Who’s allowed to carry firearms in Germany?

Germany’s weapons laws set strict guidelines for who is allowed to carry a firearm. There are two categories of firearm licence: a licence for non-lethal gas pistols and signal guns, and a licence for loaded firearms.

According to the law, licence holders must be at least 18 years old, responsible and capable — that excludes anyone who is addicted to alcohol or mentally ill. Applicants must prove their expert knowledge, for example by a test, and must also prove a need to carry the weapon: as a hunter or sports marksman or to protect himself as a “person at risk.”

Both licences are valid for three years, after which the licence holder’s qualifications are re-checked. People who want to own weapons for a purpose such as collecting, only need a gun ownership card. This licence also requires proof of age, reliability, aptitude, expertise and need.

More than 5.4 million private persons in Germany possessed weapons or parts of weapons subject to registration at the start of 2019, according to the federal government.

The German Shooters Association counted more than 1.3 million members last year, and there were about 388,000 licensed hunters at the end of 2019.