BASC is making its members aware of a change in legislation which means that an eight week extension may be automatically granted to people applying to renew their shotgun or firearm certificate.

Provisions will apply where an application is made to the police for the renewal of a certificate at least eight weeks before it is due to expire but the police are unable to decide the application before the certificate expires.

A Home Office circular states: “In these circumstances, the validity of the certificate is automatically extended for a period of 8 weeks or until the police decide the application, whichever occurs first. The certificate’s terms and conditions will continue to apply during this period.

“In the event that the application for renewal cannot be determined before the extended certificate expires, police forces may continue to issue a temporary permit to the applicant under section 7 of the Firearms Act 1968 authorising their continued possession of firearms and ammunition to which the expired certificate applies. Section 7 permits issued in these circumstances can allow for the continued possession of the firearms and ammunition that are specified on the applicant’s expired certificate but not the acquisition or purchase of additional firearms or ammunition.”

The change, which sees a section of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 amend the Firearms Act 1968, will come into place on 17th April 2018.

Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said the change was an attempt to reduce the administrative burden on the police associated with dealing with delays in the firearms licensing process. It will remove the requirement for temporary permits in most cases.

He said: “We are pleased about this. It’s a sensible, quick-fix remedy but it doesn’t actually address underlying problem – that the licensing system is bureacratic, under-resourced and cumbersome.

“It will free up police officers to deal with applications they have got. Hopefully it will allow for a more timely renewal system.”

The extension is not automatic. Those who will benefit from the extension will receive a letter of confirmation from their police force.

The provisions do not apply in relation to the renewal of a certificate granted or last renewed in Northern Ireland.

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