The first step to start hunting or shooting is to get your firearms licence. But applying for a firearms licence can be quite daunting, especially as the process in Australia is different in every state. A few weeks ago, we outlined the process for getting licenced in Tasmania. In this article, we will explain how to apply for a firearm’s licence in Victoria. 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 Victoria, anything to do with firearms licences and permits is managed by the Licensing and Regulation Division of Victoria Police.
As with all things firearms, there are numerous reasons people may have for wanting to hold a firearms licence and a number of purposes for using a firearm. Our focus is on applying for a firearms licence for the purpose of recreational hunting, vermin control or target shooting. If you wish to obtain a licence for any other purpose, we would strongly advise checking out the Victoria Police website.
To apply for a firearm licence in Victoria for the purpose of hunting and/or target shooting, you will need to undertake several steps.
Step 1 – Are you eligible?
To hold a firearms licence in Victoria, you must be able to successfully meet all of the following eligibility requirements:
- You must be a resident of Victoria or work with firearms in Victoria.
- To apply for an adult licence, you must be 18 years and over. To apply for a junior licence, you must be aged between 12 and 18.
- You must be deemed a fit and proper person (see step 2 for more details).
- You must be able to demonstrate and maintain a genuine reason for requiring a firearm licence.
- You must not be a prohibited person or be prohibited from holding a firearm licence by a court (see step 2 for more details).
- If you have lived overseas for longer than 12 months in the last 10 years, you must be able to provide a certified International Police Check.
- You must have successfully completed the relevant firearm safety course (see step 1a).
Step 1a – Have you completed the relevant firearms safety course?
To apply for a firearms licence in Victoria, you first need to have participated in a Victoria firearms safety course and successfully completed the multiple choice test at the end of the course. This is slightly different to Tasmania, where you apply first, then receive an invitation to complete the course.
To apply for a firearm licence to use a rifle (either rimfire or centrefire) or shotgun, you will need to complete the longarm safety courses. These are run by Divisional Firearm Officers (DFOs). There are 24 DFOs located throughout Victoria. Contact the one closest to you to find out when the next course will be running in your area (note: during Covid-19 restrictions, firearm safety courses are being run online). You can also get in touch with Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) about the safety course they run.
Step 2 – Are you a fit and proper person?
According to the Firearms Act 1996, any person wishing to apply for a firearm licence must be deemed fit and proper to hold a firearm licence. Basically, the Commissioner needs to be satisfied you will not use the firearm for any unlawful activity or to harm yourself or another person.
Below are some of the reasons that you may NOT be deemed a fit and proper person in Victoria:
- If you have a history of irresponsible handling of firearms.
- If you have been deemed a prohibited person by a court. This includes being found guilty of specific criminal offences in any Australian state or territory, or being the respondent in a family violence or personal safety intervention order.
- If you have been found guilty of a violent crime.
- If it can be proven that you do not have a good character.
- If you have a criminal history associated with firearms (eg. armed robbery, assault with a weapon, attempted murder, or murder).
- If you have a history of physical or mental illness that would exclude you from owning or using firearms.
- If you have a history of drug or alcohol misuse where medical advice would exclude you from owning or using a firearm.
- If you provide false or misleading information to police in a firearms matter.
- If you cannot show that you possess sufficient knowledge or competency in using firearms (ie, you have failed to complete the Victorian firearms safety course).
Step 3 – Choose your category and genuine reason
There are several firearm categories in Victoria, each with different genuine reasons that apply to it. Our primary focus is on the following longarm categories:
In Victoria, this category allows you to possess, carry and use the following firearms:
- Air rifles
- Rimfire rifles (not including self-loading or semi-automatic)
- Shotguns (not including semi-automatic, pump action or lever action)
- Shotgun/rimfire combination rifles and muzzle loading shotguns
In Victoria, this category allows you to possess, carry and use the following firearms:
- Muzzle loading firearms
- Centrefire rifles (not automatic or semi-automatic)
- Any combination of shotgun and centrefire rifle
- A lever action shotgun of a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds and black powder ball firing cannons
The most common firearm licence in Victoria is a combined Category A&B licence, which automatically allows you to use any Category A and Category B firearms.
In Victoria, this category allows you to possess, carry or use semi-automatic rimfire rifles (magazine capacity must not exceed 10 rounds), semi-automatic shotguns and pump action shotguns (magazine capacity must not exceed 5 rounds) and tranquilliser guns.
In Victoria, this category allows you to possess, carry or use semi-automatic rimfire rifles (with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds), semi-automatic shotguns, pump action shotguns and lever action shotguns (with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds) and semi-automatic centre-fire rifles.
There are a couple of other categories (including E, Heirloom, Handgun, and Corporate licences, but they are beyond the scope of this article. If you are interested in applying for a licence in these categories, check out Vic Police for more details.
Demonstrate a genuine reason for holding the category of firearm you are applying for
To apply for a firearm licence in Victoria, you must be able to demonstrate a genuine reason for needing a firearm and provide appropriate and sufficient evidence to support your request. It is important to note that you will only be allowed to apply for the categories of firearms that correspond with the genuine reason you have provided. For example, you cannot apply for a category H (handgun) firearm licence if your genuine reason is hunting. Alternatively, hunting is a valid reason to apply for either a category A or B licence.
For ease, we are only focusing on the genuine reasons that apply to category A and B firearms.
Under the Firearms Act 1996, the genuine reasons for owning a Category A/B firearm in Victoria are:
1. Sport or target shooting
3. Primary production (i.e. a farmer or employed on a farm)
4. Security Guard (employee or self-employed)
5. Prison Guard
6. Firearms Safety Instructor
7. Official, commercial or prescribed purpose (ie, employment, professional shooter etc)
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.
You are allowed to select multiple reasons but remember you will need to provide some form of evidence for each reason.
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 Victoria is a Category A & B licence with the genuine reason of hunting and target shooting. 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), and to get in some time at the range.
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. For simplicity, we are only focusing on the first two genuine reasons: sport/target shooting and/or hunting. For details about the proof required for other genuine reasons, check out the Victoria Police website.
If you choose sport or target shooting as your genuine reason, you will need to provide proof that you are a current member of a shooting club or organisation. This could be a membership with Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (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 of the authorised clubs in Victoria.
Or click here for a list of other shooting ranges in Victoria.
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 choose hunting as a reason and provide supporting documentation for that.
If you choose hunting as your genuine reason, you will need to provide proof that you have access to land for the purpose of hunting. This could include:
- proof of ownership for your own land (as long as it is deemed rural and suitable for shooting) or written permission from the owner of a similarly rural property. If you are not the owner, make sure the written permission stipulates you are allowed to hunt on the land. The written permission needs to be signed and dated with details of the property owner and the size of the land.
- membership with a club or organisation that is approved for hunting in Victoria, such as Deer Stalkers, Field and Game, or the Field Hunter’s Club.
- a current Victorian Game Licence issued by the Game Management Authority that allows you to hunt game animals on pubic land in Victoria.
- be employed, engaged or contracted to shoot pest animals or take game.
- a registration of Interest for hunting pest animals on Crown Land, issued by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
You only need to provide proof of access for one of these to show that hunting is your genuine reason. You do not need to provide proof for every piece of land you have access to.
Submitting your firearms licence application
If you are applying for a Category A & B licence, you can apply online through the eServices Portal.
Once you have submitted your application, you’ll get a confirmation email with details on how to submit your 100 points of identification and proof of genuine reason.
Once you have submitted these, the Licensing and Regulation Division will assess your application. If approved, you will be sent payment notice via the mail. Once you have paid, you will then be able to go to an approved VicRoads photo point to get your photograph taken.
There is a legislated minimum 28 day waiting period for all new licence applications, after which time you will receive your new firearm licence in the mail.
And that’s it! You’ve got your firearms licence and you’re ready to start filling your freezer with healthy wild game meat.
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 Victoria Police Firearms Licensing website.