BASC’s medical panel provides a speedy resolution to members who are being let down and delayed by unhelpful GPs during the firearms licensing process.
Visiting the UK to shoot
To visit Great Britain with a firearm you will need to apply for a visitor’s firearm or shotgun permit at least six weeks before you travel. Anyone attempting to enter Great Britain without a visitor’s firearm or shotgun permit will not be allowed to enter with their firearms.
Certain firearms are prohibited in Great Britain such as semi-automatic rifles (other than .22 rimfire) and the majority of handguns/pistols (except for use at events such as the Olympics and only where specific authority has been granted by His Majesty’s Government). The police, on receipt of a visitor’s permit application, will determine whether a particular firearm will be allowed into Great Britain.
The police will refuse to grant a visitor’s permit where there are grounds for believing that possession of the firearms and ammunition in question represent a danger to public safety or to the peace, e.g. if the applicant has a criminal history.
PLEASE NOTE: All criminal convictions have to be declared to UK police, however old and regardless of whether they are viewed as spent in the applicant’s country of residence.
What do visitor's permits allow?
Under Section 17 of the Firearms Act 1968, a visitor to Great Britain may, if granted a visitor’s permit, have in their possession firearms, shotguns or ammunition without holding a certificate.
The holder of a visitor’s firearm permit may have in their possession (but cannot purchase) a firearm and they may purchase, acquire or have in their possession any ammunition to which Section 1 of the 1968 Act applies (e.g. rifle ammunition).
The holder of a visitor’s shotgun permit may have in their possession, purchase or acquire shotguns and is exempt from the requirement to produce a shotgun certificate when purchasing cartridges (which must contain 5 or more shot, none of which exceeds .36 inches in diameter).
Visitor’s shotgun permits do not allow the borrowing of shotguns for 72 hours as with UK shotgun certificates.
Visitor’s permits are not only issued to enable firearms to be brought into the UK. They may be issued to allow possession of firearms and shotguns already held in the UK where the visitor needs to possess them without supervision in the same way as if they had brought their own gun from abroad.
How do I apply for a visitor's firearm or shotgun permit?
Form 107 should be used to apply for both firearm and/or shotgun permits and may be used for group applications.
An application for a visitor’s firearm or shotgun permit will need a Great Britain resident to act as a sponsor and to submit the application to their local firearms licensing department on behalf of the visitor. Permits will be sent by the police to the sponsor, who will in turn forward them to the visitor.
The sponsor may be a private individual, or they may make the application in the capacity of a club, shooting syndicate, country estate or shooting organisation. In most cases, a private sponsor will be a GB certificate holder, but this is not a requirement.
How much do permits cost?
Visitor’s firearm permits
1-5 people: £20 per person
6-20 people: £100 for the group
Visitor’s shotgun permits
1-5 people: £20 per person
6-20 people: £100 for the group
Where should applications be submitted?
Applications must be sent by the Great Britain-based sponsor to their local firearms licensing department.
Firearms licensing department contacts list (E&W) (NEED CONVERTING TO A SEARCH INSTEAD OF A DOWNLOAD)
Firearms Licensing department contacts (Scotland)
Visitor’s permits may be issued to allow possession of firearms and shotguns already held in the UK i.e., to allow the borrower to possess them without being in the presence of the owner under the exemptions described in the above advice documents, and where the owner of the firearm or shotgun is happy with the visitor’s competence to be safe.
How long does a permit last?
Permits can be issued for up to one year to allow flexibility and repeat visits; but the police may in specific circumstances restrict permits depending on the nature of the proposed event, competition or activity (e.g. hunting)
Please note: A permit must be signed by the visitor when he/she receives it. Permits also carry instructions and conditions that the visitor must abide by.
Instructions are the same on every permit, though conditions can vary between police forces and should be carefully read when permits are received.
If a permit carries a mistake it must be rectified as soon as possible by notifying the police who issued the permit. A wrong serial number or calibre may prevent the firearms being brought past Customs/UK Border Agency into Great Britain and ruin the visit.
Can I buy a firearm or ammunition in Great Britain with a visitor's permit?
Firearms permits do not allow the purchase of Section 1 firearms, they merely allow the visitor to possess and use their own firearms while in Great Britain.
Firearms ammunition may be bought upon production of the permit to the seller. The seller must not sell more ammunition than the permit allows the visitor to hold. The seller is not required to make any entries on the permit in these circumstances.
Shotgun permits allow the purchase of shotguns; however specific permission (including calibre) must be sought first using Form 107 (See question 20). Where authorisation has been granted to purchase a shotgun in Great Britain the permit must be produced to the seller who will endorse the permit with the details of the shotgun.
Shotgun ammunition may be bought by a shotgun permit holder simply by producing the permit to the seller. The seller is not required to make any entries on the permit in these circumstances.
What do I do when I arrive at a port or airport?
The visitor must be carrying his or her permit/s on entry into Great Britain when carrying firearms or shotguns and must declare their firearms and permits to Customs/UK Border Agency on arrival.
What about Northern Ireland?
Although Northern Ireland is UK sovereign territory, visitor’s permits issued for Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) are not valid in the country. Additional permissions are needed from the relevant police authorities.
Anyone wishing to take firearms to Northern Ireland from outside the United Kingdom should be aware that a valid certificate of approval, from the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), is required.
Air weapons with a muzzle energy of greater than 1 joule are also required to be licensed in Northern Ireland and the same approval from PSNI is necessary. Advice on obtaining the approval can be found here. Form 30-38 should be used by non-GB residents. For residents of the EU zone the application form must be accompanied by either an original European Firearms Pass or a complete copy.
If you hold a firearm and shotgun certificate issued in England, Wales or Scotland then a certificate of approval is no longer required to visit Northern Ireland, although this does not apply to air weapons and a certificate of approval is still required.
If you wish to use firearms for anything not covered by the conditions of your firearm certificate you must apply for a certificate of approval using form 30-15.
What about the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands?
Can I bring air weapons to Great Britain?
Air weapon law in Great Britain is complicated. Some require certificates or permits to possess them and some are exempt in special circumstances. Some air pistols are prohibited weapons and may not be brought into Great Britain under any circumstances.
Please contact BASC for further advice by calling +44 (0) 1244-573010 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
I do not want to bring my firearms to Great Britain, can I still use a firearm?
If you do not intend to bring your own firearms to Great Britain, there are exemptions that allow the use of firearms and shotguns while you are here without the need for a certificate.
Borrowing Rifles (DOWNLOAD NEEDS TO BE UPDATED AND MADE INTO A PAGE)
Borrowing Shotguns (DOWNLOAD NEEDS TO BE UPDATED AND MADE INTO A PAGE)
Transfers of shotguns to the holder of a visitor’s shotgun permit.
Obligations to conduct and notify transactions are all contained in the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, Sections 32 and 33.
Where the visitor applies to acquire a shotgun while in the UK, the visitor’s shotgun permits will contain calibre-specific authorities to allow the acquisition of shotguns. No shotgun may be acquired without prior authority. The following procedures apply;
- Section 32 requires the transferee (permit holder) to produce their permit in order to purchase or acquire a shotgun from the transferor (a firearms dealer or the holder of a shotgun certificate, temporary permit or another visitor’s shotgun permit).
- The transferor must enter the details of the shotgun purchased or acquired by the visitor into Part 3 of their visitor’s permit.
The transferee (permit holder) must notify the transaction within seven days* to the police licensing department that issued their permit.
- The final handover of the shotgun must be in person i.e. face to face.
- Visitor’s shotgun permits allow the holder to acquire/purchase etc shotgun cartridges without holding a shotgun certificate.
*Notifications must be within seven days by registered post, the recorded delivery service or email to the designated address published by each police licensing department.
Transfers of metallic (rifle/pistol) ammunition to the holder of a visitor’s firearm permit.
Visitor’s firearm permits allow the purchase/acquisition of ammunition only. Shotgun ammunition is not covered by the following procedures, see above;
- Section 32 requires the transferee (permit holder) to produce their permit in order to acquire ammunition from the transferor (a firearms dealer or the holder of a firearm certificate, temporary permit or another visitor’s firearm permit).
- The transferor must ensure that only the authorised ammunition calibre and type is transferred. He does not have to record the ammunition on the visitor’s permit as there is no facility to do so.
- There is no requirement for either party to inform the police of ammunition transactions.
- The final handover of the ammunition must be face-to-face.
Bringing firearms to the UK in other circumstances
England, Wales & Scotland
The following document covers all subjects relating to the importation of firearms into Great Britain for other reasons than visiting Great Britain to shoot e.g. when coming to the UK to live or as part of a diplomatic mission.
For information on Guernsey call – +44 (0) 1481-725111 extension 2532