One of the most important steps in avoiding the misuse of firearms in the UK is to restrict access to only those individuals who have a genuine need for a gun and who can be entrusted to use it legally. A large part of this process is complying with the need to license your shotgun, so before you put on your shooting jackets and take to the field, shotgun in hand, this guide will attempt to simplify and take you through the process of renewing a licence for a shotgun.
The first step in renewing your shotgun licence is to give yourself plenty of time. Checks are now more onerous and time consuming and the last thing you want to do is have your existing certificate expire before your new one has been issued. Although most police firearms departments send out reminders, approximately 14 weeks before the expiry date, it is your sole responsibility to apply for your licence in good time. Your application should be returned to the Firearms and Licensing department 10 weeks before the expiry date to ensure that all checks can be carried out before the expiry.
If your current licence expires before you apply for a renewal, you will be deemed to be committing an offence of being in possession of unlicensed firearms. Aside from the fact that this is a criminal offence, you will need to hand your shotguns over to a friend and have them put them on their certificate or lodge them with a gun dealer and have them put them on theirs, If nothing else, being late on such a serious matter doesn’t go down well with the issuing authority and will raise additional questions on whether you are a fit and proper person to hold a certificate! At the least, you will also have to apply for a grant, at extra cost, instead of a renewal otherwise arrangements will be made to seize your shotgun.
In the event that you have returned your form in good time and experience a delay which puts in you unlawful possession of shotguns as your certificate expires, you will at least be able to speak to your Firearms Officer who will issue you with a Temporary Permit quoting Section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968. This allows you to keep and use your firearms and also, by virtue of Section 5(2)(a) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, to continue purchasing shotgun ammunition.
General tips for completing the application forms
- To comply with the Firearms Acts, you must include all convictions. There is no such thing as a spent conviction. Your convictions will include all motoring offences (whether still recorded on your driver’s licence or otherwise) whether in the UK or abroad. Cautions do not need to be mentioned, but conditions or absolute charges do. Obviously the police will have their own records and, at renewal, they will have run checks themselves so make sure you include everything.
- When answering questions on medical conditions, you have to mention only those which might have some effect on your fitness to possess shotguns. As a general rule, if you are fit enough to drive a car, your fit enough to handle a gun. Again, your doctor is likely to be contacted by the police so be completely open and often more information is better than too little.
- Be sure to include full details of all shotguns you possess – this includes serial numbers. The details you supply should always match the details held on the computer record of your police firearms department, providing you have always informed them of the disposal and acquisition of each shotgun.
- For a question-by-question guide to completing your form provided by BASC, click here.
Before renewal of your shotgun licence, you will receive a visit to your home in order that a check can be made of your security arrangements. Your local Firearm Enquiry Office will contact you to arrange this appointment. The visiting inspector will expect to see your shotgun being stored in a secure location within your home, which is out of sight of casual visitors. They will expect to see your firearm stored in a shotgun cabinet under lock and key… remember that you are the only person with access to that cabinet. Even a partner, without a certificate, knowing where the key is as their jewellery is also stored there, doesn’t tick that box! An additional accessory for the storage and transportation of your shotgun is a shotgun case and or shotgun slip, however these are not necessary to pass your inspection.
Once you have received your renewed certificate, you are legally covered for possession of your shotgun and can resume enjoying its use in the field.
Further Considerations Regarding Shotgun Licensing
As an aside, it is worth considering who you might leave your shotgun to in the event of your demise and make sure they have a certificate themselves. The moment you die, the police need to be informed as you are obviously no longer in charge of the security and use of your shotguns. In most cases, your spouse might not have a certificate themselves which can lead to complications at a time when that is the last thing they need to be worrying about.
In reality, think through what you would like to do with the shotguns. If they have been given to someone in your will then the simplest thing is for that person to come and pick them up, transfer them onto their certificate and notify the police accordingly.
If the shotgun has been left to someone who hasn’t got a certificate themselves then they will need to apply for one before they can collect it. That can obviously take time and there is no certainty they will be issued with one anyway in which case, in the meantime the shotgun will need to be stored securely by a friend with their own certificate. That is the simplest solution although the Police will often issue a temporary certificate to your spouse for three months if there is no other solution. Again, it is worth forewarning whoever is likely to be involved so that everyone knows what is to happen as it will remove a lot of hassle from your executors at a time when they will have more than enough to be worrying about.
Bear in mind throughout that it is illegal for someone without a shotgun certificate to transport a shotgun so even taking it to a friend for them to store is not an option for your spouse…..they will have to come to get it.
For shotgun slips, cases and cleaning supplies checkout our shotgun care section. If you require help selecting your care products don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are passionate about country sports and have a lifetime of knowledge and advice to share.