PUBLISHED: 14:35 09 July 2007 | UPDATED: 15:09 28 November 2012
A basic guide to the application process
To get an application form, go to your local police station, or look online
Applying for a licence
To buy or own a shotgun in England, Scotland and Wales, you must first have a shotgun certificate, which is issued through your local police force. Your local police station should be your first port of call for information and to get an application form. If you live in Northern Ireland you will need a Firearms Certificate, which once again must be applied for through your local police station.
Any information provided to the police on the applicati0n form is then cross-checked with their own records, so it is therefore imperative that you are open and honest. It is better to provide too much information than too little. Any discrepancies may lead to your application being turned down.
There are various official information and advice leaflets available, but the simplest resource is to ask the police directly. That way you can ensure that what you have been told is correct, straight from the horse's mouth.
There is an application fee of £50, but this should be checked with your local police force.
The application form
The application is made to the Chief of Police for the area in which you live. For instance, if you live in Greater London, you would have to apply to the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Force, but if you live in Devon, it would be the Chief of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. In practice though, it will be a Firearms Enquiry Officer that will deal with the application.
Make sure you read the question carefully, and answer as fully as possible - it is not an exam, but it is important you fill it in correctly, otherwise you will waste your time, police time and will lose the application fee.
Tick the box either requesting a new certificate or a renewal of an existing certificate. You must now list personal information. It is fairly straightforward, but make sure you write clearly. It can be very frustrating to receive a certificate, only to find they have spelt your name with a V instead of a U.
Where you are required to fill in your home address, this must be the address you are registered at for anything official, such as voting and tax purposes. However, if in doubt, provide more information rather than less. This principle applies to your medical history as well, as this will be checked. It is clearly important for the police to be able to assess that you are of sound mind.
In this section you need to give details of the storage and safety of your gun(s). The police will be very tight on this for obvious reasons, so make sure you are also. When they visit they will want to see that your storage and security is suitable. As a responsible gun owner and sporting shooter, following these rules and regulations should be second nature, and simply because the police are checking should not mean you act differently. This should be an opportunity to show your competence and leave the police in no doubt you are a responsible gun owner. Therefore be as full as possible in your answer.
If this is a new application, you should not have any guns in your possession at the time of application, so most people will fill in the "none" box. If, for instance, someone else in your household already has a shotgun certificate and therefore stores a gun in the house, you still should not list this on the form, as you should not have access to the gun. When the Firearms Enquiry Officer conducts the inspection, they will already know details of guns stored in the house, and will ask if you wish to have access to them, and therefore have them included on your certificate. Every gun you have access to and are able to use must be included on your license. But you do not list these on this application.
This section is only for those who have held a shotgun certificate already.
Your counter signatory must be a professional or someone of similar standing. By filling in this section they are effectively acting as a referee. You must remember that to the police you are simply a name; they do not know you personally. While they can check facts and figures, this provides the means to check your character. The counter signatory should be someone who has known you well for at least two years, providing the police with evidence, from a checkable source, that you are of suitable character to own a gun. It is important that this person knows you well, as the police may well contact them. He or she cannot be a member of your family, a firearms dealer, or employed by the police.
You must also provide two photos of yourself. One of these must be signed by your counter signatory, as evidence that the photo is a current true likeness (that it's you in the photo)!
Once again, make sure the counter signatory writes clearly and precisely.
This final part requires you to declare, by signing and dating, that you have not been fraudulent in the information provided on the form.
All that is left is to stick the form in an envelope with the appropriate payment and TWO passport photographs of you, one signed by your counter signatory on the back. Put in the post, and wait for the police to contact you.