It is an offence (except in certain circumstances) to possess a shotgun without a current shotgun certificate or temporary police permit.
It is an offence to give or sell a shotgun to someone who is not authorised to possess it – usually by virtue of a shotgun certificate.
When acquiring a shotgun, you must inform the police force which issued your certificate. If you give or sell a shotgun to anyone (or lend a gun for more than 72 hours) you must enter it on the other person’s certificate and also notify the police force which issued your own certificate within seven days by recorded delivery or by email to the specified address given by the police.
It is an offence to sell or offer for sale a shotgun which is out of proof.
One certificate holder may borrow a shotgun from another for 72 hours or less without notifying the police, or entering the details onto the borrower’s certificate.
It is an offence to sell cartridges to someone without seeing their shotgun certificate except where the recipient is a crown servant or where a person produces a certificate authorising another person to possess such a gun, together with that person’s written authority to purchase the ammunition on his behalf.
You are responsible for the security of any shotgun(s) in your possession at all times.
When not in use, shotguns must be stored securely, in order to prevent – so far as is reasonably practicable – access by unauthorised persons. When in use, reasonable precautions must be taken for their safe custody.
It is an offence to sell or hire a shotgun to someone under 18 years of age.
It is an offence for a person under the age of 15 to have with him or her, an assembled shotgun, except while under the supervision of a person of 21 years old or more, or while the shotgun is so covered with a securely fastened gun cover that it cannot be fired.
It is an offence to be in possession of a loaded shotgun in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.
It is an offence to shoot game on Sundays and Christmas Day in England and Wales. In Scotland there are no statutory restrictions on the killing of game on Sunday or Christmas Day but it is not customary to do so.
In Scotland and certain counties in England and Wales it is an offence to shoot wildfowl on Sundays. Always check if you are unsure – never guess at what the law requires.
All birds and many animals are protected. There is an ‘open’ season for quarry species and it is an offence to kill or attempt to kill them at other times of the year or possibly at night.
If you are complying with firearms law you can shoot certain pest bird species. These are covered by general licences which, in simple terms, mean you can shoot the birds listed, provided you have the landowner’s permission and provided you are doing it for one of the reasons allowed by the licence.
These reasons may include:
• to prevent serious damage (e.g. to crops and livestock) or to prevent disease.
• to protect and conserve flora and fauna.
• to preserve public health or safety.
The general licences vary by Country and are annually reviewed, so BASC recommends that anyone wishing to take these species should regularly read BASC’s advice on general licences, which is available online here.
It is an offence to shoot wildfowl or game with a self-loading shotgun having a magazine capacity of more than two cartridges.
A non-certificate holder may only borrow a shotgun under the statutory exemptions. This is typically under s11A of the Firearms Act 1968. This allows an authorised person to lend a shotgun to a non-certificate holder to use on private premises in the presence of the authorised person; or at a clay pigeon shoot where the chief constable has approved the time and place for the shooting of artificial targets under s11(6) of the Firearms Act 1968. For further information on borrowing shotguns please consult our guidance document from the fact sheet section of the BASC website.
REMEMBER – Ignorance of the law is no excuse. If in doubt, always ask.