Publication - Advice and guidance

Air weapon licensing in Scotland: guide

Published: 22 Feb 2019

Guidance published by Scottish Ministers on the practical application of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015.

Air weapon licensing in Scotland: guide
1. Introduction

1. Introduction

The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 ("the 2015 Act") introduced a certification regime for air weapons in Scotland. This document provides guidance for the Police Service of Scotland in accordance with section 39 of the Act. It is not a definitive statement of the legislation, and reference should be made to the Act itself.

Link - Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015

Members of the public, including people applying for or holding an air weapon certificate or permit, may also wish to refer to this guidance.


The Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution reported in 2009 and recommended that powers on air weapons be devolved to Scotland. This was taken forward through the Scotland Act 2012 at Westminster. The Act received Royal Assent on 1 May 2012, with section 10 giving the power to legislate on air weapons to the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill for the 2015 Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 25 June 2015 and received Royal Assent on 4 August 2015. As well as introducing a system of licensing for air weapons in Scotland, the Act created a number of new offences related to the use, possession, purchase and acquisition of air weapons by persons who do not hold a certificate or do not act in accordance with the licensing regime.

The Act also sets out the framework through which the Police Service of Scotland may grant an air weapon licence to appropriate individuals. Further detail is set out in secondary legislation, in a series of Scottish Statutory Instruments (SSIs). The most significant of these is The Air Weapons Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2016. The Regulations set out, amongst other things, the statutory application forms and certificates or permits which are used in the regime, and also the tariff of fees payable on application.

Link - The Air Weapons Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2016

The 2015 Act is in addition to and does not replace the current UK firearms legislation in respect of firearms, shotguns and high powered air weapons. Reference to the Home Office Guide on Firearms Licensing Law and any internal police operating procedures will still be relevant and required.

The licensing regime

Since 1 July 2016 a person can apply for the certificates and permits created by the air weapons legislation to the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland ("Police Scotland"), who is the responsible licensing authority. The full powers of the 2015 Act, including offences and penalties, came into effect on 31 December 2016.

All references to the 2015 Act and 1968 Act are to the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Firearms Act 1968 (the principal Firearms Act) respectively. References to the Regulations are to The Air Weapons Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2016.


Central enquiry unit: