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FAC air rifle licence: here’s how to get one

Planning on getting an FAC air rifle? Here's what you need to know.

FX Impact M3 FAC Air Rifle

FAC air rifle

There are several reasons for choosing an FAC air rifle. They are quiet, relatively cheap to buy and can safely be used in places where a bigger gun wouldn’t suit the circumstances. However you will need an FAC air rifle licence if you opt for one (which is the same as a UK firearm certificate and applied for with the same forms).  (Read more on airgun laws here.)

UK firearms law says that any air rifle that discharges ammunition at a power of more than 12ft/lb is considered to be a Section 1 firearm. This refers to Section 1(1) of the Firearms Act 1968, which prohibits possession of or acquisition of such a rifle without a firearm certificate (FAC). A firearms certificate is valid for five years. It costs £88 for the grant and £62 for a renewal.

Sporting Gun contributor Patrick Hook says: “I have FAC air rifles in both .22 and .25. Plus which, you can buy a second-hand FAC air rifle very reasonably.” Read more on why you should consider getting an FAC air rifle.)

Daystate Heritage FAC Air Rifle

You can use an FAC air rifle safely in places where a bigger gun wouldn’t suit the circumstances

Are you eligible for an FAC air rifle licence?

You are not permitted a firearms certificate if you have had a criminal conviction in the previous five years and falsification is a criminal offence. If you have received a custodial sentence of three years or more then you are prohibited for life, from the date of release. You can read more on previous convictions in the Firearms Act here.

What to ensure before you apply

You will need to have permission to shoot on at least one piece of ground with your rifle(s) and provide details, so it is a good idea to get this sorted up front. (Read our advice on getting an air rifle shooting permission.) Joining a rifle target shooting club will also help you to be looked upon more favourably (as well as improving your technique).

You will also need a passport photograph of yourself and the details of two people who are happy to act as a referee for you, who have known you for at least two years. They cannot be a family member or a registered firearms detailer or a person employed by the police. They must also live in Britain.

It’s always a good idea to be a member of a fieldsports organisation like BASC or the GWCT. They have experts who can help with shotgun and firearms applications and besides which, you will be doing your bit to support shooting.

You will also need to be registered with a GP and give permission for the police to contact the practice.

FX Impact M3 FAC Air Rifle

FX Impact M3 FAC Air Rifle

Where to apply for a firearm certificate

You get a firearm certificate by applying to the police authority local to you. Here’s a list of police forces in the UK with links.

At the time of writing, the following police forces were offering an online service to help you get a firearms certificate.

Avon & Somerset Police

Cheshire Constabulary

City of London Police 

Cleveland Police

Derbyshire Constabulary

Devon and Cornwall Police

Dorset Police

Durham Constabulary

Essex Police

Gloucestershire Constabulary

Greater Manchester Police

Hampshire Police


Kent Police

Leicestershire Police

Lincolnshire Police

Merseyside Police

Metropolitan Police

North Yorkshire Police

Northamptonshire Police

Nottinghamshire Police

Staffordshire Police

Surrey Police

Sussex Police

Thames Valley Police

Warwickshire Police

West Mercia Police

Wiltshire Police

Police Service of Northern Ireland 

Police Scotland


Gun security

If you own an FAC-rated air rifle you will need to prove that you have a secure gun safe. The firearms officer will check this when he or she visits following receipt of your application.  (Read all our advice on gun cabinets here.)

Changing calibres

If you want to change air rifle calibres at a later date, you can do this via a ‘variation’ to your licence, for which there is a fee. Air rifle pellets are exempt from FAC licensing. (Read more on air rifle pellets here.)

Allow plenty of time

Depending on where you live in the country, your application for an FAC air rifle certificate can take anything from weeks to several months. So ensure that you have it in place before you buy an FAC air rifle. You will also need to ensure that you renew it in plenty of time. (Read how long will it take to get your shotgun and firearms certificates.)