Applying For A Shotgun Certificate
So you may be new to shooting or been at it for years, but at some point you will need a licence or renewal, renewal obviously if your 5 year licence is about to expire.
There are a lot of horror stories all across the web about months and months waiting times etc, so it really does depend on the county your in, but i have read somewhere that the government has stepped in with the supposed backlog and apparently police forces across the UK now have a 60 working day turnaround, that is from start to finish!
So who can apply for a licence?
Basically anyone can own a shotgun and thus be entitled to a licence to own one, there are of course certain criteria for owning one, but generally if you state that you wish to own a shotgun to shoot clay pigeon at a local club, then they shouldn’t have any quibble with this, of course it would help if you are actually shooting already! Wording is everything! And saying you ‘wouldn’t mind a go at clay shooting’ probably will raise an eyebrow or two, thus the previous statement, go and try it, whether that be a few lesson’s or even with a friend that has a licence, the point being a positive ‘i need a licence to continue something i enjoy’ it is a sport after all! For those people that wish to own a shotgun for game or vermin control it differs slightly in that you will need to prove you have a suitable piece of land etc to shoot on, possibly with written permission off the land owner (obviously not needed if your a farmer).
So the next issue will be criminal record of any kind! The counties differ in this respect but generally if you have served in prison for more than 3 years, don’t even bother! Minor offences are also considered even speeding fines or drink driving, it’s a fairly obvious assumption that what the police want to see is a stable history for the want to be licence holder, someone that’s had a speeding ticket every few months won’t strike them as stable and although not totally against you it will be a black mark and maybe delay the whole process, common sense basically.
Next will be health, both physical and mental, again depending on health issue could get you an instant no, but usually it’s just a black mark against you that the police will have to investigate further (usually with confirmation off a doctor) which will be needed anyway.
How to apply
First and foremost you need a doctors medical certificate/report on you ‘as the person applying’ do this prior because if you don’t it will simply delay your application, there are plenty of places offering this service online but dependant on price and time frame it might be easier to go to your doctors, i used a company called Medcert who will contact your doctor or previous doctor to gain all your records, price is around the £60 mark, i’m unsure to recommend this way as it did take around 4-6 weeks (for mine) to come through, at the time i had no option as i had no registered GP near me, however my good lady went to her doctors who not only was cheaper (£30) but also sent all the paperwork together for her and within the same week! So definitely worth checking!
Now most counties police force now have an online application form which should simplifies matters, although they do still provide a form to download and print at home, the trouble with that is, you need to get a passport sized picture of yourself and a counter signature off someone not related to you, but has known you a minimum of 2 years, you will need to read the why’s and wherefores on this as it does state who the police need to counter sign your application, once all that is done then you can send your application off!
I will say though, i applied for my licence 24/12/2022 via the Nottingham police force website, very straight forward, a selfie was taken at the time, the referee was just a name and contact number for the same, along with an email address and a few details of the person chosen, at that time it also stated that a medical report could be forwarded later on in the process and just forwarded to the police force dealing with the application, i did get an email a few days later saying i had missed a form! The form was to add additional people that live with you, this form was not on the website but for me was simple enough as i live alone, the police chief emailed it me and asked to fill it in and return it by email to which obviously i did and all was good! Now the issue, the good lady applied probably 2nd week in January via the same way and although it stated exactly the same regards medical report, her application got returned some days later, claiming they no longer could accept applications without all the needed forms, so it may have changed with the new year, or it could have been just a different person on the receiving end that picked up on it, hense the reason i would suggest getting a medical report first!
If your still reading and i haven’t managed to bore you to death yet.
Well while your application is going through it will give you time enough to buy and fit a gun cabinet, this has to be to police standards although in my case it could have been painted cardboard for the amount of inspection it took, however the idea is that you obviously need to keep your guns secure and out of sight as much as possible, the law states that it should be fitted securely to a main wall within your house. This proved a little difficult for me as i live on a boat and don’t have any walls, this didn’t prove to much of a problem though as my walls are 12mm thick solid steel so was a lot easier than first thought, for those living in static homes etc you can also secure one, usually through the floor etc or to the main chassis, the basis being that a pry bar behind the cabinet will not dislodge it, so think before drilling any holes! A key safe to keep the cabinet keys in in not law but a good ‘extra’ to have somewhere, remember you are trying to prove to the police force that you have all intentions of keeping your weapons safe from unlawful hands getting them! Again, common sense. Another note here is that i myself bought a shotgun new from my local club even before my licence was applied for and as a member i could keep it there for free, payment was made but held in ‘escrow’ until the day came i could legally keep it myself, lot’s of clubs offer this now and it is a good thing if your sure your licence will be obtained, the main reason being that rather than practising with different gun’s you can use your own everytime (on that club ground with a licence holder) that way you will be more comfortable learning to shoot. Pro’s and Con’s to this so think before going ahead!
Once your licence application is going through you will get a home visit from your local police force (FEO) Firearms Enquiry Officer, this is nothing to worry about so keep a clear head, just like all the above they just want to see where and how you live and that your sound body and mind, plus they will inspect the cabinet, mine was actually a young lady and she was very nice and polite and extremely helpful! However, having 20 cans of empty lager hanging around they might not be the same, again just common sense and nothing at all to worry about, my visit took around 30 min’s from start to finish and she even gave contact details should i have any queries later on and forgot on the day.
Most will get either a call or email saying that your licence application was accepted and processed and also when to expect it, from that notification it is usually posted 2nd class directly to yourself, however just because it has been accepted don’t think you can go and buy a gun/ammunition etc, you have to physically have it in your hands, this sort of leads on to the next thing, the licence itself has not changed in 40+ years (i was expecting something like a car licence) but no! It is 2 x A4 sized paper, the first page with your picture and details and the second part is needed for guns that you own, with details of what it is and the serial number from the gun, you need to keep this safe and with you whenever you use your gun! Club’s seem to have lapsed a little in requesting proof of a licence, in fact i shoot 3 – 4 times a week and have never been asked to show it, but that doesn’t mean you should leave it at home! If you have your gun with you, take your licence as well! It will only spoil your day if you don’t have it with you and you get turned away at your local club! Rough or game shooting i believe is a little different but keeping it with you will mean no-one can confiscate your gun if you have proof in your hand!
So not quite the problematic test that many make out, however there do seem to be a few that have waited months or even years, not knowing someone personally i don’t think anyone can comment on this, but the police in all counties are receiving thousands of applications per week so if your unsure of your progress then try contacting your local firearms officer just to see what might be going on.
Also worth mentioning is the UK groups that can help, namely
The CPSA – https://www.cpsa.co.uk
The BASC – https://basc.org.uk/
Both offer help with shotgun certificates and renewal process