Acquisition, possession and carriage of firearms


"… the purpose of … privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions as representing States," / " … of functions by consular posts on behalf of their respective States;" (Preambles of the VCDR, 1961 and of the VCCR, 1963)

Acquisition, possession and carriage of firearms

The acquisition, possession and holding of a licence to carry firearms does not fall within the scope of international relations. These questions are solely within the jurisdiction of the receiving State’s authorities.

The importation of firearms (including hunting weapons and edged weapons) requires a permit issued by the Direction Générale des Douanes, bureau E2 (Customs Directorate-General, room E2). Sporting guns, shooting gallery weapons, exhibition weapons and historical and collectors’ weapons simply need to be declared at Customs.

For further information please contact Direction Générale des Douanes, Sous-direction de l’Union douanière et de la coopération internationale, bureau E2, 23 rue de l’Université, 75007 PARIS - Telephone: 33 1 44 74 46 80.

The possession of weapons requires a licence.

Staff accredited to the Diplomatic and Consular Corps may be individually authorized to possess a firearm at their residence. Applications for the authorization may be made for self-defence or sporting purposes. They will be investigated and assessed by the Prefect within whose territorial jurisdiction the matter falls (Prefect of police in the case of Embassies).

The authorization is issued for 3 years for sporting purposes and for 5 years for self-defence.

Carriage and transport of those firearms is prohibited without a legitimate reason.

Requirements for this authorization pertain to general law (decree no. 95-589 of 6 May 1995), including:

  • Material conditions: proven possession of a safe; for sporting shooters, in addition to the carnet de tir (shooting carnet) indicating attendance at three supervised sessions, valid shooters licence and agreement of the Fédération Française de Tir (French Shooting Federation).
  • Moral requirements: absence of suspended sentence of 3 months or more; the Prefect may refuse to issue the authorization on grounds of public order even if the above length of sentence is not reached.

To ensure the security of its premises, an Embassy may request to possess 1st and 4th category firearms, automatic weapons excepted. Authorizations to acquire and possess firearms for self-defence purposes may be issued by the prefectural authorities. On the other hand, agents entrusted with the surveillance inside mission premises do not need approval by the Prefect. Administrative and technical staff in charge of this surveillance for security purposes will be given firearms and ammunition by the Ambassador under his/her responsibility. It is imperative for these firearms to be kept inside Embassy premises.

Permanent licences to carry firearms may be issued exceptionally and for a limited period of time.

  • They are accorded to members of the diplomatic corps and to consular officers especially under threat, to ensure their protection. They are granted solely for non-automatic handguns. Such a licence may also be given to administrative and technical staff when they are responsible for protecting a diplomat.
  • Applications for licences to carry firearms should be filed with Protocol Department who will forward them to the Ministry of the Interior.

Authorization by the Prefect to hold a licence to carry firearms is given following approval in principle from the Minister of the Interior for the possession of firearms.

Provisional licences to carry firearms concern escorts for personalities during short stays in France. The decision as to whether or not such a licence should be issued lies solely with the Ministry of the Interior and depends on the nature of the threat against the person under escort and on the means available to the police to counter it. Licences are granted only for the protection of personalities on the French territory and their validity is limited to the effective length of stay.

Applications for licences to carry firearms should be sent by the Embassy to Protocol Department 4 days minimum before arrival, for forwarding to the competent authorities.

Information which must be provided:

  • personality’s name and function
  • date, time and place of arrival
  • full details of the means of transport used (flight number, airport of arrival and departure, make and registration number of the vehicle used, border post it will go through, etc.)
  • length of stay and place of residence
  • date and place of departure
  • family name, given names, date of birth and passport number of the agent(s) who will carry a firearm
  • make, type and number of the firearms concerned (handguns only are allowed)
  • number of magazines and cartridges

Hunting: validation of a foreign hunting permit

  • A hunting permit may be granted to non-resident foreign nationals holding a foreign hunting permit in order to hunt in France, for a period of nine consecutive days. It may be renewed three times, subject to the payment of the provisional national or departmental hunting fee for nine-day periods and of a provisional Departmental Hunting Federation membership fee.

Documents required

  • 1 insurance certificate valid in France
  • hunting permit issued in country of origin or any other alternative administrative document
  • 1 identity document or passport
  • 2 passport-size photos (35mm x 45 mm)
  • A permanent hunting permit may be issued once the applicant has taken a theoretical and practical examination and paid stamp duty and an annual national hunting fee.

Hunting season: hunting is allowed only during certain periods of the year. Bird shooting is prohibited in the case of nestlings or during the different stages of reproduction and dependence. In addition, shooting of migratory birds is prohibited during the return journey to their nesting place. Game shooting is prohibited from 6 a.m. on Wednesdays to 6 a.m. on Thursdays.

For further information please contact Ministère de l’Aménagement du territoire et de l’environnement (Ministry of Regional Planning and the Environment), Direction de la Nature et des paysages, Sous-Direction de la Chasse, de la faune et de la flore sauvages, Bureau de la Chasse. Telephone: 01 40 81 72 71.

Updated : July 2012