We have a complicated set of firearms laws in the UK, and love them or disagree with the stringency, you must comply to legally own a shotgun or rifle (or come to that, buy ammunition for either).
Focusing on Shotgun Certificates (SGCs), the first step is to go to your local police force website and look up their process for granting them. They can vary by area. Look for the Firearms Licencing section. Most police websites will provide immediate access to make an online application. But you do need to get some information available before you apply online, so make sure to read the guidelines first.
This information will be variations of the following, taken in February 2020 from the Thames Valley Police site:
Your contact details, including: • email address • phone number • work contact details (if not unemployed or retired) • previous addresses if you haven’t lived at your current address for more than five years
Health & medical information: • details of any relevant conditions you have which need to be disclosed (you’ll find a list of those in the guidance notes) • your GP or practice address, postcode and phone number • previous GP or practice information if you haven’t been registered with your current GP or practice for ten years or more • if, during the last ten years, there have been times when you haven’t been registered with a GP or practice in the UK, they’ll need to know about this and will ask why this was and if there is any information you can give them about this, for example if you’re in the armed services and were posted abroad • your completed GP form*
Details about any offences or written cautions (including speeding but not parking offences or fixed penalty notices): • details of the offence, including the date (month and year)
Details about the shotgun(s) and ammunition you intend to acquire: • security arrangements - how and where the shotgun(s) will be stored, whether the arrangements are shared (and, if they are, the details of who they are shared with)
The details of one referee you've known for more than two years, including: • their date and place of birth • their occupation • contact details Please note: referees can't be a member of your family, a serving police officer or staff, or a registered firearms dealer.
Photo: • one passport-style photo
Payment: • credit or debit card details to make your online payment
*The GP form should be available on the same website, and must be completed and signed by your GP. Sometimes the police will apply to your GP directly for this information, but increasingly applicants are being asked to submit the form via their GP themselves. We understand that most doctor’s surgeries will charge for this.
Once your application has reached this stage, you will be visited at home by a Firearms Officer. The reason for this is two-fold. Not only do they want to get a view on whether you are serious about your application, they will also want to review your storage arrangements. This means a properly installed gun safe, ie bolted to a solid wall and out of sight from outside or visitors. Also your arrangements for where you will keep your keys. These must be in a secure place themselves, not known by anyone else who doesn’t also have a SGC (including family members). These visits are not something to be worried about, if you have a genuine intention to take up shooting and have made the necessary security arrangements, there is no reason to be denied a licence. If you have any questions or are looking for any advice – that’s the time to ask!
Then it’s a matter of waiting, and again, this period can vary enormously depending on where you live. In the meantime, visit our gun room online and pop into our shop for some advice so you have an idea of what you’d like to buy.
Finally your shiny new SGC will arrive, then it’s time to go shopping! Don’t also forget to consider a BASC membership which will also give you insurance benefits.