Firearms FAQ

How long does it take to obtain a license to carry in Pennsylvania?

The entire process typically takes all of five minutes, depending on the wait time from the state. Usually the background check process varies from instantaneously to a couple hours. However the most common wait time is instant to a half-hour. However, in some cases (less that 5% on average), the background check can be listed as “research”, where it could take up to 45 days.

Can you apply for a license to carry online in Pennsylvania?

Across the Commonwealth, an in-person photo and signature are required. The only aspect of the application process which can be done online is downloading and completing the application, submitting it electronically. However, Allegheny County does not offer this option because it does not save time. Regardless of what other PA Counties claim, every applicant must appear in-person at some point, so anything done online is irrelevant. Until the PA State Police implement the ability to import a digital signature and photo, the process will remain the same. The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office has requested these functionality options in the past to no avail.

Where can I obtain a license to carry application?

The LTC application is available on the Forms page of the Sheriff’s Office website. 

LTC Application (PDF) 

How do I update my address on my license, as I have moved and my address on the license is now incorrect?

Please email the office at and staff will update your address. There is NO FEE for an updated license, and the updated license shall be mailed to you.

I recently moved from another county to Allegheny County (or moved out of Allegheny County). Is my license still valid or do I need to obtain a license from Allegheny?

Your license is still valid until it expires. When the time comes to renew, you must come to Allegheny County, if you are a resident (or go to your new county of residence, if you moved out of Allegheny County). In either case, contact the county that issued your license and update your address.

Does Allegheny County issue licenses to non-Pennsylvania residents?

Yes! Sheriff Kraus is happy to accept applications from non-PA residents, so long as they possess a similar firearms license issued by their state of residence. NOTE: In cases where the state of residence does not require a firearms license to carry concealed, we CAN accept the application without the accompanying license.

I am not a U.S. Citizen, but I am a resident of Allegheny County. Can I still obtain a License to Carry?

Yes. However, the process of conducting the background check is much more involved for non-U. S. Citizens. Please realize that we must work with the F.B.I., as well as your country of origin. You WILL NOT receive your license the same day that you apply. Additionally, you must provide three consecutive months of the same utility bill or bank statement. You will be notified by mail of your denial or approval as quickly as we can determine it.

How long before my license expires can I renew it?

You can renew your license whenever you want to. However, you will lose whatever time is left on the current license. Example: If you renew a year early, the new license will still only be good for five years. As long as you are okay with losing the time left, we’re okay with renewal. It is especially useful in the case of couples who wish to get on the same “renewal schedule” or citizens who plan to be out of the area for an extended period of time and will be unable to renew on time.

I want to purchase a firearm. Do I have to get the License to Carry first?

No. In Pennsylvania, you do not need a license to purchase or to open-carry (not concealed) a firearm. The License to Carry is for CONCEALED CARRY – to include in a vehicle.

If I have my license, do I have to keep the firearm concealed?

No. Pennsylvania is an open carry state. While the license allows you to carry concealed, you may also open carry if you so desire.

I have a license from another state, which Pennsylvania has a reciprocity agreement. Am I good to carry in the Commonwealth?

Not necessarily. Pennsylvania has a residency requirement clause in all reciprocity agreements with other states. You MUST be a resident of the state where you hold a license to carry in order for Pennsylvania to honor it. Example: You just moved here from Ohio. You have an Ohio license. You may NOT carry concealed in PA even though PA has reciprocity with Ohio (because you are no longer a resident of Ohio).

So I have something on my criminal record that is stopping me from obtaining a License to Carry. Is there anything I can do?

Potentially. We suggest that you contact an attorney and ask whether or not you would be able to get the offense(s) in question expunged. It is usually costly, and often not possible, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Do I have to declare which gun(s) I’ll be carrying with my license?

No. Years ago it was required to present the gun for inspection to the issuing authority and provide information such as make, model and serial number. This is no longer the case. In short, you can have as many guns in your “carry rotation” as you like.

Does the gun have to be mine in order for me to legally carry it?

No. So long as you have permission from the owner, you can carry it. This is very common between family members, such as husband/wife, etc.

A family member wants to give me a gun. How do I register it in my name?

Commonwealth Constitutional Law declares that the Commonwealth may NOT maintain a complete firearms registry. The Commonwealth does track sales, but this is to protect both the buyer and the seller and not to “register” firearms. Example: You can travel to another state and buy a small collection. Upon returning to PA, you do not have to notify anyone that you brought the guns into PA. The Commonwealth essentially only provides a SERVICE to buyers and sellers by recording sales and transfers. If someone sold you a gun out of their home, there would be nothing stopping the seller from taking your money and then reporting it stolen. Similarly, someone could sell you a stolen gun and without a paid transfer, you would never know it. Years down the road you could get in a heap of trouble for possessing the stolen firearm.

If I want to buy or sell a firearm from/to another private party, how do I do it?

You can go to any firearms dealer and fill out the paperwork. You will be charged a fee and this fee can vary. You might want to shop around. NOTE: There is no transfer needed for a gun going from spouse to spouse, grandparent to grandchild or parent to child, in the Commonwealth of PA.

I inherited a firearm from a deceased family member/friend, how do I transfer it?

In order to do a transfer, both parties must be present. If the owner of the firearm is deceased, there’s really nothing you can do to transfer it. The only thing you can do is to ask a law enforcement officer to “run a background” on the gun. Usually, with older firearms, there is no record of ownership – and that’s okay. The main thing is that you want to make sure the gun is not flagged for being lost, stolen or having been used in a crime. The information you will need in order to have this check done is the make, model and serial number of the firearm. If your local police will not do it for you, you can always email or stop in to the Sheriff’s Office Firearms Division and ask for Deputy Foster Either way, please DO NOT walk into the police station or Sheriff’s Office and bring the firearm. Simply having the information written on a piece of paper will suffice.

I was told that it takes weeks to obtain a license, is this true?

Allegheny County transitioned to a one-step process in late 2014. MOST applicants are in and out in about five minutes and leave the same day with their license. However, in some circumstances, the PA Instant Check System (PICS) can return a status of “RESEARCH”. This means that the state is researching something and they have 45 days, by law, to return a status of either “APPROVED” or “DENIED.” So, it is possible (but not likely) that you won’t get your license the same day you apply.

Now that I have my license, where can I get information regarding the various laws pertaining to carry in PA (and beyond)?

Most local state representatives have a book that will meet your needs. For more comprehensive information regarding other states, etc., there are small books available online. We will not recommend any by name, but if you search for “gun laws of the 50 states,” you will find them rather easily. Please be aware that laws change all the time. Be sure to check the publish date to ensure you are not reading outdated material.

Can you recommend a place to buy a gun?

Unfortunately, no. The Sheriff’s Office will not endorse any one licensed dealer over another.

Where can I get training in the use of a firearm?

While there are many places to get training, the NRA is the pinnacle of a wealth of resources. They are everywhere and offer many different programs and classes designed for specific wants or needs. You should research their website and find a program near you. In particular, we have heard great things about the “Women on Target” classes.

I was told that there is now a grace period of firearms licenses. Is this true?

Yes. Title 18, Section 6106 b(12) now clearly states that as long as you are eligible to renew your license, said license is still valid for six months beyond the printed expiration date on the card.