Applying for a Firearms Certificate (FAC)

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This page is intended to give prospective shooters information on the procedures involved in applying for a Firearms Certificate (FAC) in the United Kingdom. The procedure has been significantly complicated since the Cullen Inquiry with the introduction of a requirement to have 2 referees and extra forms for them to complete. Some modifications to the forms have been made in December 2014 which simplify the paperwork somewhat. However I'm sure we all want the ownership of firearms to continue in as safe a way as possible and anyway what's a few forms compared to the enjoyment of shooting as hobby for 5 years!

CONTENTS

Who Can Apply?

Fees

The Application Forms (201).

Security

Photographs.

Quantities of Firearms

Convictions

Quantities of Ammunition

Suitability to Possess Firearms

Black Powder

Renewals

Home Office Guidance Notes 2013

Variations


 Who Can Apply?

Only full members of target shooting clubs or those with permission to shoot over land may apply for a FAC. If your sole use of firearms is for target shooting then you must remain a member of at least one target shooting club or the police will no longer consider that you have a legitimate reason for owning firearms and are likely to revoke your FAC.  

The Application Form (Form 201)

Forms changed in December 2014 to a simpler format. Forms are standard and their contents are prescribed by the Home Office. The form is used for applying for the grant of a FAC. Some police forces issued supplementary forms which ask additional questions but they are not mandatory and do not necessarily have to be completed. However unless the questions are irrelevant to the issue of applying for a licence to purchase, own and use firearms and ammunition, my view is that it is better to complete all forms honestly as it will no doubt help your application to slip smoothly through the police's administrative procedures.

Form 201 is issued by your local police force and can usually be collected from any police station. If supplies are not available a call to the Firearms Licensing Department (in Humberside this is at Firearms Licensing Officer, Tower Grange Police Station, Holderness Road, Hull, HU8 9HP, telephone number 01482 597482) will normally get a form posted to you. Alternatively you can download one from most police  firearms  department websites.

The form should be completed and sent or taken to the Police Firearms Licensing Department and must be accompanied by 4 identical current photographs of the applicant (passport size), one of which must be signed on the back in ink by the applicant. Each of your 2 referees must also sign and date a separate photograph.

NB - Detailed Home Office notes accompanying the 2014 forms are reproduced here for your information.

Convictions

You are not entitled to withhold information about any offence you may have committed. This includes motoring offences, convictions in places outside the UK and (by virtue of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order1975) convictions which are 'spent' under the 1974 Act. A conditional discharge and an absolute discharge count as convictions for this purpose.

Suitability to Possess Firearms

The police must be satisfied that you are a fit person to be entrusted with firearms without danger to public safety or to the peace. The police will take into account whether there is any known history of alcohol, drug or medication abuse, violent of unsociable behavior or mental or psychiatric disorder. Your referees will be asked to indicate any such occurrences and mention anything which gives them cause for concern about your suitability to possess firearms.

Renewals

Applications for renewal of a FAC must also be accompanied by 2 references. The referee(s) who have agreed to act for you must have known you personally for at least two years and must be resident in Great Britain. Referees must not be a member of your family, a registered firearms dealer, a serving police officer or police employee. Referees must be of good character and references must be given freely and not on payment.

Variations

You can apply at any time to vary your FAC if you want to add a new gun or have a gun you have sold or transferred taken off to regain a 'slot 'for a replacement. One-for-one variations are usually free but there is a charge if you want to add an extra gun(s). A simpler form is now used for variations.

Fees

The application must be accompanied by a cheque for the appropriate fee.

Security

The Police will undoubtedly require you to keep guns and ammunition in a British Standard 'Kitemarked' gun safe(s) or in a properly constructed gun room. Home made cabinets may be acceptable but you should seek police advice as to construction requirements. Humberside police expect you to have a British Standard alarm system if you wish to hold more than 9 guns. An alarm is not however a legal requirement. The gun safe must be securely rawl-bolted to a solid wall of the house and not be in a position which is readily visible to casual view. Inside a wardrobe, concealed under the stairs or in a loft are good places. Ammunition must be kept in a separate lockable metal box, again securely fixed to a wall. Some cabinets have a separate, lockable section for ammunition. 14g steel is usual in BS approved safes and external 'piano' type hinges are frowned upon as they are thought to be susceptible to attack - though I think stout piano hinges with multiple weld points would hold out against attack by a thief for quite a while.

If you are considering rifles with telescopic sights then my advice would be to buy an extra deep cabinet designed to hold scoped rifles as you may find the standard cabinets too restrictive. A good rule of thumb is to buy a cabinet as large as you can afford and install.

One thing you absolutely must not do is tell the Police that anyone other than yourself has keys to your safe (unless others in your house have FACs for all of the guns kept inside. A celebrated case where a solicitor had told his 85 year old mother where he kept a spare key for emergencies resulted in a revocation of his FAC (which he'd held for many years) when she helpfully offered to show police officers the cabinet in her son's absence. The revocation was upheld following an appeal. 

Quantities of Firearms

There is no legal limit to how many guns and ammunition you may apply for. However, the greater the quantity then the greater will be the necessity to justify your requests to the police. I usually advise new applicants to be realistic and put down what guns they are likely to buy in the 5 years duration of the FAC and quantities of ammunition which are economical to purchase but are reasonable.

For our Club, I usually advise applicants to put down a carbine rifle (i.e. one chambered for pistol ammunition such as .357 magnum, .44 magnum such as a Winchester or Marlin underlever), a .22 rifle (perhaps 2 as a semi-automatic may be required for 'action' disciplines and a bolt-action may be more appropriate for precision target shooting) a muzzle-loading pistol and muzzle-loading revolver. We can also shoot large calibre centre-fire rifles at our affiliated club (Killingholme Full Bore Club) and MoD Strensall so it would therefore be in order to put down for a 5.56, .303, .308,  7.62mm, or .270 rifle etc.

Quantities of Ammunition

You will have to enter the quantity of ammunition you wish to purchase. You could, for example, put down 2000 .22s to purchase (discounts are not likely to be offered on quantities under 1000 and some dealers may even look for purchases of 5000 before reducing their prices!). For centrefire ammunition I have found that 800 of the most frequently used calibres is sufficient. For calibres such as .303 or .308 etc. you might consider smaller amounts as these are relatively expensive and a good day's shoot at Strensall would be unlikely to involve you shooting more than 50 rounds. Don't forget that your separate ammunition safe should be capable of storing all the ammunition you want to hold.

Black Powder

Black powder can only be bought and stored if you have an Explosives Certificate and a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) "Recipient Competent Authority Transfer Document" (these are free at present but must be applied for on forms obtainable from the police - Pyrodex (a black powder substitute) can be obtained without any certification. You may only store a maximum of 30 kilos of powder but as it is relatively expensive, doesn't have an indefinite shelf life and is potentially dangerous, this shouldn't worry you at all. It is worth bearing in mind however that the 30 Kg total would also include any powder in loaded rounds and/or shotgun cartridges and even in primers! 

Storage of black powder is best in a lockable wooden box and Humberside Police are happy for the box to be portable so in the event of fire it could be taken outside. I feel it is advisable that the box should be kept out of view and most certainly out of the reach of children - which of course goes for all firearms and related equipment.

Home Office Notes for Applicants (Form 201A)

APPLICATION FOR THE GRANT OR RENEWAL OF A FIREARM AND/OR
SHOTGUN CERTIFICATE
NOTES Please read these BEFORE completing the form

FORM 201A
FIREARM: Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended) applies to all firearms except:
i. a shotgun;
ii. an air weapon (unless declared ‘specially dangerous’);
iii. prohibited weapons such as centrefire self- loading rifles, handguns, machine guns etc (unless specifically authorised).
Shotgun: Section 1(3)a of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended) defines a shotgun as:
i. a smooth bore gun (not being an air weapon);
ii. having a barrel not less than 24’’ (60.96cm) and a bore less than 2’’ (5.08cm);
iii. either having no magazine, or a non-detachable magazine incapable of holding more than two cartridges;
iv. not a revolver gun.

1. You must not withhold information about any conviction. This includes motoring offences, binding overs, formal written warnings, cautions and convictions in and outside Great Britain, and (by virtue of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975) convictions which are spent under the 1974 Act. A conditional discharge and an absolute discharge both count as convictions for this purpose. Details of parking offences and fixed penalty notices do not need to be declared.

2. Applications must be accompanied by four identical photographs of you and sized 45mm x 35mm. The photographs must be full face and without a hat and must be a current true likeness. Ordinary passport style photographs are suitable for this purpose. A computer generated likeness is acceptable if it is full face, against a plain background and printed on good quality gloss or matt paper. If you are applying for both a firearm and a shotgun certificate you need only submit four photographs.

3. One of the photographs must be signed in ink, on the back by you, the applicant. Each of the referees must endorse a further separate photograph, in ink with her/his signature and the date the likeness was compared.

4. Unless otherwise advised by the police, you should post or take the completed form together with the fee and photographs to the police firearms licensing department. In the case of an application for renewal of a shotgun certificate, the current certificate or a signed and dated recent copy should be included with the application.

5. Personal health and medical declaration. You must disclose any physical or mental health condition that may affect your ability to safely possess and use a firearm (including a shotgun). This includes for example epilepsy, stroke, stress related illness, depression, alcoholism, heart disease, cancer etc. If in doubt, consult your GP.

6. Where an application is successful a letter will be sent to your GP and where there is good reason a medical report may be required.

7. To apply for both a firearm certificate and a shotgun certificate and to have them expire at the same time (coterminous certificates) you should complete the sections for firearm and shotgun certificates. The fee payable for such certificates may be less than the normal fee for the grant or renewal of a shotgun certificate if both of your application forms are dealt with at the same time.

8. (1) To acquire or possess firearms or ammunition under Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968, you have to provide evidence that you have a good reason to do so. This applies to the grant, renewal or variation of a firearm certificate. This evidence can take several forms: permission to shoot over land or membership of a target shooting club, or a booking or invitation to go deer stalking are examples, but these are not exhaustive.

Section 1: Firearm Only

(2) Please provide the address of one area of land where you have permission to shoot, together with the name, address and telephone number of the person who has given you that permission or the details of a Home Office approved club of which you are a full member. NB: You will not necessarily be limited to shooting over that individual piece of land or at that club.

9. You must complete parts A and B before passing the form to your referee(s) for signing.

10. When applying for a firearm certificate, two people who have agreed to act as referees must complete Part F (i & ii) and when applying for a shotgun certificate one person who has agreed to act as referee must complete part F (i).

11. The referee(s) who have agreed to act for you must have known you personally for at least two years and must be resident in Great Britain. Referees must not be a member of your family, a registered firearms dealer, a serving police officer or police employee. Referees must be of good character and references must be given freely and not on payment.

12. The equality monitoring information you provide in Part G aims to assist the force in meeting its duties as a Public Authority. The information will be kept separately from the application.
July 2013
FORM 201A

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