Irish Olympic target shooting

How do I apply for a firearms licence?

Well, for a start, it’s not that complicated. There’s only one form to fill out and not too much to fill out on it.

Unfortunately, since I wrote the above, the situation has changed considerably. There is still only the one form to fill out, but it’s gone from a fairly simple one-page affair to a nine-page affair (though you only fill in six of those nine pages). The guts of the procedure haven’t changed enormously, however more information is now sought, and there are more things to do before applying.

Basicly, once you know what kind of rifle or pistol you’re applying for a licence for and what it’s serial number is (your firearms dealer will tell you what that is, and will probably walk you through the whole procedure as well), you download an FCA1 form from the Garda website and fill it out.

The Garda who will process the form (there’s usually one or two Gardai per station who are assigned to handle firearms licencing) will want to have a chat with you, to see why you want the firearm, and to generally ensure that you’re not a threat to the public. He or she will usually go over the form with you to ensure it’s all correct. It’s usually a good idea, therefore, to call the station before you go there to see if that garda is on duty and to let him or her know you’re coming in to file the form, as a courtesy.

There’s an €80 fee for the licence, which is valid for three years from the date of issue, regardless of the type of firearm being licenced.

The first page is relatively straightforward. A photo is required; standard passport photos are what’s sought here. Take note however, that you must specify whether it is a normal or a restricted firearm. For ISSF firearms, all of our firearms are unrestricted and you simply specify “Firearm Certificate” in Section 1.

Section 2 is very straightforward. Anything in the form marked with an (M) is mandatory and must be filled in. Anything with (c) is mandatory if it applies – so for example, if you have a secondary residence, you must fill in the details.

Note that in section 2.2 here, it is mandatory to complete the section and filling it in gives the Gardai permission implicitly to access your medical records.

Also note that in section 2.3, your referees will probably be called. Generally, most people seem to be using other members of their club or their family as referees.

In section 2.5 here, proof of competence, those who’ve held firearms before can specify that as proof; failing that, it’s not really possible to say what qualifies as proof. There is currently no list of accepted courses or other training activities that the Gardai will always accept as this proof; it’s best to call your local station and ask. There are various courses in the country at the moment; ask which one the Gardai recommend. Be advised that some courses may not be directly applicable – the NARGC handling course, for example, is not in general very applicable to ISSF target shooting.

In section 3 note that ‘repeater’ means a rifle with a magazine and either a bolt action or a level action or whatever. And that in section 3.2, ‘Sights’ refers to night vision or thermal sights. ISSF firearms don’t have either, nor do we use silencers so you can leave those blank.

For a new firearm, you’ll want to fill in section 3.3; section 3.4 only applies if you’re changing from one to another. Most of the details in section 3.3 can be obtained from the dealer or the person you’re buying the rifle from. For section 3.5, the Firearms (Secure Accomodation) Order 2009 basicly says (for ISSF firearms) that you need a gunsafe. The Gardai may wish to inspect this gunsafe. They may also wish for the local Crime Prevention Officer to evaluate your home’s security in the process.

Note that in section 4.1 you may want to request somewhere around 10,000 rounds under the “Maximum number of Rounds of Ammunition applied for”. It does sound enormous, but in reality, it isn’t. If you’re getting an air rifle or pistol, pellets are sold in tins of 500, which are often sold in sleeves of ten tins. If you’re getting a smallbore rifle or pistol, rounds are sold in boxes of 50, which are usually packaged in pairs, then in bricks of five pairs. And if you’re getting serious about competing in a few years, you may be buying batch-tested ammunition (where you go to the factory and spend a morning shooting ten or twenty rounds from several different batches of ammunition until you find the best match to your rifle – at which point you buy a minimum of 10,000 rounds of ammunition from that batch!).

So you will actually find that 10,000 round limit useful, if not outright necessary. And, as the default figure supplied if you don’t specify one is 100 rounds (you can’t even buy that few air rifle pellets!), it’s usually a good idea to specify a figure yourself. Obviously, it’s a good idea if you’re buying this much ammunition to get a lockbox to keep it in – these aren’t going to break the bank, and it’s an excellent idea from a security viewpoint, as well as a safety viewpoint, especially if there are children at home.

And note that ISSF requirements in this are rather odd, in Ireland. You will definitely want to explain the above to your local Garda, because 10,000 rounds will sound enormous to him as well unless he knows that you’re shooting ISSF disciplines. Again, call ahead, let him know.

This is the last page that you fill in. Most of section 5 doesn’t apply to ISSF shooters; we just sign the declaration. Sections 6, 7, 8 and 9 are filled out by the Gardai.

Once the form is filled in and filed with the local station, you will receive a reply within three months. You may get an official letter stating the licence has been received. This does not guarantee the licence will be granted! If you do not receive the letter, don’t panic, it’s not a sign something has gone wrong. If you do, it’ll look like this:

Air Rifle receipt of application

Within the three months from the application date (and generally much faster than that), you’ll receive a second letter stating whether or not the licence has been granted. If it has, you must pay the €80 fee. Some Post Offices (the list is on the Garda website here) will take the money (or laser card or whatever) at the desk; if not, the form at the bottom of the grant letter must be sent back to the indicated address:

Air Rifle licence granted notice

Once the payment is sent, the licence should be with you within a few days:

The actual licence itself is the yellow plastic card at the bottom left:

In the event that you are refused; or in the event that you do not hear back from the Gardai within the three months (which is legally the same as being refused and notified of that refusal), the refusal can, if you so wish, be appealed at the local District Court. In the event that this happens, I would strongly urge you to contact your NGB before proceeding. It may be possible to resolve things less confrontationally. For ISSF rifle/pistol shooters, email; for ISSF shotgun shooters, email and detail what has happened.


  • Shane
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 14:50 | Permalink


    Do I need to be a member of a gun club to apply for a licence.

    Or can I just buy a gun and apply for a licence?

    • Posted November 21, 2012 at 16:39 | Permalink

      The answer depends on whether you’re talking about hunting or target shooting:

      • If by “gun club” you mean the normal local hunting gun club, then no; but you will need permission to shoot over land.
      • If by “gun club” you mean a target shooting range like WTSC, then yes, and you’ll have to have “target shooting” as your good reason for applying for the licence as well; and if you’re applying for a pistol licence, this is the only route permitted.

      More information on the forum here:

      • Michael Moore
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 23:59 | Permalink

        If i want to get a firearm license do i have to fill in the form in the garda station or can i do it at home.

        • Posted July 24, 2013 at 00:16 | Permalink

          You can do either. The firearms officer will usually walk through the application with you to be sure it’s complete though.

          • Chris
            Posted January 27, 2016 at 04:22 | Permalink

            Can you bring a firearm to Ireland if you are only going to be there a few weeks and then going on to Belgium with it. I would be coming from the United States.

  • Dylan Kirwan
    Posted August 23, 2014 at 23:01 | Permalink

    How old do you have to be to be allowed ownership of a rifle

    • Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:17 | Permalink

      16 for a full licence, 14 for a training licence (but a full licence holder has to be nominated as a trainer).

  • Lorcan
    Posted January 4, 2015 at 00:16 | Permalink

    Is there such thing as a paired liscence with you parent of you are 14 years of age?

    • Posted January 6, 2015 at 00:27 | Permalink

      Yes, there’s a training licence; you have to be 14 or older, the firearm has to be on a full licence to someone the Gardai consider suitable to act as your instructor and they have to agree to it. You apply for it using the FCA1 form.

  • Aisling
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 00:01 | Permalink

    Do you have a target course to do to get licence.

    • Posted January 6, 2015 at 00:30 | Permalink

      It depends on what you mean by “target course”.
      There is a requirement that you prove competency with a firearm for the licence; what comprises that proof is down to your local Superintendent. Most will accept the various courses run by different bodies and clubs, but there’s no set standard syllabus or course, each differs and none have a guarantee that they will be accepted by the Gardai, so you should always ask your Super which course he or she accepts before you sign up for them. There are also other proofs accepted – if you’re on a training licence to learn from an instructor, or if you’ve joined a club to be trained by them, or if you’ve owned firearms before; these are all examples of accepted proofs. Again, you have to talk to your Superintendent to find out what he or she is looking for.

      An important note is that it is proof of competency, not proficiency; the test is “can you shoot safely”, not “can you shoot well”. Otherwise, you would have to be good before you’d ever learnt to shoot, which would be plainly unworkable!

  • seany6666
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 22:41 | Permalink

    I am looking to buy an airgun and get a licence but i live in a city ? I have permission to go to my friends farm and hung vermin . Do you think that i will have trouble getting a licence ?

    • Posted January 23, 2015 at 00:10 | Permalink

      The local superintendent might think that it’s an odd use; the exact details would be fairly central to his decision. Beyond that I can’t give you an answer I’m afraid, this is one of the many “You have to ask your superintendent” questions.

  • Posted March 4, 2015 at 15:14 | Permalink

    I had a shotgun licence 18 years ago, but my house was broken into and the gun was stolen. Do you think I will have trouble applying for a licence again .

    • Posted March 11, 2015 at 14:18 | Permalink

      It depends on the security measures you had in place at the time, your background and a dozen other things. Honestly John, the only real answer is “you have to ask your local Superintendent”. Sorry.

  • jakub
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 10:31 | Permalink

    I’m looking for a gun that shots rubber bullet and makes noise or it can just make noise. Can I have such thing for self defence? Or gun that is shooting pepper bullets?

    • Posted April 4, 2015 at 14:11 | Permalink

      You cannot licence any form of firearm – no matter what it shoots – for self-defence in Ireland. It’s just not permitted.

  • patrick pennie
    Posted July 2, 2015 at 17:10 | Permalink

    I presently have a legally held shotgun for the las t twenty Years I want to purchase a .22 Calibre Rifle What is the procedure in my case

    • Posted July 7, 2015 at 21:34 | Permalink

      Exactly the same as normal; you don’t have to give up the shotgun either.

  • John
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 21:49 | Permalink

    Hi wondering if anyone can help me. I have a shotgun and rifle the last 5 years. I’m not a member of a gun club I just shoot and hunt gane outdoors. I’m interested in moving on to get a pistol now for a bit of target shooting. Wondering what the odds are on this? Thanks

    • Posted September 8, 2015 at 22:39 | Permalink

      For air or smallbore pistol shooting, very good, but you would have to become a member of a shooting range. Without that membership, the application would be refused. For larger calibre pistol shooting, that’s not an option at the moment; no new licences for restricted short firearms can be issued (and currently “restricted short firearm” is defined as everything other than air pistols, single-shot .22lr pistols, and semi-auto pistols or revolvers with a five-round capacity).

  • Noel
    Posted September 17, 2015 at 23:31 | Permalink

    I have Sent off an Application for a O/U shotgun its nearly 9 months now and I haven’t received any information about the licence, because of this I traded in my trap gun to to buy a game gun now I’ve sent away for my substitute its now 4 weeks and nothing what do I need to do?

    • Posted September 21, 2015 at 12:04 | Permalink

      First thing to do is to call the local station Noel; substitutions are a very fast turnaround if it’s a straight like-for-like changeover and that usually takes less than a fortnight even when the station’s busy. The actual application though, there’s a three month statutory limit on that – if they don’t respond inside three months, it’s deemed to be a refusal and that you have been notified. Sometimes however, this is down to your paperwork falling between two desks in the station; again, first thing is give them a call and find out if it was actually refused or if it’s just been held up.

      If it has been refused, you’re currently out of luck because it’s been so long (there’s a time limit on appealing a decision refused that way) and you’ll have to resubmit the application; if it’s refused again, you have the option of taking it to the District Court at the moment. That’s going to change, you will have the ability to take it to a civilian body first for an independent review, but that body only got announced last Friday (four days ago) and we won’t see it in place for a while yet, so you’re looking at the DC for at least the coming year.

      But I really would give the local lads a call first. Most of the time this stuff is down to paperwork being pushed below actual police work in the station rather than anything worth going to court over.

  • liam heneghan
    Posted November 12, 2015 at 11:31 | Permalink

    I what to buy a shot gun. do i buy the gun before i get the licence,? and do i have to do a training course ,i have a farm at home and a herd number and just want it for shooting at birds and foxes .just want to no the easyest way out

    • Posted January 30, 2016 at 00:12 | Permalink

      You do buy the gun first but you don’t take possession of it. You put down a deposit with the firearms dealer, he keeps the firearm and gives you the serial number, you use that to apply for the licence. If you get the licence, you pay the remainder of the price for the gun to the dealer and take possession of it then. Be sure to check with the dealer about what happens to your deposit if you don’t get the licence – some have been refusing to return it. Where you stand there on consumer rights I’m not sure, but it always struck me as being a dodgy way to run a business.

  • Jeff
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 22:12 | Permalink

    Hi there,

    Was looking into getting a pistol licence and applying for a ppk .22lr. Was wondering if they’re are any security requirements that you need to have in place at home to store the gun. Like monitored alarms, gun safe etc.

    • Posted January 30, 2016 at 00:14 | Permalink

      Yes, there are; at a bare minimum (assuming it’s your first firearms licence) you would need a gunsafe (there are standards regarding the kind of safe and how it’s mounted and so forth). However, that’s the bare minimum; the local Superintendent is within his rights to ask for more security than that and pistol licence applicants tend to be asked to pay more attention to security than other applicants.

  • private enquiry
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 16:57 | Permalink

    could you offer some advice on a farmer being annoyed by harriers & hounds who use his land adjacent land for their hunting of foxes. unfortunately farmer has now got himself into trouble by using his licenced fire arm to warn them off.

    • Posted January 30, 2016 at 00:16 | Permalink

      I’d advise him to get a good solicitor because from your description he’s done something very seriously wrong and is going to need one.

  • tymothy
    Posted January 17, 2016 at 09:27 | Permalink

    Where can I get the papers to fill out I’m 16 in Feb and I would like to own a rifle because lurcher hunting is bit boring

    • Posted January 30, 2016 at 00:17 | Permalink

      In the Garda Station. Be sure to tell them how you think lurcher hunting is boring, they’ll get a great kick out of it.

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