Firearms and Shotgun Licensing - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I contact you?

The department is open for enquiries from Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm.

Telephone: 01772 413631

Email: [email protected]

Or you can write to us at: 

Firearms Licensing Department,
Lancashire Constabulary,

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How do I get a firearm/shotgun certificate?

See section Firearm and shotgun information. You can then decide which certificate you need to apply for. The application can be completed on line then printed and sent to the address above.

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Who do I make cheques payable to?

All cheques should be made payable to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire.

Should you wish to pay by debit or credit card please indicate your intention on the application form, you will be contacted for payment details on receipt of your application.

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How old must I be to have possession of a firearm/shotgun?

See section Firearm and shotgun information. There is a matrix showing the ages at which you can apply for or own a firearm/shotgun.

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Where and when do I send form?


Firearms & Explosives Licensing Unit P.O. Box 77 Hutton Preston PR4 5SB

You will be notified 16 weeks prior to the expiry of your current certificate. Please download and submit your application at your earliest opportunity as we cannot guarantee that late applications will be processed in time. Due to recent changes in Home Office guidelines, we are now required to undertake a number of lengthy checks which will not be completed if you submit your application late.  Should we not receive your application within 4 weeks of the expiry date of your current certificate you will be required to  move your weapons, pending us completing the assessment of the application.

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How long does my firearm/shotgun certificate last?

Each of the certificates lasts for five years.

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What circumstances make me a person prohibited from possessing firearms?

A prohibited person is:

  • Anyone who has been sentenced to a preventative detention or to imprisonment or corrective training for a term of three years or more.
  • Anyone who has been sentenced to be detained for a term of three years or more in a young offenders institution in Scotland 

A prohibited person is banned for life for life from having in their possession any firearm or ammunition, including an air weapon.  

Anyone who has been sentenced to: 

  • Youth detention centres
  • corrective training for less than three years
  • imprisonment for a term of more than three months but less than three years (including a suspended sentence)
  • detention for more than three months but less than three years in a detention centre or young offenders institution in Scotland

shall not at anytime during the five years after their release, have a firearm or ammunition in their possession. 

It is also an offence for someone to sell or transfer a firearm or ammunition to, or repair, test or prove a firearm or ammunition for a person who they know or have reasonable grounds for believing, to be prohibited from having a firearm or ammunition in their possession.

Anyone who has been sentenced to a suspended prison sentence of 3 months or more is prohibited from having in their possession any firearm or ammunition, and includes air weapons, for 5 years from the second day after the date on which sentence has been passed.

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Must I declare all convictions?

You must not withhold information about any conviction.  This includes motoring offences, bind overs, formal written warnings, 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.

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Who can be a referee?

A referee may be of any background or occupation. They must be of good character.  

When applying for a firearm certificate, you should have gained the permission of 2 people who have agreed to act as referees for you. You must complete Part F (i & ii) with their details.  When applying for a shotgun certificate you should have gained the permission of 1 person to act as a referee for you.  You must complete Part F (i) with their details.

The referee(s) who have agreed to act for you must have known you personally for at least 2 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, police employee or police and crime commissioner or their support staff.  Referees must be of good character and any references they agree to provide must be given freely and not on payment.

Home Office guidance notes on Firearms Licensing 10.15  

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Medical Information?

An applicant must disclose any physical or mental health condition that may affect your ability to safely possess and use a firearm (including a shotgun). This includes, for example, epilepsy, stroke, stress-related illness, depression, alcoholism, heart disease, cancer etc. If in doubt, consult your GP. The police may contact your GP and/or specialist to obtain factual details of any medical history in respect of your application

Should you have any relevant medical conditions you will be required to provide a medical report from your GP to be submitted with your application form. Your GP must be registered in the UK and you are liable for any costs incurred. The below link contains a pro forma document that you should print and present to your GP to complete; once completed the letter should be submitted with your completed application.

Please note that the Licensing Unit has been instructed by the Home Office to inform all GP’s of any person applying for a firearm or shotgun certificate

Chief Officers of police may reach their own conclusions as to the significance of the information provided based on their own knowledge and experience.

It is open for the GP to approach the police at any time in order to pass on information of possible concern about an individual, whether a patient or not, who possesses firearms or is applying to do so. The GP would have to be satisfied that their public duty to express their concerns outweighed the normal requirements of patient confidentiality.

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What happens to my application?

Applications are received by the Licensing Department and are checked to make sure that they have been completed correctly and the appropriate fee paid. The form 201 is used for both firearms and shotguns. It is a national form which ensures continuity of applications throughout the country. Background checks are then made to confirm that you are not prohibited or have criminal convictions, which would question your suitability to possess a firearm.

Applications are then forwarded to the Firearms Enquiry Officer for your area and a home visit will be arranged. The Enquiry Officer will visit all applicants for the grant of firearm, shotgun and explosives certificates and certain firearms variation applications, to assess their suitability and security arrangements for the storage of the weapons, ammunition and in the case of applications for Section 1 firearms, your ‘good reason’ for requiring it. The completed enquiries are returned to the Firearms Licensing Department where, if the application is successful, a certificate is issued. The certificate will either be posted directly to you or sent back to the Enquiry Officer for personal service where a gun cabinet has to be installed.

Please be aware that we will process cheques immediately, however the waiting time for a new grant application to be completed remains at around six months.

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What do I do when I receive my certificate?

You must sign your certificate in ink in the box provided.  Read the conditions entered on the certificate.

When you purchase a firearm, whether from a shop or a private individual, they are required to complete the reverse of your certificate with the details of the firearm you have purchased. You do not have to send in your certificate but you are required to notify the Firearms Licensing department in writing within seven days that you have obtained the firearm.

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At which point does an air weapon require a certificate?

Conventional air guns, air rifles, and air pistols do not need to be held on a firearms certificate unless they are of a type declared to be especially dangerous by the Firearms Rule 1969. The rules classify any air weapon as dangerous if it is capable of discharging a missile with a kinetic energy in excess of: 

  • Air pistols - 6ft/lbs
  • Any other air weapon – 12ft/lbs

Air weapons exceeding the prescribed limits can only be held on a firearm certificate and are subject to all the rules and regulations concerning Section 1 firearms.

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Must I notify the Firearms Licensing department of any sales or acquisitions?

Firearms legislation requires that all notifications must be sent in writing to the above address or emailed to [email protected], including any sales or acquisitions abroad. Faxes and email notifications are accepted.

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Must I notify a change of address?

A condition of your certificate states you must notify the Firearms Licensing Department in writing of a change to your permanent address. Details can not be taken over the phone. 

You can send the details to the address above or by email to: [email protected]

There is no need to send your certificate but do include a copy front and back of your certificate.

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How do I transfer a gun?

Before you transfer any gun you must ensure that the person you wish to transfer the gun to has a valid certificate authorising them to acquire that particular type of gun. Only original certificates should be accepted, not photocopies. In the case of a Section 1 firearm the person must be authorised to acquire that particular calibre of gun. A sound moderator is classed as a firearm and requires authority on your certificate before it can be acquired.

You must then complete the rear of that person’s certificate in the boxes provided, giving details of the transfer and then notify the Firearms Licensing Department that issued your certificate, in writing or by email to [email protected], that you have disposed of the gun. The notification should be made within seven days and there is no need to send in your certificate.

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How do I apply for an additional firearm?

This is called a variation. You will need to fill in an application form (form 201v) giving ‘good reason’ for your requirement for the additional firearm. You do not have to obtain any further photographs or referees for this application and the completed form 201v together with your Firearms Certificate should be forwarded to the Firearms Licensing Department together with the fee of £20 for this service.

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How do I get rid of an unwanted firearm?

There are various options for disposing of unwanted firearms.


You can sell, give away or transfer ownership to a registered firearms dealer or another shotgun certificate holder who has adequate and safe storage for the weapon.

You can surrender the firearm at a police station.  Please call 101 to make arrangements for this to take place.   

You can have the weapon deactivated by a registered firearms dealer.

Other firearms:

If you hold a firearm on a firearm certificate the scenario is slightly different.

Unlike shotguns, firearm certificate holders can only possess firearms as authorised on their certificate.

Before selling or transferring the firearm to another firearm certificate holder you must ensure their certificate carries the authority of the calibre and firearm in question.

No such restrictions apply to a registered firearms dealer.

The option to surrender firearms at a police station or have then deactivated applies to firearms as it does to shotguns.

Every firearm needs to be accounted for and the Licensing department that issued the certificate must be informed as to what has happened to it.

Unwanted section 1 ammunition can be disposed of though another authorised firearms certificate holder, registered firearms dealer, any target shooting club or surrendered at any police station.

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How do I keep the guns secure?

Please see the Firearm and shotgun information page.

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What do I do if I unexpectedly come into possession of firearm/shotgun?

There are number of reasons why someone may find themselves in possession of an unlicensed firearm or shotgun, through no fault of their own. A certificate holder has died and the widow or widower is left with the weapons for example, or after moving to a new address they are discovered in a loft. The first thing to consider is your safety. Do not handle the firearms as they could be loaded and in a dangerous condition.

Call the police and they will attend the address and make the firearms safe. You then have several options: 

  • You could ask the police to remove the firearms for destruction.
  • If you are a certificate holder then you can request they are added to your own certificate. This would depend on the firearms not being reported lost or stolen and you have the capacity to store them and, in the case of a firearm certificate, the authority to possess that type of weapon, but you would need to satisfy the ‘good reason’.
  • If you are not a certificate holder you could first request a permit allowing you access to the firearm and this would give you the time to get them to a registered firearms dealer for storage. You could apply for a certificate yourself to allow you to keep the guns.

An alternative is to have the firearms deactivated meaning they would retain the original appearance but would be incapable of discharging a missile.

For further advice please contact the Firearms Licensing Department who will assist you to make the right decision.

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Can I try shooting without holding a certificate?

Most commercial clay pigeon shooting grounds hold an exemption under Section 11(6) of the Firearms Act 1968 which permits non-shotgun certificate holders to shoot at artificial targets.

Members of Home Office approved rifle and pistol clubs can make use of club firearms under supervision.  

A person without a shotgun certificate can also shoot shotguns when accompanied by a certificate-holding landowner.  You will only be able to shoot on the owner's land using their shotguns.

A person without holding a firearms certificate can borrow a rifle from the occupier (or the servant of the occupier) or private premises who holds a firearm certificate and use the rifle in their presence in compliance with the conditions which appear on the occupier's or servant's firearm certificate.

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Can my partner or member of my family transport my firearm or shotgun for me?

Not unless they hold a certificate or permit in their own right for the firearms.

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Can a visitor to the country possess firearms or shotguns?

Under section 17 of the 1988 Act a visitor to Great Britain may, if s/he is granted a visitor’s permit, have in his/her possession firearms, shotguns or ammunition without holding a certificate. The holder of a visitor's firearm permit may have in his/her possession any firearm (but not purchase one), and purchase, acquire or have in his/her possession any ammunition, to which Section 1 of the 1968 Act applies.

The holder of a visitor's shotgun permit may have in his/her possession, purchase or acquire shotguns and is exempt from the requirements to produce a shotgun certificate when purchasing cartridges. Both permits are valid for a period of up to 12 months and must show the full details of weapons covered and, in the case of a firearms permit, show details of the quantity of ammunition to be purchased / acquired and held. Similarly, territorial and other conditions as would appear on a firearms certificate will normally be imposed on a firearm permit.

Separate permits for each police area are not required as both permits will cover the visitor throughout Great Britain.

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How do I apply for a visitor's permit?

Applications for a visitor's permit must be made on behalf of the visitor, to the Chief Officer of police, by a person resident in that area. In most cases a private sponsor will himself/herself be a certificate holder, but this is not a requirement.

Applications must be made on form 107. 

The sponsor may be a private individual, or may make the application on behalf of a shooting club, a shooting syndicate, country estate or other shooting organisation.

Group applications can be made for parties of between 6 and 20 people provided they are all shooting at the same location and at the same time, or they are participating in the same event or competition. In such circumstances a reduced fee is payable (see fees).

Applications should be made a minimum of 12 weeks before the required date to allow the proper enquires to be made. The information necessary will be provided by the sponsor to whom all enquires will be made. 

The criteria for granting a permit:

A Chief Officer of police must not grant a permit to any person in respect of whom s/he has reason to believe:

  • That his/her possession of the ammunition or weapon in question would represent a danger to public safety or to the peace, or:
  • That s/he is prohibited from possessing such weapons or ammunition.

 If the grant is not precluded on the above grounds, the Chief Officer of police must be satisfied that:

  • the applicant is visiting or intends to visit Great Britain,


  • in the case of a visitor's firearm permit, the applicant has good reason for having each firearm and the ammunition to which the permit relates in his possession, or, as respects ammunition, for purchasing it whilst a visitor to 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 purchasing or acquiring it whilst s/he is a visitor to Great Britain.

When a permit is granted it will be sent to the sponsor who should forward it to the visitor in his/her country of origin, for presentation to customs on his/her arrival in Great Britain. The 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 render the firearm/shotgun liable to detention or seizure.

Members of EU countries must be in possession of a European Firearms Pass which should be forwarded with his/her application for the permit.

Should an application for the grant of a visitors permit be refused there is no right of appeal. However notification of such refusal will, circumstances allowing, be detailed by letter in good time to prevent any unnecessary travel cost.

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How do I import or export firearms?

It is possible to either import a firearm into the UK or to export one to another country but you will have to contact one of the below departments to ensure you obtain the required authorities.

Import Licensing Branch (ILB)
Email:  [email protected]

Export Control Organisation (ECO)
Third Floor, 1 Victoria Street

Telephone no.  020 7215 4594
Fax no.  020 7215 2635
Email:  [email protected]

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When are reminders sent out?

Letters reminding certificate holders that their firearm or shotgun certificates are due to expire are sent out 16 weeks in advance of the expiry date. 

Applications should be submitted as soon as possible.

The focus of firearms licensing is to ensure that certificates are renewed prior to their expiry.

A minimum of 8 weeks is required to renew certificates.  If an applicant for renewal has applied at least 8 weeks in advance of the expiry and it has not been possible to renew the certificate, then a temporary permit will be issued so as to authorise certificate holders' possession of their firearms until the certificate can be renewed.

If an applicant for renewal has applied less than 8 weeks in advance of the expiry of their certificate and it is not possible to renew their certificate before it expires, then the applicant will be required to make alternative arrangements for the storage of their firearms with either a registered firearms dealer or suitably authorised certificate holder.

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