If you want to start hunting or target shooting, the first step is to get your firearm’s license. But figuring out how to apply for a firearm’s licence can be quite daunting, especially as the process in Australia is different in each state. In this article, we will explain how to apply for a firearm’s licence in Tasmania (we’ll follow up with how to apply in other states very soon). Hopefully, by breaking down each of the steps, it will help to make the process a little less confusing for new hunters and shooters.
In Tasmania, you need to state what category of firearm you want to be licensed for (e.g. rimfire rifle, shotgun, centrefire rifle, handgun etc) as well as provide a genuine reason to apply for a firearm licence (e.g. hunting, target shooting, employment, etc). You will also need to provide some basic health information and answer some questions about your history. These questions are used to determine if you are a “fit and proper” person as outlined in the Firearms Act 1996. Basically, the Commissioner needs to be satisfied you will not use the firearm for any unlawful activity or to harm yourself or another person.
You will also need to provide some evidence of your reasons for requiring a firearm. But more about that later.
The first section of the application deals with your personal details – name, age, date of birth and sex. I’m sure we can safely assume you don’t need any help with that, so we’ll jump straight to section 5 – the categories of firearms and your reason for requiring a firearm.
Genuine reasons for owning a firearm in Tasmania
There are 7 valid reasons for owning a firearm in Tasmania. Below we have outlined what these are, along with the corresponding number that appears on the application.
1. Sport or target shooting
2. Recreational hunting or vermin control
3. Primary production (i.e. a farmer or employed on a farm)
4. Animal population control (i.e. a professional shooter)
5. Animal welfare (e.g. a veterinarian or wildlife officer)
6. Business or employment as a firearms dealer, security agent or security guard (this option also covers commercial fisherman and paintball operators)
7. Firearms collection
NOTE: self-protection is not a valid reason anywhere in Australia.
It is important to get this section right as you will only be authorised to use a firearm for the reason(s) you provided.
For example, if you only list target shooting as a reason, you will not be authorised to use a firearm to hunt or provide vermin control, and will be committing an offence under the Firearms Act if caught undertaking these activities.
You are allowed to select multiple reasons but remember you will need to provide some form of proof for each reason.
Firearms are divided into the following categories, along with the corresponding letter that appears on the application:
– Air rifles
– Rimfire rifles (not including self-loading)
– Shotguns (not including pump action or self-loading)
– Shotgun/rimfire combination rifles
– Muzzle loading firearms
– Centrefire rifles (not including self-loading)
– Shotgun/centrefire combination rifles
– self-loading rimfire rifles (with a magazine capacity no more than 10 rounds)
– self-loading and pump action shotguns (with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds)
– self-loading centrefire rifles
– self-loading and pump action shotguns (with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds)
– self-loading rimfire rifles (with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds)
– any pistol or air pistol
You will be allowed to apply only for the categories of firearms that correspond with the genuine reason you have provided. For example, you cannot apply to own a category H firearm (handguns) if your genuine reason is recreational hunting or vermin control. Alternatively, hunting/vermin control is a valid reason to own both category A and B type firearms. There is more information about this here. The application also makes this quite clear by shading out the reasons you cannot own a particular category of firearm for (see below).
What category and reason should you choose?
A lot of first time applicants get confused trying to decide which category of firearm to apply for and what genuine reason they should select. Some may even think it is easier to just apply for one category/reason and not complicate things by applying for multiple categories and reasons.
The most common combination for a hunter in Tasmania is a category A/B licence with genuine reasons 1 and 2. This allows you to purchase and lawfully use most bolt-action rifles and break-action shotguns for the purposes of both hunting and target shooting (including clay pigeon shooting).
For simplicity, we will stick to these two categories and genuine reasons for the remainder of this article. If you need to apply for a different category or you have a different reason for owning a firearm, visit this page.
Providing proof of your genuine reason
So, once you know what your genuine reason is, you will need to provide proof to go with your application that you actually do have that reason.
For example, to use reason 1 (target shooting) in your application you need to provide proof that you are a current member of a shooting club or organisation. This could be a membership with SSAA or your local shooting club.
You do need to ensure that the club caters for the category of firearm you will be applying for on your licence. For example, if the club only conducts activities with rimfire rifles, you will only be able to apply for category A (rimfire/shotgun). Most clubs will cater for both rimfire and centrefire but it pays to check first.
Below are links to some authorised clubs in Tasmania.
Note: if you don’t intend to join or use the facilities of a gun range/shooting club, you don’t have to use it as a genuine reason. You can just use reason 2 along with the supporting documentation for that.
For reason 2 (hunting/vermin control), you will need to provide proof that you have access to land for the purpose of hunting. You only need to provide proof of access to one property to show that hunting/vermin control is your genuine reason. You do not need to provide proof for every piece of land you have access to.
You can provide proof of either private or public land.
If you have access to private land, you will need to provide evidence that you have permission to hunt on private land. This can either be a statutory declaration from the land owner stating that you have been granted access to the land for hunting or you can ask the land owner to complete the permission form on the Tas Police website.
If you don’t have access to private land, you can apply for access to hunt on public land.
There are two different land management bodies in Tasmania that will provide you with a letter to use as proof that you have access to land for the purpose of hunting.
Find out how and where to apply below:
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water & Environment
DPIPWE manages the national parks, reserves and conservation areas in Tasmania. You can apply for access to this land for the purpose of hunting. They will also provide you with a document as proof that you have this access to supply with your firearms licence application. You can download the application form here. There is a $10.00 fee which can be paid in person at any Service Tasmania office or via post. Visit the DPIPWE website for more information.
Sustainable Timber Tasmania
STT manages land classified as Permanent Timber Production Zone land (PTPZ, formerly state forest). This is available for hunting. You can obtain an ‘Authority to Shoot’ document which you can use as proof for reason 2 on your firearms licence application. The fee is $11.00 and you can apply at any regional STT office (note: you cannot apply for this permit at the head office in Hobart). Visit this page for more information.
Tasmania Police have a list of evidence required for any of the other genuine reasons.
Submitting your firearms licence application
Once you’ve got your proof of genuine reason, take that and 100 points of identification to a Service Tasmania office where you can fill in the firearms licence application form and pay the relevant licence fee (see here for the current fee information).
It is a minimum 28 day wait while Firearms Services complete the necessary checks to move your firearms licence application to the next stage which is the safety course.
Once your application has been assessed, Firearms Services will send you the enrolment information and course dates for the Firearms Safety Course carried out by TasTafe.
You will need to fill in the enrolment form, choose 3 course dates that suit you, and send this information along with payment for the course to TasTafe. You can do this in person or via mail. The current fee is $330 which covers the full day of safety training at a range.
TasTafe will contact you to confirm which date you are to attend your firearms safety training. They will also provide you with some information to read through before you attend. Once you’ve successfully completed the training, TasTafe will send you a confirmation letter stating that you have completed the course. A copy of that will be sent to Firearms Services. This is the final requirement for your firearms licence application to be approved.
Firearms Services will send you a letter requesting that you get your photo taken at a Services Tasmania office for your licence card. You’ll be sent your licence within 10-14 days.
And that’s it! You’ve got your firearms licence and you’re ready to start filling your freezer with healthy wild game meat.
Here is a copy of the firearms licence application form along with the application form for a minor’s permit (for anyone aged 12-18):
These documents were accurate at the time this article was published (June 2020), however, they may change in future. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Tasmania Police Firearms Services website.
In this I Am Hunter podcast with Liberal MP, Guy Barnett, we talk about the importance of hunting and fishing in Tasmania, and the opportunities for growth in the industry. We also do the political two-step with Guy on that contentious issue of bowhunting in Tasmania.