What happens to guns when people die?


Hi folks, I am looking for a little advice.

I have been offered 4 old shot guns by a Lady who’s husband died some time ago (they were/are on his licence) she says I can have then so long as I work out how to transfer them to my licence and do all the paper work etc.

The problem is I don't really know how to do it if her husband is no longer with us to sign the necessary paper work.

Thinking about it I can't see how she can legally hold them at the moment, I don't want to get her in trouble but she doesn't hold a licence but does own the guns having inherited them.

I am thinking of telling her to take them to an RFD and asking them to hold them for her, as she is in London and I am in Devon, until I can work out what to do about it.

Now, this must happen fairly regularly so there must be a system in place to deal with it.

Does anyone know how I can get them transferred on to my ticket?

Cheers in advance,


Bandit Country

Well-Known Member
I expect Swampy will be along in a while to give you the horse's mouth version. In the meantime...

I guess alot depends on the attitude of the local force - the Met? In such circumstances most FLOs I have come across are just happy to have the guns legally accounted for.

I think the widow has two possible courses of action. Lodge the guns with an RFD and once they are on his books they can simply be transferred to yours. I guess there may be some costs involved and she may not be too happy clattering about London with four shooters tucked under her arm - especially in the current climate.

An alternative would be for the lady to phone the police & explain the situation. They may be happy for her to simply transfer them direct to your certificate or they may issue her with a temporary certificate in her name, so she can dispose of them. Once she has the cert then you would simply do a normal transfer.

FAC & SG cert holders shuffling off their mortal coil always presents interesting problems - not least around getting access to the gun cabinet - as no one else should know where the keys are kept, unless the guns are also on someone else's ticket.

I have never been aware of any 'system' other than surviving relatives or executors getting a temp cert. But that only holds good if they know they should/could get a temp cert! In the absence of a temp cert the guns should be lodged with an RFD. Again, not every surviving relative or executor will know that.


Site Staff
From time to time we do get the odd firearm donated to the Museum I Curate. A great deal does depend on the local police force and their attitude.

In this particular case I think her lodging them with an RFD is the most sensible course of action, the Police should then be satisfied that the weapons are being legally held, and secure. Of course these shotguns may be off ticket, muzzle loaders, or pin fire cartridge, in which case she does not need a licence to my knowledge (although this may have changed).

Once they are in safe custody, I think its a simple matter of the weapons being placed on your ticket. In my opinion it pays to be open and honest with the Police and your Firearms officer, they do get quite a number of these cases coming up, and with Kent Police they do treat these cases with an open mind, providing the law has not been flouted openly.


Well-Known Member
I had a similar situation a few years ago, in that a friend went abroad, and decided to stay, :eek:

he sent his wife a letter to say he wasnt coming back.

I took his shotguns from west yorkshire to north yorkshire and put them on my certificate, I wrote to both police forces telling them what had happened,

it turned out one wasnt on his ticket, :lol:

2 years later west yorkshire rang to ask if I still had them, as his ticket was up for renewal.

Its best to be open and up front about things.

finally his son got a certificate and took them back.


Well-Known Member
tranferring of dead peoples shotguns

What you need to do is go and collect them as soon as possible, put them on your ticket and notify both forces in writing as soon as possible. if there is to be a delay of a couple of days or more then she needs to ring her force and get a temorary permit until you go and get them.

they can be logged into an RFD but that will cost money and isn't really necassary.

she can call her local station and ask them to collect them...... this must be a last resort. they will send a bobby down, put them in the car roughly, put them in the property store and generally they will not be looked after.

The best bet is get yourself up there tomorrow night and pick them up.



Well-Known Member
Your getting good advice, but be careful, be very careful, if you go about it the wrong way and get the wrong police officer dealing, or take shortcuts you could come unstuck. Speak to BASC they will have a department to advise


Distinguished Member
The obvious route is to contact your firearms department and explain the situation, they are usually quite helpful and very reasonable. Their main concern is to account for any firearm and ensure it is in safe hands.
Contacting the local bobby can often cause problems for all concerned unless they normally deal with these matters, far safer and better to contact the firearms department. They will either sign the guns onto your ticket or issue a temporary permit.


Well-Known Member
This is not an uncommon problem. Whilel the measures outlined will work don't ignore a permit.

Section 7 of the 1968 Act enables a chief officer of police to issue to a person a permit authorising them to possess a firearm or ammunition to which section 1 of the 1968 Act applies, or a shot gun, in any special case where it may not be necessary or desirable to issue a certificate.

I had a friend die, I phoned the police and got a permit in 48 hours, I then took into my possession the firearms. Once on permit they can be legally transferred, suggest you get the lady to apply asap.
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