FAQs

What air weapons will need a certificate under this law?

  • Unsure if you will need a certificate?

    Broadly speaking, if your airgun can fire a missile with a muzzle energy above 1 joule but below 12 foot pounds (or 6 foot pounds for an air pistol) you will need to get a certificate or permit.  Air weapons with muzzle energy above these levels are likely to need a firearms certificate.  If in doubt, ask your firearms dealer or the police.

  • Do I need more than one certificate if I own several air weapons?

    No.  An air weapon certificate allows the holder to own and acquire multiple airguns, as long as they can all be stored safely and securely.

  • How can I find out the muzzle energy of my air weapon?

    You may be able to find out by looking at the manufacturer’s website.  Most firearms dealers have a machine called a chronograph which can measure the approximate muzzle energy of a gun.  You can also contact the police for advice, though they will not be able to test air weapons for you.

  • What guns are not covered by the new law?

    The new law does not distinguish between different firing mechanisms – if your air weapon has a barrel and can fire a missile between 1 joule and 12 foot pounds (or 6 foot pounds for an air pistol), then it is covered by the new legislation.

    The law does not cover guns that are essentially toys, or which are not considered firearms.  For example, BB guns or airsoft guns will not usually require a certificate.  If in doubt, ask your firearms dealer or the police. 

    Crossbows and underwater guns, such as those used for spear-fishing, are also not covered by the new legislation.

  • Are paintball guns covered?

    Paintball guns which are only used to fire paint pellets at properly run and insured venues will not need a certificate.  Paintball guns owned or used for other purposes may need a certificate – you should contact Police Scotland for advice.

  • Are airsoft guns covered?

    Realistic imitation airsoft guns with a muzzle energy below 2.5 joules (or 1.3 for fully automatic guns) are not covered by the new legislation.  These guns are already controlled by the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.  Airsoft guns above these muzzle energies may require a certificate – you should contact the police for advice.

  • Is ammunition covered?

    No.  You won’t need a certificate to buy or own ammunition for air weapons. 

  • Are component parts of an air weapon covered?

    Yes, you will need a certificate to own or acquire individual components of an air weapon.  This generally means parts which are required to fire the gun.  Accessories like sights or stands do not need a certificate.

  • Are sound moderators (silencers) covered?

    Yes, you will need a licence to own or acquire a sound moderator for an air weapon.

Do I need a certificate...

  • If I am under 18?

    You can’t have an air weapon certificate if you’re under 14.  If you are over 14 but under 18 you can apply for a certificate but you can’t buy, hire or own an air weapon?

    If you are under 14, you can’t have a licence but you can use an air weapon if you are supervised by someone aged 21 or over who holds a licence.

  • If I already have a firearm or shotgun certificate?

    If you are aged 14 or over and held a valid firearm and/or shotgun certificate on the 31st of December 2016, you won’t need to apply for a separate air weapon certificate until your existing licence expires. 

    When you renew your existing certificate you can apply for a new air weapon certificate at the same time, and you can ask to have them aligned so that they will all expire on the same date. If you are aligning your certificates in this way you will pay a reduced fee of £5.00 for the air weapon certificate.

    If you want to buy or otherwise acquire a new air weapon before your current certificate expires you will need to apply for an air weapon certificate.  This means that you can show the firearms dealer that you are authorised to purchase an air weapon.

  • If I’m a member of an approved air weapon club?

    No, as long as you only borrow air weapons at the club.  This includes borrowing air weapons from certificate holders at the club.  You can also use borrowed weapons at other venues – for example at a competition – as long as it’s part of the club’s activities.

    If you own your own air weapons, or use them in activities not connected with the club (including practising at home), then you will need a licence.  

  • If there’s an air weapon in my attic that I never/rarely use?

    Yes.  It will be an offence to own an air weapon without a licence, even if you don’t use it.  If you don’t have a good reason for keeping the air weapon then you should consider selling it, passing it on to someone else or handing it in to the police.

  • If I collect air weapons but never fire them?

    Yes.  If the air weapons are capable of being fired then you will need a licence to possess them.

  • If I want to go to a paintball venue/shoot at a funfair?

    No.  As long as the venue is run legally then you can participate without a licence.

  • If I have inherited an air weapon unexpectedly?

    If you want to keep the air weapon then yes, you should apply for a certificate.

    If you want to dispose of the weapon then you should contact the police for advice.  They can take it off your hands, or you might be able to get a short-term permit to allow you to sell it.

Air weapon clubs

  • Do air weapon clubs have to be licensed?

    Not necessarily.  Any club whose members all have their own certificate might not need to apply.

  • Why become an approved club?

    Members of an approved club can use air weapons at the club without needing their own licence.  This includes borrowing air weapons from licence holders at the club. Members can also use borrowed weapons at other venues – for example at a competition – as long as it’s part of the club’s activities.

  • How to apply for approval

    The club secretary or responsible person should apply to Police Scotland for approval, using Form AWL6.  Links to download the form can be found on this website.

    To be approved, a club must meet the criteria set out in the Guidance, which is available through this website.  Amongst other things, the club must have a written constitution, keep a record of attendance and have satisfactory arrangements to allow safe shooting and the secure storage of weapons. 

  • One-off events

    Events like funfairs and gala days with air weapon ranges can also be approved, allowing non-certificate holders to use air weapons at a specified time and place during the event. 

    An individual responsible for organising the event should apply to Police Scotland for an Event Permit using Form AWL5. Links to download the form can be found on this website.

Visitors to Scotland

  • If you’re travelling from England or Wales with an air weapon

    You will need a visitor permit to use, possess, purchase or acquire air weapons while in Scotland.

    Visitor permits are issued by Police Scotland. You can apply for a permit using Form AWL3. Links to download the form can be found on this website.

  • If you’re travelling from England or Wales, and hold a valid firearm or shotgun licence

    If you are aged 14 or over and held a valid firearm and/or shotgun licence issued in England or Wales on 31 December 2016, you won’t need a separate licence to own or use air weapons while in Scotland, until your existing certificate expires.  If the licence was granted or renewed on or after 31 December 2016, then you will need a visitor permit.

    Visitor permits are issued by Police Scotland. You can apply for a permit using Form AWL3. Links to download the form can be found on this website.

    Even if you have a valid firearm or shotgun licence, if you want to buy an air weapon in Scotland and walk out of the shop with it, then you will need a visitor permit.  

  • If you’re travelling from Northern Ireland with an air weapon

    A Northern Ireland firearm certificate will not allow you to possess an air weapon in Scotland.  Visitors will need a visitor permit to use, possess, buy or acquire air weapons while in Scotland.  

    Visitor permits are issued by Police Scotland. You can apply for a permit using Form AWL3. Links to download the form can be found on this website.

  • If you’re travelling from outside the UK with an air weapon

    You will need a visitor permit to use, possess, purchase or acquire air weapons while in Scotland.

    Visitor permits are issued by Police Scotland. You can apply for a permit using Form AWL3. Links to download the form can be found on this website.

  • I want to borrow an air weapon while in Scotland, do I need a permit?

    If you will be shooting under the supervision of a licence holder, or at an approved club or other authorised venue, then you shouldn’t need a permit.  However, if you will be shooting on your own then you will need a visitor permit. If in doubt you should contact Police Scotland for advice before you travel.

  • If you want to buy an air weapon while in Scotland

    If you want to buy an air weapon and walk out of the shop with it, then you will need a visitor permit.  

    You can buy an air weapon from a Registered Firearms Dealer and have the weapon sent directly to your home country without requiring a permit.

  • I live in England or Wales but travel to Scotland regularly, can I get an air weapon licence

    Yes - licences can be granted to people who live outside Scotland.  The licence will only come into effect when the person crosses the border.  You should apply to Police Scotland in the normal way.

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