Club Members – Additional COVID-19 Information

In response to the restrictions on movement and social distancing due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the Firearms Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 (the Firearms COVID Regulation) came into force on 15 April 2020. The regulation recognises that due to health orders, firearms and weapons licence and permit holders may be unable to comply with their licence obligations.

Specifically, clause 7 extends the 12-month compliance period in Part 10 of the Regulation by up to 12 months. This gives club members additional time to complete their compliance activities.

Clause 105 defines a ‘compliance period’ as being:

“for an approved club means each consecutive 12-month period that starts on the day of the year that the club has determined to be the start of its compliance period for the purposes of participation by club members”

The Firearms Registry is aware that clubs define their compliance periods based on the calendar or financial year, from the date the club was approved by the Firearms Registry or by some other means. This means that some clubs may have missed out on the coverage afforded by the Firearms COVID Regulation to protect club members from being non-compliant due to range closures or health orders.

The Firearms Registry does not propose to revoke licences held by people who find themselves in this situation. This applies to any licence holder whose compliance period ended in March or in April before the 15th and was unable to fulfil their participation requirements due to self-isolation, quarantine or range closure.

Licence holders in this situation do not need to notify the Firearms Registry on this matter.

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Information uploaded on 17 April 2020:

NSW Police Force Firearms Registry’s response to COVID-19

Due to the restrictions on movement and social distancing due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), some requirements relating to firearms and prohibited weapons licensing may be difficult for a person to meet.

In response to these restrictions, the Firearms Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 and Weapons Prohibition Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020, which came into force on 15 April 2020, were developed. These Regulations have been made to assist the NSW firearms and weapons community in managing their responsibilities while COVID-19 (Coronavirus) health orders are in place.

The provisions only apply while a health order is in place that restricts or prevents a person from complying. If a health order is in place but a licence holder can still meet the requirements of the Act, then they must continue to do so.  For example, if all orders were lifted but the Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order 2020, which creates offences and fines for intentional spitting and coughing on public officials remained in place, this would not restrict or prevent a person from complying with the requirements of the Act.

The Firearms Registry continues to operate as business as usual and is providing our whole suite of services to the NSW firearms and weapons community. To help us continue to do this, please be considerate of our need to support all our customers and limit your email and telephone queries to urgent matters only.

Firearms Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020

The Regulation recognises that there are some compliance functions that licence holders may not be able to perform due to social distancing measures, such as club participation shoots. The Regulation extends the 12-month compliance period for club participation by 12 months, giving club members additional time to complete their compliance activities.

Also, some licence holders, due to their personal circumstances, may be unable to fulfill certain licence obligations such as renewing their licence or attending a Service NSW centre to have their photo taken for their licence. The Regulation permits a person to renew their licence as soon as reasonably practicable after their expiry of their licence if unable to do so within the licence term due to COVID restrictions. This recognises that people may have difficulty in renewing their licence (even with the online pathway) on time during the pandemic due to illness or inability to attend a Service NSW centre to ask for digital help. We will continue actively to help customers complete their renewal through mail and SMS reminders, but, if they cannot do so, we will not take adverse action so long as the application is made as soon as reasonably practicable after the licence or permit has expired.

A customer will be unable to apply for a PTA until they have renewed their licence.

  • Once the renewal is received, the renewal application will be backdated to the date of expiry of their current licence where the term of the licence will commence. This means that there are no financial benefits to delaying a renewal application and no longer term on the duration of a licence.

Also, if a customer is unable to attend a Service NSW centre to have their photo taken for their licence card, they are given up to 12 months to have their photograph taken at a Service NSW centre, rather than the current 60 days.

For further details about these provisions, and others, please see below.

Weapons Prohibition Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020

Similar provisions apply for prohibited weapons as for firearms. For details, see below:

The Firearms Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020:

(a) creates exemptions in relation to certain required time periods specified in the Act in circumstances where a person is restricted or prevented from complying with those periods because of the operation of an order made under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 relating to the COVID-19 pandemic (a COVID-19 order), and

(b) extends certain time periods specified in the Regulation in circumstances where a person is restricted or prevented from complying with those periods because of the operation of a COVID-19 order, and

(c) prescribes circumstances in which a person is exempted from, or is taken to comply with, other provisions of the Regulation in circumstances where the person is restricted or prevented from complying with the provisions because of the operation of a COVID-19 order (including circumstances in which club members are taken to meet minimum participation requirements).

The provisions only apply while a health order is in place that restricts or prevents a person from complying.

Relevant Conditions

Part 1 defines the relevant conditions that must apply to enable the exemptions of the Regulation to be used. These conditions are that a health order under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 arising from COVID-19 pandemic is in force and the terms of the order restrict or prevent a person from being able to comply with a requirement that the Regulation exempts or modifies. This applies to people in quarantine or self-isolation, for example if they cannot attend a Service NSW centre, or applies to activities conducted at locations, for example, attendance at clubs. The exemptions and modifications are set out in Parts 2 - 4 of Schedule 2 to the Firearms Regulation 2017.

Exemptions from the Act 

Part 2 is in force for 12 months from the date of commencement.

Clause 4 provides probationary and provisional pistol licence holders up to an additional 12 months to complete the mandatory training or accreditation requirements.

Clause 5 exempts a person from the requirement to immediately surrender a firearm or licence if their licence has expired (but does not exempt a person if their licence is suspended or revoked). The exemption only applies to the extent that the surrender of a firearm or licence is to be immediate.

This exemption does not affect a police officer’s power to seize a firearm.

Clause 6 provides an exemption for licensed firearms dealers to forward their quarterly return within 14 days after the end of the relevant quarter. Dealers must notify the Firearms Registry as soon as reasonably practicable of any failure to comply within that period.

Modifications relating to Club Participation Requirements for Club Members

Part 3 is in force for 24 months.

Clauses 7 extends the 12-month compliance period in Part 10 of the Regulation by 12 months. This gives club members additional time to complete their compliance activities. If a person has already completed their compliance shoots for this 12-month period, they will not have to complete next year’s compliance activities (as a new compliance period will not start until the end of the extension). But if they are unable to complete this year’s compliance shoots, they will have an additional 12 months to do so, and these shoots will be taken as compliance shoots for the whole period. Simply put, club members have an additional 12 months to do one year’s compliance shoot.

Clause 8 provides that a licensee of a special Category C licence for clay target shooting complies with the participation shoots if they have undertaken 4 or more shoots during the compliance period in which the relevant conditions apply or the following compliance period.

Other Modifications

Part 4 is in force for 12 months.

Clause 9 exemptsthe Firearms Registry from the need to notify a licence holder of their expiry of their licence within sixty days of their licence expiring. This is not intended to be used by the Firearms Registry; rather, it is a safeguard within business continuity planning if our staffing or our ability to use outgoing communications are severely compromised.

Clause 10 permits a person to make an application to renew their licence or permit as soon as reasonably practicable after their expiry of their licence or permit if unable to do so within the licence term due to COVID-19 restrictions. This clause works in concert with clause 5, which protects a licence holder from their licence expiring and having to immediately surrender their firearms if they are unable to renew their licence due to the pandemic.

This clause recognises that people may have difficulty in renewing their licence (even with the online pathway) on time during the pandemic due to illness or inability to attend a Service NSW centre. We will continue actively to help customers complete their renewal through mail and SMS reminders, but, if they cannot do so, we will not take adverse action so long as the application is made as soon as reasonably practicable after the licence or permit has expired.

There will be some flow on effects though if a person does not renew before their licence expires, including that they won’t be able to apply for a PTA until they have renewed their licence. Once the person renews their licence and it has been approved, they will be able to apply for a PTA.

Once the renewal is received, the renewal application will be backdated to the date of expiry of their current licence where the term of the licence will commence. This means that there are no financial benefits to delaying a renewal application.

Clause 11 provides a person 12 months to have their photograph taken at a Service NSW centre, rather than the current 60 days.

Clause 12 provides that the authority conferred by a minor’s firearms permit continues for 12 months, rather than 3 months, in circumstances where the minor has turned 18 and has made an application for a licence or permit that has not been determined.

Clause 13 provides that a security guard remains compliant with their obligations to undertake mandatory annual accreditation if the firearm safety training course is conducted as soon as reasonably practicable after the health orders are lifted and a period of six months has elapsed since the previous training course was conducted. This means that if a security guard is required to do accreditation by March 2020 and the orders are lifted in November 2020, they are required to complete their accreditation is soon as reasonably practicable.

However, if a guard’s annual period concludes in August but they did the training early prior to the health orders being imposed or were able to complete training during the health orders, and the orders are lifted in August 2020 they are not required to complete any further accreditation, having done so in the preceding 6 months.

The expectation is that training will not be able to be completed during the shutdown. However, to be abundantly clear - if it can be completed those security guards do not have to complete the training again after the shutdown lifts, until their next annual period.

Clause 14 provides an exemption for clubs to complete their annual return if unable to due to the pandemic.

The Weapons Prohibition Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020:

(a) extends certain time periods specified in the Regulation in circumstances where a person is restricted or prevented from complying with those periods because of the operation of an order made under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 relating to the COVID-19 pandemic (a COVID-19 order), and

(b) exempts the secretary or relevant office holder of a club from complying with a requirement to notify certain particulars to the Commissioner of Police in circumstances where that compliance is restricted or prevented because of the operation of a COVID-19 order, and

(c) makes a miscellaneous amendment.

The modifications are set out in Part 2 of Schedule 2 to the Weapons Prohibition Regulation 2017.

Clause 3 defines relevant conditions in the same way as the above firearms regulation.

Clause 4 provides a person up to 12 months to have their photograph taken for a permit at a Service NSW centre, rather than the current 60 days.

Clause 5 exempts a club from the requirement to notify the Firearms Registry of changes in membership in respect of their annual return within 14 days.

Clause 6 extends an exemption for a person to hold a prohibited weapons permit up to 12 months if the person has notified the Commissioner of their intention to reside on a permanent basis in NSW.

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Information uploaded on 26 March 2020:

The Firearms Registry is continuing to operate as business as usual, with all our service offerings currently available.

We are continuing to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our customers and the industry. We are aware that some club members may not be able to fulfil their obligations in respect of participation requirements due to social distancing measures.

Various arrangements are being considered by the Firearms Registry as we do not want any licence holder to be affected adversely because of circumstances outside of their control.

Renewal licences and photo advice letters – Service NSW

If, due to social distancing, you are unable to attend a Service NSW centre to have your photo taken for your licence, please email us at firearms@police.nsw.gov.au to seek an extension on your photo advice letter before its expiry date.

If your intention is to attend a Service NSW centre and seek digital assistance to renew your firearms licence online but are unable to due to social distancing, please contact 1300 362 562 before your expiry date and we will assist you in your renewal process.

Please be considerate of our need to support all our customers and limit your email and telephone queries to urgent matters only.