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Firearms Permit FACT SHEET

Background

The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS or Bureau) issues Firearms Permits (also referred to as a "Firearms Qualification Card (FQ)" or "Exposed Firearms Permit") as specified in Article 4 (commencing with Section 7540) of Chapter 11.3, Article 4 (commencing with Section 7583) of Chapter 11.5 and Article 6 (commencing with Section 7596) of Chapter 11.6 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code (BPC).

Requirements for Issuance of Initial Firearms Permit

To be eligible for a BSIS Firearms Permit, applicants must:

  • be a citizen of the United States or have permanent legal alien status (BPC Sections 7542.2, 7583.23, and 7596.3); and
  • be at least 21 years of age (BPC Sections 7542.2, 7583.23, and 7596.3); and
  • not be banned from owning or possessing any firearm pursuant to State or Federal Law (BPC Sections 7542.3, 7583.24, 7583.25, and 7596.8); and
  • be a licensed Private Investigator, Qualified Manager of a Private Investigator, Private Patrol Operator, Qualified Manager of a Private Patrol Operator, Alarm Company Operator, Qualified Manager of an Alarm Company Operator or be a registered Security Guard or Alarm Agent with BSIS (BPC Sections 7542.2, 7583.23, and 7596); and must
  • complete a criminal history background check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the California Department of Justice (DOJ) (BPC Sections 7542.2, 7583.23, 7583.24, and 7596.8); and
  • complete and submit the Firearms Permit Initial Application to the Bureau
  • complete the required training courses, including passing all required examinations and qualifications (BPC Sections 7542.2, 7583.22, 7583.23, 7596 and California Code of Regulations Title 16, Division 7, Section 635); and
  • pay the initial application fee (Title 16, California Code of Regulations, Section 640).
  • complete an assessment, if applicable (BPC Section 7583.47). Click here for additional information on the firearms assessment.

Criminal History Background Check

Applicants for a BSIS Firearms Permit must not be prohibited from owning or possessing any firearm pursuant to State or Federal Law and must undergo a criminal history background check through the FBI and DOJ. Applicants are responsible for paying all Live Scan, FBI and DOJ processing fees at the time of fingerprinting. For more information on the Live Scan process and the associated fees, visit the Bureau’s website.

ALERT: Per FBI guidelines, you must submit your application to the Bureau before completing a criminal history background check. To prevent application processing delays, keep a copy of the Live Scan form, which must include the ATI number and the signature of the Live Scan Operator.

Applicants should use the appropriate Live Scan Form available on the Bureau's website as it contains the correct coding needed to ensure the Bureau receives the needed information in a timely manner. Failure to Live Scan with the correct form will delay the processing of your application. Please select the Live Scan form below based on the registration or license that you currently hold:

Once you have selected the correct form, locate the nearest Live Scan site.

To check on the status of your DOJ and FBI background check, please visit the Department of Justice’s website. Please note, you will need to provide your ATI number (located at the bottom of your completed Live Scan form) and your date of birth.

*Out-of-state applicants that do not have access to a Live Scan site may submit fingerprint hard cards. For additional information, please visit the Bureau’s website.

Required Training Courses

Applicants for a BSIS Firearms Permit must complete the following training:

  • Power to Arrest

    Applicants must complete training in the power to arrest. The training may be administered by a Bureau-approved firearms or baton training facility or an organization or school approved by the Bureau. Security Guards may also obtain the training from their employing PPO or from Bureau-approved trainers. Applicants may verify a licensed PPO or training facility by accessing the Verify a License page on the Bureau's website. To confirm if an organization or school is approved by the Bureau to administer the training, email bsis@dca.ca.gov.

  • BSIS Firearms Training and Qualifications

    Applicants must complete the Course of Firearms Training (CCR Section 635) at a Bureau-approved Firearms Training Facility, from a Bureau-approved Firearms

    Training Instructor, and pass the written examination and range qualifications. Applicants must qualify with the caliber of weapon that will be carried while on duty. For information on Bureau-approved Firearms Training Facilities, visit the Verify a License page available on the Bureau’s website. The BSIS Firearms Training Manual is also available on the Bureau's website.

Firearms Assessment

A BSIS Security Guard registrant seeking an initial BSIS Firearms Permit must complete an assessment for the purposes of determining whether he/she possesses, at the time of the assessment, appropriate judgment, restraint, and self- control to carry a firearm while on duty (BPC Sections 7583.23 and 7583.47).

Given that other BSIS license types (e.g., Private Investigator license, Private Patrol Operator license, Alarm Company Operator license, etc.) can be associated with the Firearms Permit, under certain circumstances an individual seeking to associate a Firearms Permit to a Security Guard registration will need to complete/pass the assessment as a condition for the association. To determine if you are required to complete the assessment, visit the Bureau’s website.

Submitting an Initial Application for a Firearms Permit

Before submitting your application to the Bureau, review the list of common application deficiencies to avoid application processing delays.

Online Application

Applicants may apply for Firearms Permit online via BreEZe. The Bureau recommends submitting your application online in BreEZe as it bypasses the Cashiering Office and can reduce application processing by up to two weeks. To create an account, pay the application fee via credit card, and submit your application online, visit BreEZe.

IMPORTANT: Applicants are required to scan and upload, as an attachment, a completed Firearms Permit Initial Application.

Paper Application

Applicants may submit their completed Firearms Permit Initial Application and application fee by mail to the Bureau.

Mail the completed application and fee to:

Bureau of Security and Investigative Services

Box 989002

West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002

Application Processing

Please allow the Bureau 6-8 weeks from the date your payment was cashiered before contacting the Bureau regarding the status of your application(s). Processing times may be longer depending on the time it takes for the Bureau to receive responses from the DOJ and FBI and to make the necessary determinations required by law. For the current

initial application processing timeframes, please visit the Bureau’s website.

Associating Additional Qualifying License(s) to a Pre-Existing Firearms Permit

A BSIS Firearms Permit authorizes the permitholder to carry an exposed firearm while performing the duties of only those license types listed on the Firearms Permit itself. For example, a permitholder who only has a Security Guard registration listed on their Firearms Permit and who also holds a Private Investigator (PI) license cannot work while armed while carrying out the duties of a PI licensee. The Firearms Permit card must list the PI license for the permitholder to work as an armed PI licensee.

Permitholders may associate multiple qualifying license(s) at any time with the submission of the Request to Associate BSIS Firearms Permit with Additional Qualifying License(s) and Request for Replacement Firearms Permit form.

For additional information regarding the process of associating additional qualifying licenses, please visit the Bureau’s website.

Adding Caliber(s) to a Pre-Existing Firearms Permit

A BSIS Firearms Permit authorizes the permitholder to carry an exposed firearm only of the caliber(s) listed on the firearms permit card itself. Permitholders may add caliber(s) to a pre-existing Firearms Permit at any point during the current term of the permit with submission of the Add Caliber form. If permitholders include payment of $25 with the application, a replacement firearms permit will be issued with the approved added calibers. NOTE: Permitholders may not carry, while on duty, a firearm with a caliber that they have not yet qualified to carry and which does not appear on the face of their Firearms Permit (BPC Sections 7542.12, 7583.37, 7597.3, and CCR Section 632).

Requirements to Add Caliber(s):

  • Current and valid BSIS Firearms Permit,
  • Completion of at least 8 hours of classroom instruction in the carrying and use of a firearm,
  • Completion and passage of the BSIS written firearm exam with a minimum score of 85%,
  • Successful completion of range training,
  • Submission of completed Add Caliber form

Qualifying on the Range After Adding Caliber(s)

Once a caliber(s) is added to your firearms permit, you must thereafter qualify on that caliber(s) during each subsequent qualification that you complete to renew your permit with that caliber. NOTE: All subsequent qualifications completed must comply with the qualification schedule based on your date of last renewal.

For example, if you submit the Add Caliber form between the 1st and 2nd qualifications and the Bureau approves your request, you must qualify with the added caliber(s) at the time of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th qualifications to renew your permit with the approved added calibers.

Renewing a Firearms Permit

A BSIS Firearms Permit expires two years from the date of issuance. Approximately 90 days prior to the Firearms Permit’s expiration date, a renewal reminder will be mailed to the permitholder’s address of record. Please note, the renewal reminder is not a Firearms Permit renewal application and cannot be used to renew the Firearms Permit.

IMPORTANT: By law, a Firearms Permit may not be renewed after expiration. If you allow your BSIS Firearms Permit to expire, you must apply for a new Firearms Permit.

By law, a complete firearms renewal application and payment must be submittedto the Bureau at least 60 days prior to the Firearms Permit’s expiration date. Failing to submit a complete renewal application and payment at least 60 days before expiration may result in the Firearms Permit not being renewed before expiration of the current permit’s term. Please note, the Bureau is unable to process applications submitted more than 3 months prior to expiration and will therefore be returned to the permitholder.

To renew the permit, the applicant must:

  • have completed four range qualifications as follows: two range qualifications during each twelve-month period of the current permit’s two-year term with no two range qualifications completed closer than four months Also, only one qualification in each twelve-month period may be completed by firearm simulator, and only a simulator that complies with the requirements below may be used for a qualification:

    Firearms Simulator Requirement: The firearm simulator MUST meet all the following requirements: 1) provide a realistic imitation of the operation of an actual firearm including the weight, recoil, action, flash, and sound of a firearm at discharge, 2) have the ability to match the caliber of the actual firearm the individual is qualifying to carry, and 3) simulate the loading and reloading of an actual firearm. (Title 16, Division 7, Section 631 of CA Code of Regulations).

    The range qualifications must be completed at a Bureau-certified Firearms Training Facility and from a Bureau-approved Firearms Training Instructor. All range qualifications must be certified by a Bureau-certified Firearms Training Facility on the Firearms Permit Renewal Application. Applicants must also;

  • have completed the two-hour review training course in the use of force and de- escalation of force before each of the four range qualifications; and
  • pass the written Firearms Examination with a score of 85% or greater. The law does not specify during which qualification the permitholder must complete the exam. The Bureau recommends that the permitholder take the exam in the second twelve-month period of their current permit
  • complete and submit the Firearms Permit Renewal Application,
  • complete and submit the Firearms Qualification Applicant form (BCIA 4040)
  • submit payment of the Firearms Permit renewal fee and the $38 FEA

Suggested Range Qualification Schedule

As a courtesy, the table below provides suggested range qualification schedules for the renewal of a Firearms Permit. Adherence is not a mandatory provision for renewal, but a suggestion by the Bureau of typical schedules that satisfy the requirements for renewal and allow for timely renewal of the permit. To use the table, first check the expiration date on your firearms permit, find your permit’s expiration month on the table, and follow the schedule detailed in the row. Each schedule provides sufficient time to submit your firearms permit renewal application at least 60 days before expiration, as required by law.

Expiration Month

1st Range Qualification

2nd Range Qualification

3rd Range Qualification

4th Range Qualification

January (Jan)

May – Jun

Oct – Nov

Apr – May

Sept – Oct

February (Feb)

Jun – Jul

Nov – Dec

May – Jun

Oct – Nov

March (Mar)

Jul – Aug

Dec – Jan

Jun – Jul

Nov – Dec

April (Apr)

Aug – Sept

Jan – Feb

Jul – Aug

Dec – Jan

May (May)

Sept – Oct

Feb – Mar

Aug – Sept

Jan – Feb

June (Jun)

Oct – Nov

Mar – Apr

Sept – Oct

Feb – Mar

July (Jul)

Nov – Dec

Apr – May

Oct – Nov

Mar – Apr

August (Aug)

Dec – Jan

May – Jun

Nov – Dec

Apr – May

September (Sept)

Jan – Feb

Jun – Jul

Dec – Jan

May – Jun

October (Oct)

Feb – Mar

Jul – Aug

Jan – Feb

Jun – Jul

November (Nov)

Mar – Apr

Aug – Sept

Feb – Mar

Jul – Aug

December (Dec)

Apr – May

Sept – Oct

Mar – Apr

Aug – Sept

Submitting a Renewal Application for a Firearms Permit

Online Application

Applicants may apply for Firearms Permit online via BreEZe. The Bureau recommends submitting your application online in BreEZe as it bypasses the Cashiering Office and can reduce application processing by up to two weeks. To create an account, pay the application fee via credit card, and submit your application online, visit BreEZe.

IMPORTANT: Applicants are required to scan and upload, as an attachment, supplemental documents as a part of their online application. The supplemental documents must contain the following:

Paper Application

Applicants may submit their completed Firearms Permit Renewal Application, Firearms Qualification Applicant form, and renewal fee by mail to the Bureau.

Mail the renewal application, Firearms Qualification Applicant form, and fee to:

Bureau of Security and Investigative Services

P.O. Box 989002

West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002

Peace Officer Exceptions

For additional information on licensing exemptions for peace officers, please visit the Bureau’s website.

Additional Information

All BSIS Firearms Permitholders are responsible for understanding all prohibitions, violations, and the proper incident reporting requirements outlined in the BSIS Firearms Training Manual.