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Getting a ‘coterminous’ firearms certificate: a combined firearms and shotgun certificate

Barrister Peter Glenser, specialist in firearms, tells you what you need to know

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If you’re a keen Shot with both firearms certificates and shotgun certificates, then it’s worth applying for what’s known as a coterminous firearms certificate, which basically means that you have a single expiry date to think about. 

The advantages of a coterminous firearms certificate

  • It costs less than paying separately for firearms and shotgun certificates
  • It rolls both certificates into one
  • The police like them because they minimise the amount of admin involved
  • You only have one expiry date to remember

How to apply

If you want a coterminous firearms certificate, then the process is similar to that of applying for a shotgun certificate.

Start your application by visiting the GovUK page “Applying for shotgun and firearms certificates” which will give a link to your local police force. Depending on where you live you may be able to submit a digital application. If you’re not sure which police force covers your area then put your postcode in here, which will tell you which to contact.

Make sure you tick ‘yes’ for the question ‘Do you wish to apply for a shotgun certificate which will expire at the same time as your firearm certificate?’. 

The Metropolitan Police advises:

To apply for both a firearm certificate and a shotgun certificate and to have them expire at the same time (coterminous certificates) you should complete the sections for firearm and shotgun certificates. The fee payable for such certificates may be less than the normal fee for the grant or renewal of a shotgun certificate if both of your applications are dealt with at the same time.

How much

At the time of writing fees are as follows for coterminous certificates:

  • Grant of both shotgun and firearm certificates £90
  • Grant of a shotgun certificate /renewal of firearm certificate £90
  • Renewal of a shotgun certificate /grant of a firearm certificate £90
  • Renewal of both shotgun and firearm certificates £65

BASC advises: “A coterminous certificate is merely a means of issuing both firearm and shotgun certificates where an applicant requires both (to expire at the same time) at a cheaper cost to the applicant and also at a reduced administration to the police force. If an applicant holds or requires both firearm and shotgun certificates he can request coterminous certificates by using Form 201 and enclosing the £90 fee. The £90 fee is standard regardless of whether you already hold a certificate or none at all.”

Top tips to remember

  • It’s important to understand that under UK law, there is a clear distinction between the right to possess a shotgun against that of a rifle. Every British citizen is deemed to have the right to own a shotgun – if the state disagrees, it has to show why that person should not have one. With a rifle, however, it is the other way around – the assumption is that the person concerned has no automatic right to own one, 
and therefore has to demonstrate the need to do so.
  • For reasons best known to themselves, most police forces, by and large, do not consider that having served in the armed forces provides any relevant experience in the use 
of firearms.
  • Once your certificate has arrived, the first thing is to check it through to make sure that everything is as it should be. Paperwork errors are, sadly, only too common, and although most forces will usually sort them out very quickly, responsibility for complying with the specified terms is down to you.
  • If you don’t have a proven track record of using a similar calibre you will be unlikely to be granted something ‘large’. Exactly what this means is interpreted differently by different forces – in some areas they appear to view the law as being what they’d like it to be, whereas in others they follow Home Office guidance closely. In loose terms, if you have no demonstrable experience, you are unlikely to be granted something like a 30-06 rifle on a first application.
  • If you have any problems or need advice, go to your shooting organisation.BASC, for instance, has full-time experts who deal with such things. It’s always worth being a member of a shooting organisation for just this reason. 
  • When your FAC arrives, take at least one photocopy that you can carry with you when out shooting. Some people advise blanking out your address so that if it gets lost or stolen it doesn’t compromise your home security. Leave the original in your firearms cabinet except when you actually need it, such as when visiting a gun shop to purchase regulated items.
This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.