How do you get a Shotgun Licence (SGC)?
Anyone who has a shotgun or is planning on getting one needs to hold an appropriate licence. If you’re a beginner looking for your first licence, it would be very wise to begin your application immediately, well before you buy your shotgun, as you can be waiting many months before you receive acceptance.
An important thing to note is that even if you only want to buy/own shotgun cartridges, then you’ll still need that licence.
How do you apply?
The applications process is managed by your local police department, meaning not all pathways are identical across the country. There is however a common application form, which you can download and fill out. You can also get this from the licensing unit of your local police. If you’re unsure of where your local police department is, use this site to enter your postcode and find out.
In some localities, you’ll even be able to submit your request online to save you from the handwriting!
The Shotgun Certificate (SGC) comes at a price of just under £80 (£79.50) for a new applicant, and £49 if you’re renewing. Once you’ve completed your form and sent it away for review, you’ll be informed of your progress by text message or email regularly.
For shooters under 18
You can be as old or as young as you like to be granted an SGC, which is different from a firearms licence. Regulations were adjusted last year (in late 2019) to state that if the SGC applicant is under 18, then the responsibility of storage and management of the shotgun/ammunition must be given to a parent or guardian who is over 18 years old. This does NOT mean that the parent/guardian needs an SGC themselves. If the responsible adult doesn’t have their own certificate, the police will probably suggest that the shotgun is kept in a double-locked cabinet, with one key being held by the guardian and once being held by an SGC holder.
This way, the shotgun can only be accessed when each of the key holders is on site.
The application process
It’s always wise to fill out a form in practice before submitting the real thing. So it would be sensible to get yourself two copies of the form, so you can be confident of your information the second time around.
The real key pointers to understand are:
- The police will only hand out an SGC if they are certain that you won’t be a danger to the public, which means your convictions history will be thoroughly checked. This is section C on the form and if you fail to fill this in precisely, your application will be declined.
- The other vital section is the mental and physical health declaration. This is part B and you’re required to state any conditions which would hamper your ability to use a shotgun properly and responsibly. This includes the obvious mental health issues but also things like depression, epilepsy, cardiac disease and cancer etc.
- Gun storage is something that you’ll need to have a careful think about. The police will need to know exactly how and where you’re going to store your shotgun. If you’re wanting to keep your shotgun at your house, you will need a proper gun safe that is fitted to requirements.
- You’ll need to be verified by a witness who can confidently approve your fitness and readiness to possess a licence. This person needs to have known you for longer than 2 years and obviously can’t be one of your family members or someone who works within the police force. They also cannot be an RFD (Registered Firearms Dealer). Make sure the person knows you well enough to give an honest and accurate account.
- Your form will be complete when you’ve included a recent, passport-style photo of yourself. You can then send your form to the local police authority along with your £79.50 application cost.
- It’s strongly recommended that you send your form using tracked mail, so that you have proof of both delivery and send.
What are the next steps?
Your application isn’t finished just yet, you’ll be notified as to whether your form has been passed; then it’s time for a home visit from the local police. At this point, you need to show proof that your gun cabinet has been safely installed and ready to hold a shotgun. Your application will complete far quicker if you’ve covered this base before your home visitThe police will also talk to you about your application and whether your answers match up in person.
You’ll probably be asked why it is that you’d like to possess a shotgun. The answer to this will obviously be that you’ve taken an interest in Fieldsports as a hobby and that you want to start learning shooting sports.
This home visit will be the final approval for your request and if the officers are happy with their visit, they can then issue a notice to the officer in Chief, so you can get your certificate passed through.
Regarding the security/gun storage, if your storage arrangements were approved during your home visit, your licence is automatically granted and will be sent in the post. If you didn’t have your cabinet sorted yet, the police will give you a revised date to have this completed by, so that they can return to your property to issue the licence in person.
What happens if I am refused an SGC?
If for some reason you don’t pass the application process, there will usually be a good reason for doing so. If you feel like you’ve been unfairly denied or you’re confused as to what you can do to pass, you should try and speak to a renowned shooting authority or association like CPSA who should be able to help you take the next steps.
What if I want to renew my certificate?
The police often take quite a while to work through all of the pending renewal requests as there are so many, and checks have to be made with precise detail in order to keep people safe. Because of this a lot of local forces will offer early renewals so that your wait time doesn’t have to be so long. Even without the early renewal option, we would always recommend submitting your request for a renewed certificate at least 3 months before your actual expiry date, that way the process will be greatly sped up.
Some of the key points to bear in mind which might differ from your initial application:
- When highlighting your criminal convictions, you need to include motoring offences for speeding etc. but fixed penalty notices and parking offences are exempt. You’ll still need to include any convictions you previously noted on your first application.
- To make the checks and verifications of your renewal a lot simpler and more efficient, it would be wise to attach a copy of your past certificates which may allow the police to bypass a couple of admin steps.
- Make sure you don’t hand over your current certificate before your renewal has completed; this will be essential for purchasing cartridges in the meantime, as well as proving your clearance to own a shotgun.
- If you’re submitting your renewal online then you’ll of course have to provide a digital photo rather than a physical one.
- You’re entitled to request a ‘Section 7 Temporary Permit’ if admin delays cause your current SGC to expire before your renewal is approved - read more about these permits here.
That’s the real ins and outs of the processes you’ll have to go through before you can start shooting. Remember that although the applications may seem a little long-winded and slow, it’s highly essential work that prevents the wrong people getting their hands on a gun - so provide as much helpful detail as you can and prepare yourself for the process. Then, you’ll be able to get yourself up and running in the wonderful world of shooting...