What is a Shotgun?
A shotgun is a smooth bore gun (not being an air-weapon) which:
  • has a barrel not less than 60.96 cm (24 inches) in length and does not have any barrel with a bore that exceeds 5.08 cm (2 inches), in diameter AND
  • either has no magazine, or a non detachable magazine incapable of holding more than two cartridges AND
  • is not a revolver gun.


When considering paragraph 1 as above the length of a barrel is measured from the muzzle to the point of ignition (breech face). With regards to a muzzle loading gun, the point of ignition may be taken as the tough hole or nipple that is nearest to the breach. Additionally, regarding paragraph 2, a gun that has been adapted so as to restrict the magazine to two shots only meets the criterion if the magazine bears an approved mark and the adaptation has been certified in writing by the Proof House.

Other smooth bore guns may require a firearms certificate or even be prohibited weapons.There are weapons other than conventional shotguns that also require a shotgun certificate, e.g. smooth bore muskets used for re-enactments.

Genuine antique shotguns, with flintlock, matchlock and percussion cap firing mechanisms, which are kept as a curiosity or ornament and not to be fired, will not normally require to be registered on a shotgun certificate. If in doubt please contact Firearms Licensing Office for advice.