Firearm Licence – How to Apply for a Firearm Licence

| 14 March 2010 | 17 Comments

In order to get a licence for a firearm, you must:

  • Get a competency certificate
  • Apply for a licence

The competency certificate is a new aspect of firearms licencing in South Africa. To get the certificate, the applicant must:

  • Be 21 years old
  • Pass a thorough background check
  • Not have a criminal record for a variety of crimes
  • Know the law
  • Know how to use a firearm (you must have completed a basic training course at an accredited training institution).

The certificate is valid for five years and must be valid at the time of applying for the licence.

The police or a court can declare you unfit to carry a firearm. This declaration lasts for five years.

To apply for the competency certificate you need to complete the application form (SAPS 517) and submit it to the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) at your nearest police station. SAPS have prepared detailed instructions on how to complete the application form for a competency certificate.

If you have a valid competency certificate, you can then apply for a firearms licence. To apply for the licence you need to:

  • Submit an application form (Form SAP 271) at the police station nearest to your home and pay a prescribed fee by affixing a revenue stamp to the application form. SAPS have prepared detailed instructions on completing the form.
  • Sign a form indicating that you are aware of the law applicable to firearm owners.
  • Make a declaration regarding any previous convictions you may have.
  • Have your fingerprints taken.

Only very small or satellite police stations do not have a DFO. Even if a station does not have a DFO, there will be someone at the police station who will help you. The DFO will help you with completing the form and interview you. Some DFOs require applicants to make a prior appointment.

When you have submitted the application, the DFO will issue you a confirmation of receipt certificate and then process your application. This process involves a safe-inspection visit, where the DFO visits your home and checks that your safe or strong room complies with the regulations, and may also involve telephone or in-person interviews with your partner and employer. The DFO will also check for a criminal record or a record of domestic violence, and whether you already have a firearm licence.

Having carried out all the checks, the DFO will forward the application form and supporting documentation to the Central Firearms Register (CFR) in Pretoria, along with a recommendation on whether or not a licence should be granted. The CFR then makes the final decision. The entire process usually takes about two months, if there are no problems with the application. Should a licence be refused, you may file an appeal.


All firearms licences must be renewed every:

  • Two years for business purposes
  • Five years for self-defence
  • Ten years for hunting or sports shooting


The law limits the number of guns for which you can get a licence, depending on your needs:

  • One gun for self-defence
  • Up to four firearms for occasional hunters or sportsshooters (but only one handgun)
  • No limit for dedicated hunters and sports shooters, but you must prove that you are a member of a hunting or sports organisation and must show a need for additional firearms
  • No limit for people who use firearms for business purposes (eg security companies, firearm instructors, game hunters) but there strict conditions apply.


If you have a firearm that was licensed in terms of the old legislation and the licence was valid on 30 June 2004, this licence is still valid until it is renewed in terms of the new Firearms Control Act. There is a schedule setting out when you need to renew the licence by. The schedule is linked to your date of birth.

Date of Birth Year for Licence Renewal
31 December to 31 March 2005
1 April to 30 June 2006
1 July to 30 September 2007
1 October to 31 December 2008

If you submitted an application for a licence before 30 June 2004, this application will still be processed.


You must get basic training from an accredited trainer. All accredited trainers are issued with compentency certificates from SAPS.

You can only buy a firearm from a registered dealer.

If your firearm is lost or stolen, or our documents are damaged, you need to report this to the police.

You may only own 200 rounds of ammunition for each gun you own and can only have ammunition that is suitable for that particular gun. (This does not apply to dedicated hunters or sports people.)


If you need further information you can contact the appointed Designated Firearms Officer at your nearest police station. Or you can call the firearms call centre during office hours at 012 353 6111 or e-mail



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Category: Firearm Licence

Comments (17)

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  1. R.E.Moosa says:

    Good day

    I applied for a new fire arm lic for a hinting rifle in 2002, it was refused at the end of 2005 and i appealed in 2006.. Up to date the appeals board cannot give me an answer.. can anyone please advise me on what to do….

  2. david peddle says:

    What are the requirements for a commercial competency cert and where should I look to see what the practical shoot requires. I can not find anything on the web.


  3. bhekisipho mpofu says:

    lm 18 years old and lm a security officer is it possible for me to apply for acompetency certificate help l want to be a reaction officer and l have a vallid licence l have trained as a reaction officer now l need competency help.

  4. Martin says:

    What is the process we have to follow as a security company for firearm lisenses
    Can someone help

  5. mr makhanthisa says:

    i apply a compitency but not yet recieve it, so i want to buy my own handgun(self defence) my question is where must i start? Police or gunshop? Help.

  6. Bongi says:

    on which stage of the process can you then purchaise a fire arm ?

  7. victor govender says:

    i have an existing firearm which is old i need up grade what should i do.
    where do i start
    thank you

  8. H.M.van der Meyden says:

    Hi there with regards to my competency certificate.
    The expiry date was the 2012-12-05 I’ve been to the police station to renew, they explained to me the process but the hunters association has told me the new law for competency has changed and that there is no need to renew. What to do ? Please Help.

  9. Mutale paul says:

    Hi thanks for the info!!

  10. Jarryd Robinson says:

    Hello i just want to know what do you do if someone in the family passes away and he had possession of a few firearms and you wanted to have possession of those firearms just because you want them to stay in the family, but is not a hunter or sport shooter?

    thank you.

  11. nnditsheni says:

    Am a disable person, so I wnt to buy a handgun(self defense ) , were do I start? Pls help

  12. sifiso says:

    I own an informal business. I have had several break in, got mugged at gun point. My life feels in danger. Can I have a firearm license.

  13. Patrick Good Sithebe says:


    I like to know if I have SAPS certicate I m not allowed to aply for a fire arm certificate

    becouse I want to buy a fire arm now


    Patrick G Sithebe

  14. Musa Gift Chauke says:

    I want to own a gun for self defence, where can I start?, I have security certificate and SIRA, how long will it take to get it?

  15. luvuyo says:

    hi there i want to know can i have gun for self defance becz am about to by a new motor vihacle.thanx k
    kind regards luvuyo

  16. thokozane says:

    it’s almost 4 to 5 months I had appealed for a licence of a firearm. it was denied last year so I made a appeal can anyone ho know where can I get help on knowing what is the process on my appeal

  17. bafana says:

    Hi there i need some help i had a case 2013 but the Margistrate stop the case on 2014 until now the case stil on Pending. so do i qualify for a Application of SAPS Compitency?

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