Apply for or manage a section 5, shooting club or museum licence

Information on how to get firearms licensing, manage weapons for a shooting club or get a museum licence.

For applications made on or after Tuesday 1 October 2019, fees will be charged for section 5 authorities as well as revised fees for shooting club approvals and museum licences.

For more information read the legislation or the firearms (fees) regulations 2019.

Prohibited weapons and ammunition (section 5) authority

You need a section 5 authority to handle prohibited weapons, component parts and prohibited ammunition. This includes applications:

  • to keep or use heritage pistols under section 7(3) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988
  • for private maritime security companies

When you apply, you will need the following to complete your application:

  • the authority holder and business’s name
  • the Companies House number if relevant (find your Companies House number)
  • details of how the prohibited items will be obtained and used
  • a covering letter that gives:
    • the reasons you need to possess weapons and/or ammunition sought, and any other relevant information.
    • a full explanation of why you need the Secretary of State’s authority. (New applicants should also enclose a business plan that sets out the background, mission and objectives of the business and evidence of prospective trade)
  • additional supporting documents justifying a business need for an s5 authority, for example:
    • current or future contracts
    • invoices from the last 6 months
    • letters of sponsorship from the past 6 months
    • a valid import licence (if applicable)
    • details of third part storage (if applicable)

(These documents will need to cover every item/amount being requested in the authority.)

  • addresses of the business premises where the prohibited items will be stored
  • the types and quantities of prohibited items you want the authority to cover
  • the personal details of one or two named authority holders (home address, date and place of birth and nationality)
  • contact details (including email of main contact if different from the authority holder)

For more information, view chapter 3 of the guide on Firearms Licensing Law.

Shooting club approval

Applications will only be accepted by the Home Office, and should no longer be sent to the police directly.

Once your application has been submitted, we will review it to determine if it is valid and, if so, pass it to the relevant police force, who will then make necessary enquiries before sending the application to us for consideration.

If you do not provide sufficient information and supporting evidence your application is likely to be rejected as invalid and will need to be resubmitted.

Before applying you must ensure that you fulfil the criteria as set out in the guidance for rifle and muzzle loading pistol clubs. Renewals cost £84 and are valid for 6 years. You should apply to renew your approval at least 3 months before it’s due to expire.

What happens next

We will review your application and contact you if we need more information. We will also carry out certain checks, including inspecting any storage arrangements.

Shooting clubs in Scotland should apply in writing to:

Safer Communities Directorate
Police Powers Unit
St Andrew’s House

Museum licence

Museums can apply for a museum licence if they wish to display or store any type of weapon or ammunition for exhibition purposes.

Museums in England and Wales should apply online:

  • for a new museum licence
  • to renew an existing licence
  • to amend an existing licence, such as adding new storage locations

Licences cost up to £200 and are valid for 5 years.

Under a museum licence you can only exhibit or store prohibited weapons and ammunition. If you want to transfer the prohibited items (for example, to loan to another museum) or dispose of them, you’ll need a section 5 authority.

Who can apply

You can only apply for a museum licence if you’re:

  • maintained by Parliament or local government
  • accredited by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) or Arts Council England and Wales

You can’t apply for this licence if you’re a non-accredited, privately funded or private collection. Instead you should apply for a firearm or shotgun certificate.

What happens next

We will review your application and contact you if we need more information. We will also carry out certain checks, including inspecting any storage arrangements.

For more information, view chapter 17 of the guide on Firearms Licensing Law.

Published 19 September 2017
Last updated 30 September 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated fees guidance.

  2. Following the successful pilot project for online approval of shooting clubs, we are now only accepting applications made via the web portal.

  3. The technical problem with online applications has been resolved.

  4. Our online application service is currently undergoing maintenance, and it is possible that some applications may experience problems during submission. We expect this to be resolved by 15 March.

  5. Clubs in the Metropolitan, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire police force areas can apply online as part of a trial scheme.

  6. Guidance on how to apply updated.

  7. Form for applying for club approval updated.

  8. Updated content

  9. Updated guidance published.

  10. First published.