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Shotgun certificate – how to get one

Applying for a shotgun certificate isn't as complicated as you might think. Here's a straightforward guide.

shotgun certificate

Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or you’re new to the shooting and have just bought your first gun, you’ll need to be in possession of a valid shotgun certificate. Or maybe you need to renew your shotgun certificate. Either way, here is the advice you need to get you through the process of getting a shotgun certificate (sometimes referred to as a shotgun licence, although certificate is the correct term).  (Read our list of FAQs about shotgun certificate applications. )

Advice for getting a shotgun certificate

Read on and you’ll discover the following:

  • How to apply and where
  • The amount of time you may have to wait for a certificate (which depends on where you live in the country)
  • What you will have to pay for a shotgun certificate
  • Action to take if your application is rejected.
  • What the police will expect of you.
  • The gun security you will need to have in place
  • How to get both a firearms and shotgun certificate
a shotgun certificate

Discover what you need to know to get one of these

Who should get a shotgun certificate?

If you own a shotgun then you need to have a valid shotgun certificate. Plus which, if you’re buying a shotgun and are new to the sport then you need to be applying for your certificate now, long before you get the gun. (All shooters complain about how long certificates take to come through. Months in many cases.) You also need a shotgun certificate to buy ammunition.

AYA No 1 side by side

How to get a shotgun certificate

You can apply for a shotgun certificate here by downloading the application form or get an application form from the shotgun licensing unit of your local police force. Find your local police force here. Different police forces have different procedures. Some allow you to apply online.

Applying for your first shotgun certificate is straightforward and will cost you £79.50. Only one form needs to be completed. Email and SMS alerts will keep applicants up to date.

Shotgun certificates and young Shots

UK law changed for the under 18’s on 12 December 2019. Although there is no minimum age to get a shotgun certificate (14 for a firearms certificate) legislation now says that arrangements must be made for a person aged 18 or over to take responsibility for the secure storage of the firearms and ammunition held on a young Shot’s certificate. The person aged 18 or over must be the certificate holder’s parent or guardian or another individual who has a shotgun certificate or firearms licence. If the parent or guardian does not have a firearms certificate it may satisfy the police if arrangements are made for the firearm to be kept in a lockable cabinet with two separate locks, where one key holder is a certificate holder and which can only be opened when both key holders are present.

How has COVID changed shotgun certificate applications?

Telephone calls have replaced actual visits in most cases and inspection of gun cabinets and guns can be done via a video call. Be prepared for everything to take a bit longer as well.

Applying for your shotgun licence

We suggest printing off two forms. You can use one for a practice run and then complete the other in full.

  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.
  3. You will then have to give details of where your gun is to be stored. (See ‘law and Young Shots’ above for under-18 applicants.)
  4. The next important bit of the form has to be 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 licence application you must also provide one passport sized photograph of yourself. You then return the completed form to the firearms licensing unit of your local police, together with the fee.
  6. Remember to send your application by recorded delivery which allows you to track it (and prove it was posted).
interior of a Browning gun cabinet

You will need to have access to secure gun and ammunition storage

What happens next to my shotgun certificate application?

If your application for getting a shotgun certificate passes the first stage, you will get a visit from a police officer at your home. They will talk to you about your reasons to get a shotgun certificate 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.
  • When the police officer is satisfied, they will report this to the Chief Office of Police and your shotgun certificate will be granted.
  • If your security was in place and has been inspected by the visiting officer, the certificate can be posted to you. Otherwise your certificate will be hand delivered by a police officer once he is satisfied your security has been installed correctly.

Read more about renewing your shotgun certificate here.

What to do if your shotgun certificate application is refused

In this instance, contact a shooting body, such as the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC) or the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) who will be able to advise you.

Firearm Certificate

Shotgun certificates and firearms certificates are different

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

Both shotgun and firearms certificates last for five years but have important differences. Remember that you cannot keep a shotgun on a firearm certificate. 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.


Supervising a Young Shot

Anyone under 15 years of age must be supervised by an adult over 21