The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015

From 31 December 2016 the Scottish Government is introducing a new licensing system for most air weapons in Scotland.

The new law is set out in Part 1 of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, which you can find here

This website sets out some of the main points of the legislation and answers many of the most frequently asked questions.  It also provides more detailed guidance to the police and to air weapon users.

About the new law

Why is the new law being introduced?

For reasons of public safety. Although crimes involving guns are significantly down on the figure in 2007, air weapons were used in almost half of all offences involving a firearm in 2013-14.

We aim to make sure that only people with a proper reason to have a gun can do so.  Those who would misuse air weapons should no longer have access to them. 

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What does this mean for air weapon owners and users?

Until now, most air weapons did not need a firearm certificate, but now everyone will have to have an air weapons licence to possess, use, purchase or acquire an air weapon in Scotland, unless they are subject to one of a number of exemptions.

Air weapon owners need to decide whether they want to apply for a licence, sell their weapon(s) or hand them into the police.

When can I apply for a licence? 

From 1 July 2016, if you own or use an air weapon in Scotland you can apply for a licence from Police Scotland.

From 31 December 2016, it will be an offence to own or use an air weapon without the proper certificate or permit. This includes buying an air weapon, someone giving one to you, or simply having an air weapon in your possession.

Who is exempt from having a licence?

Exemptions may apply (this means you don't need a licence) in certain situations, including if you're:

  • a member of an air weapon club and only use a gun at the club or events linked to the club
  • a member of a cadet corps and only use a gun for specific activities linked to the corps shooting at a recreational shooting facility

If you want to know more about the exemptions from needing an air weapons licence, visit

What if I already hold a firearm or shot gun licence?

You won’t require a new licence until your existing one is due for renewal, unless you want to purchase a new air weapon before that time.

What will it cost?

The fee for a full 5 year certificate will be £72.00.  Other fees will apply for visitors to Scotland, those under 18, or for those applying for other types of permit, and for air weapons clubs seeking approval.

The full table of fees can be found at

Your first certificate may last less than 5 years before it needs to be renewed, and a lesser fee would therefore be payable.  Police Scotland will contact you if this is the case, and will provide details as to the cost of your certificate and how to pay.

How to apply for a certificate

The Chief Constable of Police Scotland must be satisfied that an applicant can be permitted to have an air weapon.

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How to dispose of unwanted air weapons

Anyone who wants to hand-in an air weapon should contact their local police station.

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