Before 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020)
The European Firearms Pass (EFP) is a form of passport for firearms and is designed for use by those who are travelling with their firearms between EU countries. EFPs are issued by the EU country in which a firearm owner is resident. You do not need an EFP if you are travelling within the UK and you hold a valid UK firearms certificate.
In the UK, police forces are responsible for issuing EFPs to UK residents who have been granted a certificate permitting them to acquire and possess firearms and shotguns. An EFP can only cover the firearms and shotguns that are specified on your certificate.
In addition to an EFP, all EU visitors to the UK must hold a valid Visitor’s Permit in order to bring their firearm into the country. The provisions relating to Visitors’ Permits are set out in section 17 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 and articles 15-16 of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004. An application for a Visitor’s Permit must be made to the local UK police force by the EU visitor’s sponsor in this country and must be accompanied by the EU visitor’s valid EFP or a copy of it.
After March 2019 if there is no deal
Should the UK leave the EU with no deal, EFPs would no longer be available to UK residents wishing to travel with their firearms to EU countries. You would need to comply with whatever licensing or other requirements each EU country decides to impose, as well as UK import and export licensing requirements (see link below for information about export controls but, in summary, export licences would be required for exports of firearms to EU countries, although there would be an exemption for firearms travelling as personal effects).
EFPs would no longer be recognised for EU visitors to the UK. Their sponsors would, as now, have to apply for a Visitor’s Permit but it would no longer be a legal requirement to also produce a valid EFP. This would not weaken the current firearm controls as the police would continue to assess an applicant’s fitness to hold a firearm as part of their consideration of the Visitor’s Permit application.
What you need to do
UK residents wishing to travel to EU countries with their firearm or shotgun after 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) should contact the authorities of the countries concerned for information about their licensing requirements. This advice would also apply to UK residents who are due to be in an EU country with their firearm at the point when the UK leaves the EU.
If you are sponsoring an EU visitor to the UK, you should continue to apply to the local police force for a Visitor’s Permit. Permits issued before the UK leaves the EU will remain valid until they expire.
The arrangements for EFPs are set out in the EU Weapons Directive 91/477/EEC, as amended by 2017/853 and are implemented through provisions in sections 32A-C of the Firearms Act 1968 and, in Northern Ireland, through articles 19-23 of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.
Find out more about:
- applying for Visitors Permits
- Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) firearms travel information
- UK export licensing requirements
This notice is meant for guidance only. You should consider whether you need separate professional advice before making specific preparations.
It is part of the government’s ongoing programme of planning for all possible outcomes. We expect to negotiate a successful deal with the EU.
The UK government is clear that in this scenario we must respect our unique relationship with Ireland, with whom we share a land border and who are co-signatories of the Belfast Agreement. The UK government has consistently placed upholding the Agreement and its successors at the heart of our approach. It enshrines the consent principle on which Northern Ireland’s constitutional status rests. We recognise the basis it has provided for the deep economic and social cooperation on the island of Ireland. This includes North-South cooperation between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which we’re committed to protecting in line with the letter and spirit of Strand two of the Agreement.
The Irish government have indicated they would need to discuss arrangements in the event of no deal with the European Commission and EU countries. The UK would stand ready in this scenario to engage constructively to meet our commitments and act in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland, recognising the very significant challenges that the lack of a UK-EU legal agreement would pose in this unique and highly sensitive context.
It remains, though, the responsibility of the UK government, as the sovereign government in Northern Ireland, to continue preparations for the full range of potential outcomes, including no deal. As we do, and as decisions are made, we’ll take full account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.
Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and participate in other EU arrangements. As such, in many areas, these countries adopt EU rules. Where this is the case, these technical notices may also apply to them, and EEA businesses and citizens should consider whether they need to take any steps to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario.