Find out what a New Zealand firearms licence allows you to do, who can apply and what you need to provide in your application.

When you need a firearms licence 

You must have a firearms licence to possess and use unsupervised: 

  • non-prohibited firearms that do not require an endorsement 
  • ammunition 
  • specially dangerous airguns, including pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles. 

Using a firearm under supervision without a licence

Everyone who possesses or uses a firearm needs to have a firearms licence, although non-prohibited firearms can be possessed and used under the immediate supervision of a licence holder in most circumstances.

Immediate supervision means that the licence holder:

  • is physically present and actively supervising the shooter
  • is close enough to be able to take control of the firearm being used by the shooter if necessary, and
  • is not using another firearm while providing supervision.

Arms Act 1983, Section 20 – Restriction on possession of non-prohibited firearms

Arms Act 1983, Section 22(2) – Exemptions | New Zealand Legislation website

When this does not apply

This defence of possessing under immediate supervision does not apply to people possessing firearms where other offences are applicable, for example:

  • when their licence has been revoked (that would still be an offence of possessing firearms while revoked)
  • contrary to specific bail conditions (which would still be a breach of bail)
  • contrary to a protection order (which would still be a breach of the protection order)
  • when the person is the subject of a firearms prohibition order (which would still be a breach of the firearms prohibition order).

Who is eligible to apply 

To apply for a firearms licence, you must: 

  • be aged 16 or over 
  • not have had a firearms licence revoked in the last 5 years 
  • not be a disqualified person from having a firearms licence. 

For your application to be successful, Te Tari Pūreke must find that: 

  • you are a fit and proper person to possess and use firearms 
  • you have secure storage at your home addresses to store firearms and ammunition 
  • no one that you live with has had a firearms licence revoked, been disqualified from having a firearms licence, or been found not fit and proper to have and use firearms has access to your firearms and ammunition. 

How to meet the requirements for secure storage

How we assess if you are a ‘fit and proper person’ 

A fit and proper person: 

  • is a person of good conduct and character 
  • possesses and uses firearms responsibly 
  • stores firearms and ammunition securely 
  • abides by the laws of New Zealand. 

When Te Tari Pūreke assesses if you are a fit and proper person, we consider: 

  • your overall character and conduct 
  • information provided by you and your referees 
  • information we hold or receive from any source. 

The Arms Act 1983 gives some circumstances in which Te Tari Pūreke may find you are not a fit and proper person to have and use firearms. If any of these circumstances apply to you, we do not automatically refuse your application.  

We will probably have more questions if: 

  • you have been charged with or convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment 
  • you have been charged with or convicted of an offence under the Arms Act 1983, against section 231A of the Crimes Act 1961, or against the Game Animal Council Act 2013, the Wildlife Act 1953, or the Wild Animal Control Act 1977 
  • you have had a temporary protection order made against you under section 79 of the Family Violence Act 2018, or section 14 of the Domestic Violence Act 1995 
  • there are grounds for a protection order under the Family Violence Act 2018 
  • you have had a restraining order made against you under the Harassment Act 1997 
  • you have not complied with the requirements of the Arms Act, regulations made under the Arms Act, or the conditions of a permit, licence, or endorsement issued to you under the Arms Act 
  • you have been a member or affiliated with a gang or organised criminal group 
  • you have exhibited, encouraged, or promoted violence, hatred, or extremism 
  • you have been assessed as a risk to national security 
  • you have a mental or physical illness or injury that affects your ability to safely possess firearms 
  • you have abused alcohol or been dependent on alcohol 
  • you have used drugs that affect your judgement or behaviour. 

If Te Tari Pūreke has a reason to find you are not a fit and proper person, we will tell you the reason and give you an opportunity to refute or comment on it. (Some exemptions apply.) 

Who cannot apply  

You are disqualified from holding a firearms licence if you: 

  • currently have a final protection order against you 
  • have had a final protection order made against you in the last 10 years 
  • have been convicted or released from custody after being convicted of offences under the Sentencing Act 2002, Arms Act 1983, Crimes Act 1961 in the last 10 years. 

You may be disqualified from holding a firearms licence if you have been convicted overseas for an offence involving violence, drugs or alcohol. 

Any conviction for a serious violent offence, as defined in the Sentencing Act, disqualifies you from holding a firearms licence. 

A conviction for any of the following offences under the Arms Act disqualify people from holding a firearms licence: 

  • importing a firearm or other arms item without a permit 
  • importing prohibited ammunition 
  • selling or supplying a prohibited firearm or magazine 
  • unlawfully possessing a prohibited firearm 
  • unlawfully carrying or possessing a prohibited firearm in a public place 
  • presenting a prohibited firearm at another person 
  • using or attempting to use a prohibited firearm, airgun, or other arms item to resist or prevent arrest, or to commit an offence 
  • carrying a prohibited firearm, or other arms item with criminal intent assembling a prohibited firearm 
  • illegally manufacturing arms items 
  • illegally trafficking firearms, parts, or ammunition 
  • falsifying firearm markings. 

A conviction for any of the following offences under the Crimes Act disqualify people from holding a firearms licence: 

  • piracy 
  • slave dealing 
  • participation in an organised criminal group 
  • strangulation or suffocation 
  • acid throwing 
  • assault with a weapon 
  • blackmail 
  • arson 
  • intentional damage 
  • threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm. 

If you’re visiting New Zealand and plan to use firearms during your stay

If you’ll be in New Zealand for more than a year, you must apply for a New Zealand firearms licence.

If you’ll be in New Zealand for less than a year, you must apply for a visitor’s licence or you can use a firearm under the immediate supervision of a New Zealand firearms licence holder. 

Moving to New Zealand

Visitor’s licence 


To possess or use some classes of arms items, you must apply for an endorsement on your firearms licence.

When you apply for a firearms licence, you can also apply for a:

  • pistol target shooting endorsement
  • dealer employee endorsement
  • pest control endorsement
  • bona fide collector endorsement
  • memento and heirloom endorsement
  • broadcaster, theatrical, living history and theatrical armourer endorsement.


How long your licence is valid for

Your new firearms licence is valid for 10 years if you apply before your current licence expires. 

It’s valid for 5 years if: 

  • it’s the first time you’ve had a firearms licence 
  • your firearms licence expires before you apply for a new one 
  • your previous firearms licence was revoked or surrendered. 

How much it costs 

  • First-time licence – $126.50 
  • If you re-apply before your licence expires – $126.50 
  • If you re-apply after your licence has expired – $241.50 

These fees include GST and are not refundable, even if your application is unsuccessful. Applications made online through MyFirearms will also incur a card payment fee. 

Information you need to provide in your application

Photograph specifications

You must supply a recent, good quality digital photograph that is a good likeness of yourself. A scanned copy of a photograph will not be accepted. 

The photograph must meet the minimum requirements as set out in Regulation 30 of the Arms Regulations 1992. Passport photos from commercial outlets will typically meet these requirements. 

This means the photograph must: 

  • have been taken within the last 12 months   
  • be a full front view of your face – chin to forehead and both sides of your face  
  • be of you with a neutral facial expression
  • show head and shoulders, with the head filling most of the photograph  
  • be of you without a hat or head covering (except where your religion requires you to wear a hat or head covering)  
  • have a plain, light-coloured background  
  • be in colour and in focus  
  • be in portrait format (with a 4:3 aspect ratio)  
  • be in JPG or JPEG format  
  • be between 25KB and 10MB  
  • be between 900 and 4500 pixels wide and 1200 and 6000 pixels high.  

We will not accept photographs that do not meet these standards.

Identity documents 

If you have a New Zealand firearms licence, you must provide a scan or clear photo of the following: 

  • Your licence card (current or expired within 12 months)  
  • Proof of address dated within the last 3 months

If you do not have a New Zealand firearms licence, you must provide a scan or photo of one of the following: 

  • New Zealand passport 
  • Overseas passport 
  • New Zealand driver licence 
  • Police identity card 
  • New Zealand Defence Force photo identification 
  • Kiwi Access card (18+ Card) 
  • Identity document issued by New Zealand government 

AND one of the following: 

  • Birth certificate 
  • Citizenship certificate 
  • Permanent resident document 
  • Identity document issued by secondary or tertiary institution 
  • Card issued by a New Zealand bank with your full name and signature 
  • Educational records or certificates 
  • Professional or trade association membership certificate 

AND proof of address dated within the last 3 months. 

Employment and education details

You must provide details of your employment over the past 3 years, such as your occupation, your employer and how long you worked for them. 

If you have studied at an educational facility or school in the past 3 years, you must provide information about the course and facility. 

Reason for possessing firearms 

As part of your application, you must tell us about your experience with firearms and why you want a firearms licence.

You must also tell us if you’re a member of a gun club or shooting organisation, and if you have applied for a firearms licence overseas. 


Firearms can only be possessed for lawful purposes, and it is up to the possessor to prove a lawful purpose.

Keeping a loaded weapon, readily available, cannot be justified on the basis of a claim of self-defence relating to a generalised fear.

Use of force on a person is normally a criminal offence. It would be extremely rare that the use of a firearm against a person would be considered lawful.

Advice on keeping safe | NZ Police website

Personal history details 

To understand if you and others will be safe if you have access to firearms, we ask questions in your application about your personal history.

Criminal offending

You must provide information about any criminal offending you have been involved with. 

Note: The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 requires you to state whether you have a criminal record when making an application under the Arms Act 1983. 

Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004, section 19 – Exceptions to general effect of clean slate scheme | New Zealand Legislation

Overseas travel

You must also provide details about overseas travel within the past 10 years.

You need a criminal history check from any country you have been in for over 6 months in total (not necessarily consecutively) in the last 10 years

For information on how to get a criminal history check, go to:

You may need to provide a criminal history check


If you have a relevant health condition, you’ll be asked to provide details. You must supply a certificate from your health practitioner that is related to the condition. You will be asked to provide the contact details of your current health provider in your application.

Definition of a health practitioner

Please make sure the contact information you supply is accurate, as the health provider will be sent an email once your licence is issued, as per our obligations under the Arms Act 1983. If you supply an incorrect email address, this may delay the licencing process.

Arms Act 1983 No 44 (as at 24 June 2023), Public Act 24 Issue of firearms licence | New Zealand Legislation

Depending how you answer each of these questions, we may ask for more information. 

Information about your referees 

We will interview your referees to help us decide if you are a fit and proper person to have a firearms licence. They do not need to be firearms licence holders.

You must provide the names and contact details for: 

  • one next-of-kin referee
  • at least one unrelated referee.

Next-of-kin referee

Your next-of-kin referee must be aged 16 or over.

They could be:  

  • your spouse or partner (if you have one) 
  • a near relative (for example, a parent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, grandparent or sibling) who knows you well (even if they reside overseas). 

If you are 16 or 17 years old and do not have a spouse or partner, you must use your parent or legal guardian as your next of kin referee. 

If your referee lives overseas, you must also nominate an additional referee who lives in New Zealand and knows you well. 

Unrelated referees

Your unrelated referee must

  • be aged 20 or over 
  • be living in New Zealand 
  • know you well enough to attest to your character and fitness to possess firearms – this may include someone you’ve known and been in regular face-to-face contact with for a significant period of your life (at least 3 years, preferably more). 

Your unrelated referee must not

  • be related to you (for example, not your parents, stepparents, cousin, aunt or in-laws) 
  • live at the same address as you (for example, not your flatmate, lodger or boarder) 
  • be your current spouse or partner, a former spouse or partner within the past 5 years, or an otherwise related person 
  • be employed by New Zealand Police. 

Note: We may request additional referees if we do not consider your nominated referees suitable.

Former spouses or partners 

You must provide details of any former spouses or partners with whom you’ve had a ‘relationship akin to marriage’ at any time in the past 5 years. 

Former spouses and partners know applicants and their domestic lives well. They may be affected by applicants having access to firearms. They may also have ongoing relationships with applicants through childcare and other domestic arrangements. 

We know not all separations are friendly. We take this into account when we interview former spouses and partners, and when we consider your application. 

Secure storage for firearms and ammunition 

You must provide details of your firearms and ammunition secure storage at your home address and any additional addresses where you may store your firearms and ammunition. 

Your home address could be a mobile home, campervan, or caravan. Even if it’s a temporary arrangement, if it’s your home, you must make sure it has secure storage. 

Other addresses where you store firearms and ammunition could be a holiday home or a business premises. 

We issue a firearms licence only when an applicant has secure storage for firearms and ammunition that we have inspected and meets requirements. 

People who have access to your firearms storage locations 

A firearms licence holder must consider all aspects of firearms safety, including the safety of people who may have access to locations where you store firearms.  

Te Tari Pūreke cannot issue a firearms licence if another person who is not fit and proper to possess firearms is reasonably likely to obtain access to any of your firearms or airguns. 

You must provide details of: 

  • people who live at your home address 
  • people who may have free or unsupervised access to your home address or any additional address you have listed as a firearms and ammunition storage location. 

If you list your spouse or partner as a referee, you do not need to include them here. 

Firearms Registry requirements apply from 24 June 2023

The first time you apply for a licence or endorsement from 24 June 2023, you must register all arms items in your possession within 30 days.

Find out what the Firearms Registry means for you

Last updated
27 February 2024


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