Firearms licensing during coronavirus outbreak

Latest update

Since March most police forces have been unable to accept first-time grant applications and variations due to the impact of Covid-19 on officer and staff functions. 

All police forces have continued to process renewals albeit with time delays in many cases. 

Some police forces that were imposing mandatory GP verification of applications have temporarily suspended or modified this condition to allow renewals to progress.

With Covid-19 restrictions being relaxed some police forces are resuming the processing of grants, visitor permits and variations. 

Police Scotland and Durham Constabulary are the first police forces to have resumed all firearms licensing services. 

BASC is urging all police forces to follow suit and resume all firearms licensing services as soon as possible to reduce the backlogs that have been building up since March. We do not want to see anyone with an interest in shooting disadvantaged especially with the game season on the horizon. 

Click on the drop-down menus below to find out more about firearms licensing in your force’s area during the coronavirus outbreak.

We are continually updating this webpage as new information comes in.

England

Avon and Somerset police has issued the following statement:

Due to the impact of Covid-19, there will be severe delays in managing grant applications for firearms and shotguns. This is because all grant applications require a home inspection and visit to your home.

Therefore we encourage you not to submit grant only applications at this time.

Any grant only applications will be placed in a holding area until we are able to manage the demand.

Online renewal applications will be dealt with.

Click here for more information.

The combined licensing department for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire has provided the following update:

Due to the current unchartered and unprecedented times facing us all, firearms licensing services are of course being affected.

Contingency working has never been required on this scale before, and as part of a policing family our over-riding priority must remain to protect life and prevent crime. In having to priorities out work according to these principles, We have taken the decision that all non risk and non urgent work will be suspended for the time being.

This will allow us to concentrate on ensuring that existing certificate holders who are nearing renewal are renewed prior to expiry. We are confident that as law abiding and responsible citizens our shooting community will understand the situation we are in and thank you in advance for your patience.

Please continue to notify us of weapon transactions and changes of addresses, we will process them as staffing and priorities allow – please do not email us to chase progress at this time.

Grant applications – due to social distancing restrictions we are unable able to process any grant applications. We ask that you consider waiting until restrictions are lifted prior to submitting an application. Any that we do receive will not be actioned.

Variations – unless a variation is for a critical need, for example due to specific job role requirements we will not be processing any variation requests. We would again ask that you consider delaying your application until this restriction is lifted. If you believe you have a critical need, please email us.

Renewal – our priority is to ensure current holders do not expire. In order to assist us in these challenging times, please continue to renew but do not e-mail or telephone the office to enquire on progress of your renewal. We are dealing with renewals according to expiry date (NOT date received) and, of course, are aware of the status of all holders.

Medical pro-forma delays

We are aware that you may be experiencing delays in obtaining your medical proforma from your doctor.

Please continue to obtain your completed proforma prior to submitting your renewal application regardless of your expiry date.

We will not allow you to expire for this reason – if we have not received your application a week prior to your expiry date, we will extend your current certificate for a further 8 weeks and will confirm that we have done this via e-mail to you.

Following receipt of your completed proforma please forward with your application and we will process in the usual way.

Click here for more information

The combined licensing department for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire police forces has provided the following update:

Due to the current unchartered and unprecedented times facing us all, firearms licensing services are of course being affected.

Contingency working has never been required on this scale before, and as part of a policing family our over-riding priority must remain to protect life and prevent crime. In having to priorities out work according to these principles, We have taken the decision that all non risk and non urgent work will be suspended for the time being.

This will allow us to concentrate on ensuring that existing certificate holders who are nearing renewal are renewed prior to expiry. We are confident that as law abiding and responsible citizens our shooting community will understand the situation we are in and thank you in advance for your patience.

Please continue to notify us of weapon transactions and changes of addresses, we will process them as staffing and priorities allow – please do not email us to chase progress at this time.

Grant applications – due to social distancing restrictions we are unable able to process any grant applications. We ask that you consider waiting until restrictions are lifted prior to submitting an application. Any that we do receive will not be actioned.

Variations – unless a variation is for a critical need, for example due to specific job role requirements we will not be processing any variation requests. We would again ask that you consider delaying your application until this restriction is lifted. If you believe you have a critical need, please email us.

Renewal – our priority is to ensure current holders do not expire. In order to assist us in these challenging times, please continue to renew but do not e-mail or telephone the office to enquire on progress of your renewal. We are dealing with renewals according to expiry date (NOT date received) and, of course, are aware of the status of all holders.

Medical pro-forma delays

We are aware that you may be experiencing delays in obtaining your medical proforma from your doctor.

Please continue to obtain your completed proforma prior to submitting your renewal application regardless of your expiry date.

We will not allow you to expire for this reason – if we have not received your application a week prior to your expiry date, we will extend your current certificate for a further 8 weeks and will confirm that we have done this via e-mail to you.

Following receipt of your completed proforma please forward with your application and we will process in the usual way.

Click here for more information

Cheshire Constabulary has issued the following statement:

We are temporarily unable to process any new applications for the grant of shotgun, firearms or explosives certificates. This is due to home visits no longer being possible, following government guidance on the need for social distancing. Renewal applications are currently still being processed.

Click here for more information

Cleveland police has suspended applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates. Any new paper applications will be returned to the applicant with a covering letter. Any applicants applying online will receive a letter asking if an immediate refund is required or the application be held on file.

All renewal enquiries will be done via telephone consultation. Any that cannot be resolved due to GP concerns or other issues will receive an extension.

Simple variations will be processed, however, this may not be possible for those with complex issues where land may need to be verified.

Most staff are working remotely but it is hoped that at least one member of staff will attend the office during hours 07.30 to 15.30 to issue certificates and answer any queries.

Derbyshire constabulary is ceasing home visits relating to firearm licensing enquiries. 

In order to ensure that existing certificate holders are not left in illegal possession due to their certificates expiring, Derbyshire constabulary will risk assess renewal applications.  

Telephone renewals will be carried out for low/medium risk certificate holders.  

Those applications deemed to carry a higher risk will be assessed on a case by case basis.  

Where interviews are deemed necessary, they will be conducted in a managed environment (not at the applicant’s home address) or via Skype style interview. 

With immediate effect, applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates will not be processed. Staff cannot visit applicants and therefore the focus will be on keeping people already holding firearms in legal possession. 

Variations for firearm certificates will not be processed. It is hoped that holders will understand and not submit applications for variations at this time. There are staff that are already self-isolating which is impacting on the service. 

Derbyshire constabulary is appealing to people not to apply for grants or variations at this time. 

Certificate holders awaiting renewal are asked not to phone the firearms department unless absolutely necessary as this ties up staff and will prevent them from processing renewals. 

Devon and Cornwall police have issued the following statement.

As a result of the unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19, processes have been amended to deal with the evolving situation, however delays are to be expected.

Please note the following changes with immediate effect, until further notice.

  • Telephone lines are only open between 9am-11am Monday-Friday.
  • All general correspondence MUST be sent electronically via email to: licensing@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk. Renewal applications should be sent to firearms licensing police HQ Middlemoor Exeter EX2 7HQ.
  • Payment for renewal applications must be made electronically, therefore only card payments over the telephone will be accepted. You will be contacted by the department in due course to take the payment.
  • Emails will be monitored regularly but please note response times cannot be guaranteed, but we will endeavour to respond as soon as possible
  • No timescales can be provided for any enquiry types at this time however if you ensure you renew your application within the eight week timeframe of your expiry date should for any reason your application could not be granted you will receive an automatic eight week period following your expiry date to ensure you comply with legal requirements and remain in lawful possession of your guns/ammunition.  

The firearms licensing department acknowledges that these changes may cause some inconvenience however we appreciate your understanding and efforts to support us during these unprecedented times.

Thank you for your patience and co-operation, please take care and stay safe.

Click here for more information.

Dorset Police has issued the following statement.

As a result of the unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19, processes have been amended to deal with the evolving situation, however delays are to be expected.

Please note the following changes with immediate effect, until further notice.

  • Telephone lines are only open between 9am-11am Monday-Friday.
  • All general correspondence MUST be sent electronically via email to: licensing@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk. Renewal applications should be sent to firearms licensing police HQ Middlemoor Exeter EX2 7HQ.
  • Payment for renewal applications must be made electronically, therefore only card payments over the telephone will be accepted. You will be contacted by the department in due course to take the payment.
  • Emails will be monitored regularly but please note response times cannot be guaranteed, but we will endeavour to respond as soon as possible.
  • No timescales can be provided for any enquiry types at this time however if you ensure you renew your application within the eight week time frame of your expiry date should for any reason your application could not be granted you will receive an automatic eight week period following your expiry date to ensure you comply with legal requirements and remain in lawful possession of your guns/ammunition.  

The firearms licensing department acknowledges that these changes may cause some inconvenience however we appreciate your understanding and efforts to support us during these unprecedented times.

Thank you for your patience and co-operation, please take care and stay safe.

Click here for more information.

Durham Constabulary published the following update on 3 June:

Amendment to services during Covid-19

Our team are here to support you:

By phone between 9am-11am Monday – Friday
By email between 8am – 4pm Monday – Friday

Unfortunately we are unable to offer a front counter service at Unit 1, Whitehouse Industrial Park, Traynor Way, Peterlee SR8 2RT

Where possible, all correspondence including renewal applications are to be sent electronically, via email to: Firearmslicensing@durham.pnn.police.uk

Where possible, payment for renewal applications should must be made electronically, with card payments being made over the telephone. You will be contacted by the department in due course to take the payment

We initially restricted some of our services in response to the Corona virus outbreak. In line with revised guidance, we have now restored all services within safe guidelines. We appreciate your understanding and patience for any resulting extended response times.

For more information click here. 

Essex Police has informed us that from 27 May onwards they are processing variations.

No new grants, or applications will be accepted.

  • Those new grants already received have been contacted and the situation explained to them.
  • They have been given the option of a refund or for us to hold their application.

GP proformas are still required for renewals and any received already for grants returned will be honoured when restrictions are lifted, if they apply within a reasonable time.

Renewals will be processed through Essex police’s firearms, shot gun and explosive licensing HQ and then passed to the individuals firearms enquiry officer (FEO) who will conduct an interview over the phone.

If the renewal does not have their GP proforma with their application, we will still process the enquiry. If after telephone interview we still have not received the GP proforma, a temporary certificate will be issued for one year to allow the surgeries to process their applications.

These are calculated risks that we are taking to ensure not only the safety of the shooting community but their family and also our staff and their families.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic Gloucestershire constabulary firearms licensing department is taking steps to ensure a continuation of service for existing certificate holders.  

The move is set to ensure that existing certificates are renewed in time and that certificate holders are not left in illegal possession. 

In order to achieve this they have taken the decision to temporarily suspend the acceptance of all new grant applications for both firearm and shotgun certificates. The suspension has been extended to cover applications for variation of firearm certificates. Any received will be returned. 

Gloucestershire police state that their decision is unprecedented and they hope that it will only be for a very limited period until normal service is resumed. 

The firearms and explosives licensing manager for Greater Manchester police has issued the following statement:

“As you may be aware, the current coronavirus situation is and will continue to have a major impact on policing including firearms licensing units across the country. The situation is being continually assessed and discussions are ongoing at regional and national levels in relation to firearms licensing.

We have a duty of care to our staff, service users and the general public. With that in mind, considering current government guidance in relation to social distancing and in order to maintain resilience, enquiry officers have ceased routinely visiting certificate holders for renewal applications until further notice. As a result, we are unable to process grant applications.

Our main priority at this time is to focus on public safety and to ensure certificate holders remain in legal possession.

As we move forward, with the potential reduction in staff, we may find ourselves in a position where we must focus on critical tasks and remove the non-essential. This may result in being unable to process variations for instance.

We will try our best to keep you all updated with developments over the next few months.

Any help from yourselves to assist in terms of communication to the shooting community is greatly appreciated, particularly around the following:

  • Applicants to delay sending in grant applications
  • Renewal applications to be made online (avoiding paper applications if possible) and to be made as soon as possible. Renewal reminder letters are currently being sent out five months prior to expiry
  • Any necessary contact to the unit, to be made using the online contact form

I appreciate your understanding and support and wish you all well in these challenging circumstances.”

Hampshire Constabulary has issued the following statement:

We are temporarily unable to process any new applications for the grant of shotgun, firearms or explosives certificates. This is due to home visits no longer being possible, following government guidance on the need for social distancing. Renewal applications are currently still being processed.

Click here for more information.

The combined licensing department for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire has provided the following update:

Due to the current unchartered and unprecedented times facing us all, firearms licensing services are of course being affected.

Contingency working has never been required on this scale before, and as part of a policing family our over-riding priority must remain to protect life and prevent crime. In having to priorities out work according to these principles, We have taken the decision that all non risk and non urgent work will be suspended for the time being.

This will allow us to concentrate on ensuring that existing certificate holders who are nearing renewal are renewed prior to expiry. We are confident that as law abiding and responsible citizens our shooting community will understand the situation we are in and thank you in advance for your patience.

Please continue to notify us of weapon transactions and changes of addresses, we will process them as staffing and priorities allow – please do not email us to chase progress at this time.

Grant applications – due to social distancing restrictions we are unable able to process any grant applications. We ask that you consider waiting until restrictions are lifted prior to submitting an application. Any that we do receive will not be actioned.

Variations – unless a variation is for a critical need, for example due to specific job role requirements we will not be processing any variation requests. We would again ask that you consider delaying your application until this restriction is lifted. If you believe you have a critical need, please email us.

Renewal – our priority is to ensure current holders do not expire. In order to assist us in these challenging times, please continue to renew but do not e-mail or telephone the office to enquire on progress of your renewal. We are dealing with renewals according to expiry date (NOT date received) and, of course, are aware of the status of all holders.

Medical pro-forma delays

We are aware that you may be experiencing delays in obtaining your medical proforma from your doctor.

Please continue to obtain your completed proforma prior to submitting your renewal application regardless of your expiry date.

We will not allow you to expire for this reason – if we have not received your application a week prior to your expiry date, we will extend your current certificate for a further 8 weeks and will confirm that we have done this via e-mail to you.

Following receipt of your completed proforma please forward with your application and we will process in the usual way.

Click here for more information

All work relating to applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates has been put on hold. Anyone who has already submitted an application will experience a delay.

Members of the firearm enquiry officer team are working remotely. They will be undertaking only essential home visits.

Renewal applications are being prioritised. Everything will be done to ensure that certificate holders remain in lawful possession. However, in some cases certificate holders may be required to lodge their guns.

Click here to visit Humberside police’s website.

The following statement has been issued by Kent police.

In order to protect our certificate holders, the wider public and our Kent police colleagues in line with the current public health advice, it will be necessary to amend some procedures so that we can continue to deliver the best service possible during these unprecedented times. 

They include, suspension of all home visits and suspension of all grant applications so that we can focus on renewals and concentrate our resources on keeping those in possession of firearms lawful and safe.

We are continuing the requirement for GP letters as we believe this is an important factor in keeping the public safe, albeit we recognise there may be a delay in obtaining these and are taking a pragmatic view, building in a process that will be flexible.

There may be some delays and contact with the department is restricted because of the circumstances. However we are continuing to work with public safety upmost in our mind.

The firearms licensing page on the Kent police website will carry the most up to date information.

Thank you for your support to this department

Click here for more information on Kent Police. 

Lancashire constabulary are not able to accept any firearm or shotgun grant applications and any applications received will be returned to be re-submitted at a later date.

Lancashire constabulary are prioritising all renewals and they resumed the processing of variations on 15 June.

Click here for more information

Leicestershire police is ceasing home visits relating to firearms licensing enquiries.

In order to ensure that existing certificate holders are not left in illegal possession due to their certificates expiring, Leicestershire police will risk assess renewal applications.

Telephone renewals will be carried out for low/medium risk certificate holders.

Those applications deemed to carry a higher risk will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Where interviews are deemed necessary, they will be conducted in a managed environment (not at the applicant’s home address) or via skype style interview.

With immediate effect applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates will not be processed. Staff cannot visit applicants and therefore the focus will be on keeping people already holding firearms in legal possession.

Variations for firearm certificates will not be processed. It is hoped that holders will understand and not submit applications for variations at this time. There are staff that are already self-isolating which is impacting on the service.

Leicestershire police is appealing to people not to apply for grants or variations at this time.

Certificate holders awaiting renewal are asked not to phone the firearms department unless absolutely necessary as this ties up staff and will prevent them from processing renewals.

Lincolnshire police is currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect the public and its staff in the best possible way.

Due to the increased risk of spreading the virus between certificate holders, firearms enquiry officers will now be completing renewals over the phone, they will not visit the home address.

In order to mitigate any further risk to our certificate holders, our focus will be ensuring they are in lawful possession and renewed before their expiry date.

As a result of the above, we will no longer be accepting NEW grant applications. Any grant applications submitted will be withdrawn.

This will be continually reviewed and we hope it will only be a short term measure.

Change of addresses and transfer in applications will also be affected. We shall update your records as soon as you notify us, however we will be unable to visit and and thus not able to issue a new certificate.

Good reason for FACs: In such circumstances as COVID-19, we understand that as a shooter, you may not be attending your local club or conducting vermin control for the foreseeable future, we therefore will not be questioning anyone’s good reason if you are self-isolating due to the virus.

If you have any concerns about your certificate, please email fal@lincs.pnn.police.uk . This email address is monitored and your questions will be answered quicker than if you ring the department.

Thames Valley Police are temporarily unable to process any new applications for the grant of shotgun, firearms or explosives certificates. This is due to home visits no longer being possible, following government guidance on the need for social distancing.

Renewal applications are still being processed and since 9 June the processing of variations and 11(6) applications has resumed.

Medical Verifications

Thames Valley police still requires a medical verification pro forma. Applicants are being advised at the start of the renewal process to contact either a private GP company or BASC. Whilst they are obtaining this information the firearms licensing department will process their renewal. Certificates will be renewed on the National Firearms Licensing Management System to authorise continued legal possession, but the certificate will not be physically issued until the GP documentation is received and the Government restrictions are lifted.

Some surgeries are now refusing to carry out this non-essential work and the 4 week legal timeframe restriction for a Subject Access Report has been lifted.

This effectively means that some surgeries will not supply medical information in a timely manner.

Applicants must make every effort to obtain this documentation during the renewal process. Certificate holders will be sent either an email or letter at the end of the application process advising them that their certificate has been renewed and the process they will need to undertake if we have not received their GP documentation.

The above process will not apply to those that have declared a new relevant medical condition. These will be dealt separately by the public safety team.

Click here for more information

The Metropolitan Police are accepting renewal applications for shotgun, firearms or explosives certificates online only. This is due to home visits no longer being possible, following government guidance on the need for social distancing.

The processing of variations resumed on 15 June and applications for visitors’ permits resumed on 22 June.

The Metropolitan Police are also processing grant applications that have been on hold since lockdown but are not yet accepting fresh applications.

Click here for more information

Norfolk constabulary has stopped all non-essential home visits whilst the force considers the situation. This includes the firearms licensing department.

Consideration is being given to suspending all work on grant applications except in circumstances where the applicant requires a certificate for essential reasons.

It is planned that a postal renewal system will be implemented, supported by telephone interviews.

Follow-up enquiries requiring a home visit will be deferred to a later date.

Northamptonshire police is ceasing home visits relating to firearms licensing enquiries.

In order to ensure that existing certificate holders are not left in illegal possession due to their certificates expiring, Northamptonshire police will risk assess renewal applications.

Telephone renewals will be carried out for low/medium risk certificate holders.

Those applications deemed to carry a higher risk will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Where interviews are deemed necessary, they will be conducted in a managed environment (not at the applicant’s home address) or via Skype style interview.

With immediate effect applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates will not be processed. Staff cannot visit applicants and therefore the focus will be on keeping people already holding firearms in legal possession.

Northamptonshire police is asking that firearm certificate holders are understanding and do not submit applications to vary their certificates at this time.

Variations are being accepted but will not be dealt with unless priority workload permits – one for one variations from farmers, gamekeepers, pest controllers, vets, etc., where there is a humane, stock or crop protection requirement (ie, no other suitable guns held that may be used) will be processed but this would be on a case by case basis. These applicants should add an explanatory letter or email with their application. 

Any persons relying on firearms for their livelihood are being prioritised. If any such person experiences problems regarding  their application they should contact the firearms licensing department.

Northamptonshire police is appealing to people not to apply for grants at this time.

Certificate holders awaiting renewal are asked not to phone the firearms department unless absolutely necessary as this ties up staff and will prevent them from processing renewals.

North Yorkshire police has issued the following update:

Following recent government advice North Yorkshire police is restricting visits to only those deemed absolutely necessary. Therefore, we will not be processing any new grants for shotguns and firearms for the next 30 days (from 25 March) at which point the situation will be reviewed. 

This is to allow us to carry out critical functions in the department, deal with the high number of renewals we are experiencing and most importantly prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Due to the limited number of staff we have in the office we will be unable to deal with enquiries in person and calls may go unanswered.

It would be really helpful if any enquiries could be sent instead to firearmslicensing@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk

We have received a number of questions about whether to shoot as the lambing season is in full swing. I would consider this as part of your work and therefore following the current government advice this is permitted. I would consider that any other shooting that is not part of your business and is not essential, is not carried out until the situation has been reviewed.

I hope you understand the reasons why these decisions have been made and believe me when I say they have not been taken lightly.

For my part I apologise for the disappointment this will cause our current and prospective certificate holders.

I would like to thank you in advance for your understanding during this difficult time.

Further updates will be communicated, I would ask everyone to follow the advice issued by the government which would supersede this advice.

T/Insp Andrew Palmer, firearms licensing

For more information visit https://northyorkshire.police.uk/what-we-do/licensing/firearms-licensing/

Due to advice from Public Health England around the coronavirus, Northumbria police is having to change the way they engage with their communities.

This means Northumbria police is looking to engage with the public using their digital services and deliver many services online.

For the time being, any grant applications for a firearm and/or shotgun certificate will have to be placed on hold. They will be progressed once the firearms licensing department is in a position to conduct home visits.

Renewal applications will be dealt with, where appropriate, by way of a risk assessed telephone interview with a follow up security inspection at a later date.

Northumbria police thank applicants for their patience and want to reassure them that they are committed to engaging with their communities.

Plans are in place to ensure the force will be available to respond to emergencies. If anyone needs to contact them then they should still do so.

Incidents and information can be reported on the home page of the Northumbria police website. There is also a web chat function where members of the public can speak to the force’s customer service advisors.

Always call 999 in an emergency.

Click here for more information.

Nottinghamshire police is ceasing home visits relating to firearms licensing enquiries.

In order to ensure that existing certificate holders are not left in illegal possession due to their certificates expiring, Nottinghamshire police will risk assess renewal applications.

Telephone renewals will be carried out for low/medium risk certificate holders.

Those applications deemed to carry a higher risk will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Where interviews are deemed necessary, they will be conducted in a managed environment (not at the applicant’s home address) or via Skype style interview.

With immediate effect applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates will not be processed. Staff cannot visit applicants and therefore the focus will be on keeping people already holding firearms in legal possession.

Variations for firearm certificates will not be processed. It is hoped that holders will understand and not submit applications for variations at this time. There are staff that are already self-isolating which is impacting on the service.

Nottinghamshire police is appealing to people not to apply for grants or variations at this time.

Certificate holders awaiting renewal are asked not to phone the firearms department unless absolutely necessary as this ties up staff and will prevent them from processing renewals.

Additionally, Nottinghamshire police has announced changes around medical involvement in firearms licensing from 1 April 2020 onwards. Nottinghamshire police will accept an application for the renewal of a firearm or shotgun certificate without first submitting a medical verification form or report, if your GP is not able to provide this at this time. A report will still be required in the near future when your GP surgery returns to business as usual. 

Click here for more information on these changes

Currently, FEOs are risk assessing the need to visit applicants on renewal. Where it is deemed appropriate, renewal enquiries are being conducted via telephone. Applicants benefiting from telephone renewals will receive a follow-up visit in six months’ time.

Staff are currently producing as many certificates for renewal applications as possible to avoid anyone being left in illegal possession. South Yorkshire police do not foresee this being a likelihood as they extend all certificates for renewal by eight weeks at the point the application is received regardless of how close to renewal it is submitted. A buffer period is already in place for most applicants. 

Applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates have been suspended and will not be progressed at this time. All applicants who are affected are being contacted by letter to inform them of this situation and they are given the opportunity to withdraw and receive a refund.

The firearms licensing department is still functioning as normal at the moment. There is a business continuity plan that will allow them to continue producing certificates etc. if the team has to self-isolate.

Staffordshire Police has suspended applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates.

Applicants are being contacted and asked whether they want their application held on file or if they would prefer an immediate refund, re-applying at a later date.

The firearms licensing unit is prioritising work relating to the renewal of existing certificates. All applications will be dealt with using a risk assessed postal renewal system. Those requiring additional enquiries will be subject to telephone interview.

Applications for variation of firearm certificates will be processed, again utilising telephone interviews where necessary.

Suffolk constabulary has stopped all non-essential home visits whilst the force considers the situation. This includes the firearms licensing department.

Consideration is being given to suspending all work on grant applications except in circumstances where the applicant requires a certificate for essential reasons.

It is planned that a postal renewal system will be implemented, supported by telephone interviews.

Follow-up enquiries requiring a home visit will be deferred to a later date.

Surrey Police has issued the following statement:

We are temporarily unable to process any new applications for the grant of shotgun, firearms or explosives certificates. This is due to home visits no longer being possible, following government guidance on the need for social distancing. Renewal applications are currently still being processed.

Click here for more information.

Sussex Police has issued the following statement:

We are temporarily unable to process any new applications for the grant of shotgun, firearms or explosives certificates. This is due to home visits no longer being possible, following government guidance on the need for social distancing. Renewal applications are currently still being processed.

Click here for more information.

Thames Valley police has updated its advice, which in summary is as follows:

In drawing up contingency plans for the coronavirus outbreak, Thames Valley police acknowledge that planning has been difficult due to the rapidly changing circumstances.

However, as a consequence of the latest government advice, the following plan has been put into place.

In order to minimise the risk of cross contamination, firearms licensing staff will not be conducting any home and/or site visits until further notice. This means that applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates, and the variation of firearm certificates will not be processed. Applicants are asked to delay sending in any grant or variation applications until further notice.

The department’s focus will be on public safety and processing renewal applications to ensure that certificate holders do not fall into unlawful possession. However, the printing of certificates (unless required for livelihood) has been suspended in order to limit the number of staff having to attend the firearms licensing department.

Thames Valley police has sent out a letter to certificate holders expiring up until December 2020. This letter outlined the first phase of the force’s contingency plan and encouraged them to apply for their renewals online and in good time. This letter has had a very positive impact.

Certificate holders are encouraged to apply for their renewals online utilising the new single online home system. It is requested that any correspondence is sent via email.

Applicants are advised to start the renewal process as soon as they receive their reminder renewal letter. This is sent out four months in advance of the expiry date.

Medical Verifications

Thames Valley police still requires a medical verification pro forma. Applicants are being advised at the start of the renewal process to contact either a private GP company or BASC. Whilst they are obtaining this information the firearms licensing department will process their renewal. Certificates will be renewed on the National Firearms Licensing Management System to authorise continued legal possession, but the certificate will not be physically issued until the GP documentation is received and the Government restrictions are lifted.

Some surgeries are now refusing to carry out this non-essential work and the 4 week legal timeframe restriction for a Subject Access Report has been lifted. This effectively means that some surgeries will not supply Medcert, applicants or other private GP companies with the patients’ medical notes until at least June.

Applicants must make every effort to obtain this documentation during the renewal process. Certificate holders will be sent either an email or letter at the end of the application process advising them that their certificate has been renewed and the process they will need to undertake if we have not received their GP documentation.

The above process will not apply to those that have declared a new relevant medical condition. These will be dealt separately by the public safety team.

Click here for more information

On 14 May 2020 Warwickshire Police issued the following statement.

To confirm, in light of the new government COVID-19 advice announced by the Prime Minister on Sunday 10th May 2020, Warwickshire Firearms Licensing Unit, (FLU) will commence the following with immediate effect.

Home visits by our Firearms Enquiry Officers, (FEO’s,) for shotgun/firearm grants and renewals observing the COVID-19, ‘working safely during COVID-19 other people’s homes,’ guidance document.

Guidance includes:

Make appointments before visiting.
Ask the applicant if they will allow a home visit. If the visit is for a new grant, and the applicant does not approve a visit, there application will be returned and refund issued and invited to apply again when they are happy for an FEO to visit.
Establish who will be present when visiting, (ideally only one person.)
Leave internal doors open.
Maintain social distancing in the property.
FEO’s to wear correct PPE, (masks and gloves,) where appropriate and continue with regular hand washings.
When inspecting firearms/shotguns and cabinets to clean first.
Ensure FEO vehicle is cleaned each day/after each visit.
FEO’s have the right to not visit a property if they do not deem it safe to do so.

FEO’s to ask the following three questions before visiting,

1.Does any resident has COVID-19 signs and symptoms..
2.Is any resident is self-isolating due to being in contact with someone with COVID-19 signs and symptoms.
3.If any resident has underlying health issues and self-isolating.

If the answer is yes to any of these question then there will be NO visit.

The safety of our FEO’s is vital, therefore both FEO’s are to read the attached document and confirm via e-mail to you they have read it, understand it and happy to complete the visits.

The following statement has been issued by West Mercia police:

In the next 12 months over 6,300 shotgun certificate holders and 1,500 firearm certificate holders are due to renew with the West Mercia police firearms licencing unit. 

We have placed an immediate, but temporary, halt in processing all shotgun and firearm grant applications, non-urgent (not employment related) variations, visitor permit applications and other minor permits, in order to ensure that our current certificate holders remain in legal possession.  Pending grant applications awaiting process will be refunded and returned.

Pre-emptive action is being taken with regard to expiry prediction and temporary permits will be issued where necessary to alleviate expiry pressures. Certificate holder responsibility to apply for renewal remains and it would be greatly appreciated if this can be completed in good time.  

Home visits will not take place during this period. Certificate holders should expect contact via electronic/telephone communications. 

Sales, purchases, disposals of weapons, change of address or any other change in circumstances need to be reported as normal as per the conditions on your certificate.  You can do this via the ‘Apply or Register’ button on www.westmercia.police.uk

Please also note that we will make every effort to maintain a telephone service, but this will be restricted during this exceptional period.  We currently have phone lines open between 11am and 12 noon, Monday to Friday.  However, we have no facility to leave a message.  You can also contact us via the ‘Apply or Register’ button on www.westmercia.police.uk

We thank you in advance for your understanding at this time, hopefully the measures outlined above will be temporary and normal service will be resumed at the earliest opportunity.

West Midlands police has suspended applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates.

Applicants are being contacted and asked whether they want their application held on file or if they would prefer an immediate refund, re-applying at a later date.

The firearms licensing unit is prioritising work relating to the renewal of existing certificates. All applications will be dealt with using a risk assessed postal renewal system. Those requiring additional enquiries will be subject to telephone interview.

Applications for variation of firearm certificates will be processed, again utilising telephone interviews where necessary.

West Yorkshire police has ceased all firearms enquiry officer visits from 16 March 2020 onwards. As a result this force will not be accepting applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates.

Applications for certificate renewals will continue to be processed.  Interviews will be conducted via telephone with deferred visits being undertaken if required.

Applicants who do not submit their applications at least eight weeks prior to expiry will not qualify for the automatic eight week extension of certificates. Therefore they will be required to lodge their guns.

Wiltshire Police has issued the following statement:

In view of the coronavirus pandemic and following Government advice, for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel, for at least the next 12 weeks, we have temporarily suspended the processing of new applications for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates and also applications to vary a firearm certificate.

We must ensure that we focus on those already in possession of firearms and shotguns and will be prioritising the 350 firearm and shotgun renewal applications, we receive on a monthly basis, to ensure those people are not left in illegal possession of firearms.

We apologise for any inconvenience and ask for your understanding under these difficult circumstances.  We will review the situation in 12 weeks’ time, in line with Government guidance.

Click here for more information.

Northern Ireland

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Firearms and Explosives Branch (FEB) is processing some applications. However due to Covid-19 restrictions, initial (new) grant applications and those variations which require a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) to visit the home of the certificate holder, are not being processed as FEOs are unable to fulfil that aspect of their role. FEOs also collect handguns for ballistic testing and this has also been suspended due to the risks posed by Covid-19.

**Update on Firearms Enquiry Officers Thursday 2 July 2020 **

BASC is delighted to advise members and trade members that PSNI Firearms and Explosives Branch has informed us that Firearms Enquiry Officers (FEO’s) will resume some of their outward facing roles next week. This will be of interest to firearms dealers and those members waiting for FEO home visits e.g. interviews and security inspections, or, for FEO’s to return firearms from safe keeping or ballistic testing.

BASC had been engaging with PSNI FEB on this important issue. BASC had also been engaging with the chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s All-Party Group on Country Sports, Patsy McGlone MLA, who had in turn raised the issue on a number of occasions with PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd.

Click here for more information

Scotland

Police Scotland issued the following update on 1 June.

The current unprecedented circumstances in respect of the Coronavirus has impacted on the ability of Police Scotland to deliver a number of business as usual functions.  Our focus has been on having as many officers as possible available to front line operational policing and support our colleagues in the NHS.

On Monday 23 March, National Firearms and Explosives Licensing advised that interim processes required to be put in place in respect of a number of our services.  Our position is now that we have reviewed our ability and capacity regarding the service we can deliver and will implement the following changes in the timescales indicated:  

Variations

We will accept and process variation applications with immediate effect.  Please send the necessary form and fee to your local processing centre. 

New Grant Applications

From Monday 1 June we will accept grant applications which we will process to the best of our ability. Please be aware however that there are various stages in the grant process including the following.

Completion of a GP response form completed by your doctor.

A visit to your home to assess your security arrangements.

Please note that a grant application cannot be assessed or supported without both elements being completed.

With regard to the information required from your GP, on receipt of your application form you will be sent a letter which you are required to have completed by your GP.  We would ask that you send this by post to your GP practice rather than personal attendance.  Your GP may wish a face to face consultation prior to completing the form however this is at individual GP’s discretion.  

At this time, GP’s may not consider completion of this form a priority and you should be prepared to accept and understand this.

Visits to your home will only be undertaken by prior arrangement with the attending officer after a risk assessment has been completed.  You will be asked a series of questions including if you and any family members who reside at your address are in good health or suffering from any symptoms of Coronavirus.  You will also be asked if your family members could isolate themselves in another area of your house whilst the visit takes place to facilitate physical distancing.  Officers will endeavour to spend the minimum time necessary in your home.

If you are not willing or able to allow access to your home, please do not apply until you are in a position to facilitate this.

If you are content to adhere the guidelines outlined, send your application form and fee to your local processing centre.  Please be prepared to accept that we may not be in a position to process your application within 16 weeks due to circumstances out-with our control.

Renewal Applications

Government advice is to avoid non-essential contact and travel and Police Scotland will continue to adhere to this. As a result, home visits undertaken by Firearms Enquiry Officers remain suspended meantime in respect of renewal applications.

If you are currently in the renewal process and have received and completed your renewal pack, you will shortly be contacted by a member of staff.  If you wish to proceed with your renewal, this will be managed in the interim period remotely.  You will be asked to return your completed paperwork to a processing centre or police office and we will endeavour to renew your certificate prior to expiry. If this cannot be achieved, legislative contingencies exist in the form of temporary extensions and temporary permits which will allow you to continue to possess and use your firearms. 

We will aim however to complete your renewal without the need to resort to this.

If your renewal is due between 1 August and 31 December 2020, you will receive your renewal pack as normal in the coming weeks and months.

Please refer to this page for guidance and information as we will continue to review this dynamic situation and publish updates in relation to any changes in our process. 

Change of Address/Transfers In

If you are an existing firearms or shotgun certificate holder and you require to notify us of a change of address, or are transferring into Scotland from a UK force, this will be processed and you will be communicated with directly. 

Visitor Permits

We are now in a position to accept Visitor Permit applications.  Please be aware however that travel restrictions currently remain in place throughout Scotland and is limited to essential journeys only. If you are considering applying, please refer to the Scottish Government website and guidance in respect of travel arrangements and social distancing before you apply.  Please consider your application carefully. Where Visitor Permits have already been granted and you are unable to visit Scotland, you will not be disadvantaged and we will seek to allocate a future date or a refund if this is more preferable to you. 

Please contact NFEL by email/telephone with any queries you may have.  Our phone lines will only be open to receive calls between 0900hrs and 1200hrs daily.  

We would be obliged if you could refrain from personal attendance at police offices meantime.

Wales

Dyfed-Powys police has issued the following update:

Please note changes to firearms licensing process with immediate effect and until further notice:

In consequence of the exceptional challenges posed by the Coronavirus outbreak, all contact with the firearms licensing department will be by email only.

It is requested that contact is restricted to urgent queries only. The email address is Firearmslicensing2@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk

Additionally and in line with Government and health service advice in order to maintain social distancing, home visits will cease until further notice unless considered necessary in exceptional cases.

  • No new grant applications will be considered.
  • No new variation applications will be considered.

Any new grant or variation application received will be returned to the applicant.

No front counter service will be provided by firearms licensing staff at police headquarters Llangunnor Carmarthen.

It is fully recognised that these changes may be inconvenient, however they are absolutely necessary in the interest of staff and public health.

Firearms licensing would like to thank you for your understanding and co-operation during these unprecedented times.

Gwent Police is currently continuing to do home visits, but this will be subject to continuous review.

The firearms licensing department will endeavour to deal with renewals in a timely manner. However, they have made it clear that they were already struggling with volumes prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gwent police is looking to utilise staff from elsewhere within the organisation that can assist Firearms Licensing by undertaking relevant background checks.

Temporary extensions to existing certificates will be issued to ensure the continued legal possession of guns.

Individual applying for the grant of firearm and shotgun certificates are being advised to put their application on hold or alternatively request a refund.

North Wales police has temporarily suspended its mandatory GP verification policy for firearms licensing.

The force has informed BASC that the reason it has decided to do this is “to avoid placing any additional pressure on frontline medical practitioners and their teams due to the COVID 19 emergency”. 

North Wales police has also issued the following statement:

The firearms and explosives licensing team are currently working hard to process all existing casework, whilst responding to the challenges posed by the COVID 19 outbreak. At this moment we have stopped all home visits, unless in exceptional circumstances, in order to assist with social distancing.

We will look to use other methods to get in touch with you regarding your firearms. To assist at this time we would be grateful if you could avoid emailing or telephoning the unless your query is of an urgent nature.

We do anticipate that processing existing grants, renewals or variations will take longer than normal below are some FAQs and answers that may avoid the need to contact us.

We would ask that anyone considering submitting a new grant or variation request to avoid doing so unless absolutely essential as there is likely to be a significant delay in processing these requests.

Please keep checking our webpages for further updates. 

FAQs

Q: I have submitted a renewal/grant/variation some weeks ago and haven’t heard anything. What should I do?”

A: Unless your certificate (s) shows that you have expired please wait until we contact you.

Q: My certificate has expired. What should I do?

A: Please contact us, ideally by email so that we can discuss your individual circumstances. If you have forgotten to renew, and are in possession of guns then you should, as a matter of urgency arrange for them to be transferred to another certificate holder or dealer, and notify us in writing or via email of where and who the guns have been transferred to

South Wales police has issued the following statement.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak a review of firearms licensing priorities has been undertaken.

Unfortunately we are not able to deal with any non-urgent requests at this time and this includes all grant applications and variations.

We will continue to process renewal applications and will ensure certificate holders are covered.

We would ask that all communication is sent to the department by email only, this includes notifications of sales and change of address.

Please bear with us during this unprecedented time.

If you have an urgent enquiry please email the department and a member of the team will contact you: firearms.licensing@south-wales.pnn.police.uk

Your cooperation and assistance is much appreciated.

Click here for more information.

Related pages

Nature carries on

BASC’s Mike Thornley talks about the soaring success of BASC’s Osprey project and how despite current circumstances, nature carries on.

Close Menu