Who can apply for a Pennsylvania License to Carry?

An individual who is 21 years of age or older may apply for a license to carry firearms by submitting a completed Application for a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms to the sheriff of the county in which they reside or if a resident of a city of the first class, with the chief of police of that city along with the required fee.

Individuals who are 21 years of age or older and are NOT Pennsylvania residents may apply for a license by submitting a completed Application for a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms to any Pennsylvania County Sheriff’s office along with the required fee.  A Pennsylvania license cannot be issued to a resident of another state who does not possess a current license or permit or similar document to carry a firearm issued by their home state if a license is provided for by the laws of that state, as published annually in the Federal Register by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of the Department of the Treasury.

The sheriff has 45 days to conduct an investigation to determine an individual’s eligibility to be issued a license.  Included in the investigation is a background check conducted on the individual through the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) to determine if the records indicate the individual is prohibited by law. In accordance with 18 PA C.S. §6109, a sheriff may deny an individual the right to a License to Carry Firearms if there is reason to believe that the character and reputation of the individual are such that they would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.

If the PICS check is approved and the subject is of good character, the sheriff may issue a License to Carry Firearms.   The issuance of a License to Carry Firearms allows individuals to carry a firearm concealed on or about their person, or in a vehicle throughout this Commonwealth.  The license is valid for a period of five (5) years unless sooner revoked.

NOTE:  A license to carry firearms is NOT a license to purchase.  Individuals who purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer are required to have a background check conducted regardless of whether they have a license to carry firearms or not.

What is the penalty for carrying a firearm without a license in Pennsylvania?

A license to carry firearms is issued to carry a firearm concealed on one’s person or in a vehicle within this Commonwealth.   While there are exceptions, like for those in law enforcement, a person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person except in his place of abode or fixed place of business without a valid and lawfully issued license commits either a felony of the third degree or a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Who can apply for a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit?

An individual who is age 18 or older and is licensed to hunt, trap or fish, or who has been issued a permit relating to hunting dogs, may apply for a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit by submitting a completed application along with the required fee to the county treasurer’s office.  The permit shall be issued immediately and be valid throughout this Commonwealth for a period of five years from the date of issue for any “legal firearm”, when carried in conjunction with a valid hunting, furtaking or fishing license, or permit relating to hunting dogs.  The issuances of a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit allows the individual to carry a firearm if such persons are actually hunting, taking furbearers, fishing or training dogs, or are going to the places where they desire to hunt, take furbearers, fish, or train dogs during the regular training season, or returning from such places.   A Sportsman’s Firearm Permit is NOT a License to Carry a firearm concealed.

How can I find the most recent information regarding Firearm Reciprocity Agreements?

In 1995, the Pennsylvania General Assembly gave the Attorney General the authority to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states providing for the mutual recognition of each state’s license to carry a firearm.  The most current information concerning what states have reciprocity agreements with Pennsylvania is posted on the Attorney General’s web site at   To access this information on their web site, select “Crime” and from the drop down box select “Firearm Reciprocity”.  From here you can view all the states that currently have reciprocity agreements with Pennsylvania along with a copy of the actual reciprocity agreements.  All licenses issued by reciprocity states are recognized in Pennsylvania.

Other information included under “Firearm Reciprocity” is a list of states that allow individuals to carry concealed weapons in their state as long as they have a valid concealed weapons permit from their home state, regardless of whether or not there is a reciprocity agreement with that state. These states usually require the individual to have the actual permit and photo ID on their person while carrying the weapon. Note that to lawfully carry a concealed firearm in Pennsylvania, a person must either 1-possess a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms, 2- possess a valid license/permit to carry a firearm from a state with which Pennsylvania has a current reciprocity agreement or 3- fall within the applicable exceptions in 18 Pa. C.S. §6106(2)(b) as listed above, including §6106(2)(b)(15) regarding licenses/permits to carry a firearm recognized under Pennsylvania law without a formal reciprocity agreement.  For a list of the state licenses/permits recognized by the Attorney General under §6106(2)(b)(15), and for more information regarding the carrying of firearms in Pennsylvania, please visit as indicated above.

Please consider the following as it relates to your firearms license:

  • Be familiar with the operation, safe handling, and laws related to your firearm.  Although it is not the law, it is recommended that you take a firearms safety course offered by a competent instructor.  Otherwise the firearm may represent a threat to yourself, your family, and your fellow citizens.
  • Overt and unnecessary display of your firearm in public places can cause alarm to the public and may result in revocation of your permit.
  •  Possessing a firearm presents an additional risk of it getting into the wrong hands.  Practice safe storage and seek quality firearms training.
  • Your firearms license is for Pennsylvania only.  There are states that accept Pennsylvania Licenses.  Information on reciprocity can be obtained from the PA Attorney General’s Office.
  • Do not carry your firearm when consuming alcoholic beverages or taking prescription medications that may affect your abilities and/or judgment.
  • A firearms license does not confer any law enforcement powers or authority.  Acting in that manner will result in revocation of your license in addition to any criminal/civil penalties.
  • Carrying a firearm does create the possibility of it being taken and used against you and your family.  Seek quality training.
  •  Any arrest or Protection From Abuse Order is grounds for revocation of your permit.  Your license will be revoked, whether the firearm was involved in the incident or not.  State law requires that you notify us if you become ineligible to maintain your license to carry a firearm.
  • If you are carrying a firearm and come into contact with a Law Enforcement Officer, follow all instructions you are given.  Do not make any sudden moves, keep your hands visible, and notify the officer immediately that you have a firearms license and a firearm on your person.