How to obtain a UK Firearms Certificate (FAC) and or Shotgun Certificate (SGC)
In order to have your own FAC, the first step is to become a member of a Home Office approved gun club.
Once you have become a full member of the gun club you are then able to apply for your FAC providing you have installed the necessary security arrangements and obtained the required references.
The steps below are aimed specifically for FAC applications, however Shotgun applications follow a similar path.
These are the typical steps you will need to take:
1. Become a full member of a UK Home Office approved gun club, you will initially be a probationer for up to 6 months.
2. Whilst you are a probationary member you can put things in motion to support your FAC application; Install your Gun cabinet(s), download the application forms from the website of the Police licencing unit in the area you live in. E.G. Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, North Wales and start to complete it.
You will need to speak to two references who have known you for a minimum 2 years in support of your application, requirement details are in the supporting documentation within Form 201.
When it comes to ammunition and calibres it is prudent to refer both MM and .xxx" calibre references for your certificate. e.g ".223 / 5.56" , ".308 / 7.62". A key example is the case headstamps, as it has been known that .223 calibre labelled ammunition can have a headstamp of "5.56" and if you do not have "5.56" on your certificate you are not allowed to obtain this ammunition.
3. Once you have gained FULL Membership status of your gun club, installed your gun cabinet(s), application form completed to include answering and gathering of all required information and photographs, medical letter/declaration (from your GP) send the form and fee to the address as stated in the Firearm Application Form and any other supporting documentation if required.
4. Once your application is in with the Police Licensing unit for your area, you will be contacted to agree on a date when a visit by a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) will be made, typically within the next 2-3 weeks. This will likely be a 1-2 hour interview where they will go through your application to include checking your gun cabinet / Ammunition safe (fitted correctly) and why you want what you are requesting to own, from a firearm and ammunition perspective.
You must be able to justify what you are asking for.
5. Once the FEO visit has completed and there are no concerns or any further information requested by the FEO, it is likely you will receive your FAC within about 4 weeks. Expect that the overall time frame is typically a 4 to 12 weeks process on straight forward applications. The timeframe can vary a great deal between Police Licencing Authorities and also times of the year.
6. So you now have your nice new FAC, with this you can now legally purchase the firearm and ammunition that is stated on your FAC. Renewals of your FAC are every 5 years.
7. You must be able to meet the minimum visits of your club. Failure to meet that requirement is likely to affect your membership and will put your FAC at risk as you will fail to meet the mandatory requirement of being a member of a Home Office approved gun club.
8. Remember, firearms ownership in the UK is a privilege and not a right, so be sure you meet the legal requirements at all times. Just one round over your limit of ammunition will get you prosecuted and you could lose everything.
9. Social Media - Be aware that UK Police Forces do not like social media being used to show you with firearms.
By doing so could put your firearms ownership at risk. Use common sense with all things social media-wise.
Police firearms licencing application forms for local areas are shown below, ensure you go through their website fully pertaining to where you live. Download all forms and supporting information, read and digest everything in support of your application.
Cheshire Constabulary - Firearms and Explosives Licensing
Merseyside Police - Firearms and Explosive Licensing
Greater Manchester Police- Firearms and Explosive Licencing
North Wales Police - Firearms Licencing
The UK Government have released guidance available here. This website has a lot of information pertaining to
Licensing guidance, good practice on firearms law, and forms for applying for approvals under the law.
UK Shooting Associations
It is also worthwhile to join one of these Shooting associations, they offer insurance, licence ownership help with issues plus lots of other support. Have a read and see if they are useful to you and your shooting.