Learn what to do in the event of the death of a firearms licence holder.

Who becomes responsible for firearms and ammunition?

When a firearms licence holder dies, their firearms, arms items and ammunition become the joint responsibility of the person or persons responsible for their estate - the deceased’s executors, administrators or next of kin. 

This person or persons should work with members of the deceased’s whanau to make sure the deceased’s arms items and ammunition are transferred to a suitably licensed person. 

For example, the items may be

  • surrendered or sold to a firearms dealer 
  • sold or otherwise transferred to another firearms licence holder.

Alternatively, they can be surrendered to Police for destruction. 

How to surrender arms items

What you must do as the representative of the deceased licence holder

If you are an executor, administrator, personal representative or next of kin of a deceased licence holder, Te Tari Pūreke will work with you, to update the Firearms Registry and ensure any firearms or major firearms parts recorded in the Firearms Registry are appropriately transferred to a firearms dealer or other firearms licence holder, or disposed of.  

Step 1: Update the Firearms Registry

As the deceased licence holder’s representative, you must contact us as soon as possible so we can record what has happened to the firearms in the Firearms Registry. To contact us: 

  • Phone 0800 844 431 (09 302 6500) between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday 

Our team will let you know if any further details are required. 

If the deceased owned any prohibited or restricted firearms or arms items 

You must promptly notify us if the deceased licence holder possessed any of the following items:  

  • Pistol 
  • Prohibited firearm 
  • Prohibited magazine 
  • Restricted weapon. 

To notify us about these items:

  • Phone 0800 844 431 (09 302 6500) between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Step 2: Decide what to do with the deceased's non-prohibited firearms and ammunition or other shooting-related items

The most commonly possessed non-prohibited firearms in New Zealand are hunting rifles or shotguns. If the deceased was in possession of one of these firearms, ammunition or other shooting related shooting items, decide who these should be transferred to.

You should take into account the entitlements of any beneficiaries and who is lawfully able to possess them. 

Your options include: 

  • sale or transfer to another family member or friend with a firearms licence and relevant endorsement, if applicable 
  • sale or transfer to a dealer or another firearms licence holder with the relevant endorsement, if applicable. 
  • destruction, in which case Police will dispose of them.

For another person or family member to take possession of non-prohibited firearms, a firearms licence is the minimum requirement. Ideally, the licence holder should make plans for what is to happen with their firearms in advance and tell their family so that this is a smooth process. See:

When a firearm changes hands

Step 3: Destroy the firearms licence card

If you know the whereabouts of the deceased’s firearms licence card, please cut it into two pieces and take a photo of the destroyed card. This photo may be requested by Police as proof of destruction.

Step 4: Arrange surrender of any firearms or arms items not transferred

If you haven't already done so, contact Te Tari Pūreke or your local Police station to let us know what arrangements have been made to transfer arms items belonging to the deceased to another firearms licence holder or firearms dealer.

When to register your arms items

If no arrangements have been made, you can fix a time to surrender the arms items to Police for destruction.

How to surrender arms items 

If any firearms or arms items have already been destroyed, notify us immediately by:

What is a restricted weapon? 

The Arms (Restricted Weapons and Specially Dangerous Airguns) Order 1984 defines restricted weapons. 

Schedule Weapons declared restricted weapons – New Zealand Legislation

What is a prohibited firearm? 

Section 2A of the Arms Act 1983 defines prohibited firearms. 

Meaning of prohibited firearm – New Zealand Legislation

How to surrender arms items belonging to a deceased firearms licence holder

It’s a matter of public safety and in line with purposes of the Arms Act 1983 that arms items are only in possession of current licence holders.  

Police requires anyone who is in possession of, or has control over, any arms item that belonged to a deceased licence holder to either arrange transfer to a licence holder or surrender the items to a dealer or Police.  

Surrendering an arms item or ammunition

If the arms items are to be sold, but the executor doesn’t have a licence, they must be transferred to the possession of a firearms dealer or another firearms licence holder pending the sale. 

If you have a firearm, magazine, part, or ammunition that you no longer want, you can arrange a time to hand it over to Police at your nearest Police station. 

Arrange a time to surrender the arms items belonging to the deceased by: 

Note: Do not turn up to a Police station with a firearm unannounced – please call ahead of time on 105. It’s important that you make sure firearms are not loaded and transport them safely using a gun case or similar bag. 


Need help?
phone Phone 0800 844 431 (04 499 2870)
8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday