The Firearms (NI) Order 2004 states that, unless exempted, a firearm certificate is required for the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition in Northern Ireland.
This makes it an offence for any person to purchase, acquire or have in their possession, a firearm or ammunition without holding a valid firearm certificate. One firearm certificate is issued to an individual to licence all approved firearms in their possession.
The control of firearms in Northern Ireland is exercised by the Chief Constable. Before a person can be authorised to hold a firearm certificate, the Chief Constable must be satisfied that the applicant:
- Is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, is not of intemperate habits or unsound mind and is not, for any reason, unfit to be entrusted with a firearm.
- Has good reason for purchasing, acquiring or having in their possession the firearm or ammunition in respect of which the application is made.
- Can be permitted to have that firearm or ammunition in their possession without danger to public safety or to the peace.
Under the Firearms (NI) Order 2004 automatic renewals are not permitted. All applications for continued possession of firearms will be subject to a further grant process.
Before a current firearm certificate expires, a reminder to seek a re-grant of their licence will be forwarded to the certificate holder. This reminder will indicate that they can apply online. Prospective applicants are reminded that all aspects of their previous possession must be verified and updated, including permissions to shoot over land and club membership confirmation.
Remember that the onus remains on the applicant to ensure that their firearm certificate remains a valid document.
In Northern Ireland airguns and CO2 guns having a discharge kinetic energy in excess of one (1) Joule (0.737 ft lbs) require to be held on a firearm certificate. For airguns below that limit the following restrictions are in place.
Under Paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 of the Firearms (NI) Order 2004, persons under the age of 18 cannot possess such firearms, unless they have attained the age of 14 years or are under the direct supervision of a person of 21 years or over.
Persons not holding a firearm certificate cannot purchase such firearms, unless they have attained the age of 18 years.
Ammunition for an airgun can be purchased and possessed without holding a firearm certificate.
Further information is also available from the Firearms and Explosives Branch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the 101 Non Emergency Number.
Please leave details of your query and a contact number. A member of staff will return your call with the appropriate information.
You can also write to us:
Firearms and Explosives Branch
42 Montgomery Road
Non Emergency Number 101