Licence Types & Endorsements

While, technically, there is only one Firearms Licence, there are additional endorsements that you can get on top of your firearms licence.

The ‘standard’ licence, which people generally apply for, and get before the others, is one that enables you to purchase and own A Category firearms. An ‘A’ category firearm encompasses most hunting and competition shooting firearms available in New Zealand.

A Category firearms are those that do not fall into any other category, and are the vast majority of legally-owned firearms in New Zealand. As of late 2020 the A category no longer includes center-fire semi-autos (except shotguns with a tubular magazine of 5 rounds or less).

This is what most firearms owners in New Zealand possess and use for hunting and sports shooting.

However, there is the ability to own, though not necessarily shoot a wider variety of firearms with the right endorsements on your licence.

The B Endorsement for Pistols

Pistol shooting is a well established shooting sport in New Zealand. Pistol shooting is generally broken down into range of specific disciplines – each with its own competition rules, shooting style and pistol used.

To own pistols in New Zealand, you need a B Endorsement on your firearms licence. Although, someone who already has a B Endorsement is allowed to take you out to shoot their pistol(s) on an approved pistol range.

Overall though, pistols must meet the definition of a “small semi-automatic pistol” and have an overall length of 400mm or less but have a barrel length of 101mm or more.

The process of getting a B endorsement builds on the basic licence. It requires additional training and membership and regular attendance of a Pistol Shooting Club. Security requirements are above the A Category Firearm and each firearm is individually registered to its owner.

Additional Requirements for B Endorsments:

  • Applicant must be a current financial member of a pistol club, a financial member of Pistol New Zealand (or in some cases membership of an approved club) and have attended at least 12 club shoots in the last 6 months before they can apply
  • Applicant must be sponsored by their club
  • Applicant must attend at least 12 club activities (either at their home club or to another recognised club) in a financial year
  • Applicant is normally limited to 12 registered pistols
  • Pistols must be of an approved sporting type
  • Pistols can only be carried to and from the range in a locked container with ammunition in a separate container or to a gunsmith
  • Pistols may only be shot on a police-approved pistol club range

Restricted firearms – collectors and theatrical suppliers

Restricted weapons include machine guns, selective-fire assault rifles, grenades and rocket launchers. Yes, you can own a machine gun in New Zealand. Or a Rocket Launcher – but the security requirements a much more involved than the A or B category firearms, as is the vetting process, and, you are unable to fire them. However, there are significant firearms collections in New Zealand, maintained by passionate historians and lovers of the technology.

As of late 2019 all semi-auto centre-fire rifles and any rifle or rifle magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds now fall into the restricted category, as do box magazine-fed shotguns and shotguns with a magazine capacity of over 5 cartridges (both pump-action and semi-auto). Semi-auto tubular magazine shotguns not holding more than 5 rounds and semi-auto rim-fire rifles not holding more than 10 rounds in a magazine are exempt.

  • Applicant must provide proof of a need to own restricted weapons, such as for collecting and movie making
  • Firearms must be stored in an inoperable condition
  • Firearms cannot be used with live ammunition, but are allowed to fire blanks for movie making and re-enacting
  • Firearms can only be transported to an approved display venue, re-enactment event or to another collector for sale

Prohibited fireams – Pest Controllers

Most centerfire semi-automatic firearms can now only be owned by those with a ‘P’ endorsement on their licence.

Prohibited Firearms are a new category of firearms requiring additional endorsements, these include pump-action shotguns that is capable of being used with a detachable magazine, A pump-action shotgun that holds more than 5 rounds, A pump-action centerfire rifle capable of being used with detachable magazines, A centrefire pump-action with a non-detachable magazine that is capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

The general reason for applying for such an endorsement is pest control.