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Your Questions

What happens when my certificate or permit has expired?

If your certificate expires as a result of a delay on your part in submitting your renewal paperwork and payment. (i.e. this is not received one-month prior to expiry) then you are responsible for appropriately lodging your guns on or before the expiry date. Failure to do so would result in you being in illegal possession.

If as a result of any concerns identified during the application process (such as, but not limited to, medical or security) Essex police is not in a position to renew your certificate you will be advised accordingly and will be required to ensure that any guns are appropriately lodged prior to the certificate expiry date.

In the event that Essex police is responsible for the delay in processing the renewal and there are no concerns identified as above, a temporary permit will be issued. Please be aware that these permits may arrive with you a few days after the certificate expiry date however they are valid on the system therefore you will not be in illegal possession.

How long does the process take once you have received my application?

Please refer to our service delivery page.

What is a prohibited person?

A person who has been sentenced to imprisonment, detention or corrective training for a term of three years or more, is permanently prohibited from having any firearms or ammunition in their possession. This means for life and includes all firearms, even air weapons.

A person sentenced to imprisonment, detention or corrective training for a period of over three months but less than three years is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition for five years from date of release.

These also includes suspended sentences.

It is an offence to sell or transfer firearms and ammunition to a person you have grounds to believe may be prohibited.

Applications should not be submitted until this prohibition period has expired and any received during the prohibition period will be returned to the applicant unprocessed.

Why are applications refused or revoked?

A firearm certificate may be refused or revoked if the applicant/holder is:

  • A danger to public safety
  • Of intemperate habits
  • Of unsound mind
  • Unfit to be entrusted with such a firearm
  • No longer has ‘good reason’ for possession

Should you be subject to a review then please be aware that this is a lengthy process and you will be contacted once a decision has been made. These decisions may be appealed at court.

Further information is contained within the Home Office ‘Guide on Firearms Licensing Law’

What do I do if I move house?

Conditions on your certificate state you must notify us of a change of permanent address. To do this take a copy of the certificate and post the original to us with a short note stating your new address and telephone number and when the change will take effect. We will also require details of whether you have moved in with a person already residing at the address or whether this was a vacant occupancy. A security check may need to be carried out. For any change of address out of our force area your file will be transferred to the relevant licensing office.

Unexpected possession of a firearm – what should I do?

You are advised to contact either your local Police or Firearms Licensing Authority as soon as possible.  Avoid placing yourself in danger or in jeopardy.

If you find unlicensed weapons, for instance discovering them in your loft having just moved into a new address, do not handle them - they could be loaded and in a dangerous condition. Immediately call your local police who will remove them safely and dispose of them for you.

If you are left with firearms that you know had been legally held (this could be due to the death of a Certificate holder, who was a close relative) you have several options.

Temporary Permit

You could request a permit to allow lawful access to the weapons in order to give you time to decide the best means of disposal. The Police are empowered in such circumstances to issue a Temporary Permit, which would normally be restricted to possession only (not use) and be valid for a limited period of time, usually a month, but in certain circumstances can be longer. To request this, you need to contact the Firearms Licensing authority.

Registered Firearms Dealer

You could arrange for them to be placed with a Registered Firearms Dealer for storage and/or sale.

Certificate Holder

You may know of other Certificate Holders to whom they may be transferred (this would depend on them having sufficient storage and, in the case of guns that had been held on a Firearms Certificate, the authority to acquire that particular type of weapon).


Another alternative is to have the weapons ‘deactivated’, which would render them safe and remove them from all legislation relating to firearms. They would still retain the original appearance but would be incapable of discharging a missile.

Can my partner or a member of my family transport my firearm or shot gun for me?

Not unless they hold either a certificate or permit in their own right for the firearms or Shotguns.

When applying for a certificate must I declare all convictions?

Yes, including traffic convictions and offences committed abroad.

How old must I be to have a firearm?

Firearms law varies depending on your age. Please see our guidance on ages (PDF document, 33Kb)

How do I notify you if I buy, sell, lose or otherwise gain or dispose of a firearm or shotgun?

You must advise us within seven days in writing. You can do this by completing our 123 form. Although you are under no obligation to use this form it will ensure all necessary details are passed to the police. This form should also be sent to Essex Police by recorded delivery, registered post or by e-mail at [email protected] to notify us of the destruction or disposal of a firearm.

How do I secure My Firearms / Shotguns whilst travelling away from home? 

Considerations when firearms are being taken to venues involving overnight or longer accommodation include:

  • Obtaining accommodation which provides secure facilities (some hotels offer this service) but the certificate holder (whose responsibility it is) should satisfy himself that no unauthorised person has access to the security, for example by having spare keys to a cabinet;
  • Separating and retaining possession of integral parts of the firearm to prevent it being used; or 
  • Using portable security devices, such as security cords.


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