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Firearms guidance

To own, buy or acquire a firearm or shotgun, you need a firearms certificate from us. You must also have a certificate to buy ammunition for your firearm.

To apply for a certificate, visit our firearms application page.

Report a firearm issue

If you know someone holds a firearm illegally or you’re concerned about someone who holds a firearm, please contact us online or call us on 101.

Transporting a firearm

Only certificate or permit holders may transport firearms that are stated on their certificate or permit. No one else is permitted to transport a firearm, unless they have a valid certificate or permit.

Air rifles

You will need a certificate if the muzzle energy of the air rifle exceeds 12 ft/lbs. 

Banned firearms and ammunition

Certain firearms are banned in the UK, meaning they cannot be used or owned.

You cannot obtain a licence for them as it is an offence to own, buy or acquire banned firearms without the permission of the Home Secretary.

If you are unsure if a firearm, shotgun or other weapon is legal or not, please  contact us .

Self-contained gas cartridge system

It is an offence to manufacture, sell, buy, transfer or acquire any air weapon using a self-contained gas cartridge system. If caught in possession, you could face up to 10 years imprisonment.

Learning to shoot without a certificate

You may not borrow another person’s gun if they do not own or occupy the land you wish to shoot on. Under certain circumstances you can shoot without holding a firearm or shotgun certificate, which include;

  • at clay shooting or registered firearms dealers, where the shoot or dealer must hold a Section 11 (6) Exemption Notice 
  • at open days held by approved rifle and muzzle-loading clubs as a non-member, using club weapons on a limited number of days per year. Membership is usually required to shoot at clubs any other time
  • anyone over 17 years of age can shoot a shotgun or rifle when accompanied by a certificate holding landowner or their agent, such as their gamekeeper or stalker. This must take place on the owners land, using their weapons and in accordance with the conditions on their certificate for that weapon.

Firearms change of address

You must tell us of any change to your permanent address, to comply with the conditions stated on your certificate. A new certificate will be provided free of charge.

If you are moving home, you should tell us by email or in writing and include;

  • a letter confirming your change of address
  • the date you will move
  • any new contact details
  • security arrangements of your firearms or ammunition
  • enclose your current certificate.

Please note that if you choose to email us, you will need to return your current certificate to us by post.

Moving to a new licensing area

If you are moving outside of Bedfordshire, you will need to contact us so that we can inform the firearms licensing authority of the new area where you will live. 

Your firearms licensing file will be forwarded to the firearms licensing authority of the area you are moving to. We recommend you keep your current certificate until the new firearms licensing authority contacts you to replace or amend it.

It is your responsibility to transport your weapons safely and securely whilst moving home.

Moving to Bedfordshire's licensing area

If moving outside of Bedfordshire as your firearms licensing authority, please contact your current firearms licensing authority to let them know you are moving and follow the instructions they give you.

When we receive your firearms licensing file, we will contact you to arrange a security inspection at your new address. 

Discovering firearms when you move house

If you discover firearms, explosives or ammunition in a house you move into do not attempt to handle them, as they may be loaded and dangerous, please call us on 101.

Importing or exporting firearms

If you wish to import or export firearms, ammunition or related equipment, you should contact us with the details so we can properly advise you.

Further information on the import or export of firearms is available on GOV.UK.

Inheriting firearms

If you find yourself as an unexpected owner or in possession of firearms from inheritance or by discovering them in a house following the death of a friend or relative, we advise you contact us as soon as possible.

We may be able to issue you with a temporary permit to keep the firearms safe whilst arrangements are made to have them disposed of safely.

Firearm and shotgun age restrictions

Age restriction information for the possession of firearms, shotguns and ammunition;

Firearm activity

Aged under 18

Aged under 15

Aged under 14

To buy a firearm or ammunition

No

No

No

To own a  Section 1 firearm

Yes

Yes

No
(see exemptions 1, 2 and 3)

To receive a  Section 1 firearm as a gift

Yes

Yes

No

To own a shotgun

Yes

No
(see exemptions 4 and 5)

No
(see exemptions 4 and 5)

To receive a shotgun as a gift

Yes

No

No

To own an air weapon

No
(see exemptions 2, 3, 4 and 6)

No
(see exemptions 2, 3, 4 and 6)

No
(see exemptions 2, 3 and 4)

To receive an air weapon as a gift

No

No

No

To own or have an air weapon in a public place

No
(see exemptions 2, 3 and 4)

No
(see exemptions 2, 3 and 4)

No
(see exemptions 2, 3 and 4)

Age restriction exemptions

  1. If you’re carrying a firearm or shotgun on behalf of a certificate holder over 18 years of age, for sporting purposes
  2. When you’re part of an approved club or cadet corps
  3. If you’re on a Miniature Rifle Range
  4. If you’re under the supervision of someone over 21 years old
  5. When the firearm is in a secure gun cover
  6. If you’re on private property with the permission of the land owner. It’s an offence for someone under this exemption to fire any missile beyond the boundary of the premises, unless you have permission from the adjacent land owner.

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