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Airgun licensing in Scotland – frequently asked questions


1. How easy is it going to be to get an airgun licence?
The simple answer is that it is going to be as easy or as difficult as it is just now to get a firearm certificate. The standards expected for an air weapon certificate will be similar to those for a firearm certificate although we have been told that the process will be “light touch”.

It may in fact be easier to get a shotgun certificate than an air weapon certificate.  If you have ever thought about getting either a firearm or shotgun certificate now is the time to apply, or seek more information from BASC Scotland.

2. I have an air rifle – do I need to get a certificate now?

No, the requirement to have the certificate doesn’t come into effect until 31st December 2016, but from July 1st 2016 you will be able to apply to the police for one.

As we are expecting there to be a large number of applications and the Police are struggling under their current workload it is best to apply early.  If you have applied for an air weapon certificate before the 31st October 2016 and your certificate has not arrived by 31st December 2016 you will be able to continue to hold (but not use) your air weapon even if the certificate has not yet been issued. If you make an application after the 31st October 2016 and have not been issued with a certificate by 31st December 2016 you will need to make alternative storage arrangements until you have your certificate.

Click on the following link to find official information on the licensing scheme, application forms and updates –

3. How much will an airgun certificate cost and how long will it last for?

Type of application Fee
1. Application for the grant of an air weapon certificate for 18 and under
(a) where the applicant is aged 18 years or more £72.00
(b) where the applicant is aged 17 years £12.50
(c) where the applicant is aged 16 years £25.00
(d) where the applicant is aged 15 years £37.50
(e) where the applicant is aged 14 years £50.00
2. Application for the renewal of an air weapon certificate £48.00
3. Application for the grant or renewal of an air weapon certificate for existing certificate holders £5.00
4. Application for the variation of an air weapon certificate £20.00
5. Application for the grant of a police permit £15.00
6. Application for the grant of a visitor permit
Individual application £20.00
 Groups (5 to 20 qualifying visitors) £100.00
7. Application for the variation of a police permit or a visitor permit £5.00
8. Application for the grant of an event permit £40.00
9. Application for the grant of an approval of an air weapon club £45.00
10. Application for the renewal of an approval of an air weapon club £45.00
11. Application for the grant or renewal of an approval of an air weapon club for existing rifle club £30.00

*** Important Airgun Licensing Information – How to Pay ***

Do not send payment with your Air Weapon Certificate application. Once the application has been received and processed Police Scotland will contact applicants via letter or email advising them how to pay.

 Any queries or for more information please contact the office on 01350 723 226.

4. What information will I need to give to get an airgun certificate?
The information you will need to supply will be almost identical to that supplied when completing an application for a firearm certificate.  This will be personal information, such as date and place of birth.  There will also be a need to provide “good reason” for possession of airguns and this would include target shooting, pest control or collecting.

5. Will the police visit me and will I need to show them my airguns?
The intention would be for the police to “visit an applicant’s home or other places where the weapons may be used or stored”.  However, Scottish Government believes that such checks should only be required in a small number of cases.

6. I live in Scotland and already have a shotgun certificate/firearm certificate.  Do I need to apply for another certificate for my air rifle?
Yes. However, those with an existing certificate would not need to apply for an airgun certificate until their existing certificate/s expires.  When renewing your existing shotgun or firearm certificate you would then be expected to apply for an airgun certificate. If you wish to purchase an airgun before your renewal date you will need to apply for an airgun certificate. BASC tried to amend the Bill to exempt existing certificate holders but this was not accepted.

7. I use my air rifle to control the rabbits in my garden.  Will that be OK in the future?
Pest control will be recognised as a “good reason” for having an airgun certificate.  However, the Scottish Government have expressed concern about “plinking” in gardens or other urban or highly populated settings.  It could well be that pest control in a large garden is acceptable but not plinking in a small garden.

8. I am a member of an airgun club.  Will that be OK in the future?
Membership of an “approved” airgun club would be seen as good reason.  Your club would have to apply for formal approval from the Chief Constable to become an “approved air weapon club”.  Phone us at the Office if you would like to discuss setting up an airgun club.

9. I collect old British air rifles and pistols as a hobby, but rarely shoot them.  Will I need to get a certificate?
Yes, you will need to apply for a certificate to allow you to possess these air weapons.  The licence might be conditioned to allow possession only, and if this should be the case you would not be able to fire them.

10. I only use my air rifle for the occasional bit of plinking in my small garden.  Will I need a certificate and will I get a certificate?
Yes you will need a certificate, however, it depends on the arrangements you have in place. It is not the intention to ban all plinking, provided it can be done safely. It will be for the police, supported by Scottish Government guidance, to decide on a case-by-case basis whether land is suitable.

11. My daughter is only 12 but really enjoys shooting at targets in the garden with me.  If I get a certificate can we continue to do this?
If you get an airgun certificate that allows you to shoot targets in your garden you will be able to continue supervising your daughter while she shoots.

12. What would happen if I had an air rifle or pistol but did not have an airgun certificate when the law comes into force on the 1st January 2017?
If you were found to be in possession of an air rifle or air pistol without a certificate then you could face imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine, or both.

13. Do I need to get a certificate for each of my air rifles – I have 3?
The intention is that one certificate will cover any number of air rifles and air pistols.

14. I am 16 and shoot rabbits on the farm with my dad’s air rifle.  Do I need to get a certificate or would I be covered by my dad’s air weapon certificate?
You would be covered by your father’s air weapon certificate but only if he accompanied and supervised you at all times.  If you wished to continue shooting on your own you would need to have your own certificate. BASC successfully amended the Bill to ensure that all of those between 14 and 18 could continue to shoot live quarry.

15. I live in England but come up to Scotland to shoot the rabbits on my uncle’s farm with my shotgun, .22 rimfire rifle and my air rifle. Can I still come to Scotland and bring my guns with me?
When the legislation is in place (1st January 2017) you will still be able to come to Scotland with your shotgun, your .22 rimfire rifle and your air rifle up to the date when your shotgun certificate or firearm certificate is renewed.  After this date you will need to apply for a visitors permit for your air rifle, but not for your shot gun or .22 rimfire rifle.

16. I live in Scotland, and I was planning to buy an air rifle at the Scottish Game Fair in July 2016.  Should I wait until I have an air weapon certificate?
No, we would advise you to go ahead and buy the air rifle, as long as you are reasonably confident that you will qualify for a certificate in the future.  If you are sure of this you could also consider applying for a firearm certificate just now.  This would then allow you buy (for example) a .22 rim fire rifle and would give you authority to hold your air rifle until the firearm certificate lapsed in five years’ time.  Advice on applying for a firearm or shotgun certificate is available from BASC.

17. Since I will need to get a certificate for my air rifle before the 1st January 2017 should I “move up” and apply for a firearm certificate just now?
This would be sensible.  If you have good reason to have a Section 1 firearm, such as a .22 rim fire rifle, you could apply for a firearm certificate. Your air rifle would also be covered by your firearm certificate up until the date of its renewal.

18. What has BASC done to try to prevent this?
BASC has lobbied against the introduction of this legislation for the past decade.  We presented evidence against the devolution of firearms legislation to the Scotland Bill Committee in 2011 and have continued to highlight the fact that education and enforcement of the existing legislation has led to a 75% reduction in air weapon offences in the past six years. We have also presented evidence to the Public Petitions Committee. As a member of the Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel we also advised Scottish Government on many problems that this proposed legislation would create. We have used both television and radio to highlight these problems. Most recently we presented written and oral evidence to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee and worked with a member of that Committee to make important amendments.

19. I am not a member of BASC.  Would it help me if I joined as an airgun member?
There are many benefits to airgunners through BASC membership, including public liability insurance.  In addition, you would be putting your voice behind the country’s largest and most effective shooting organisation.

20. My father has an old air rifle in his attic.  He never uses it but does not want to get rid of it. Does he need a certificate and will he get one?
He would need a certificate; otherwise he would be committing an offence.  Whether he would be able to pass the good reason test for being granted a certificate is another matter.

21. I have a few convictions for breach of the peace and one for drink driving.  I have never been to prison but am worried that I may not get a certificate if I applied.
The Chief Constable would only grant an air weapons certificate if he was satisfied that a person could possess an air weapon “without danger to the public safety or to the peace”.  Each application would be taken on its individual merits but previous convictions could lead to the application being refused.  If an air weapon certificate application is refused the applicant would not have the fee returned.

22. My shotgun certificate was revoked 5 years ago and since then I have really got into air rifle shooting.  Will the revocation affect an application for an air gun certificate?
Again, a previous revocation might affect an application for an air weapon certificate. After five years this may not be critical, especially if you have not come to the attention of the police in that period.

23. Is it not a bit daft that in the coming years you may not be able to buy an air rifle in Scotland without showing your certificate, but could go to Carlisle or Newcastle and buy one there?
That is one of the problems with this proposed legislation – it will have very little impact on air weapon availability in Scotland.  Only the law-abiding and responsible shooters will be affected.

24. What is an approved air weapons club – I do not know of any in my area?
Currently, there are no approved air weapon clubs in Scotland.  Existing clubs and new clubs will have to apply for approval when the criteria are established.

25. If I have to sell or dispose of my airguns, will there be any compensation for my losses?
Sadly, there are no provisions for compensation in the Act. If you must dispose of your guns, sale to a legitimate club, Registered Firearms Dealer or certificate holder would be the best way. Police Scotland will also be running a campaign to allow people to hand in any unwanted air weapons before licensing takes effect – 1st January 2017.

26. Do I need secure storage for my air rifle?
The legislation does not require secure storage, over and above the current requirement to keep airguns out of the reach of those under 18. However we note that the application form asks what type of security and storage will be in place.



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