Firearms/Concealed Weapons FAQ

How to find answers to common questions about law enforcement services, programs, and regulations.

Are firearms registered in Virginia?

With the exception of machine guns, firearms are not registered in Virginia.

Can I travel through Virginia with a firearm in my vehicle?

Please refer to Transporting Firearms through Virginia in this website.

Can I “open carry” a firearm in Virginia?

A firearm may be carried openly in Virginia except where prohibited by statute.  Please refer to VA Code §§ 18.2-279 to 18.2-311.2. The Code of Virginia may be searched at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode.

What is the legal age to purchase or possess a firearm?

A person must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shotgun from a licensed firearms dealer. To purchase a handgun from a licensed firearms dealer, you must be at least 21 years of age, pursuant to federal law. For statutory regulations concerning underage persons possessing firearms, refer to VA Code § 18.2-308.7, possession or transportation of certain firearms by persons under the age of eighteen.

What is the legal age to purchase ammunition?

Virginia law does not address age requirements for the purchase of ammunition. Federal law requires an individual to be at least 21 years of age to purchase handgun ammunition and at least 18 years old to purchase rifle or shotgun ammunition.

What are the laws concerning the private sale of a handgun or long gun?

No person shall sell a firearm unless he has obtained verification from a licensed dealer in firearms that information on the prospective purchaser has been submitted for a criminal history record information check as set out in § 18.2-308.2:2 and that a determination has been received from the Department of State Police that the prospective purchaser is not prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm or such sale is specifically exempted by state or federal law. The dealer may charge and retain an additional fee not to exceed $15.00 for obtaining a criminal history record information check on behalf of a seller.

Why was my firearms purchase application placed in a status of delay?

The criminal history record information check required prior to the purchase of a firearm in Virginia is accomplished by searching the purchaser’s name in conjunction with his or her race, sex, and date of birth. It is not unusual for the national and state databases to return a “hit” response because of personal descriptors shared by the prospective purchaser and an individual listed on an arrest record. When this occurs, review is necessary to determine if the prospective purchaser may be the same individual contained in these files, as well as his or her lawful eligibility if probable identification is determined.

Does one have to have U.S. citizenship to be eligible to purchase a firearm?

A buyer who is a lawful permanent resident alien in the United States may purchase firearms in the Commonwealth of Virginia pursuant to the same identification and residency requirements as a citizen.  Prohibitions apply, however, to “any alien in the United States in a non-immigrant status” with certain exceptions and a waiver process. Contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives if you have questions about these regulations.

What are the disqualifications for the purchase of a firearm?

Please refer to the Firearms Purchase Eligibility Test on this website.

Are law enforcement officers subject to the background check when purchasing firearms?

Law enforcement officers are not exempt from federal disqualification on conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence and, therefore, must consent to a background check when purchasing firearms.  The exception to this requirement is the purchase of a duty weapon from a licensed firearms dealer with an Employer’s Certification Letter.

Is a concealed handgun permit issued in another state valid or recognized in Virginia?

States with which Virginia has entered into concealed handgun permit reciprocity agreements, or to which Virginia will grant recognition, are listed on our Reciprocity and Recognition page.

Are Virginia concealed handgun permits issued to non-Virginia residents?

Virginia Code § 18.2-308.06 authorizes the issuance of concealed handgun permits to non-Virginia residents. Please refer to Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permits on this website.

The address on my Resident Concealed Handgun Permit is no longer correct. Is my permit still valid?

Yes, but you may request a replacement permit if you wish. The clerk of a circuit court that issued a valid concealed handgun permit shall, upon presentation by the permit holder of the valid permit and written notice of a change of address on a form provided by the Department of State Police, issue a replacement permit specifying the permit holder’s new address. See § 18.2-308.011.

The address on my Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permit is no longer correct. Is my permit still valid?

Yes, but you may request a replacement permit if you wish. The clerk of a circuit court that issued a valid concealed handgun permit shall, upon presentation by the permit holder of the valid permit and written notice of a change of address on a form provided by the Department of State Police, issue a replacement permit specifying the permit holder’s new address. See § 18.2-308.011.

Are military personnel considered residents or nonresidents for the purpose of a concealed handgun permit?

Active military personnel, 21 years of age and older, assigned to a Virginia duty post or the Pentagon may apply for a Virginia resident permit, to be issued by the circuit court of the county or city in which the applicant resides. Virginia Code § 18.2-308.02 (B.5.) authorizes current military service to be considered proof that the applicant has demonstrated competence with a handgun.

I am a new Virginia resident and possess a concealed handgun permit issued by a permit-reciprocal state. Will my permit still be honored in Virginia?

A permit issued by a state in which Virginia has established concealed handgun permit reciprocity or recognition will be honored in Virginia as long as the permit remains valid, regardless of the change of address.  It is suggested that you confirm the validity of the permit with the issuing agency in this instance.

During a traffic stop, should I advise the police officer that I have a concealed handgun permit?

Virginia law does not require you to notify the officer that you have a permit. However, VA Code § 18.2-308.01 requires you to be in possession of the permit whenever you are outside of your vehicle and carrying a concealed handgun and to display the permit and a government-issued photo identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer.

What is the procedure for transferring a firearm as a gift?

Please contact the Firearms Transaction Center at (804) 674-2292.

What are the laws concerning knives, specifically, the carrying of a non-concealed knife, and are there knife designs, blade sizes, etc., that are prohibited?

VA Code § 18.2-311 describes certain weapons, including some knives, which are illegal to possess in Virginia. Additionally, refer to VA Code § 18.2-308 for specific prohibitions concerning concealed weapons. It is suggested that you contact your county or city authorities to inquire as to whether or not there are applicable local ordinances.

NOTE: Virginia State Police employees cannot give legal advice, nor interpret the law for members of the public.  Information within this website is provided for general guidance purposes only and may not apply to all factual situations.  Persons needing legal advice may contact Virginia Lawyer Referral Service at (800) 552-7977 to be referred to a private attorney for a 30-minute consultation for a pre-paid fee of $35.00.