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Notes with regard to Registered Firearms Dealers

The Firearms Acts 1968, subsequently amended by many other acts and secondary legislation control the possession and use of firearms, shotguns and air weapons. If you wish to sell or repair firearms, shotguns or sell air weapons by way of trade or business you must register with the police as a firearms dealer. If you simply repair air weapons as a business you do not need to become a dealer where the air weapon already belongs to someone (unless it is an FAC air rifle!).

Cost of Registration

RFD Grant = £150

RFD Renewal = £150

Additional place of business certificate (for game fairs, trade fairs or exhibitions, agricultural shows or an event of a similar character and where the RFD is registered in another force area) = £12

Additional place of business certificate (for game fairs, trade fairs or exhibitions, agricultural shows or an event of a similar character and where the RFD is registered in the same force area) = No fee

Transfer of RFD business from one police force area to another = No fee

Full RFD certificates will be issued for 3 years and additional certificates for game fairs etc. can be restricted to the duration of an event or issued for 3 years where a regular annual event takes place at the same site without having to apply each year e.g. the Midland game fair.

If you hold an RFD in one force area and wish to open new and additional premises in another force area the fee will be £150. In essence you will have to register with the police as if it were a completely new application.

Grounds for refusal

If you are a “prohibited person”.

Suitability i.e. you cannot be permitted to carry on a business as a dealer in firearms without danger to the public safety or the peace. This includes having a serious criminal record e.g. convictions for violence, gross dishonesty or disregard for public safety, or routinely associating with known criminals.

Suitability also covers intemperate habits such as alcohol or drug abuse and anti-social behaviour. It encompasses people of unsound mind, e.g. those who show signs of depression, have suicidal tendencies, emotional instability or unpredictable behaviour.

If you can’t demonstrate experience of firearms and knowledge of laws and other regulations which govern the sale and possession of firearms, e.g. age limits, the police may decide that you might constitute a danger to the public safety or to the peace.

You will not engage in trade or business to a “substantial extent”, i.e. you are not really in business.

Evidencing Genuine Business

The law requires the police to be satisfied that you will engage in trade or business to “a substantial extent”.


Details of security measures can be found in “Firearms Law: Guidance to the Police 2002” and The Firearms Security Handbook (www.homeoffice.gov.uk/police/police-use-firearms/)

Security provisions will differ depending upon the individual circumstances of the dealership e.g. home or shop premises or where dealerships are located in high crime areas.

Where someone who only sells air weapons is concerned, the level of security that might be required may be less than that needed by someone who sells cartridge firearms e.g. shotguns or sporting rifles etc, this may be simple Level 1 security provisions.


Current law requires RFDs to keep a register, examples of the details to be recorded are:

the type of firearm (rifle, pistol, shotgun etc.), the makers' name and serial number, if any, the calibre and names and addresses of the person who the dealer bought the firearm from or sold the firearm to.

Non Sales to Under 18s

If you have any doubt about a young customer’s age, always ask to see photo ID such as a student card, a Driving Licence or one of the many local ID schemes used by shops who sell alcoholic drink. If in doubt don’t sell an air weapon and ask the young person to come back with proof of age or with an adult.

Although it will be illegal to sell an air weapon or ammunition for an air weapon to under 18s, there is a defence if you can prove that you believed the young person was over 18 or that you had reasonable grounds for believing so.

Sales by Mail order or the Internet

No sales can be made by Mail order or the Internet.

All sales or transfers have to be made on a face-to-face basis with the buyer or his representative.

RFD’s may sell air weapons to people long distance, but only via another RFD who will then ensure the air weapon is sold face to face.

Simple advertising of firearms and air weapons is allowed on the internet.


Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.