Firearms and Explosives Branch is responsible for the safe and effective licensing of firearms owners, firearms dealers and clubs. It executes its duties as per the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.
Firearms Licensing Updates
Any important updates regarding Firearms Licensing will appear here.
All applications follow a similar process. This is generalised below.
To ensure fairness, applications are processed on a first-in basis. However, we sometimes must prioritise:
- Threats to life
- Clear and evidenced impact on livelihood
To ensure fairness to all, we do not prioritise applications in response to lobbying from any party.
As per the Firearms (NI) Order 2004 and to keep people safe, we undertake several checks to ensure the applicant is ‘fit’ and has good reason to hold the firearm. This includes:
- GP Medical reports
- Law Enforcement records
- Requests from other bodies e.g. police teams, Social Services, applicant and other FAC holders.
Please note it is an offence to fail to declare a medical or criminal record. Firearms seek to maintain public safety and will revoke FACs that are found to not declare.
The response from these agencies contribute most to our turnaround times, which can take several months.
Are we processing your application?
If you received an Email of confirmation upon applying, then be advised your application is waiting in a queue.
What is a Complex File?
This is where an application has presented new information that requires a Senior Licensing Manager to review the application.
Not received a response? Someone received their FAC before you?
Please do not contact the Branch for an update – we seek to dedicate all our resources on processing applications.
Please note, if you applied within the stated timeframe and have still not received a response, the reasons may be:
- You declared a medical condition, and we are awaiting a GP’s medical report
- We requested GP information from you and are awaiting a GP’s medical report
Please note GPs are currently focused on COVID and acute care, which will delay a Firearms response.
- You have previous convictions or a criminal history, and we are awaiting an assessment
- Your FAC’s authorisation is linked to another FAC, which is subject to a delay (see above)
- We are engaged in on-going enquiries with you or an associated body / person to resolve a firearms query. e.g. seeking further evidence of good reason, evidence of travel, evidence of membership, transaction approvals etc.
Initial grants – Applying for the first time?
We understand you and your dealer will be keen to get approval. However, initial grants are subject to the most extensive background checks.
We undertake several enquiries to satisfy suitability. The returned information is then assessed by a Senior Firearms Licensing Manager (SFLM). This assessment may result in a complex case with higher risk, and therefore takes time and care. We appreciate your patience.
Every application presents different challenges, and so awaiting responses from external bodies can extend the waiting time for months.
Browser and Operating System Guidance is outlined in our FAQs.
Raise a Complaint
We recognise you may wish to express dissatisfaction with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
If your complaint is about a uniformed officer during a seizure:
- Contact the local district and raise your complaint, or
- Contact the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (PONI)
If your complaint is about a firearms enquiry officer or Firearms Branch generally, and you are not undergoing an appeal, please email your complaint to [email protected]
Frequently Asked Questions
Firearms Branch relies on firearms owners to declare medical conditions both when applying for a license and at any time whilst holding a firearms license.
Unfortunately, whilst self-harm, suicide or harming others is rare for firearms owners, it is still a reality throughout the year. Investigations of sudden deaths often find those closest to the victim already knew of their condition, but failed to raise their concern.
If you have a concern about a firearms owner, we will treat your information with confidentiality (including anonymity) and investigate the matter in a sensitive manner.
Simply email us with as many identifying details about the firearms owner and why you have a concern to: [email protected]
Firearms Branch relies on firearms owners to declare criminal convictons or adverse contact with police both when applying for a license and at any time whilst holding a firearms license. This also includes persons living at, or frequenting, their address.
If you have a concern about a firearms owner, we will treat your information with anonymity and investigate in a confidential manner.
Simply email us with as many identifying details about the firearms owner and why you have a concern to: [email protected]
The fee is £98 for the grant/further grant of a firearm certificate or £30 for the variation of a firearm certificate.
Firearm Certificate Grant of a Firearm Certificate £98.00 Variation by Chief Constable £30.00 Variation by Firearms Dealer under Article 11(3) to substitute firearm £15.00 Variation by Firearms Dealer under Article 11(5) to delete firearm No Fee Duplicate Certificate £14.00 Updated Certificate £14.00 Museum Firearms Licence Grant of a Museum Firearms Licence (by the Department of Justice) £110.00 Extension to additional premises £75.00 Visitor's Firearm Permit Grant of Visitor's Firearm Permit (except where paragraph 810 applies) £16.00 Grant of six or more permits (taken together) on a group application £80.00 Certificate of approval for airgun for resident in Great Britain Certificate of approval for airgun for resident in Great Britain £11.00 Firearms Dealer's Certificate Grant or renewal of firearms dealer's certificate £300.00 Duplicate certificate £14.00 Updated certificate £14.00 Firearms clubs and Shotgun clubs Authorisation of firearms club £71.00 Authorisation of a shotgun club to allow the use of shotgun by persons 12 or over but under 16 except where the shotgun club is also a firearms club and authorisation under Article 19 is granted at the same time
A firearm certificate will normally be valid for 5 years. It is your responsibility to ensure a new application is made in good time before your certificate expires.
You must sign your certificate in ink in the box provided. It is important that you read the conditions entered on the certificate.
If you are submitting an online application and you cannot find the information you require on the drop down list, please email [email protected].
We advise that you do not proceed with completing the application unless the option to select other is available. We will check the information and add to the relevant drop down list if applicable.
Please be advised that the Firearms Licensing Online application will not run on un-supported browsers. IE 9 is a known un-supported browser. PSNI advise that you download an alternative browser or update IE 9 to version 11.
The application will not display an error should you proceed to apply using the un-supported browser. We strongly advise you ensure you are running IE 11 as a minimum prior to proceeding with your application. If you have any concerns / queries please contact FEB.
How to get your Operating System information and updating your Operating System.
Operating System Guidance
- What is an Operating System?
- Android Operating System
- Apple Operating Systems
- Microsoft windows Operating System
If you require advice and guidance with completing your online form then you can contact Firearms & Explosives Branch at:
- Email: [email protected]
- Firearms and Explosives Branch (FEB):
Please make sure that you have read the guidelines before contacting us.
Yes, if you are acquiring a sound moderator please ensure you add the sound moderator under the add your firearm section of the online application form. We want to avoid you needing to submit two variations.
Upon successfully applying, simply email all the detail to [email protected]
Please also provide your PID number, Application reference, Name and Date of Birth. This helps us find you application quickly and accurately.
Article 4 (2) (c) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 requires applicants to provide the names of two suitable referees, both of whom must be of good character and have known the applicant for, at least, two years. A person is not a suitable referee if they are:
- A firearms’ dealer.
- A police officer or member of the police support staff.
- A resident outside the United Kingdom.
- A relative of the applicant.
- A relative in relation to a person means:
- The father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, grandmother, grandfather, grandson or granddaughter of the applicant or of the applicant's spouse or former spouse.
- The brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew (whether of full-blood or half-blood or by affinity) of the applicant or of the applicant's spouse or former spouse and includes, in relation to a person who is living or has lived with another person as husband and wife, any person who would fall within paragraph (a) or (b) if the parties were married to each other.
Members of firearms clubs making an application for a target weapon may have a club official as one of their referees, provided that person is of good character and has known the applicant for, at least, one year.
The other referee must fulfil the normal criteria given above.
The application form for a firearm certificate requires the applicant to give permission for the police to approach the applicant’s GP in order to obtain factual details of the applicant’s medical history so far as it relates to their fitness to possess firearms without danger to public safety or the peace. If an applicant does not have a GP they cannot fulfil the criteria to be issued with a firearm certificate as they cannot complete the application form.
An applicant must disclose any physical or mental health condition that may affect your ability to safely possess and use a firearm. The questions on the application form ask: Are you being treated for any medical condition, including any alcohol or drug related condition, whether controlled by prescription medicines or not?; Do you have, or have you ever had, epilepsy?; Do you have a physical disability including sight related conditions (excludes normal spectacle use)?; Have you attended a medical professional in the last 5 years for treatment of depression of any other kind of mental or nervous disorder?
If in doubt, consult your GP. The police may contact your GP and/or specialist to obtain factual details of any medical history in respect of your application.
You can find the cancellation application form here.
Before you begin your cancellation application, please make sure that you have read the Guidelines for completing a Cancellation application.
You must also have the following information to hand before you begin your application:
- Your PID number
- Your FAC number
- A valid email address
- A valid contact number
- An image of the first page of your Firearm Certificate (FAC)
- If you are disposing of a firearm(s) to a Dealer then you will need the Dealers note, and the full name and address details of the Dealer
- If you are disposing of a firearm(s) to a person inside Northern Ireland you will need the following information:
- If they already hold a Firearm Certificate you will need their PID number, their FAC number, and their full name. If they have already made a variation / regrant with variation application to hold your firearm, then you will need their application reference number. You will also need a letter of transfer.
- If they do not already have a Firearm Certificate you will need their full name. If they have already made an Initial Grant application to hold your firearm, then you will need their application reference number. You will also need a letter of transfer.
- Please be aware that in both these cases, that until the other person has submitted their application online, we will be unable to complete your cancellation.
- If you are disposing of a firearm(s) to a person outside Northern Ireland then you will need their full name, address and contact details, along with a letter of transfer
- If you are surrendering a firearm(s) to the PSNI for destruction, then you will need to have the M29 form that you were given by the PSNI when you surrendered your firearm(s). You will also need the serial number from the top right-hand corner of this form
- If you are no longer holding a firearm(s) on loan from someone, then you will need the PID number, the FAC number, and the full name of the original holder
- If you are disposing of a firearm(s) by another means then you will need to have a proof of transfer document, and the full name, address and contact details of the person you are disposing of the firearm to.
If you require advice and guidance with completing your online form then you can contact Firearms & Explosives Branch at:
- Email: [email protected]
This is called a variation. You will need to fill in an application form giving ‘good reason’ for your requirement for the additional firearm. The application form can be found here.
Your cheque should be made payable to Police Service of Northern Ireland. A postal order can also be used.
The term ‘firearm’ is defined as a lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged and includes any:
- Prohibited weapon, whether it is such a lethal weapon or not.
- Component part of such a lethal or prohibited weapon.
- Accessory to any such weapon designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon.
‘Component Part’ in relation to a firearm means:
- Barrel, chamber or cylinder.
- Frame, action, body or receiver.
- Breech block, bolt or other mechanism for containing the pressure of discharge at the rear of the chamber.
- Part of a firearm which directly bears the pressure caused by firing.
In Northern Ireland, airguns and CO2 guns having a discharge kinetic energy in excess of one (1) Joule (0.737 ft lbs) must be held on a firearm certificate.
Applications are processed as quickly as possible while still making sure the requirements on the Chief Constable under the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004, such as our public safety remit, are fully fulfilled. The information required can be different for every application, and parts of the process such as any firearms enquiries officer interview can also take varying amounts of time, therefore it is impossible to use the turnaround time of one application to predict another. Firearms and Explosives Branch constantly look for improvements and new ways to improve the service we provide.
A Certificate of Approval is required from visitors from Great Britain visiting Northern Ireland with their firearms. A Visitor’s Permit is required from those visiting from outside Great Britain, including the Republic of Ireland. See Travel Information for more information.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your firearms and ammunition are stored safely and securely at all times. You must take any necessary steps to prevent unauthorised access, so far as is reasonably possible. A gun cabinet is required - specification BS 7558 (1992) - and it must be secured to the fabric of a building.
If you are moving your firearm and ammunition by vehicle then it must be hidden from direct view and stored within a locked box or secured to an anchorage point.
Never carry a loaded weapon in a moving vehicle - it is dangerous and inappropriate.
Store your firearm with a local firearms’ dealer if you intend to leave your residence unattended for any considerable length of time.
Our specially trained officers are here to help with your enquiries and security arrangements. You can contact the Firearms and Explosives Branch by emailing [email protected] or call your local police on 101 non-emergency number and speak with your local firearms enquiry officer for more information.
Firearms Branch does not routinely check social media accounts of firearms applicants. However, if you have a concern about a firearms owner, please contact us with the details via [email protected]. Your anonymity will be protected.
In terms of online behaviour, your social media activity should not draw into question your fitness to possess. This also includes the security requirements for storing your firearms. For reference see Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls, Appendix 10, 44 (a) which is available online.
We would advise if you post pictures of yourself with your firearms on social media and someone can then search to work out your location then this is obviously unwise at best. Depending on the individual situation, carelessness on social media could lead to revocation as a breach of the conditions of your FAC as above as it could compromise your personal safety and security of the firearms.
Details on this can be found here.
It is possible for a young person between the ages of 16 and 18 to hold a firearm certificate, but only under certain specific conditions.
The Firearms (NI) Order 2004 through the Justice (No.2) Act 2016 relates to the new Dealer Banded System.
- Enables FAC holder to exchange a rifle for a similar one under certain conditions
- Introduction of “One Off” transaction within dealer to allow for disposal or sale
- Reprint of FACs – Update and Duplicate or both Dealer and individual FAC holder
- Recognition of GB FACs for visitors to NI
- Certificate of approval only required now for GB visitor with a lower powered airgun which is below the GB threshold but over the NI limit of 1 Joule
The following are the key rules to the Banded System;
- The banded system only applies to the rifles and specific calibres listed in the bands.
- A Firearm Certificate (FAC) holder may exchange a rifle for another rifle if they are both in the same band.
- All muzzle loading rifles and prohibited weapons are excluded.
- The replacement rifle being taken onto the certificate must not be the same calibre as a rifle already held on that FAC.The banded exchange system can only be used for rifles which are conditioned for quarry use or dual conditioned for quarry and target use. It cannot be used for rifles solely conditioned for target use.
- The rifle type/action may change in a banded transaction.
You can visit the DOJ website for further information by clicking here
Payment for the Banded System
Members of the public can exchange a firearm within a specific band (1-on-1-off transaction). Each transaction will cost £15. The £15 payment will be carried out electronically through the secure Government website, ‘GOV.UK Pay’ process. The following are the steps to making a successful payment.
- You will be able to access the 1-on-1-off form from PSNI Website.
- Complete the ‘One on / One off Application’ as displayed.
- This will take the applicant to the payment portal where they add their payment details and submit. Credit or debit cards accepted.
- If successful the applicant will receive an email with their details. This can be printed and brought to the dealer in order to complete the transaction. Alternatively, you can show the details on your smart phone.
- The dealer will process the transaction as they currently do and notify FEB with the relevant information. It is important that the form issued by the dealer to FEB captures the online transaction ID from the applicants purchase.
*Please note the One on / One off Application is a live beta test. This is part of a normal development process. If you experience any issues or have any feedback please contact us at: [email protected]
Article 63 of the Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls explains that a person convicted of a crime and sentenced to a period of imprisonment or detention in a young offenders’ centre of 3 years or more is prohibited for life from purchasing, acquiring or having a firearm or ammunition in his possession. Where the sentence is for a period of 3 months or more but less than 3 years he is prohibited for a period of 8 years.
NI residents visiting Great Britain
Your Northern Ireland firearm certificate is valid in Great Britain and no other document is required.
Handguns are banned in Great Britain. You need special permission from the Secretary of State at the Home Office or Scottish Ministers to bring a handgun into relevant parts of Great Britain.
If you are travelling to another country then you may require a European Firearms Pass, and you may require a visitor’s authority in the specific country you are visiting.
Great Britain residents visiting NI
From May 2016 firearm and shotgun certificates issued in Great Britain are valid in Northern Ireland. No further documentation is required to enable Great Britain certificate holders to travel to Northern Ireland with their firearms. However in Northern Ireland airguns of over one joule and over are considered firearms. If you wish to bring such an airgun to Northern Ireland, you must apply for a Northern Ireland certificate of approval (Form 30/15). There is a fee of £11.00 for this documentation. Please apply at least 8 weeks before your expected date of travel. This includes residents from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
Non-Great British residents visiting Northern Ireland
You must have a Visitor’s Firearms Permit (Form 30/38), which needs to be submitted on your behalf by a 'sponsor' who is an NI resident.
Send a copy of the domestic firearms permit for the firearm intended to be held in Northern Ireland along with the application.
If you are an EU national then send a copy of the European Firearms Pass with the application.
Applications must be received, at least, 6 weeks before the expected date of arrival. There is a fee of £16.00 for an individual visitors permit or £80.00 for a grant of six or more in a group application.
An NI Visitor's Firearm Permit does not allow possession or use of your firearm in any other part of the UK.
European firearms pass
Citizens of the European Union may hold a European Firearms Pass which facilitates travel with listed firearms through EU Countries.
To travel to NI you need to get a Northern Ireland Visitor’s Firearm Permit in addition to this.
Northern Ireland residents can apply for a European Firearms Pass by completing a European Pass Application. There is no fee for this documentation.
Travel to Northern Ireland through Great Britain by air
Same Day Travel
The airline will keep your firearms and you will not get them back until you arrive in Northern Ireland.
Travel with a Stopover
You will need to make arrangements with HM Revenue and Customs to store the firearms, otherwise you will have to comply with GB firearm legislation.
Travel to Northern Ireland through Great Britain by land
You will require two documents:
- Northern Ireland Visitor’s Permit (Form 30/38)
- Great Britain Visitor's Permit - Please request this from the Police Force for the area in GB you intend on travelling through.
If you cannot get a GB visitor’s permit (which requires a GB sponsor) then the firearms may be transported by an agent (courier service) to the address in Northern Ireland where the firearms will be securely held during your stay. You will have to personally and legally accept delivery of your firearms from the agent at the specified address. If you are not there, the firearms will not be released.
Ferry companies and airlines
You still need to comply with the firearms legislation of the jurisdiction to which you are travelling.
The ferry company or airline will also have its own regulations for the carriage of firearms and ammunition. You will need to speak to them before travelling.
New residents of Northern Ireland should apply for a firearm certificate using the initial grant application form. If you are a Northern Ireland firearm certificate holder moving outside Northern Ireland you should inform Firearms and Explosives Branch.
We will send your file to the police service responsible for licensing where your new home is located in order to assist with your application process there.
Please contact the firearms licensing service responsible for your new home for further advice or, for those moving to Northern Ireland, please call 101 (the Police Service of Northern Ireland non-emergency number) and ask for the local firearms enquiry officer for further assistance.
It should be noted that you cannot bring firearms to Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland or Great Britain without a Visitor’s Permit or Certificate of Approval respectively.
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 firearms certificate cannot purchase such firearms, unless they have attained the age of 17 years.
Ammunition for an airgun can be purchased and possessed without holding a firearm certificate.
General condition 3 (printed on page 1 of your firearm certificate) states you must notify the Firearms and Explosives Branch of a change of address. You can do so by completing the online form here.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your firearm is kept in a secure place, as per the general conditions shown on page 1 of your firearm certificate. This will require temporary storage with a firearms dealer during your change of address.
There are various options for disposing of unwanted firearms.
You can sell, give away or transfer ownership to a firearms dealer or another certificate holder who has adequate and safe storage for the weapon and has been authorised to hold it on their firearm certificate.
You can surrender the firearm at a police station. Please call 101 to make arrangements for this to take place.
You can have the weapon formally deactivated (see below).
Every firearm needs to be accounted for and Firearms and Explosives Branch, who issued the certificate, must be informed as to what has happened to it.
Please also see the section ‘Instructions to anybody who sells, lets on hire, gives or lends firearms or ammunition, to the holder of this certificate’ on page 3 of your certificate which states time limits for updating Firearms and Explosives Branch.
To transfer a firearm to another person a variation application is required, unless the transfer refers to a ‘one on one off’ exchange carried out by a firearms dealer. If a firearm is being transferred between firearm certificate holders the firearm should be lodged with a firearms dealers until the process is completed.
Please see Article 3 of the document Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls for further information.
There are number of reasons why someone may find themselves in possession of an unlicensed firearm, through no fault of their own. A certificate holder has died and the widow or widower is left with the weapons for example, or after moving to a new address they are discovered in a loft. The first thing to consider is your safety. Do not handle the firearms as they could be loaded and in a dangerous condition.
Call the police immediately and they will attend the address, make the firearms safe and remove the firearms will then be removed from the property while a decision is being made about what will happen to those firearms. You then have several options:
- You could chose to inform the police that the firearms can be destroyed.
- If you are a certificate holder then you can request they are added to your own certificate. This would depend on the firearms not being reported lost or stolen and you have the capacity to store them and, in the case of a firearm certificate, the authority to possess that type of weapon, but you would need to satisfy the ‘good reason’.
An alternative is to have the firearms deactivated meaning they would retain the original appearance but would be incapable of discharging a missile.
For further advice please see Appendix 12 of the Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls document here.
You should also contact your local Firearms enquiry officer who will assist you to make the right decision.
Please see Schedule 1 of the Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls document here.
Not unless they hold a certificate in their own right for the firearms.
Firearms and Explosives Branch Performance
As part of our commitment to providing an open and transparent service you can view the Firearms and Explosives Branch monthly performance figures below.
You can contact Firearms Licensing Branch via the email address [email protected]
When contacting Firearms Licensing Branch please include your full name, your PID number and your application reference.