The Firearms (Electronic Communications) Order 2011, which came into force on 1 April after years of discussion between shooting associations, the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, enables certificate holders to notify their local police about the acquisition, transfer or disposal of firearms by fax or email.

Until now shooters had been officially required to make any statutory notifications by registered or recorded delivery postal services, though shooters may continue to use these methods if they prefer.

A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: ?This development will be welcomed by the shooting community. There will no doubt be some fine-tuning to the new system, but progress is being made that will save shooters time, effort and money.?

However, shooters may still have to wait a few more weeks before they can email a notification.

The Order?s small print states electronic communications are not automatically permitted? there must first be a formal consultation process, leading to the Secretary of State directing that specified forms of electronic communications be used.