A step-by-step guide to getting a competency certificate for a manually operated rifle/ carbine in South Africa: (5 Steps)
Potential firearm owners in South Africa must realise that the process starts at a firearm training centre and not with the SAPS.
The application process entails two phases – the first phase to establish whether the applicant is competent to own and operate a rifle and entails successful completion of the prescribed training at an accredited training institution to obtain a training proficiency certificate.
The second phase is the rifle licence application. Both phases take about 90 days each to complete and cannot be done at the same time.
What should you do to obtain a competency certificate for a rifle?
A potential rifle owner must successfully pass the prescribed test to prove his/her knowledge of the Firearms Control Act of 2000 (FCA) as well as the prescribed training and practical test regarding the safe and efficient handling of a rifle at an accredited training provider.
On receipt of the training certificate from an accredited training provider or the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (Sasseta), the person must apply to the SAPS for the competency certificate by completing the SAPS 517 (Application for a competency certificate) form. The application and supporting documentation must be submitted to the designated firearms officer (DFO) situated in the area where you ordinarily reside.
Find your nearest firearm training centre and make an appointment.
Choose whether you want to operate a rifle, shotgun or rifle and start the training course for a rifle.
Receive your proficiency certificate from the accredited training centre. This certificate does not lapse. You will need this certificate for the application of a competency certificate, and it serves as proof that you indeed successfully completed the prescribed theoretical and practical assessments.
Only once the training certificate has been received, the applicant may approach the police station to apply for the competency certificate to own a rifle.
Visit the local SAPS to apply for a competency certificate.
Documents needed to apply for the competency certificate:
- Two copies of your identity document
- Two colour passport photos
- A copy of your training certificate in with your training results
- Cash for payment – R70 at the time of writing this article
- Two testimonials from friends and/or family completed competency application form
The police will then interview your friends and/or family to ascertain whether you are competent to own a rifle and registers your application with the provincial police headquarters from where it is referred to the Central Firearms Register.
The applicant’s background and possible criminal record will be monitored to ascertain whether he should be allowed to operate a rifle before a panel will approve or deny the application based on information gathered.
competency certificate remains valid for the period of validity as determined in the Firearms Control Act, 2000 , in respect of the licence for a rifle.
Applicant should note that if a licence is issued in respect of self-defence, the competency certificate will be valid for five years but if the licence is issued for hunting/sport shooting, the validity of the competency certificate is now 10 years.
The competency certificate must also specify whether it relates to competency to:
- Possess a rifle
- Trade in rifles
- Manufacture firearms
- Conduct business as a gunsmith.
If an applicant is under the age of 21 years, compelling reasons which require you to obtain a competency certificate must be submitted.
Extra documents that should accompany the application should include:
- A sworn affidavit from a parent or guardian
- A certified copy of the person’s official identification document or passport
If a person wants to own a firearm, for example a handgun, he/she must first undergo the necessary training at an accredited institution to obtain a competency certificate . Only once a person has obtained the relevant competency certificate to own a firearm, he/she can apply for the firearm licence at his/her nearest police station. A South African resident needs a licence for every firearm that he/she possesses.
Steps to follow when applying for a new firearm licence:
Download the application form ( SAPS 271 ) and complete the form in black ink. It is important to write clearly and mark the relevant blocks with an X. All relevant sections of the form must be completed, and all the required fields filled out.
Download the official SAPS Checklist for New Applications to see that you comply with what is requested and even download SAPS crime stats for your area if you apply to possess a firearm for self-protection.
Make copies of the following documents to attach to your application:
- Two copies of your identity document
- A copy of the competency certificate obtained
- Copies of your proficiency training certificates issued by your accredited training provider
- Copy of an electricity account not older than three months to prove you live at the address provided
- Two colour passport photographs of yourself, which are not older than 3 months.
- Copies of proof of current paid-up membership of all accredited associations and/or shooting clubs if relevant
- Copies of your dedicated status certificates (either as hunter or as sports-person or both) if relevant
- Copy of an endorsement for the handgun and its features for your purpose
- In the case of an application for a hunting firearm an invitation or statement from a game ranch owner that you may hunt on his farm, or that you do so regularly
- A complete motivation stating the purpose and need for the firearm you want the licence for Safe-form
- An endorsement confirming the applicability of the calibre and handgun for the stated purpose it will be used
- A copy of the relevant invoice to confirm purchase of the specific handgun being applied for if it is for a new one.
Applicants should not attach any original documents to an application as you may need them again. The designated firearms officer (DFO) will certify all copies attached to your application when showing the originals. Also make a copy of your full application so that you can furnish a duplicate if the original gets lost.
You may also add information on security facilities at your dwelling, like alarm, walls or electric fence around the property, likely crime in your area, detail about any other firearm training that you may have received.
Submit the set of documents to the DFO and make sure to obtain a receipt proving that you have paid the relevant amounts (R140 at the time of writing this article). This also proves that you have handed in your application.
Guide: When and How to renew your gun licence
In South Africa the validity of a firearm licence varies between two and ten years depending on the type of licence. All firearm licences and permits, which are issued in terms of the Firearms Control Act of 2000 (FCA), must be renewed within a prescribed period to determine if a person still complies with the provisions of the act and the Firearms Regulations of 2004, in order to warrant effective control and responsible firearm and ammunition ownership.
A gun owner is obliged to renew his firearm licence at least 90 days before the expiry date.
A licence or permit remains valid until the status of the application has been decided once the application for the renewal has been lodged within the prescribed period. Application for the renewal of a licence or permit will only be granted if the applicant proves that he/she has continued to comply with the requirements for the licence in terms of the FCA by being in possession of a relevant and valid competency certificate.
To apply for the renewal of a competency certificate, one must complete an Application for Renewal of a Competency certificate form and submit the application form and the following supporting documentation to the designated firearms officer (DFO) at the police station in the town or city where you reside:
- A certified copy of your official identification document or passport
- A certified copy of your permanent residence permit if you are a non-South African citizen
- Certified copies of the front and back of your current competency certificate which is to be renewed
- Two passport-size colour photographs (with a neutral background) that were taken within the previous three months
- Certified proof of residence
- Two testimonials attesting your character, with the signature of the deponent
- Any other supporting documents that may be required
- The original firearm licence, permit or authorisation for a firearm you wish to renew
To apply for a renewal of the firearm licence, a person must complete an Application for the Renewal of a firearm licence, permit, certificate or authorization form and take the relevant documentation to the DFO at a police station nearest to where you reside. These documents include the following:
- Your official identity document or certified copy of permanent residence for a non-South African citizen
- The original firearm licence, permit or authorisation for the firearm that you wish to renew
- Two recent (not older than three months) passport-size colour photographs
- The obtained competency certificate
- A SAPS 518(a) form with the relevant sections completed.
At the station the DFO will do the following:
- Take a full set of your fingerprints on the SAPS 91(a) form (only for a competency certificate)
- Issue you with a remittance advice and direct you to the financial office at the police station to pay the prescribed fee. You will be issued with a receipt as proof of payment, which you must submit to the DFO to ensure that the processing of the application will continue.
- You will receive a signed acknowledgement of receipt (SAPS 523) as proof that you have applied for a renewal of a licence to possess a firearm.
To find out exactly how to apply for a new firearm licence, and how much it would cost, a person may contact the SAPS National Firearms Call Centre at 012 353 6111 or email@example.com.