The vast majority of those who will apply for an air weapons certificate will be law abiding citizens who plan on using their authorised air weapons to legitimately partake in their individual hobbies, sporting pursuits or for their employment.

The Police have a duty to carry out enquiries to ensure that a person does not receive authorisation to own or have access to an air weapon in such circumstances so as to be a danger to the public or themselves. The level of enquiry must be that which enables Police to satisfy themselves that they can make an informed decision as to the applicant’s suitability to hold an air weapons certificate.


HOW DO I APPLY FOR AN AIR WEAPON CERTIFICATE?

Any person wishing to apply for an air weapon certificate can do so by downloading an application form AWL-1 from this site.

It is important that you complete all the necessary sections with as much information as possible as failure to do so may delay the progress of your application or indeed may result in your application being returned to you. The following sections of the application form are of particular importance:

Part A personal details.

Sections 9 and 10 seek information regarding certain medical conditions and it is particularly important that these are completed with as much information as possible as this may prevent the need for further contact with you or indeed your GP.

Section 11 requires you to disclose previous convictions. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply hence all previous convictions should be disclosed (including road traffic offences) no matter the passage of time.

Part B Air Weapon Use and Security

Section 14 seeks information regarding the storage and security of your air weapon. Unlike firearms and shotguns there is no requirement for a purpose built gun cabinet which is fixed to a wall. That said, it is important that air weapons are securely stored in order that access and possession cannot be gained by a person who is not authorised to possess the weapon. Examples of acceptable storage include

  • Locked in a cupboard where the certificate holder is the only person who has the key for access.
  • Fixed to the fabric of the building with a gun clamp.
  • Fixed to a rafter by means of a chain and padlock.

A trigger guard on its own would not suffice as whilst this prevents the weapon from being fired it does not prevent unauthorised possession.

Failure to complete any of the following section will result in the application not being progressed and returned to the applicant:

  • Part C Declaration
  • Part D Consent of parent or guardian if applicant under 18 
  • Part E verification

The fee for an air weapon certificate is £72 for 5 years. Current firearm and shotgun certificate holders may apply for a co-terminus certificate at a cost of £5.Completed forms and a cheque payable to the Scottish Police Authority for the appropriate fee, should be sent along with two identical passport size photographs (one signed) of the applicant to:

Air Weapons Team 

Police Scotland

Clyde Gateway 

2 French Street

Dalmarnock 

Glasgow 

G40 4EH


HOW CAN I PAY MY APPLICATION FEE?

The fee for an air weapon certificate is £72 for 5 years. Current firearm and shotgun certificate holders may apply for a co-terminus certificate at a cost of £5. A cheque payable to the ‘Scottish Police Authority’ for the appropriate fee, should be sent along with your application form.

Alternatively you may prefer to utilise online banking or bank transfer. In these circumstances you will be sent a payment letter with a payment reference number and the details of the bank account where payment should be made. It is vital that you use this reference number in order that your payment can be traced. Your application will not be processed until payment has been received hence it is important that you do so in a timely manner.


HOW LONG WILL AN AIR WEAPON CERTIFICATE LAST?

An air weapon certificate will last for 5 years.

Where air weapon certificates are requested to expire in line with existing firearm or shotgun certificates, the air weapon certificate will expire in line with what the certificate holder desires if the firearm and shotgun expires at different periods.


WILL THE POLICE VISIT ME?

In the majority of occasions the police will be able to progress an application for an air weapon certificate without the requirement for a home visit providing all the necessary information is provided on the application form. If the police do plan to visit you, they will contact you and explain why they need to visit and arrange a suitable time to attend. Police may wish to visit the place where the weapons are used or stored if different to your home address.

If you refuse to allow police to attend, this may have an adverse effect on your application as they may need specific information and without it, they may be unable to progress your application.


HOW DO I KNOW IF LAND IS SAFE? /CAN I STILL DO PLINKING?

Land is not intrinsically “safe” or “unsafe” and any applicant should exercise discretion in deciding whether to shoot in particular circumstances. However, the police will wish to be satisfied as part of “good reason” that the land nominated is not clearly unsuitable for shooting air weapons. If it is deemed necessary that the land requires to be assessed for suitability, this will be undertaken by a police officer or Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO).

“Plinking” is a term often used by those who use air weapons and refers to informal target shooting undertaken at standard or non-standard targets, such as cans and bottles, often in built-up areas. If undertaken in a confined space such as a domestic garden it is incumbent on the shooter to consider if this can be done safely with a suitable backstop to prevent over-shots or ricochets and to provide evidence of this in support of their application. The applicant should be able to demonstrate to the Chief Constable that shooting can be undertaken safely in such circumstances. Shooting in areas to which the public have unrestricted access, or in communal gardens or similar areas is not acceptable.

There has been no intention to introduce a complete ban on plinking, however on each occasion it must be considered in respect of the circumstances. You must ensure that no air weapon pellet goes beyond your land, whether it is directly fired or an accidental ricochet. 

The determination of safe shooting will always rest with the applicant. It is their responsibility to ensure that the land is safe.


DO I HAVE TO TELL THE POLICE WHAT WEAPONS I HAVE?

No, unlike firearm and shotgun applications there is no requirement to itemise weapons. The number of air weapons you hold currently will not impact on your application. If you are granted an air weapon certificate this will cover the air weapons you have.


WHAT IF I AM UNSUCCESSFUL IN MY APPLICATION?

If your application is unsuccessful you will be informed by letter of the reason for the refusal. There will be no refund of the application fee. You may still be able to use an air weapon under certain circumstances such as being a member of an approved club or shooting on private land while supervised by the air weapon’s legally authorised owner.


WHAT ARE CONDITIONS?

Conditions can be used for simple administrative purposes, such as a requirement to notify Police Scotland in certain circumstances, or to place restrictions on where, how or when a person might use their air weapons.

An air weapon certificate is issued subject to two statutory conditions, which appear on the front of the certificate underneath the actual authorisation. These conditions are;

  • That the holder of the certificate must sign it in ink, and, 
  • Must, as soon as reasonably practicable, notify police of any change to the address specified on the certificate. 

Police may attach further conditions as required. It is an offence to fail to comply with the conditions on a certificate so make sure you read and understand them before using your air weapon.


WHAT WOULD BE DEFINED AS GOOD REASON?

It is not possible to list every potential use which might be considered good reason to have an air weapon. However the Scottish Government believes that the following may be considered good reason, taking account of all the circumstances of the individual case.

  • Sporting purposes (including the safe shooting of live quarry)
  • Vermin and pest control
  • Target shooting (on private land or at an approved air weapon club)
  • Collections


I APPLIED FOR A CERTIFICATE PRIOR TO THE 1ST OF NOVEMBER 2016 AND I HAVE NOT HEARD BACK FROM THE POLICE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

If you submitted an application before the 1st of November 2016, and Police Scotland have not determined your application by the 31st of December 2016 through no fault of your own, you are legally able to possess your air weapons until the final decision is made. This only allows you to POSSESS the air weapons, but NOT USE, BUY or ACQUIRE another air weapon.


I APPLIED FOR A CERTIFICATE ON OR AFTER THE 1ST OF NOVEMBER 2016 AND I HAVE NOT HEARD BACK FROM THE POLICE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

If you submitted your application on or after the 1st of November, 2016, and Police Scotland have not determined your application by the 31st of December 2016, you will be required to take one of the following courses of action whilst you await your certificate/authorisation to be granted:

  1. Store their air weapon(s) with someone who has an Air Weapon Certificate. 
  2. Store their air weapon(s) with someone who has a current Firearm or Shotgun Certificate. 
  3. Store their air weapon(s) with a Registered Firearms Dealer.

Police Scotland do not have the capacity or facilities to store Air Weapons intended for licensing.

You application will be progressed in chronological order in 2017.