Should you have your documents with you at all times?

There is no legal requirement 
to carry a shotgun certificate with you when you are shooting but it may be 
a good idea to do so. Section 48 of the 1968 Firearms Act allows a constable 
to require that a person he has stopped in possession of a firearm, or whom he suspects to be in possession of one, to produce a certificate. If he cannot do 
so, the constable may ‘seize and detain’ the firearm until a certificate can be produced. This might be very inconvenient if the constable is stationed some distance away. I would not want a gun of mine in a police property store, where there is a real possibility of it getting damaged.

Certificates are quite large, but many modern shooting coats have zippered inner pockets that will keep them clean and safe. A zip-lock polythene bag is useful protection if you are in really adverse conditions. If a certificate becomes illegible or damaged, the police will replace it for nothing, providing that the remains can be produced. If a certificate is lost entirely, a replacement will cost you £4.

Important legal documents

Shotgun certificates and firearm certificates are important legal documents. It is easy for them to become lost or damaged if carried in the field every time you go stalking and there is a strong argument for keeping the originals in a safe place 
at home and taking a photocopy of your current certificate with you.

A photocopy is clear evidence

If you were to be stopped, 
a photocopy represents clear evidence that you are indeed a certificate holder. Furthermore, the officer in question can immediately check that your certificate is valid and has not, for example, been revoked.

Check your shotgun certificate

All shotgun owners have to renew their certificate every five years so check yours regularly to see when yours is due.

It pays to think ahead especially when dealing with renewals. Do not wait for a police renewal letter. Get your renewal application to the police at least 12 weeks before your certificate is due to expire.

You can download a renewal application here. 

Don’t get caught out by a slow response from your issuing police force – it can take quite a while to get your certificate through depending on where you live.

A temporary permit

If your certificate expires before you receive a valid replacement, you should ask for a temporary permit, issued under Section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968. It should be granted in the event of an administrative delay where the applicant has submitted their application in good time.