Owning a gun in South Africa isn’t a right enshrined in the Constitution – unlike the United States’ Second Amendment – but you can legally own one.
To own a gun in South Africa you must have a firearm licence. The The South African Police Service(SAPS) will issue a firearm licence to you once you’ve successfully attended prescribed training at an accredited facility.
The facility will issue a proficiency certificate to you when you complete your training successfully.
Therefore, as you read on in this article, you will get to know the processes that are involved whether you are a fresh applicant or you already have one and need to renew it.
1. Get trained from an accredited institution
Before you can ever be considered for a licence, the first thing that you are expected to do is to go through certain training. In training, you will be taught how to handle a gun and the conditions under which you are permitted to use the weapon. However, you need to bear in mind that your training must be from a government-accredited institution, and once you finish the training, you will be given a training proficiency certificate for further processing. The certificate also serves as proof that you have actually gotten the requisite knowledge in handling a gun.
2. Apply for a competency certificate
In the furtherance of your application process, you will need a competency certificate. To get that, you need to complete the SAPS 517 application form and submit it to the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) at any of the police stations that are close to you. However, before you can apply for this certificate, you must meet these criteria:
- You must be at least 21 years old. If you are not up to that, then there must be convincing reasons why you are applying to get the competency certificate or firearm licence as the case may be.
- You must be a citizen of South Africa or have a permanent residence permit.
- A thorough background check will be conducted on you which you must pass.
- Mental wise, you must be stable and fit.
- You must be free from any form of addiction to whatever kinds of drugs or alcohol.
- There must be no criminal records traceable to you.
Note: There is detailed guidance by the South African Police Service (SAPS) on how to complete the application form, so you do not have any need to worry about how to go about filling it.
3. Fill the firearm application form
There is an application form known as Form SAP 271 that you will be required to fill at the police station that is nearest to you. For the steps on how to fill it, the SAPS has detailed instructions that you can follow.
4. Submit with relevant documents
Once you have finished filling the firearm application form, the next thing to do is to attach the following documents:
- A certified copy of the proficiency certificate that you received where you got trained on how to handle a firearm.
- A certified copy of your identity document or passport.
- Two recent passport-size colour photographs that are not older than three months.
- A certified copy of your competency certificate.
- If you are not a citizen of South Africa, you will be required to submit a certified copy of your permanent residence permit.
- A well-detailed firearm licence motivation for which you need a firearm.
Note: When you are applying for the firearm licence, you will need to do so based on the type of firearm that you have.
At the point where you are submitting the form and the corresponding documents, the following would take place with the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO):
- The full set of your fingerprints will be taken on the SAPS 91(a) form. This is usually needed for a competency certificate.
- You will be issued a remittance advice SAPS 523(a), which you will take to the financial office at the police station where you will pay the prescribed fee. Note that the payment can only be either cash or a bank-guaranteed cheque. Then, to get the competency certificate, it will cost you a token of R70,00 and to get the firearm licence, you will pay R140,00.
- You will get a receipt (Z263) to prove that you have actually paid. This receipt will be submitted back to the DFO so that your application process can continue.
- The next thing is that they will give you a signed acknowledgement receipt (SAPS 523) to prove that you have submitted an application for a firearm licence.
- If your application is successfully considered, you will be asked to obtain and install a firearm safe that is made according to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) standard within 14 days.
- Lastly, an inspection will be carried out by the DFO on your premises to be sure that all the requirements for a safe have been met.
Firearm licence renewal
Start the process of renewing your licence at least 90 days before the expiration of your current licence. Then, just as when you want to apply for a firearm licence, there are processes that you also have to go through before your licence can be renewed. Read through the processes below:
1. Go with the relevant documents
While you are going to the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) at the nearest police station to you, ensure that you have these documents with you:
- Your official identity document.
- The original firearm licence that you were issued initially.
- The training proficiency certificate that you got at the time you went through the training.
- The competency certificate that you were issued at the time you first applied for the firearm licence.
- Four recent passport size colour photographs that are not older than three months. Note that two of those passports will be for the firearm licence while the remaining two will be for your application for a competency certificate.
2. Complete the necessary forms
The two major forms that you would be asked to fill include an application for a competency certificate (SAPS 517) and the application for renewal of licence form (SAPS 517(e)).
3. Do your biometrics
Once you submit the necessary documents, the next thing that the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) will do is to take a full set of your fingerprints. This is needed for your competency certificate application.
4. Get the necessary receipts
There is remittance advice (SAPS 523(a)) that the DFO will issue you which you will take to the financial office at the police station from where you will pay the necessary fees. Usually, the fee for the competency certificate is R70,00 while that of the firearm licence which you are renewing is also R70,00. After payment, you will get a receipt (Z263) which will serve as proof that you have paid.
5. Get your signed acknowledgement of receipt from the DFO
Once you receive the receipt from the finance office, you will take it back to the DFO, and afterwards, you will be given a signed acknowledgement of receipt. This will serve as proof that you are applying for your firearm licence renewal, and the submitted receipt will enable the DFO to continue with your application processing.
Firearm licence tracking
To ensure that your application is not held down in transit for one reason or the other, ensure that you track the progress. In tracking your licence application, one thing that you can do is to call up the centre as often as you can to get an update. With this, if there is anything that you need to do, you will be prompted without delay.