It seems to be a postcode lottery, with the City of London processing applications in under three weeks and Essex taking around five months

Wondering why it is taking so long to get your firearms and shotgun certificates through? It all depends on where you live, according to a recent report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulory (HMIC).

Expect a wait

Look at these tables of HMIC data showing the length of time it can take.

firearms certificate wait times

shotgun certificate waiting times

The report “Targeting the risk – An inspection of the efficiency and effectiveness of firearms licensing in police forces in England and Wales” was published in September 2015 and analysed data provided from all forces, which demonstrated inconsistency across England and Wales:

  • The overall time span taken by forces to grant both firearm and shotgun licensing applications ranged from an average of five days to 165 days;
  • The average time taken by forces to complete the application process varied: five forces took in excess of an average of 100 days to grant a section 1 firearm certificate whereas 13 forces took an average of 40 days or less;
  • For shotgun certificates 18 forces took in excess of an average of 60 days, whereas five took an average of less than half of this time

The HMIC report also states: “As with other licensing systems, applications for the grant or renewal of certificates should be processed without undue delay. On average, the time taken to grant or renew firearm licences should be broadly similar in all forces.

“However, this is not the case. We found that there were significant variations in the time taken by forces to process an application, ranging from days to months. Some certificate holders reported that their certificates had expired prior to them being renewed because of delays.”

HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales, together with other major policing bodies.

View a full copy of the HMIC report.

You can find information on applying for your shotgun certificate here.

48 Merseyside Police and Cleveland Police data for renewals are based on working practices which mean renewal applications are collected at the time of a home visit following background checks. They are not representative, therefore, of the full period taken by these forces to renew either type of certificate.

49 The same caveat regarding Merseyside Police and Cleveland Police applies here