment: During the home visit, the FEO will discuss your reasons for wanting a shotgun and evaluate your understanding of safe handling and storage of firearms. This is also an opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge gained from courses or memberships with organisations like the CPSA or BASC.
  3. Final Steps: If the officer is satisfied with the security arrangements and all other aspects of your application, your certificate will either be posted to you or hand-delivered. Remember, it is crucial to maintain communication with the licensing unit throughout this process and ensure all provided information is accurate and truthful.


Additional Considerations and Final Verification

  • Online and Postal Submissions: For convenience, consider using online services where available or send your application by recorded delivery to track its progress. Ensure all forms are filled accurately and attach all required documents, including photographs and payment for the application fee.
  • Renewal and Continuous Compliance: Keep in mind that your licence is valid for five years. Apply for renewal at least three months before its expiration. Stay informed about any changes in firearms law and maintain your eligibility by adhering to safe practices and legal requirements.
  • Adapting to Changes: Be aware of any modifications in the application process, such as adjustments due to COVID-19, which may include telephone calls or video inspections instead of in-person visits. Always check the latest guidelines from your local police force or legal advisors like us at Teesside Law.


Security Measures and Safe Storage

At Teesside Law, we emphasise the critical importance of secure storage for shotguns and ammunition to comply with UK firearms regulations. Here, we outline the key requirements and best practices for safe storage, as mandated by law and recommended for ensuring safety.


Secure Storage Requirements

  • Gun Safes: All firearms and shotguns must be stored in a gun safe that conforms to British Standard 7558. The safe should be anchored securely to internal brickwork or an external supporting wall, ideally out of sight to deter theft or unauthorised access.
  • Ammunition Storage: While shotgun ammunition does not require a certificate for storage, section 1 firearm ammunition must be stored securely. It is advisable to store it in a separate locked compartment within the gun cabinet or in a dedicated secure container.
  • Vehicle Transport: When transporting firearms in a vehicle, they should be kept out of sight, ideally in a locked compartment. If the vehicle must be left unattended, it is recommended to take a crucial part of the firearm, such as the bolt or fore-end, with you to prevent unauthorised use.


Inspection and Compliance

  • Home Inspection: A Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) will inspect your storage arrangements to ensure they meet the required standards. This includes checking the installation of the gun safe and its compliance with BS7558.
  • Additional Security Measures: For enhanced security, consider using a combination lock for your gun safe and storing the keys or combination in a separate, secure location. Regularly inspect your storage arrangements to ensure they remain robust and tamper-proof.


Guidelines for Unusual Circumstances

  • Alternative Storage Solutions: In cases where a traditional gun safe is not feasible, such as in mobile homes or for unusually large firearms like punt guns, alternative security measures need to be considered. This might include custom-built secured areas or reinforced compartments.
  • Compliance Advice: Always seek guidance from your local firearms licensing department to ensure your storage solutions meet legal requirements and are appropriate for your specific circumstances.


Fees and Processing Time

is a detailed breakdown of the fees associated with various types of shotgun and firearm certificates, along with the expected processing times, which can vary based on location and specific circumstances.


Shotgun and Firearm Certificate Fees

Type of Certificate Action Fee
Shotgun Certificate Grant £79.50
Shotgun Certificate Renewal £49
Firearm Certificate Grant £88
Firearm Certificate Renewal £62
Co-terminous (Shotgun and Firearm) Grant £90
Co-terminous (Shotgun and Firearm) Renewal £65
Replacement Certificate All Types £4
Variation (Firearm Only) Not one for one £20


Processing Times

Processing times for shotgun and firearm licences can vary significantly. For standard applications, the time frame might differ between police forces. It’s crucial to contact the Firearms Department within your local police force for the most accurate and updated information. 

Factors such as medical issues or prior convictions can extend the processing time, sometimes up to four months. For Northern Ireland, specific fees and times apply, reflecting different regulations:


Action Fee in Northern Ireland
Firearm Certificate Grant £98
Firearm Certificate Variation £30
Replacement Certificate £14
Visitors Permit (1-5 people) £16 per person


Renewal and Maintenance

At Teesside Law, we guide our clients through the renewal process for shotgun and firearm certificates. It’s crucial to start the renewal application at least 12 weeks before the expiry date to ensure continuous compliance with the law. Here are the steps and considerations for maintaining and renewing your shotgun licence:


Renewal Process

  1. Timely Application: Submit your shotgun certificate renewal application between 20-24 weeks before the expiry date to avoid any disruptions in legality.
  2. Documentation: Ensure that all required documents are current and accurately reflect any changes in your circumstances or details of the firearm. If there are changes to the details of the firearms on your certificate, you will need to apply for a variation.
  3. Temporary Permit: If your certificate expires before you receive a valid replacement, you should request a temporary permit under Section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968 to continue possessing your firearm legally.


Maintenance of Certification

  • Continuous Compliance: Always adhere to the conditions attached to your certificate. This includes being able to present your firearm or shotgun certificate if requested by the police.
  • Security Measures: Regularly inspect your storage arrangements to ensure they comply with legal standards and remain secure against unauthorised access.
  • Legal Obligations: Declare any kind of firearm you inherit to a registered firearms dealer or the police, as maintaining accurate records is a legal requirement.


By following these guidelines, our clients can ensure they remain compliant with UK firearms regulations, thereby avoiding any legal issues while enjoying their shooting activities. We hope you have found this article useful and informative, if you are looking to acquire a shotgun licence and need legal help, get in touch with us today.