Moving house is stressful enough without having to wonder if you're staying within the law when it comes to being a gun owner. Bill Harriman tells you what you need to know.

It is a criminal offence not to obey the conditions on your firearm or shotgun certificate. One of which particularly concerns moving house.

Condition 3 on every firearm and shotgun certificate says: “The holder of this certificate must, without undue delay, inform the chief officer of police by whom the certificate was granted of any change in his permanent address.” Remember that it is a criminal offence not to abide by any condition on a firearm or shotgun certificate.

The move has to be permanent

You need to think about two things here.

  1. What does “without undue delay” actually mean? There is no set time period for notification, but it shouldn’t be excessive. As a suggested guide, give notice of your address change when you have unpacked your boxes in the new home and installed your gun cabinet. 
  2. Notice the use of the word ‘permanent’. This means that you really have upped sticks, have registered to vote, pay community tax, signed up with a GP etc.  A short-term move into rented accommodation while you have building work done is not a permanent move. Neither is a student who is away from the family home at college or someone who works away and only returns home on an intermittent basis.
Bespoke Gun Cabinet Company

Tell the police about your move when you have installed your gun cabinet

Notifying the police

  • The notification must be sent to the police force that issued your certificate (but don’t send in your certificate).
  • Send it by recorded delivery and keep a copy of the Royal Mail slip with a copy of the letter.
  • You could also email it to the address on the police force website and ask for a read-receipt. This makes you bomb-proof if you are ever accused of not notifying a change of address (police forces are big organisations — sometimes things go missing).
  • When you move from one police area to another, your file will be sent to the licensing department that covers your new address.
  • It is likely that you will have a visit from an enquiry officer to check your security and to match up your firearms against those entered on to your certificate(s).
  • If someone turns up without an appointment — which is both discourteous and bad practice — you do not have to let him into your house if it is not convenient.

If you are asked to give up your old certificate pending the issue of a new one, you should politely decline

You will need your certificate to buy ammunition and to show that you are in lawful possession of your firearms if you are stopped by the police. Instead, help the enquiry officer by providing a photocopy of your existing certificate and return the old one when the new one arrives. Your existing certificate remains valid even after your move.

If there is no significant change to your circumstances, your security should be acceptable in a new police jurisdiction unless you have moved into an area where the risk of crime has increased. The Home Office Guide says that each case must be taken on its merits and the police are not allowed to have blanket policies.

If you are asked to make changes, ask for a detailed explanation. If this does not satisfy you, ask for it in writing, plus a proper risk assessment. Also, if you are a member of an association, ask for help and representation.

When you receive your new certificate you must sign it immediately. If it is a firearms certificate, check its conditions against those of your old one. If they have been changed without reference to you and you are not happy with them, get in touch with the licensing department and ask for them to be changed. Firearms licensing should be consistent across the UK and conditions should not be altered merely due to a change of postcode.