Everything you need to know about getting and renewing a shotgun certificate

Read our useful guide on getting a shotgun certificate here. It will tell you:

  • How to apply
  • How long your certificate may take to process
  • What you should expect to pay
  • What to do if your application is rejected.

If you own a shotgun or you are planning on buying one, the police need to issue you with a shotgun certificate. You will also need one to buy ammunition.

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Allow plenty of time for your shotgun certificate application

It can take several weeks or even months to get your certificate through, depending on where you live. So start the process early leaving plenty of time before you expect to go out shooting. You don’t want to miss the start of the season (or even the whole season) because you’re waiting for a certificate to come through.

If you already hold a shotgun certificate, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) recommends applying before you receive the police reminder letter and to allow at least 12 weeks before the expiry of your certificate.

Do not ignore the reminder letter. 

How to apply for a shotgun certificate

You can apply for a shotgun licence here by downloading the application form or get an application form from the shotgun licensing unit of your local police force.

Applying for your first gun licence is straightforward and will cost you £79.50 (or £49 for a renewal). Only one form needs to be completed. Email and SMS alerts will keep applicants up to date.

A shotgun licence is valid for five years.

Completing your application

It’s a good idea to print off two forms. Use one for practice and then complete the other in full.

To complete the Shot Gun Certificate (SGC) application form you will need:
– Downloaded application forms or an application form from the local police.
– An envelope to return your form.
– Four passport style photographs.

BASC have some excellent advice here on current shotgun certificate fees and FAQs.

  1. 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 C of the form.
  2. There are also specific health questions that you must answer in Part B. 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. Details of a GP’s involvement in the shotgun application process are given here.
  3. You will then have to give details of where your gun is to be stored.
  4. 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 should have a responsible and honest reputation.
  5. With your shotgun 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 completed form to the firearms licensing unit of your local police, together with the fee (£79.50 for a new licence, £49 for a renewal at the time of writing).
  6. Remember to send your application by recorded delivery which allows you to track it (and prove it was posted).
  7. Do not return any expiring shotgun certificates with your new application. This is crucial as you will need them to buy ammunition and prove lawful possession of your guns.

You will need to be able to store your guns securely

What happens next to 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.  Make sure you have a secure gun cabinet in place which can be inspected and make sure it adheres to all safety regulations. This will speed up your certificate 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.

And if you’re renewing your licence

To repeat, do not send your existing certificate off with your renewal application. You need to keep it safely as long as it remains valid, because you will need to prove that you are in lawful possession of ammunition and shotguns and you will also need your certificate to buy ammunition.

What to do if your shotgun certificate application is refused

Should the Chief Officer of Police turn down your application, you will be informed, in writing, giving the reasons why and of your right of appeal against the decision.

BASC and the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) will be able to advise on the next steps to take.

Firearm Certificate

There’s a difference between a shotgun certificate and a firearm certificate

What’s the difference between a shotgun licence and a firearms certificate?

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 note 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.


  • Lee Jason Batley

    Shotgun license covers all shotgun bores

  • Fred

    Hi I have a 12 bore licence can I buy a 410 bore shotgun with same licence please

  • daniel

    hi my dad has a shotgun and a license but we dont live together. can i get my own license so i can take his gun out without him present as long as when im done it gets locked back up in his cabinet?

  • stu

    Hi, i would like to apply for my shotgun licence to do clays and hunting, i was sent to borstal when i was 18 for 6 months,in 1992 at 18 yrs of age, and have not been convicted of a criminal offence since, apart from a caution 5yrs ago for a pub punch up. would i be likely to be granted a shotgun cert??

  • howard

    hi, i am now 47 and of good charicter,however in my earlier years i got in quite a bit of bother with the police and have had a few sentances,ive been a reformed charecter for 15 years now,own horses and have access to lots of land also i have friends who shoot,i would like to apply for a shotgun cert,on release from prison i sighned a 5 year firearms ban,does this mean i can now apply for a certificate and be considered for it without my past stopping me.?

  • Paul

    When it says about previous convictions dose this mean even if you have been to cort but was not found guilty do you need to write that on the form

  • fletch

    dont think they will let you keep it in out building just ring your firearms officer and ask them
    as for medical conditions google it all your answers are there
    any convictions you got are still on record so can still be checked so better to come clean and declare them all

  • moleman

    hi i wish to get a shot gun licence i am 18, but my mum doesnt like guns in the house i wish to put in a secure outbuiding it is a tack room but has concrete walls and floor with a 2bolt pad locked door. pls repsond thanks

  • mark

    I am after a shot gun licence but dont want the gun at home,my friend has a gun safe and has a shotgun licence, would they give me a licence and let me keep the weapon in his safe?

  • sam

    how long dose it take to get a license and then a gun beacuse i dont have long to what i need to do

  • matt

    hi im 13 how old do you have to be to apply for a shotgun license because i live on a farm and i look after the livestock (cattle) please mail me back

  • callum

    Hi how old do you have to be to have a shotgun license and then to buy a shotgun as i am 12 and realy enjoy clay shooting.Sorry i had to send this again but my messages had been deleted some how.

  • Callum Hanley

    Hi how old do you have to be to have a shotgun license and then to buy a shotgun as i am 12 and realy enjoy clay shooting.

  • George

    I have a son who is 16, is he allowed a shotgun if he is looking after livestock? such as sheep.

  • Kina

    Hi. I would like to apply for a shotgun license. I am 31 years old, lived in UK for last 6 years. I am not a member of any club. I would like to use the gun for hunting. Could you please let me know what I have to do to apply for the shotgun and how long it will take? Thank you

  • visar

    hi i am british citisen since 1998 and back home where i am from (europe)i do heave a licenc for the shoot gun .
    and i am after british shoot gun licenc but if i get a licenc and i am looking to bay a shhot gun but i dont want to keep in my flat but my best friend heave a shoot gun licenc and heave very safe place wold i be eable to store my shoot gun on his safe

    best regards

  • eain

    how old do you have to be to own a shotgun as i have a 14 year old boy what comes shooting with me as he wants to own this own shotgun…

  • alex white

    hi, i am wondering whether after you have your shotgun license doesnt haave to be renewed after so many years if so how many years?

  • Dean Johnson

    I am after a shot gun licence but dont want the gun at home, my girlfriend’s Dad has a gun safe and has a shotgun licence, would they give me a licence and let me keep the weapon in his safe?

    I also have a criminal conviction of ‘gbh’ from about 2 years ago but haven’t been in any trouble since, does this mean i am not likely to get a licence?

  • Daniel Massa

    I am portuguese and live here since march/2006, never have moved out England from this date, can I get a shotgun certificate ? I will affiliate a clay pigeon club.
    I work as a supervisor of a cleaning company, in a school for all this time.
    I have to choose fix the cabinet between the boiler room or near my wardrobe in a corner of my room, what is the best place.
    Many Thanks,
    Daniel Massa

  • edward

    im 16 and live in Wales ive got a shotgun certificate and was wondering if i go out on my farm with the gun am i allowed to bring someone with me who doesn’t have a certificate.

  • chris

    I am a UK passport holder but currently resident in France for the past 5 years. My shotgun certificate exspired in May 2006, i have to show prove of a UK shotgun certificate to the local federation des chasseurs before they will grant me a shotgun certifcate for hunting purposes. However, the dilema I face based on the UK application process is I dont reside nor own a house in the UK I dont plan on having a shotgun in the UK and only need the shot gun certificate to show the local federation. Any thoughts on how I can be granted under the above circumstances would be most helpful. Regards, Chris.

  • paul hailes

    by the ryle .i have an interest in piece shooting.with an athletic disposirtion .please provide information on gun licencing and regard myself as an piece possibly tainted with which would be more appropriate to use as an sport.cheers,p m,h.

  • james futers

    im after a shot gun licence but dont want the gun at home, my friend works on a farm and has a gun licence, would they give me a licence and let me keep the weapon in his safe?

  • ralph john

    I am a UK passport holder but currently resident in Dubia with a second home in Sombrun, France.
    I have to show prove of a UK shotgun certificate to the local police in Sombrun before they will grant me a shotgun certifcate for hunting purposes.

    However, the dilema I face based on the UK application process is I dont reside nor own a house in the UK at the moment and cant be availabe for the police to come round for their inspection.
    I dont plan on having a shotgun in the UK and only need the shot gun certificate to show the local French policeman.

    Any thoughts on how I can be granted under the above circumstances would be most helpful.

  • jake

    do you need a gun licence for a 410?

  • Dave

    Hey. Just wondered if having moved a lot during the last few years and been unemployed are significant factors in obtaining a certificate. also to cautions recieved count against me. Cheers.

  • David Heap

    I know of someone who is 78 years old, disabled (difficulty in walking) bad eyesight and going deaf. What are his chances of getting a licence?

  • hugh

    i have been unemployed for the last 2 years will this stop me from getting a shotgun licence.

  • mohsin hassan

    i work as security for over a year and a half. and can i keep a gun at home while having the shotgun lieance

  • Dom Roberts

    There is no minium age to obtain a shotgun certificate. How ever if your under the age 17 then you MUST have parents permission. There are also limits with young people owning a certificate and what they can use it for, eg aged 14 or under you may not have a shotgun with you unless locked in a secure case from which it can’t be fired. And must be supervised by a person over 21.
    Aged 15, you may use a shotgun on private land without supervision, you cannot use within 50 feet of roads and public pathways etc. Aswell you cannot hire, buy or lend a shotgun or ammunition for it.
    if your aged 15-17 you cannot buy, hire a shotgun or ammunition for it. However you can be bought, givin or lent a shotgun.

    Any futher questions feel free to contact me on. dom-12@hotmail.co.uk
    good luck!

  • shahid ahmed

    hi sir i am 29years old and i live in the uk last 2year and i have a uk rasidence visa 5 years can i get shot gun and certifcat i need just for hunting can i possibale too get it my nationaltyis is pakistani thanks

  • John

    Over 6 years ago i suffered from depression. im 25 now and i must have been 17-18 at the time, i was told it was totally normal at the time. I have not suffered from depression for a long long time but dont know if i will be rejected a license. Im a under gamekeeper and fear that if i’m rejected , bang goes my career.ANY ADVICE

  • tj

    can u have a shotgun licence at age of 12

  • taylor

    how old do i have to be to get one????

  • ryan wood

    hi i am 16 in two weeks and want to know how old you have to be to get your licence

  • peter

    i had two weeks off due to anxiety about 3 years ago due to finaciel problems thats the only thing that has made me think i would not be able to obtain a certificate

  • Andy


    It’s been 9 years since I was bound over by the police for fighting as a result I lost my gun license. How long before I can re-apply for my gun license I have had a clean criminal record for the past 8 years ?



  • jack

    hiya i am a 14 yr old boy and i go shooting alot with my air rifle’s how old do i neede to be to get a shotgun liecence ? thanks 🙂

  • gwil

    i used to shoot clays in the 1980. ihave just found my old shotgun licence, it does not have an expiry date. do i have to renew it, or is it still valid.

  • Paul Elberfeld

    I applied for a shotgun licence almost 5 weeks ago but have yet to recieve a visit from the police. Would it be appropriate to contact the firearms dept to see if there is a reason for the delay or should i just wait a little while? Please advise.

  • Nick sargent

    Hi, I have just had my visit done by the police man, he said evrything looked ok, how long can i expect it to be before my license shows up?

  • ben

    i am 14 and i’m into shooting and i would like to buy a shotgun but no one in my family owns a licence.is there something i can do so i can get a shotgun.

  • Harry

    Hi, im 14 and i want to get my shotgun certificate, i was just wondering does anyone else in my family need to have one so i can get mine?.

  • ian

    just filled out my application form is it still £50 or has it gone up i live in stafford who do i make it payable to ?

  • larry

    hi ciaran. you dont neen to b a member of a club but it surn will help. but what ever u do do it quick as the backlog in looking at forms is geting longer and longer. if you read some of thes posts people in uk have got it made.yuo will be lucky to get any contac before 3 mounths. then maybe another 3 befor you get anymore word good luck

  • s

    ihave MH issues do i stand any chance of accuiring a licence

  • Joe Rodgers

    I want to start using a .410 shotgun i have not used a shotgun before but I have been beating many time but i just want to know what i have to do to get involved

  • cammy-r-

    i have jst applied for my shot un certificate

  • Gwen MacAngus

    Where do I send the application form to?? I live in Usk, monmouthshire

  • darren barkham

    i want to apply for a shotgun certificate.
    somethings worry me.
    i have a builtin cuboard but my house has plaster board walls does this matter?
    also can a farmer or a methodist precher act as counter signatory?



  • Heather

    A friend and i are going to co own a .20 shotgun. Can we keep it in a safe with another gun registered to someone else in the household?

  • carl

    hi im wantin to get into clay pigeon shooting and i dont have no certifacate or gun or gun safe but i been speaking to my friend and he says you gotta do a test when applying for a certifacate is this true and if so whats involved in this test.

    if anyone can help it would be much appreciated

  • tomos

    how old you need to be to get a gun licenece?

  • Roy

    read the page, no mention of price.

  • glenn tootill

    do i have to get a shotgun cabinet before they will issue a licence. what if i dont get one and i have out laid money for the cabinet also if it is denied do i get my application money back thanks

  • martyn davenport

    how old do u have to be to get a shotgun licence

  • ashton

    i love this site its the best site in the world

  • michael

    hi im just wondering if im able to get a shotgun certifacate im 15 years old and really into it.

  • matthew

    hi im am 14 and im intrested in shooting and ive had many air guns but the other year i got arrested for riding a motorcycle on private land and i got a repremand but i have not been in trouble for the last year with the police do you think i could still get a shotgun certificate or have i blown it

  • Philip

    I live in Germany and as I visit the UK regulary , I would like to obtain a Shotgun license to be able to go shooting with other members of my family who currently hold shotgun licenses.I would also need a european license in order to take the gun to Germany.Security is not a problem as an authorised gun cabinet is already installed.
    Any advice would be appreciated

  • Alex Penman

    how old do you have to be to get your shotgun licence?

  • andy harvey

    hi all ive been in prison before foa a abh got 15 mths been good for 10 years now is there any way i could get a shot gun or has my foolish pass blown it for me

  • charlie mallia

    Hi, i have just submitted my application for my shotgun, can anyone tell me how to apply for shotgun certificate. im confused about the order of things, and where do i get one.

  • Lee hall

    Hi, I have submitted my shotgun application and had my visit from the firearms enquiry officer every thing has been passed it has been nearly 3weeks now since i had the visit and i still haven’t received my certificate can anybody please tell me how long it takes to receive it i come under lancaster police area many thanks

  • matt

    hi i have got a shotgun licence and own shotguns, im a keen shooter and want to get a firearms licence, but i hav recently lost my shooting ground, why is it so hard to get ground to shoot, and there are no clubs near me, how could i get a firearms cert?

  • Richard

    Extract from application form…

    “it must be countersigned in ink, by someone who is resident in Great Britain and who has known
    you personally for at least the last two years.”

    What do they actually mean by personally, Would someone who you see a few times a week like a shop keeper be considered “known personally”?