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.