NZ POLICE FAQ’S

NB: This is not an exhaustive list of all possible questions.
If in doubt on any issue, or if you need more information, please check your Arms Code or inquire at your local Police Station. NB: It is your responsibility to find out what is required.

1. When do I need a NZ firearms license?

Anyone can use a sporting firearm without a license if they are under the immediate supervision of a license holder. ‘Immediate supervision’ means the licensed person is within reach and can control the firearm. The superviser must not be using another firearm at the same time.

If you are 16 years old or over you can apply for a standard firearms license. This will allow you to have and use unsupervised:

  • sporting type shotguns and rifles
  • pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles.

You need a special addition to your license (called an endorsement) to:

  • possess or use pistols for target shooting (B endorsement)
  • collect pistols and restricted weapons or stage theatrical performances involving pistols and restricted weapons (C endorsement)
  • possess or use military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) rifles or shotguns (E endorsement).

2. How do I obtain a NZ firearms license?

Step 1
Attend a firearms safety course and sit the safety test. To make an appointment contact your nearest Police station.
If you are renewing your license, miss out Step 1.

Step 2
Fill in the form at the back of the Arms Code booklet given to you before the safety course. Or print and fill in the application for a New Zealand firearms license form [PDF, 30KB].
Do not fill in the test on the back of the form at this stage.

Step 3
Take the application form to a Post Shop and pay the application fee. Keep the receipt.
You could get two passport photos, needed in Step 4, while at the Post Shop.

Fees (including GST):

  • standard license (valid for 10 years), new or renewed before expiry – $126.50
  • (Note: any current endorsements held at the time of renewal may be transferred without charge to the new license)
  • standard license expired (previous license expired) – $241.50
  • (Note: any endorsements upon an expired license must be reapplied for and the endorsement fee paid)
  • standard license endorsement(s) – $204.00

For one or more endorsements (when applied for at the same time), allowing you to have:
target pistols (B endorsement)
military-style semi-automatic rifles or shotguns (E endorsement)
a collection of pistols or restricted weapons (C Collectors or Museum endorsement)
pistols or restricted weapons for performing a play/film/re-enactment (C Theatrical endorsement)
pistols or restricted weapons for hire or sale (F endorsement – dealers).

Step 4
Take your application to your nearest Police station. Take with you:

  • your application form
  • your old licence (if you have one)
  • proof that you have completed the safety course
  • two recent passport style photos (for rules concerning passport photos
  • visit the Department of Internal Affairs website (link is external)
)
  • three documents that prove your identity (passport, birth certificate, driver license, photo ID, credit card/bank card)
  • contact details of two character referees. One referee must be your spouse or next of kin, the other must be someone who is over 20 years old and not related to you
  • Post Shop receipt for fees.

Step 5
Someone will arrange to visit you. They will interview you and check your firearms security arrangements. They will arrange to interview your referees.
You will have difficulty being deemed ‘fit and proper’ to possess or use firearms if you have:

  • a history of violence
  • repeated involvement with drugs
  • been irresponsible with alcohol
  • a personal or social relationship with people deemed to be unsuitable to
  • be given access to firearms
  • indicated an intent to use a firearm for self-defence.

Firearms storage
You will need to show that firearms will be stored in the manner set out in the Arms Regulations – if you can’t, you may not get a license or your current one will be revoked. All license holders must install security at their home, even if they don’t actually have any firearms. Security requirements are particularly strict for dealers and for license holders who possess pistols, restricted weapons or MSSAs.

  • You must never put a firearm where a child could reach it.
  • You must store firearms and ammunition separately or disable the firearms, or both.
  • You must keep your firearms unloaded and locked away in a rack, stout cabinet, steel cabinet or strong-room.

Step 6
After vetting has been completed, you will be told if your application has been successful. If it was, you will be issued with a license.

3. What are the different license categories?

You will need an endorsement on your ‘A’ category firearm license if you

  • become a collector of pistols and/or restricted weapons (‘C endorsement’)
  • are a member of a pistol club and wish to possess a pistol (‘B endorsement’)
  • wish to use a MSSA firearm (‘E endorsement’)
  • wish to sell MSSAs, pistols and/or restricted weapons as a firearms dealer or employee of a dealer (‘E & F dealers endorsement’)
    Firearms dealers require an additional license to be in business.

4. What about air guns?

Anyone 18 years of age or older can possess and use an airgun.

Anyone under 18 years of age may use an airgun if:

  • They hold a New Zealand Firearms License* or they are under the ‘immediate supervision’ of a firearms license holder or a person 18 years of age or older.
  • Anyone under 16 years of age must always be under the ‘immediate supervision’ of a firearms license holder or a person 18 years of age or
  • Note: You must be 16 years of age or older to apply for a New Zealand Firearms License.

‘Immediate supervision’ means that the licensed or older person is within reach and in control of the person using the airgun. The person providing the supervision must be able to take control of the airgun. They cannot be in possession or control of another firearm or airgun. On a range or paintball field: the rules in place, fenced field and supervision of umpires, referees or Range Officer go toward immediate supervision.

Young airgun owners:
If you are 16 or 17 you can see the Arms Officer at a Police station about getting a firearms licence. The Arms Officer will give you a free copy of the Arms Code for you to study. You will be asked to give the names of 2 people, one a close relative. The Police will ask these people if you are a suitable person to use and possess firearms.

You will also be asked to attend a firearms safety lecture run by the NZMSC. Next, you sit a written test and are issued a certificate when you pass. The results of your test will be passed on to the Arms Officer. If the Arms Officer considers you a fit and proper person you will be issued with a firearms license.

NB: You can be arrested and fined and/or imprisoned:

  • If you possess or carry an airgun without a lawful purpose.
  • If you carelessly use an airgun.
  • For firing an airgun in a way that may endanger, annoy or frighten anyone or harm property.
  • For unlawfully pointing an airgun at someone.
  • If you sell or supply an airgun to an unlicensed person under 18. This could happen if an adult buys an airgun as a gift for a child.

There is a very good pamphlet available from any NZ Police Arms Office called ’Beginning with Airguns’, describing the Police requirements around airguns.
Go to: http://atc22sqn.x10.mx/_files/_firearms/airgun%20brochure.pdf

5. What are the rules/regulations about using air weapons at home?

It is quite legal to shoot air pistols and air rifles in your section or house; PROVIDING:

  • You are over 18, or have a gun license, or someone over 18 supervises the shooting.
  • You have a safe area to shoot in. (You have a safety zone and no-one can be potentially injured by ricochets, and nor can anyone walk into the shooting zone while you are shooting.)
  • The pellets are contained within your property ie: you have a suitable impact area or bullet trap.
  • The neighbours do not feel threatened. (May be a good idea to discuss this with them!) You need to make sure that airguns are NOT pointed in the neighbour’s direction, and that any noise is kept to a minimum.

There is a very good pamphlet available from any NZ Police Arms Office called ’Beginning with Airguns’, describing the Police requirements around airguns.
Go to: http://atc22sqn.x10.mx/_files/_firearms/airgun%20brochure.pdf

6. What is the distance (in metres) that a firearm can be discharged towards a roadway or another dwelling.

There is no stipulated distance in the Arms Act or Regulations: the shooter needs to take a number of factors into account such as proximity of other dwelling houses, road ways, locality (rural/residential/semi-rural), stock etc and the type/calibre of rifle or shotgun being used and where the projectile(s) are likely to go should the target be missed.

Refer to Rule 5 (Arms Code) – Check your firing zone that provides an extreme range/distance for various rifle/shotgun calibres.

Be also advised that shooters could be charged with various offences under the Arms Act: section 48 – Discharging fire, airgun, pistol or restricted weapon in or near a dwelling house or public place – so as to endanger property or endanger, annoy or frighten any person. http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1983/0044/latest/DLM72991.html

Section 53 is also relevant – Careless use of firearm etc – http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1983/0044/latest/DLM73301.html

From the Arms Act:

Discharging firearm, airgun, pistol, or restricted weapon in or near a dwelling house or public place:
Every person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to a fine not exceeding $3,000 or to both who, without reasonable cause, discharges a firearm, airgun, pistol, or restricted weapon in or near—

(a) a dwelling house; or
(b) a public place,
so as to endanger property or to endanger, annoy, or frighten any person.

7. What about security for my firearms?

The following are the relevant sections of the law relating to the security provisions for A category licenses.
Conditions relating to security precautions

  • (1) Every firearms license shall be subject to the following conditions:
    • (a) the holder shall not put a firearm in such a place that a young child has ready access to it:
    • (b) the holder, where he or she has both a firearm and ammunition for it in his or her possession, either—
      • (i) shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the ammunition is not stored in such a way that a person who obtains access to the firearm also obtains access to the ammunition; or
      • (ii) shall ensure that, where the ammunition is stored with the firearm, the firearm is not capable of being discharged:
    • (c) the holder shall take reasonable steps to ensure that any firearm in the holder’s possession is secured against theft:
  • (2) On and after 1 July 1993 the reasonable steps required by sub clause (1)(c) shall include—
    • (a) keeping on the holder’s premises—
      • (i) a lockable cabinet, container, or receptacle of stout construction in which firearms may be stored; or
      • (ii) a lockable steel and concrete strong room in which firearms may be stored; or
      • (iii) a display cabinet or rack in which firearms may be immobilised and locked so that none of them may be fired; and
    • (b) keeping locked or immobilised and locked in the cabinet, container, receptacle, strong room, display cabinet, or rack required by paragraph (a) every firearm which is on the holder’s premises and which is not under immediate and personal supervision of the holder or some other holder of a firearms license; and
    • (c) ensuring that no firearm in the holder’s possession is left in a vehicle that is unattended.

Please note that for A category licenses there is no such thing as ‘an approved safe, etc’.
The arms officer (or vetter) is really looking at an installation of security, which may include a safe of a certain standard. The objective is that Regulation 19 is met, which is a judgement call.

The role of the organization providing the education is to promote the requirement that securing firearms is a safety issue, whereas the nature of that security is a matter for the law and the Arms Officer who acts as a vetter.

8. What about security in and around huts?

(From the DOC website)
Do not load a firearm in or near a hut – wait until you’re hunting.
Do not discharge firearms in the vicinity of huts, tracks, campsites, road ends or any other public place in a manner that endangers property or endangers, frightens or annoys members of the public.
Do not discharge load or discharge firearms within 500 m of a Great Walk hut.
When in a hut or camp, ensure you remove and store your firearms bolt and ammunition separately. Where practical also secure your firearm.

Also it is now recommended that you secure your firearm in a hut with a cable lock if necessary. DOC are also putting secure locking areas in huts.

9. Can a person without a firearm license use my firearm?

No matter how old you are, if you do not have a firearms license but want to use a firearm, you may do so only under the immediate supervision of someone who has a firearms license. In other words, the person with the license must be with the shooter, and close enough to take control of the firearm if necessary. To meet this requirement the supervisor cannot be using a firearm at the same time.

Generally, this means that there will be only one firearm between the two people.

Note: An unlicensed person, even under immediate supervision, cannot use military-style semi-automatics (MSSAs).

10. Can I lend my firearm to someone else?

Yes, as long as they have a firearm license of the same category as you. Under no condition should you lend a firearm to someone who does NOT have a firearm license.

11. What do I need to do when I change my address?

Notify the Police, within 30 days, of a change in your residential address.
Forms for this purpose are included in the Arms Code and on the Police website.

12. What do I need to do when travelling by vehicle, air, or public transport with a firearm?

Transporting firearms and ammunition
Even before you buy your first firearm you need to know how you will carry it home and where you will keep it. Once you leave the dealer’s shop you will be carrying your firearm in a public place and possibly on a bus, train, aircraft, or inter-island ferry. Bear in mind that it is illegal to carry or use a loaded firearm in a vehicle. (NB: Having a loaded magazine is deemed to be a loaded firearm!)

Remember also to make sure the action is open when around other people.
You are strongly advised to get a padded cover or hard case in which to carry your firearm. This ensures the firearm is protected and stays in good condition. It also makes it less obvious so is less likely to alarm other members of the public.
You must have a particular lawful, proper and sufficient purpose to have firearms with you, so you should have firearms – unloaded – in your vehicle only on the way to or from a hunting trip, shooting range, or for some other genuine reason.
It is vital for community safety and crime reduction to keep your firearms secure at all times. You may lose your firearms license if you fail to do so.

Car

  • You may not leave a firearm in an unattended vehicle.
  • ‘Unattended’ means no-one is in, near or able to watch the vehicle.
  • If possible, make the firearm inoperable e.g. by taking out the bolt.
  • You cannot drive a vehicle on a road with a loaded firearm. This includes the magazine – it must be empty.
  • Even on private property it is dangerous to have a loaded firearm in a vehicle, or to get in or out of the vehicle with a loaded firearm.
  • Be careful when moving your firearm in or out of a vehicle. Treat it as loaded. Do not point it at yourself or at anyone else. Do not pull it towards you by the muzzle.

Boat

  • Duck shooters should check their game license before they use a firearm in a boat.

Public transport (bus, train, inter-island ferry, aircraft)

On some shooting trips you will need to carry your firearm by public transport. Remember to make suitable arrangements for this when planning your trip. Discuss the requirements with your travel agent or the carrier.

In general:

  • Firearms and ammunition are not allowed to be carry-on luggage.
  • Firearms and ammunition must be presented to the Carrier for inspection prior to travelling.
  • You will be asked to confirm or demonstrate that the firearm is not loaded.
  • The Carrier will take custody of them until arrival at the destination.
  • All arms must have their bolts removed (where applicable) and must otherwise be rendered inoperable.
  • A locked hard carrying case will protect your firearm during the journey.
  • Upon arrival at your destination, you may be required to present your baggage check to reclaim your firearm.
  • Only a limited amount of factory boxed ammunition used for sporting purposes (excluding explosive or incendiary projectiles) may be carried as checked luggage. Check the amount that may be carried before travelling.
  • Allowances for more than one person must not be combined into one or more packages.
    Some international destinations require prior approval of the carriage of firearms to/from or through their country. Discuss this with your travel agent at the time of booking – well in advance of travelling.

Mail/courier
Generally firearms are not considered in themselves to be dangerous goods. However, individual courier and postal companies may have their own policies regarding the carriage of firearms. Discuss your requirements with the courier or postal company. Firearms should be delivered only to an occupied address.
Ammunition is considered to be dangerous goods. All ammunition for transportation must be packaged, secured, and identified properly. There are limits on quantity for carriage of ammunition. See the New Zealand Land Transport website for further details. www.landtransport.govt.nz

13. When I sell my firearm what is required?

You should have your firearms license with you whenever you carry your firearm. Anyone who sells you a firearm will need to see your license.

All sellers are legally required to see the purchaser’s firearm license (We suggest you take a photo of it – Ed.). Keep a record of the firearms you have bought or sold because if one should be lost, destroyed or stolen you must immediately inform the Police in writing. If you provide them with the details, the Police will record them against your firearms license record.

Pistols, MSSA firearms and restricted weapons can only be supplied to a purchaser who has a permit to procure issued by the Police.

14. What about buying a firearm online?

Private sales of firearms are legal, but the buyer must have a NZ Firearms License. Selling a gun to someone who does not have a valid license carries a maximum penalty of $1000 fine or three months in prison. The onus is on the seller to check the buyer has a current license.
Internet sales are subject to Section 43a of the Arms Act 1983. Information on this is available from any police station.
Anyone who buys a gun without a license can be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, which carries a maximum penalty of a $5000 fine or four years in prison.
Check out the following for the latest NZ Police requirements.
Purchasing Firearms, Ammunition and Airguns by Mail Order

Ammunition
Only a firearms license holder can purchase ammunition.

15. What about importing or exporting firearms or parts of a firearm?

Exporting and importing
If you wish to send or take any pistol, MSSA or restricted weapon out of the country you must let the Police know at least four days in advance. Standard sporting firearms can be exported without notice to Police, but you will require an import permit if you plan to bring them back into New Zealand. Obtain this before leaving New Zealand.
You should allow a month to obtain the import permit.

Exporting firearms, parts and ammunition from New Zealand
An export permit is required before firearms, components, accessories, ammunition and other weapons may be taken out of New Zealand. These controls apply regardless of the state, completeness or working condition of the items.
Permits are issued free of charge by the International Security and Disarmament Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Certain exemptions exist for antique items, temporary exports for hunting trips or sporting competitions, visitors to New Zealand and exports for the purposes of repair and return. Please note that these exemptions do not apply to Pacific Island destinations.
Further information and application forms are available from the Business Gateway (Strategic Goods) on the Ministry’s website www.mfat.govt.nz or by contacting the Ministry directly on: 04 439 8227 (phone) or exportcontrols@mfat.govt.nz (email).

Exiting New Zealand
If taking a firearm out of New Zealand with the intention of bringing it back, you will need an export permit issued by MFAT, an import permit issued by Police and a certificate of export from the Customs Department. Show these forms on your return to prove that the firearm was taken from New Zealand and not obtained overseas. You can obtain the certificate at any Customs office a few days before departure, or at the airport of departure. Allow yourself sufficient time for the formalities if you are seeking the certificate at the airport.
If you do not have a permit to import the firearm into your country of destination you risk forfeiture of your firearm. Contact the relevant embassy to check their laws on firearms.

Entering New Zealand
You must declare any firearm to Customs and Police on entering New Zealand. An import permit issued by Police is needed for all firearms on return from overseas. It is preferable that you get this permit from the Police before you leave. If you do not have an import permit, be prepared to surrender the firearm until one is obtained, either from Police at the airport, or from your nearest Arms Officer.
Any firearm or parts brought or sent to New Zealand must be approved for import. Contact a Police Arms Officer to see whether the firearm or parts you want are approved.
You will also need to apply for an import permit. You risk prosecution if you do not have a permit to import, and the firearm or parts are not approved for import. As well, you will be required to send the firearm or parts out of the country or surrender them unconditionally to the Police for destruction.

16. What are approved firearms?

What are the rules around imitation firearms?
It is an offence under the Arms Act to possess or use an imitation firearm without a lawful, proper and sufficient purpose.
Blank-firing imitation firearms can be considered “firearms” under law, especially if modified. They are considered case by case; please contact your local Police Arms Office.
Toy guns are not covered by the Arms Act, but many look like real guns from a distance. Police are regularly called by members of the public who are concerned about people pointing guns which turn out to be toys.

17. What if I am a visitor to New Zealand?

People visiting New Zealand for 12 months or less, and wishing to bring a firearm into the country for their use, need to obtain a visitor’s firearms licence and an import permit. The license can only be applied for, in person, in New Zealand but the details of the proposed importation can be confirmed in advance.

Applicants need to send or bring copies of:

  • the combined visitor’s license and import permit application
  • the photo page of the their passport
  • evidence of being a bona fide shooter in their country of origin (their home country firearms license/ permit/ certificate).

These can be sent by email, mail or fax to Police at the airport where they will first arrive in New Zealand. More details and contact addresses for the International Airports are available in the Firearms section.