Firearms Licensing


****As a result of unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19, processes have been amended to deal with the evolving situation, however delays are to be expected.****

Please note the following changes with immediate effect, until further notice;

  • Telephone lines are only open between 10am-12pm Monday-Friday.
  • All general correspondence MUST be sent electronically via email to: including renewal applications.
  • Payment for renewal applications must be made electronically, therefore only card payments over the telephone will be accepted. You will be contacted in due course by the department to inform you of when/how this can be completed.
  • Emails will be monitored regularly but please note response times cannot be guaranteed, but we will endeavour to respond as soon as possible.
  • No timescales can be provided for any enquiry types at this time, however, if you ensure that you return your renewal application 8 weeks prior to the expiry date of your certificate, you will receive an automatic 8 week extension to your stated expiry date, to ensure that you comply with legal requirements and remain in lawful possession or your guns/ammunition.

The firearms licensing department acknowledges that these changes may cause some inconvenience however we appreciate your understanding and efforts to support us during these unprecedented times.

Thank you for your patience and co-operation, please take care and stay safe.



The primary aim of the Firearms and Explosives Licensing Team is to protect the public from harm. In addition, human rights legislation places a duty of care on the police to protect the wider community from firearms misuse by preventing unsuitable people from possessing firearms licences. This is an ethos we adhere to, and necessitates us carrying out in depth vetting and risk assessments which can be a time consuming process.

As part of the Alliance Operations Support Department, the Firearms and Explosives licensing Team is a shared service function serving both Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police. We provide a range licensing and support services for thousands of certificate holders across both force areas. 

The team discharges the separate statutory obligations of both chief constables by providing a licensing service to the public for firearm and shotgun certificates, as well as for explosives licences.  This is administered under the Firearm Acts 1968–1997 (as amended), and the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991 (COER).

We support public safety by maintaining the appropriate licensing controls over the ownership and use of firearms, ammunition and explosives across our communities, and also provide an advisory service to the public, to police officers and to the shooting community.  Members of team are located at the Devon & Cornwall Police HQ in Exeter.

Our preferred method of communication is via email firearms.licensing.

You can also contact the Firearms and Explosives Licensing Team during usual office hours on 01392 225650 if you have any enquiry that is not answered in our FAQ. But please do take the time to look at our question and answer materials first.

Our postal address is:

Firearms and Explosives Licensing Team, Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police, Police Headquarters Building, Middlemoor, Exeter, EX2 7HQ

Application Waiting Times

Please note current average processing times on receipt of a completed Firearm/Shotgun application :-

Firearm grant application – 84 days
Shotgun grant application – 75 days
Firearm renewal application – 54 days
Shotgun renewal application – 54 days

Times correct at time of update and are updated monthly.
Last update 17 December 2019

Once a completed application has been received at the Firearms Licensing Department, your payment will be processed and the application forwarded to a Firearm Enquiry Officer for allocation.


Change of Address 

Important Licensing Information

Prohibited Persons

Section 21 of the Firearms Act 1968 specifies conditions that prohibit certain persons from having in their possession a firearm or ammunition after conviction.

  • A person who has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three months or more but less than three years (including youth custody or detention in a young offenders institution), shall not at have a firearm or ammunition in his possession at any time during the period of five years from the date of his release.
  • A person who has been sentenced to custody for life, or to preventive detention, imprisonment or corrective training (including youth custody or detention in a young offenders institution), for a term of three years or more, shall not have a firearm or ammunition in his possession for life.

 The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Police Act 2014 extended these conditions.

  • From 14 July 2014, where a person receives a suspended sentence of three months or more;
    They shall not have a firearm or ammunition in his possession at any time during the period of five years beginning with the second day after the date on which the sentence was passed.
    (This timescale has been set so that a person who is in possession of a firearm or ammunition is not in immediate breach of the law when the sentence is passed and has an opportunity to make arrangements to transfer or dispose of their firearm or ammunition)
  • A person who received a suspended sentence before 14 July 2014 and already has a firearm certificate they will be able to retain their firearm and ammunition for the duration of their certificate.
    At the point of expiry they will not be granted a renewal of their certificate or permitted retain their firearms and ammunition until after the five year period from the second day after sentencing.

 Note: The term Firearm includes firearms, shotguns & air weapons


The Scottish Government is introducing a new licensing system for most air weapons in Scotland.

 From 31 December 2016, you will generally need a visitor permit to use, possess, purchase or acquire air weapons while in Scotland.  This includes buying an air weapon, someone giving one to you, or simply having an air weapon in your possession.  If you already hold a valid firearm and/or shotgun licence issued in England or Wales before 31 December, and you are not planning on buying a gun while in Scotland,  you may not need a permit until your existing certificate expires or is renewed.

Applications for visitor permits (or full air weapon certificates) should be made to Police Scotland who will decide your application and deal with any questions you have about the process.  You can download the appropriate application form from or  When complete, it should be sent to Police Scotland at:

 Air Weapons Team

Police Scotland

Clyde Gateway

2 French Street



G40 4EH 

 You can also get further information on air weapon licensing, including information on exemptions from the need to hold a certificate, at