Firearms Licensing - FAQs


The Police and Crime Commissioner Dorset.

Not unless they hold either a certificate or a permit in their own right for the firearms.


The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 has various sections, which, when implemented on January 20, 2004, bring in some major changes to current firearms legislation.
Section 37 Possession of air weapon and imitation firearm in a public place.
Section 38 Air weapons: age limits.
Section 39 Prohibition of certain air weapons.
The new laws cover air rifles, air guns and air pistols, which use a self-contained gas cartridge system.

Air rifles over 12-feet pounds muzzle energy.

Air Pistols over 6-foot Pounds Muzzle energy.

Firearms and Explosives Licensing Team
Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police
Police Headquarters Building


Dorset Police is experiencing a significant delay in the processing of firearms licensing and is aware that applicants are waiting much longer than anticipated for the grant and renewal application process. We request your continued patience while we work proactively to clear all outstanding applications and advise all applicants to disregard previous guidance on processing times while we work to restore the service to its previous capacity

Yes, including all traffic convictions and any offences committed abroad.



Firearm legislation requires that all notifications must be sent to the above address in writing, including sales or acquisitions abroad; we do accept faxes and e-mail notifications.

Arrangements should be made either with a registered firearms dealer or at a police station, with notification by recorded delivery or registered post to the address shown above. See Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 Section 34 for full details.


Reminders are sent out to renew certificates four months prior to expiry. The onus remains on you to ensure that you renew the certificate prior to expiry and submit the application in good time.

To help us to help you, applications should be made within two weeks of receipt to allow the completion of renewal enquiries prior to expiry.

In short, yes you can, under certain circumstances.

Many approved shotgun clubs and even some Registered Firearms Dealers hold special "open Days" where non-certificate holders can fire club shotguns to test their interest in the sport. The club or dealer must have a section 11(6) permit, issued by the police, which allow such an operation on a limited number of days per year.

"Firearm", within the definition of the Firearms Acts, means a lethal barrelled weapon of any description, from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged. It includes any prohibited weapon, whether it is such a lethal weapon as aforesaid or not, and any component part of such a weapon, and any accessory to such weapon designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by the firing of the weapon.

Firearm, within the terms of what you are allowed to hold on a firearm certificate, would obviously not include any prohibited weapons. Neither would it include "shotguns", as they are held on a shotgun certificate. Except, that is, for Section 1 shotguns, which can only be held on a firearm certificate.

A Section 1 shotgun differs from a conventional shotgun, by virtue of the fact that it has a magazine capable of holding more than two cartridges. These are known as "pump-action" or "semi-automatic" shotguns, where cartridges from the magazine are loaded by hand "pumping" the action, or by the discharge of the previous round. These weapons are required to be held on a firearm certificate.


A shotgun is a smooth bore gun (not being an air-weapon) which;

  • Has a barrel not less than 60.96 cm (24 inches) in length and does not have any barrel with a bore that exceeds 5.08 cm (2 inches), in diameter AND
  • Either has no magazine, or a non detachable magazine incapable of holding more than two cartridges AND
  • Is not a revolver gun.

Other smooth bore guns may require a firearms certificate or even be prohibited weapons.
There are weapons other than conventional shotguns, which also require a shotgun certificate, e.g. smooth bore muskets used for re-enactments.

Genuine antique shotguns, with flintlock, matchlock and percussion cap firing mechanisms, which are not kept to be fired, will not normally require to be certificated.