Getting your firearms license in Australia might seem quite a daunting task at first, especially as the rules and processes can differ so dramatically from state to state. We have created a series on How to Apply For a Firearms License in Australia, with Victoria and Tasmania already published. Over the coming months, we will add in all states and territories of Australia, but in this article, we’ll check out how to apply for a firearms license in NSW.
In New South Wales, firearms licences are managed by NSW Police.
Are you eligible?
To be able to hold a firearms licence in New South Wales, there are a couple of hurdles you first need to get over to determine if you’re eligible.
For starters, you need to be a resident of NSW, be over 18 (for an adult licence) or 12 – 18 (for a minor’s permit.
You must have successfully completed the applicable firearms training and safety course for the type of firearms licence you are applying for. In NSW, these are often run by hunting and gun clubs. To find the closest course to you, check out the Firearm Safety and Training Council Ltd.
Alternatively, you can apply if you currently hold or have previously held a firearms licence in another Australian state.
According to the Firearms Act 1996, any person wishing to apply for a firearms licence in Australia must be deemed a fit and proper person to have access to firearms. There are a lot of factors that go into determining fit and proper. For a comprehensive look at all of these, check out the Decision Making Guidelines put together by the NSW Police. But for simplicity sake, you need to satisfy the Commissioner that you will not use the firearm for any unlawful activity or to harm yourself or another person.
And finally, you must provide evidence of a genuine reason to hold a firearms licence. In NSW, there are eight (8) valid reasons, which we’ll cover off on later. Just remember that, nowhere in Australia is it legal to hold a firearms licence for the purpose of personal protection or protection of property unless you are applying as a security guard.
If you meet all of the above eligibility criteria, you can apply for a NSW Firearms Licence online at https://portal.police.nsw.gov.au/s/online-firearm-applications
NOTE: You will require a MyServiceNSW account to do so.
When completing your application, you will also need to provide proof of your identity. NSW Police have a handy checklist for what can be used to provide 100 points of ID. You will also need a copy of your certificate of completion of your firearms safety and training course, any relevant pension cards, written evidence of your genuine reason and a way to pay for your licence fee.
In NSW, firearms licences are issued for either 2 or 5 years.
A 2-year licence for categories A, B, C, D or H costs $100 while a 5-year licence costs $200.
Fee exemptions can be applied for primary producers and a relevant concession card holders.
In NSW, there are eight (8) genuine reasons for holding a firearms licence. While you can choose multiple reasons, you must be able to provide evidence for each one. For a more in-depth look at the types of evidence you will be required to provide, check out https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/133134/GR_TABLE.pdf
To use this as a genuine reason, you must be a current member of an approved Target Shooting Club. Just remember, that the club must be authorised to conduct target shooting for the category of firearm you are applying for. For example, if your club is only approved to conduct shooting activities for Categories A & B firearms, you would only be able to use it to apply for a Category A and/or B licence. You could not use this membership to apply for a Category H firearms licence.
Below are links to just some of the authorised clubs in NSW. This is in no way an exhaustive list. There are so many shooting ranges throughout NSW that we have probably missed many of them.
- Sport Shooters Association of NSW
- Sydney International Shooting Centre
- Marconi Clay Target Club
- Auburn Shooting Academy
- St Ives Pistol Club
- Hornsby District Rifle Range
- Condell Park Indoor Firearms Range
- Southern Highlands Rifle Club
- Sydney Clay Target Club
- NSW Gun Club
Recreational Hunting/Vermin Control (RHVC)
To use this as a genuine reason, you need to be able to show proof that you have a suitable property that you can hunt on. This could be land that you own or rent, or land that you have permission from the owner to hunt on. It could also include holding a relevant game licence to hunt on public land, issued by the Department of Primary Industries, or being a member of an approved hunting club (there are more than 237 approved to operate in NSW).
To find out what game animals and vermin you can legally hunt in NSW, check out our article on Game Species of Australia.
This genuine reason authorises a primary producer to possess and use a firearm in connection with farming & grazing activities. The authority of the licence is ONLY for land that the applicant owns, manages or leases for the business of primary production, except in the case of a category C licence issued to a primary producer. For more details of these exceptions, check the NSW Police website.
Vertebrate Pest Animal Control (VPAC)
To use this as a genuine reason for a firearms licence, you must be actively engaged in the control or suppression of vertebrate pest animals. This can include a professional contract shooter, an authorised officer or employee of a prescribed Government Agency, or a Primary Producer taking part in an Authorised Eradication Campaign on behalf of a Government Agency.
Business or Employment
To use this as a genuine reason, you must be actively engaged or employed as a security guard in an approved security business, be a commercial fishermen or be employed in another business that can demonstrate a genuine need to use or possess a firearm as part of their commercial activity.
This genuine reason applies to a person who is employed or engaged in a Rural Occupation who does not qualify as a primary producer in their own right. This could include being an employee of a primary producer or a family member of a primary producer.
This genuine reason includes people employed with a registered animal welfare organisation, a veterinarian, employees of the Department of Lands or Local Lands Services, or an owner, transporter, drover or other handler of animals who may have need to humanely dispatch of an animal.
To use this as a genuine reason, you must be a member of an approved collectors’ society or collectors’ club who wishes to collect firearms. The firearms themselves must have genuine historical, thematic, financial or commemorative value.
In NSW, there are several different categories of Firearms Licence, each with different genuine reasons that apply to that particular category. NSW Police have a table on their website outlining each category and the different genuine reasons that apply for each but we have included a brief outline below:
This consists of air rifles, rimfire rifles (with the exception of self-loading), shotgun/rimfire combinations and shotguns (with the exception of pump action or self-loading). This category of firearm can be used for all eight genuine reasons.
This consists of centre-fire rifles (other than self-loading), shotgun/centre-fire combinations, lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds, and muzzle loading firearms (with the exception of pistols). While this category can be used with any of the eight genuine reasons, you will need to provide evidence that a ‘special need’ exists for you to hold this category of firearm.
This consists of firearms that are generally prohibited except for limited purposes including self-loading rimfire rifles with a magazine capacity of no more than 10 rounds, self-loading shotguns with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds, and pump action shotguns with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds. The only genuine reasons that apply for this category are Sport/Target Shooting, Primary Production, and Firearms Collection and you will need to provide evidence that a ‘special need’ exists for you to hold this category of firearm.
This consists of firearms that are prohibited for all but official purposes and includes self-loading centre-fire rifles, self-loading rimfire rifles with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds, self-loading shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds, pump action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds, lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds, and any firearm to which a category C licence applies (but the genuine reason does not correlate). The only genuine reasons that apply to this category of firearm is Vertebrate Pest Animal Control or Firearms Collection, and you must provide evidence that a ‘special need’ exists for you to hold this category of firearm.
This category consists of pistols including blank fire pistols and air pistols. The only genuine reasons that apply to this category are Sports/Target Shooting, Business/Employment and Firearms Collection. You must provide evidence that a ‘special need’ exists to hold this category of lice. If you’re applying under Business/Employment as an armed security guard, you must also provide a copy of your current 1F security licence, a current firearms training and safety course certificate for Category H firearms and a letter of intent or endorsement from an approved master licensee.
What category and reason should you choose?
A lot of first time applicants get confused trying to decide which category of firearm to apply for and what genuine reason they should select. Some may even think it is easier to just apply for one category/reason and not complicate things by applying for multiple categories and reasons.
The most common combination for a hunter in NSW is a Category A & B licence with the genuine reason of hunting and target shooting. This allows you to purchase and lawfully use most bolt-action rifles and break-action shotguns for the purposes of both hunting and target shooting (including clay pigeon shooting), and to get in some time at the range.
With COVID-19 lockdowns currently underway throughout NSW, some requirements relating to firearms licencing may be more difficult for a person to met. For more information, visit COVID 19 Firearms Registry Response.
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