How to Get a Concealed Handgun Permit in Virginia

It is illegal in Virginia to carry a concealed weapon, whether that weapon is a handgun, a switchblade knife, or a razor. A violation of this law is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2500 fine. A second violation is a class 6 felony.

However, the Virginia legislature has decided to allow persons with a permit to carry a concealed handgun. A handgun is defined in Virginia code § 18.2-307.1 as: any pistol or revolver or other firearm, except a machine gun, originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile by means of an explosion of a combustible material from one or more barrels when held in one hand.

1. What is a Virginia permit to carry a concealed handgun?

1.1. In State vs Out of State Permits

2. Who is eligible to obtain a concealed handgun permit?

2.1. Requirements to obtain a Virginia concealed handgun permit under § 18.2-308.01

2.2. Persons restricted from obtaining a concealed handgun permit

3. What is process to apply for a concealed handgun permit?

3.1. The process for Virginia residents, or members of the armed forces domiciled in Virginia

3.2. The process for nonresidents

4. Restrictions pertaining to a Virginia concealed handgun permit

4.1 Legally prohibited acts

4.2. Must have permit with you at all times while carrying the concealed handgun

4.3. Reciprocity

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1. What is a Virginia permit to carry a concealed handgun?

A Virginia concealed firearms permit allows you legally to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm, with certain exceptions.

A permit for a concealed handgun in Virginia will free you from the prohibition against concealed handguns found in Virginia's ban on concealed weapons in § 18.2-308 of the Virginia Code.

It is illegal in Virginia to carry a concealed handgun in public unless one of the following apply:

  1. You are in your own place of business;

  2. You are a law-enforcement officer, or retired law-enforcement officer pursuant to § 18.2-308.016, wherever such law-enforcement officer may travel in the Commonwealth;

  3. You are at, or going to or from, an established shooting range, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;

  4. You are a regularly enrolled member of a weapons collecting organization who is at, or going to or from, a bona fide weapons exhibition, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;

  5. You are carrying such weapons between your place of abode and a place of purchase or repair, provided the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;

  6. You are actually engaged in lawful hunting, as authorized by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, under inclement weather conditions necessitating temporary protection of your firearm from those conditions;

  7. You are an attorney for the Commonwealth or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth, wherever such attorney may travel in the Commonwealth;

  8. You may lawfully possess a firearm and are carrying a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel and such handgun is secured in a container or compartment in the vehicle or vessel;

  9. You are an enrolled participant of a firearms training course who is at, or going to or from, a training location, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported; and

  10. You are a judge or justice of the Commonwealth, wherever such judge or justice may travel in the Commonwealth

1.1. In State vs Out of State Permits

In Virginia there are two separate concealed handgun permits, (1) a resident handgun permit, and (2) a nonresident handgun permit. The requirements for a nonresident concealed handgun permit are more stringent than those for Virginia residents.

You may be eligible to apply for a resident concealed handgun permit, according to § 18.2-307.02 if:

  • You are a Virginia resident

  • You are 21 years of age or older

  • And you can demonstrate competence with a handgun through the completion of acceptable of firearms training

If you are a non resident you may still apply for a nonresident concealed handgun permit, which is designed for non residents who wish to carry a concealed handgun while in Virginia.

A permit for a nonresident is valid for 5 years.

2. Who is eligible to obtain a concealed handgun permit?

2.1. Requirements to obtain a Virginia concealed handgun permit under § 18.2-308.01

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When applying for your Virginia permit to carry a concealed handgun, you must show that:

1. You are 21 years of age or older

2. Pursuant to § 18.2-308.02 You can demonstrate competence with a handgun through the completion of acceptable of firearms training. There are numerous ways to show that you have completed "acceptable firearms training".

  • Completion of any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or a similar agency of another state;

  • Completion of any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course;

  • Completion of any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law-enforcement agency, junior college, college, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Department of Criminal Justice Services;

  • Completion of any law-enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division or subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement;

  • Presentation of evidence of equivalent experience with a firearm through participation in organized shooting competition or current military service or proof of an honorable discharge from any branch of the armed services;

  • Show that you have obtained or previously having held a license to carry a firearm in the Commonwealth or a locality thereof, unless such license has been revoked for cause;

  • Completion of any firearms training or safety course or class, including an electronic, video, or online course, conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor;

  • Completion of any governmental police agency firearms training course and qualifying to carry a firearm in the course of normal police duties; or

  • Completion of any other firearms training which the court deems adequate.

Note: You may show a photocopy of a certificate of completion of any of the courses or classes; an affidavit from the instructor, school, club, organization, or group that conducted or taught such course or class attesting to the completion of the course or class by the applicant; or a copy of any document that shows completion of the course or class or evidences participation in firearms competition shall constitute evidence of qualification.

2.2. Persons restricted from obtaining a concealed handgun permit

Certain people are generally not eligible to obtain a concealed handgun permit, pursuant to § 18.2-308.09. Disqualifications for a concealed handgun permit.

  • If you were acquitted of a crime based on insanity, adjudicated to be legally incompetent or mentally incapacitated, or were involuntarily admitted or ordered to outpatient treatment (a few exceptions apply)

  • You were subject to a restraining order, or to a protective order (a few exceptions apply)

  • You are a convicted felon

  • You have been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the five-year period immediately preceding the application, if one of the misdemeanors was a Class 1 misdemeanor, but the judge shall have the discretion to deny a permit for two or more misdemeanors that are not Class 1. Traffic infractions and misdemeanors set forth in the motor vehicle code (i.e. reckless driving) are not considered.

  • You are addicted to, or are an unlawful user or distributor of, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, or any controlled substance.

  • You been convicted of a violation of a DUI or you have been convicted of a violation of public drunkenness within the three-year period immediately preceding the application

  • You have have been interdicted

  • You are an alien other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.

  • You have been discharged from the armed forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions.

  • You are a fugitive from justice.

  • You are an individual the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, based on specific acts by the applicant, is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others.

  • You have been convicted, or have charges pending for, any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm or brandishing of a firearm within the three-year period immediately preceding the application.

  • You have been convicted of stalking, or have charges pending for this offense.

  • You are an individual whose previous convictions or adjudications of delinquency were based on an offense that would have been at the time of conviction a felony if committed by an adult under the laws of any state. (A few exceptions apply).

  • You are an individual who has received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within five years prior to the date of his application for a concealed handgun permit.

3. What is process to apply for a concealed handgun permit?

3.1. The process for Virginia residents, or members of the armed forces domiciled in Virginia:

  • The paper application. Provided that you meet the requirements enumerated above you may apply for a concealed handgun permit by filling out a paper application and submitting it to the proper court.

  • Submit the paper application to the clerks office at the Circuit court in the county or city in which you reside. If you are a member of the armed forces you may submit the application the county or city in which you are domiciled. See http://www.vsp.virginia.gov/downloads/firearms/Concealed%20Handgun%20Permit%20Application%20SP248%20rev%207-1-2016.pdf

  • There is a $10 processing fee for the application. There is also another fee of about $35 for the background investigation. The total amount charged may not exceed $50, by statute.

  • Sign the application under oath with a public notary

  • Make sure to bring the necessary documentation to show completion of acceptable firearms training.

  • Upon receipt of the completed application, the court consults with either the sheriff or police department of the county or city. They will then receive a report from the Central Criminal Records Exchange.

  • The court then issues the permit via United States mail and notifies the State Police of the issuance of the permit within 45 days of receipt of the completed application unless it is determined that the applicant is disqualified.

3.2. The process for nonresidents

  • Application. Fill out the application. http://www.vsp.virginia.gov/downloads/firearms/Concealed%20Handgun%20Permit%20Application%20SP248%20rev%207-1-2016.pdf

  • Photographs. Submit two photographs of a type and kind specified by the Department of State Police for inclusion on the permit.

  • Fingerprints. Submit fingerprints on a card provided by the Department of State Police for the purpose of obtaining the applicant's state or national criminal history record.

  • Signed under oath. The application shall be made under oath before a notary or other person qualified to take oaths on a form provided by the Department of State Police.

  • Demonstrate competency with firearms. See 2.1.

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  • For more information see the Virginia State Police site: http://www.vsp.virginia.gov/downloads/firearms/NCHP_Checklist-Revised_2016.pdf

4. Restrictions pertaining to a Virginia concealed handgun permit

4.1. Legally prohibited acts

  • The concealed handgun statute only applies to handguns that fall within the statutory definition of a handgun. A handgun is defined in Virginia code § 18.2-307.1 as: any pistol or revolver or other firearm, except a machine gun, originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile by means of an explosion of a combustible material from one or more barrels when held in one hand.

  • Virginia prohibits brandishing firearms, this statute is not an exception to that rule.

  • You may not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while carrying a concealed handgun in a public place

  • You may not carry a concealed handgun onto the premises of any restaurant or club and consume an alcoholic beverage while on the premises.

  • Where the owner of private property has banned concealed weapons has banned the possession of concealed weapons on his property. 18.2-308.01

  • To a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place, without good and sufficient reason.18.2-283

  • On school property. Exemptions to this statute include a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school. 18.2-308.1

  • Carrying weapon in air carrier airport terminal. 18.2-287.01

4.2. Must have permit with you at all times while carrying the concealed handgun

  • The person issued the permit must have the permit on your person at all times during which you are carrying the concealed handgun and

  • Must display the permit and a photo identification issued by a government agency of the Commonwealth or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. State Department (passport) upon demand by a law-enforcement officer.

  • Failure to display the permit and a photo identification upon demand by a law-enforcement officer shall be punishable by a $25 civil penalty, which shall be paid into the state treasury.

4.3. Reciprocity

If you hold a valid concealed handgun or concealed weapon permit or license issued by another state you may carry a concealed handgun in the Commonwealth, provided you are 21 years old and:

  • The permit or license holder carries a photo identification issued by the state; and
  • The permit or license holder has not previously had a Virginia concealed handgun permit revoked.
  • The issuing authority provides the means for instantaneous verification of the validity of all such permits or licenses issued within that state, accessible 24 hours a day if available. § 18.2-308.014. Reciprocity.

 Virginia recognizes permits from the following states, cities, and countries:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • New York City
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virgin Islands
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

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