BASC has published the results of its latest annual review of firearms licensing performance

Just how long does it take to receive or renew a shotgun licence or firearms certificate these days. Your firearms and/or shotgun waiting time all depends on where you live.

Shotgun licence waiting time in 2019

The table below created by British Association of Shooting & Conservation (BASC) shows the average number of days a police force took to process different application types in 2019 and is colour coded to indicate performance (green top 10, red bottom 10, yellow average).

BASC  obtained figures for firearm and shotgun certificate grants and renewals, coterminous renewals and variations.

shotgun licence waiting time

shotgun licence waiting time

shotgun licence waiting time

(Figures supplied by Simon Dicketts, Central Administrator, National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS), Home Office.)

  • There are some improvements in shotgun licence waiting time in 2019 compared to 2018, with South Wales, Dorset and Warwickshire showing a change for the better.
  • The best performing forces based on average application processing times in 2019 were Cleveland, Essex and Lincolnshire.
  • The bottom three forces were West Midlands Police, Greater Manchester Police and Avon & Somerset.
  • The forces with the greatest deterioration were Durham, West Midlands and Lancashire.

Renewals are slightly worse for both shotgun and firearm certificates.

BASC’s firearms officer Rory O’Loughlin, who co-ordinated the research, said 2018 and 2019 were classed as a ‘dip years’, where there is reduced demand on firearms licensing.

The first ‘dip period’ was created when certificate terms were changed from three to five years in duration. Consequently, the five-year cycle now comprises three ‘busy’ years and two ‘quieter’ years. The change in certificate terms created a vacuum in the process that now repeats on a cyclical basis with some forces implementing measures to balance out the “peaks and troughs”, he said.

Mr O’Loughlin said: “All police forces should be striving towards providing an efficient, cost-effective, robust system of firearms licensing that protects public safety and provides excellent service to the shooting community.


Shooters can receive an eight-week extension to firearm and shotgun certificate renewals under certain circumstances.

The change was brought in in 2018 through the Policing and Crime Act 2017, to allow licensing departments to take extra time to ensure that they have made an informed decision about an applicant’s ability to hold a certificate, without having to issue a Section 
7 temporary permit.

The extension applies only when applications for 
a certificate renewal are made to the police at least eight weeks before it is due 
to expire, but when police 
are unable to decide on 
the application before 
the certificate expires.

Q: In light of the huge delays in processing shotgun certificate renewals in some counties what is your advice to help speed up the process of receiving my shotgun certificate? I call and call but just get fobbed off…

A: This is a widespread problem. Whilst some forces are excellent others are woefully inefficient. BASC’s firearms team deal with an enormous number of queries about delays in both the grant and renewal of firearm and shotgun certificates more than on any other subject. There is little that an applicant can do to speed up the process sadly. The real danger is in fact in the case of renewals where tardy service by the police can lead to certificate holders being in possession of their firearms without a valid certificate being in force. In these circumstances or if this looks likely it is important to contact the firearms licensing manager and request a Section 7 temporary permit. There is no charge for this. If they refuse then make a complaint to the Police and Crime Commissioner and store your guns with an RFD. I would claim any fees and associated expenses from the police.

Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms advises applicants to: “Keep a log of all contact with the licensing authority and to be persistent. If you are a BASC member and having difficulties the contact the BASC firearms team.”