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What are the latest waiting times for shotgun and firearm certificates?

BASC has published the results of its latest annual review of firearms licensing performance, which show major inconsistencies.

Shooter with gundog

Simon Reinhold watches for pigeon with Salix on a Norfolk estate famed for its partridges

Just how long does it take to receive or renew a shotgun licence or firearms certificate these days? BASC recently published its review of firearms licensing departments which highlights considerable differences in the effectiveness and efficiency of forces in their processing of certificates over the last 12 months. (You can read the full document from BASC here.) 

Firearm and shotgun licence waiting time

Some forces are telling applicants the turnaround time is longer than a year. Martin Parker, head of firearms at BASC says: “By taking the five-year average for shotgun and firearm licence grants prior to the Covid pandemic, we know we are missing nearly 25,000 individuals who are new or returning to shooting in England and Wales.

 “With new entrants to the sport tending to spend more money on guns, clothing and accessories, this drop will strike deep into the gun trade.” (Read BASC blames police for gun ownership decline.)

Report on firearms licensing via BASC

shotgun licence waiting time


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.

BASC advises applicants to: “Keep a log of all contact with the licensing authority and be persistent about your shotgun licence waiting time. If you are a BASC member and having difficulties then contact the BASC firearms team.” (Read why all shooters should be members of a fieldsports organisation.)

Read Alasdair Mitchell on why things need to change in firearms licensing.


This article was originally published in 2015 and is kept updated.