Find out how to get a shotgun certificate, including information on the application process, waiting times, fees and appeals
A shotgun certificate, issued by the police, is required by law in order to allow you to possess, buy or acquire a shotgun and to buy ammunition.
The difference between a firearms certificate and a shotgun certificate
How to apply
How to complete the application
What happens once I’ve sent in my application?
What if my application is refused?
Could this process change any time soon?
A shotgun licence is different to a firearms certificate although both last for five years. If your gun is not classed as a shotgun then you’ll need to apply for a firearms certificate. It’s important to nore that you can’t carry a shotgun on a firearms licence. Whilst technically called a Shot Gun Certificate (SGC), most people refer to it as a shotgun certificate or shotgun licence.
The rules are different in Northern Ireland, where you will need a firearms certificate to possess a shotgun.
If in doubt, it’s best to consult the Firearms Licensing Unit for advice.
How to apply for a shotgun certificate
The application process for a shotgun certificate was recently changed in a bid to simplify the process. Since December 1 2013, applicants have used a single form for grants and renewals. A seperate form to allow applicants to apply for different types of fiream was also be introduced.
The new rules relaxed who can sign an endorsement: anyone the applicant has known for two years will be able to countersign the application instead of someone from a limited list of professions. And firearm certificate holders are no longer be limited on how much ammunition they can buy at once, providing they don’t surpass restrictions on the amount of ammunition they can possess at one time.
The good news for anyone applying for their first gun licence is that the process is now streamlined and easier to understand. And at the moment, it still costs £50.
Whilst a rise in licensing fees seems inevitable, the increase in costs is giving shooters the chance to highlight the difference in terms of the service offered by each police force, which varies across the country. Furthermore, BASC has now proposed to extend the life of shotgun and firearm certificates to 10 years, rather than the current five.
From April 2014 anyone applying for a gun licence will be able to do so online. The new eCommerce for Policing website is set to feature user-friendly forms, easy-to-access online help, an online payment facility and the ability to request a time slot for a visit. Email and SMS alerts will keep applicants up to date at each stage of the process.
How to complete your application
Until April 2014, only paper forms were available. You had to complete these and hand them to your local police station. The advice below is a guide designed to help you complete your shotgun certificate application.
To complete the SGC application form you will need:
- An Application Form.
- An envelope to return your form.
- 4 passport style photographs.
In order to issue a shotgun certificate, the police need to be satisfied that the applicant can possess a shotgun without danger to the public safety or the peace. Part of this involves checking if the applicant has any previous convictions, which means that you must accurately complete Part A of the form.
The new shotgun licence form contains specific health questions that you must answer. You must declare any physical or mental health condition that may affect your ability to possess and use a firearm or shotgun safely. These include epilepsy, stroke, stress-related illness, depression, alcoholism, heart disease, cancer.
You will then have to give details of where your gun is to be stored.
The next important bit of the form has to filled in by a counter signatory who has known you personally for at least two years. Such a person cannot be a relative, a serving policeman or police civilian employee, or a registered firearms dealer, and according to the wording should be: “…a Member of Parliament, Justice of the Peace, minister of religion, doctor, lawyer, established civil servant, bank officer, or person of similar standing.”
With your gun license application you must also provide four passport-sized photographs of yourself, one of which must be signed on the back by your counter signatory. You then return the form to the police, together with the fee (£50 at the time of writing).
What’s the next step of my shotgun certificate application?
If your application passes the first stage, you will get a visit from a police officer at your home. They will talk to you about your shotgun certificate application and the proposed safety arrangements you have made. It’s good practice to buy a gun cabinet and make sure it complies with safety regulations as this will speed up your application.
If you are asked why you wish to own a shotgun, all you need say is you wish to take part in shooting sports.
If the police officer is satisfied, they will report this to the Chief Office of Police and your shotgun licence will be granted.
If your security was installed and the officer inspected it on his visit, the certificate can be posted to you. If your security has not been installed, your licence will be hand delivered by a Police Officer who will hand you your certificate once he is satisfied your security has been installed correctly.
How to appeal a shotgun certificate refusal
Previous Home Office plans to almost double the license fee to £94 were recently scrapped following discussions with BASC and it looks highly likely that a further fee increase – taking the cost up to £109 – is unlikely ahead of the next general election.
However, recent news that Labour wants to shake up gun licensing law has cast some doubt over how easy or difficult it will be to obtain a shotgun certificate in the future. Diana Johnson, shadow Home Office minister, wants to bring in the biggest change to licensing law since handguns were banned in 1998.
Johnson announced plans to ‘shift the onus on to the applicant to prove their suitability’ for licence and certificate approvals. The details – and implications – of this news are currently unknown but Shooting Times will be interviewing the MP to find out more.
If you’ve been considering trying to get a shotgun licence, this is something you should keep a close eye on.