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How to Fill in the New Firearms and Shotgun Certificate Forms

New legislation has introduced changes to the licensing system. This web page has been produced to help applicants complete the new forms. It will be updated when new legislation, Home Office guidance or other factors make it necessary.

Please note that although the police are advised by the Home Office to send out renewal reminders, it remains your own responsibility to apply in good time.

Make a note of the expiry date of your certificates and make sure that you leave the licensing authority (currently the police) reasonable time to issue the new one(s) before the expiry date. Allow six to eight weeks.

If you have returned the forms in good time and are experiencing delays which may put you in possession of firearms or shotguns when your certificate expires, then ask for a Temporary Permit to be issued under Section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968. This allows the holder to keep and use his firearms and shotguns and also to purchase shotgun cartridges.

While the majority of applications will be dealt with correctly and the police are generally friendly and helpful, you need to be aware that is not always the case. If questioning becomes aggressive or rude, ask for the name, rank and number of the officer concerned and then politely terminate the interview saying that, before going any further you wish to obtain legal advice (which is where being a member of BASC helps!).


Part A applies to both Firearms and Shotgun certificates


You are asked for a daytime telephone number so that the Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) can telephone to make an appointment at a mutually convenient time. If he calls without an appointment and it is not convenient, then say so. Ask him to telephone to arrange a more suitable time. If he becomes aggressive or threatening, or says that it will delay your renewal which may put you in illegal possession of firearms and liable to prosecution, ask for his name, rank and number, make a note of it and inform BASC.


You must include all convictions, whether in Britain or abroad. Cautions do not need to be mentioned but conditional or absolute discharges do. If this is a renewal, then only record those since the last application but say that you have done so, so as not to leave yourself open to an accusation of withholding information. If none, say "none" or "none since last renewal", as appropriate.


This refers to any medical conditions but it seems reasonable to include only those which might have some bearing on your fitness to possess a shotgun. If in doubt, put them down. Broadly speaking, if you are fit enough to drive a car on today's roads, you are fit enough to handle a gun safely


Self-explanatory but note too that there are related conditions. If in doubt, ask your GP.


It does not preclude you from having a certificate unless the condition presents particular problems and, as at 15a, as a general principle, if you are healthy enough in mind and body to drive a car, you are also healthy enough to use a gun. Once again, if in doubt ask your doctor.


This may seem an unwarranted intrusion but you must complete it if you want the application to be processed. In fact it is not as bad as it might appear because it only gives the police authority to approach your GP for "factual details" of your medical history; i.e. a report. They should not ask the doctor for an opinion as to your fitness to possess shotguns, nor are they allowed access to your medical records. Note also that the Home Office suggests that doctors will need to be contacted only where there are genuine doubts about the applicants health; also that if the doctor makes a charge for supplying information, the police must pay it.

BASC specimen letter for you to send to your GP which sets out for him what he is and is not required to do.


PART B (Details of shotgun(s))


Normally, the answer will be: "In a purpose-built steel cabinet securely fixed to a wall of the house and out of sight of casual visitors". This is in accordance with Home Office advice which goes on to say that any other method providing an equivalent level of security should be equally acceptable.

It is worth noting that the requirement for reasonably secure storage does not apply to shotgun cartridges. They are best stored in a cool, dry place out of reach of little fingers. The police are there to advise you on secure storage, not to dictate conditions. If you think their "advice" is unreasonable then contact BASC.

Your statutory responsibility for security is set out as Condition 4a on your shotgun certificate. This means that you must store your shotguns "securely so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, access to the shotguns by an unauthorised person". It does not say that you must have a BSI tested cabinet or, indeed, that you must have a cabinet of any kind. However, it is normally accepted that a purpose-built gun cabinet, securely fixed to the fabric of the building and in a position where it is not readily observed by casual visitors, is the easiest way for most certificate holders to show that they are fulfilling their responsibility. Other methods giving an equivalent level of security are equally acceptable.

Be sensible about security. Be aware that good overall household security protects all your property, not just your guns. The important words in the requirement are "reasonably practicable" and it is your own responsibility, not that of the FEO. He is there to advise and help. If you get it wrong, you are answerable to the courts.


Straightforward but note that the second column asks for the "gauge, bore or calibre" of the gun, so that the answer is "12" etc. as the case may be, rather than "12 bore, 3 inch Magnum".


The note relating to Question 21b is incorrect in one detail. The fee for the co-terminous renewal of a shotgun certificate is always less than for renewal of a shotgun certificate alone. However, that only applies when both firearm and shotgun certificates are dealt with at the same time. The reduced fee does not apply to the renewal of a shogun certificate on its own for a shorter period than five years so as to make it coincide with the renewal date for the firearm certificate. The reduced fee will apply on the following renewal, when the dates for both certificates are the same.

Read Question 22 carefully. It concerns any previous refusals or revocations. The police already have this information but it is still important to give an accurate answer.


Once you have filled in your personal details in Part A of the form (Questions 1-16), your countersignatory should complete and sign Part D.

The countersignatory will be someone who is resident in Great Britain and who has known you for at least two years. He/she must also be a Member of Parliament, minister of religion, doctor, lawyer, established civil servant, bank officer or person of similar standing and not a member of the applicant's family.

Police are advised by Home Office guidance that: "If advice is sought, applicants should be informed that it is helpful if the countersignatory is someone whose name can be found in a book of public reference. This includes members of professional bodies (such as architects, accountants and surveyors), persons who hold or have at one time held a regular commission in Her Majesty's Forces or who are qualified teachers in recognised schools. It may also be appropriate to include an applicant's employer if it is a well-established business and the applicant is well-known to him".

Anyone who would make a charge is barred from acting as a countersignatory.


Each application must be accompanied by four passport size photographs, one of which must be signed and dated on the back by your countersignatory and endorsed with the words: "I certify that this is a current true likeness of (you)."


See BASC's advice on answering Question 14, which is much easier to understand. Note that the section relating to the requirement for photographs is incorrect where it states that a "firearm application requires that each of the referees should endorse a separate photograph and that two photographs must be signed by you". You only need to sign one for each application.


PART B (Details of firearms and ammunition)


List the firearms in your possession. If this is an application for the initial grant of a certificate, the answer to this question is "none". Note that the first box asks for the calibre of firearm. It does not ask what cartridge it fires, so the correct answer would be, for example, .22 (it is helpful to say rimfire or centrefire since they are so different or 6mm/.244 or 6.5mm/.256 or 7mm/.284 or 7.62mm/.30 etc. as the case may be.


Same as 17 but concerning ammunition. If a first application, the answer is "none"; if a renewal make sure that you do not have more ammunition in your possession than you are entitled to. Once again the question asks for the calibre, not for the cartridge designation.


Firearms you wish to acquire. It asks for calibre, type, reason and where it is intended to use the firearm.

a) Calibre. The question asks for the calibre of rifle/pistol, not for the name of the cartridge. For example, .308 Winchester is a cartridge, not a calibre; the calibre is .30. The Home Office confirms this is the correct interpretation.

b) "Type" means target rifle, sporting rifle, large magazine capacity shotgun, or muzzle loading Pistol.

c) "Reason" for possession will be "target shooting", "pest control and zeroing/target practice" or "deer/pest control and zeroing target practice" as the case may be. This is to establish you have a good reason for possessing each firearm and that the above suggestions are quite sufficient. You do not need to detail each species of animal or bird you might wish to shoot, nor in the future will you need to apply for a variation to allow you to shoot different species.

d)"Where?" For a pure target rifle or a muzzle loading pistol you must be a member of a Home office approved club which offers facilities for the type of firearm. In this case the correct answer to the question is "as 1 member of ?? rifle/muzzle loading pistol club and on other ranges which have the appropriate range safety certificate".

For sporting rifles the best answer is: "On (name of land) and on any other land where permission has been obtained".

If you cannot name a piece of land but wish to shoot with a friend or as a paying stalker etc., it should not be a problem, although some police firearms licensing departments will try to turn it into one. It is best to contact BASC under those circumstances.

NB. Please note that Question 19 clearly says the information relating to where the firearm will be used is only required in connection with new firearms which you are asking for authority to acquire.

This means the information is not required for firearms already in your possession. The Home Office (OPPU) confirms this.


Maximum amount of ammunition you require to have in your possession at any one time.

For .22 rimfire the usual quantity would be 600 or 1200 rounds, depending on how much shooting you do and how easy it is to get fresh supplies. This will allow you to buy another 500 or 1000 before you run out (see Question 21).

For centrefire calibres it is more usual to have 160 to 200 rounds per calibre in this section, which allows the purchase in good time of further supplies of ammunition. Your favourite brand, bullet weight and bullet type may be difficult to obtain so enter enough to ensure that you do not run out. If you live a long way from your nearest dealer or if supplies are particularly difficult then increase the figure.

If your rifle(s) are held for pest shooting or deer control, don't forget that cartridges loaded with expanding bullets and even the bullets themselves were prohibited by recent legislation unless there is a condition on your firearm certificate allowing you to acquire and possess expanding ammunition. Make sure you ask for the correct condition if you want to use soft or hollow point bullets.

NB. If you hand-load your own ammunition ask for at least 1000 rounds per calibre since the form states, rightly or wrongly, that when referring to expanding ammunition this also includes loose bullets. It is reasonable to have eight or ten different types and weights of bullet in any given calibre and they are usually packed in boxes of 100. The licensing authority may be prepared to make a separate allocation for ammunition and bullets; that would be a sensible approach to an otherwise apparently excessive allowance of ammunition.


Quantity of ammunition you wish to purchase at any one time. This will be less than the quantity at the previous question so as to allow for purchasing fresh ammunition before you run out.

For .22 rimfire the usual quantity is 500 or 1000 rounds; for centrefire calibres, 100 rounds, but seen note above if supplies are likely to be difficult. If you are a homeloader, 500 would be more reasonable because the form insists, rightly or wrongly once again, that the total should include loose bullets.


Requires the address where firearms are to be stored and details of any other certificate holder who shares the storage facility with you; i.e. his/her name and certificate number.


If firearms are to be stored at your home address, tick the box.


If your cabinet has a kite mark inside the door to show that it has passed the BSI British Standards Institute) test, then tick the box. Don't worry if your cabinet has no kite mark, a BSI approved cabinet is not a requirement for the grant/renewal of certificate. For further details about security see the shotgun section.


This is new. In the past an applicant had to find a countersignatory who had a certain standing in the community. This is still so for shotgun certificate applications but for a firearm certificate two referees are required instead. Read the notes on the back of the form. Some parts are helpful but are not always clear and in one area are misleading. If they seem confusing, telephone BASC firearms department on 01244 573 010.

You may ask anyone you wish to act as a referee, other than a member of your family, a police officer, a civilian police employee or a registered firearms dealer. The referee must have known you for at least two years. If you hold, or wish to hold any of your firearms purely for target shooting, see the notes on the application form for details of when dealers may act as referees and for when the secretary of a Home Office approved rifle club must be one of your referees.

Your referees must each sign the application form in the space provided which confirms that they believe your answers to Questions 1 - 16 are correct and that the photographs are a true likeness of you.


Sign and date this part but read the notes carefully so that you know exactly what you are signing. Return with speed.

The section detailing requirements for photographs to accompany applications for co-terminous firearm and shotgun certificates is confusing and inaccurate. For such an application you will usually need at least five photographs; two signed by the two referees for the firearm certificate application, one signed by the countersignatory for the shotgun certificate application and two signed by yourself. If one of the referees is also the countersignatory you might get away with only four, though the legislation actually requires four with each application, so eight is the correct number.


Note that the section relating to the requirement for photographs is incorrect where it states that a "firearm application requires that each of the referees should endorse a separate photograph and that two photographs must be signed by you". You only need to sign one for each certificate.

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