Getting a Firearm Licence | Western Cape Government

Getting a Firearm Licence


Woman shooting at targetOwning a gun in South Africa isn't a right enshrined in the Constitution – unlike the United States' Second Amendment – but you can legally own one.

To own a gun in South Africa you must have a firearm licence. The South African Police Service (SAPS) will issue a firearm licence to you once you’ve successfully attended prescribed training at an accredited facility. The facility will issue a proficiency certificate to you when you complete your training successfully.

Who can apply for a firearm licence?

You can apply if:

  • you’re 21 years and older
  • you’re a South African citizen or a have a permanent South African residence permit.

How to apply for a competency certificate?

To get a firearm licence, you must get a competency certificate. You can get a competency certificate after you’ve completed a competency test at an accredited training provider.  You’ll be tested on your knowledge of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000, you’ll be asked to do a practical test on how to handle a firearm safely and effectively.

Your competency certificate must specify if it’s issued for your competency to

  • possess a firearm
  • trade in firearms
  • manufacture firearms
  • conduct business as a gunsmith.

The training must be completed at an accredited training provider. To get a competency certificate, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 21 years old unless convincing reasons are requiring you to get a competency certificate or firearm licence before the stipulated age.
  • You must be a South African citizen or permanent residence permit holder.
  • You must pass a thorough background check.
  • You must be declared mentally stable and fit.
  • You mustn’t be addicted to any drugs or alcohol.
  • You mustn’t have a criminal record.
  • You must know how to use a firearm (you must’ve successfully completed a basic training course at an accredited training institution).

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. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has prepared detailed instructions on how to complete the application form for a competency certificate.

How to apply for your firearm licence

After you’ve obtained your competency certificate, you can now apply for a firearm licence corresponding to the type of firearm competency you’ve obtained, e.g. handgun, rifle, etc.

To apply for the firearm licence, you’ll need:

  • To submit the SAP 271 application form at the police station nearest to your home. SAPS have prepared detailed instructions for completing the form.
  • You must provide 2 passport size colour photographs not older than 3 months.
  • You’ll need to provide a certified copy of your ID or passport.
  • You must present the original competency certificate.
  • You must provide a certified copy of your permanent residence permit in the case of a non-SA citizen.
  • You’ll be asked to give proper motivation indicating why you’ll need a firearm.
  • You must pay the prescribed fees.

If your application is successfully completed, the police will:

  • Obtain a full set of fingerprints of the applicant as required in Section 6 (1) (a) of the Act on the SAPS 91(a) (Enquiry/Fingerprint) form.
  • Issue remittance advice (SAPS 523(a)) to the applicant and refer the applicant to the relevant financial office.
  • Obtain proof of payment (expenditure receipt (Z263)) from the applicant and make a copy of the proof of payment and certify the copy.
  • Issue the acknowledgement of the receipt (SAPS 523) of the application to the applicant.
  • You will be asked to get and install a firearm safe within 14 days.
  • Conduct an inspection of your premises and do a safety inspection.

How much does it cost?

Competency certificate: R70,00
Firearm licence: R140,00

How long is the licence valid for?

All firearms licences must be renewed every:

  • 5 years for business purposes.
  • 5 years for self-defence.
  • 10 years for hunting or sports-related shooting.

If you own a gun you need to renew your licence and competency certificate at least 90 days before the expiry date of your licence. If you don't you'll have to dispose of the firearm or hand it over to the SAPS. It's important to keep in mind that it's illegal to be in possession of a firearm without a valid licence.

firearm safetyWhat are my responsibilities if I own or want to own a gun?

  • Ensure that the gun doesn’t land in the wrong hands and that it’s not used for crime.
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol.
  • Comply with the Domestic Violence Act.
  • You can only buy a firearm from a registered dealer.
  • You need to report a lost, stolen firearm or damaged documents to the police within 24 hours.
  • You may only own 200 rounds of ammunition for each firearm.
  • You can only have ammunition that’s suitable for that firearm (this doesn’t apply to dedicated hunters or sports shooters).
  • Never leave another person in possession of your firearm unless authorised to do so by SAPS.
  • You must renew your new firearm licence and corresponding competency certificate 3 months before it expires.

Further information

If you need further information, you can contact the appointed Designated Firearms Officer at your nearest police station. Alternatively, you can contact the Firearms Call Centre during office hours at 012 353 6111 or email

You can also visit the SAPS website for all legislation, instructions and forms relating to firearm licences.



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The content on this page was last updated on 30 April 2020