Firearms Licensing

The primary objective of the Firearms and Explosives Licensing Department 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 to which we adhere, and necessitates us carrying out in depth vetting and risk assessments, which often makes this a time consuming process.

In order to assist in us dealing with all enquiries, our preferred method of communication is via email at  We aim to respond to all emails within 5 working days.

If you are unable to email us, the department is open for telephone enquiries Monday to Friday, between 08.30am-10.00am. Please note, you may still be asked to submit your enquiry in writing. Our telephone number is 01202 223497

Our postal address is: Room 3, Dorset Police Headquarters, Winfrith, Dorset, DT2 8DZ

Application Waiting Times

Dorset Police is experiencing a significant delay in the processing of firearms licensing and is aware 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.

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 

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