How to Obtain a Shotgun License in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are a shooting enthusiast in the UK, owning a shotgun requires obtaining a valid shotgun license. Whether you are a seasoned shooter or a newcomer to the sport, this guide will walk you through the process of acquiring or renewing your shotgun license. We’ll cover everything you need to know, from the application process to the necessary requirements and security measures. Let’s dive in!

Who Needs a Shotgun License?

If you own a shotgun or plan to purchase one, it is essential to possess a valid shotgun license. This applies to both experienced shooters and beginners. It’s important to note that a shotgun license is also required for purchasing ammunition. Therefore, it’s crucial to apply for a shotgun certificate before acquiring a shotgun.

Application Process

Applying for a shotgun license is a relatively straightforward process. You can download the application form from your local Police force website. Some forces even allow online applications, making the process even more convenient.

To complete the application, you will need to provide accurate information about yourself, including any previous convictions and details of where you plan to store your shotgun securely. It is crucial to answer all questions honestly and thoroughly.

Health and Safety Considerations

As part of the application process, you will be required to disclose any physical or mental health conditions that may affect your ability to possess and use a firearm safely. These conditions may include epilepsy, stroke, stress-related illness, depression, alcoholism, heart disease, or cancer. It is essential to provide accurate and detailed information regarding your health. Having any such conditions or previous medical history won’t necessarily mean you won’t be suitable and granted a certificate.  The Police require a full, honest, and transparent declaration to assess your suitability, so provide it all in the first instance.

Additionally, you will need to demonstrate that you have made appropriate arrangements for the secure storage of your shotgun and ammunition. This typically involves having a gun cabinet that adheres to safety regulations and can be inspected by the police.

Fees and Waiting Times

Obtaining a shotgun license comes with a fee of £79.50. Keep in mind that the application process and waiting times may vary depending on your location within the country. It is advisable to submit your application well in advance, as processing times can sometimes be lengthy.

The Visit from the Police

Once your application has passed the initial stage, an enquiry officer will visit your home to discuss your reasons for obtaining a shotgun license and to inspect the security arrangements you have put in place. This visit is crucial, as the officer’s report will be forwarded to the Chief Officer of Police for final approval.

If your security arrangements meet the required standards, your shotgun certificate will be granted. The certificate may either be posted to you or hand-delivered by an enquiry officer, depending on the completion of various security checks.

Renewing Your Shotgun License

A shotgun license is valid for a period of five years. As the expiration date approaches, it is essential to start the renewal process well in advance. The renewal process is similar to the initial application process, requiring you to complete the appropriate form and pay the renewal fee.

Remember to apply for your renewal at least three months before your current license expires to ensure a smooth transition. If your new license is not granted before your current license expires, you will need to transfer or surrender your shotguns to a licensed holder or a Registered Firearms Dealer.

Shotgun Certificates and Firearms Certificates

It is important to differentiate between a shotgun certificate and a firearms certificate. While both certificates are valid for five years, they serve different purposes. A shotgun certificate allows you to possess shotguns and purchase ammunition, while a firearms certificate is required for owning firearms other than shotguns.

If you are under the age of 15, you must be supervised by an adult over 21 when handling shotguns. It is vital to adhere to all laws and regulations regarding the possession and use of firearms and shotguns.

Common Concerns and FAQs

How long does it take to obtain a shotgun license?

The processing time for a shotgun license varies depending on your location within the country and the workload of the police licensing unit. It is advisable to apply well in advance to allow for any potential delays.

What should I do if my application is rejected?

If your shotgun license application is rejected, it is recommended to seek advice from a shooting body such as the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC) or the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA).

Can I apply for a shotgun certificate online?

Many police forces now offer the option to apply for a shotgun certificate online. Check with your local police force to determine if this option is available in your area.

How do I store my shotgun securely?

To comply with safety regulations, you will need a gun cabinet that adheres to British Standard 7558. The cabinet must be securely attached to internal brickwork and placed out of sight, such as under stairs or in a walk-in wardrobe. It is essential to keep the keys to the cabinet with you at all times.

Do I need insurance for my shotgun?

It is highly recommended to have insurance coverage for your shotgun. You can arrange insurance independently through brokers or obtain coverage through organizations such as the CPSA or BASC.


Acquiring a shotgun license in the UK is a necessary step for both experienced shooters and beginners. By following the application process, providing accurate information, and ensuring the proper storage and security of your shotgun, you can obtain a valid shotgun certificate. Remember to adhere to all laws and regulations regarding firearms and shotguns to ensure the safety of yourself and others. Happy shooting!

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