Certificate of Eligibility

What is a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)?

A “Certificate of Eligibility” certifies the Department of Justice (DOJ) has checked its records and determined the recipient is not prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms at the time the firearms eligibility criminal background check was performed. A COE is a pre-requisite licensing/permit requirement for all prospective licensed firearms dealers, licensed ammunition vendors, manufacturers, certified instructors, gun show promoters, explosive permit holders, and other firearm related employment activities, including, any agent or employee of a vendor who handles, sells, or delivers firearms and ammunition. The initial COE application process includes a firearms eligibility criminal background check and issuance of a certificate, which is valid for one year. Thereafter, the COE must be renewed annually. A COE can be revoked, at anytime, if the COE holder becomes prohibited from owning/possessing firearms and ammunition.

Effective July 1, 2019, pursuant to California Code of Regulations, title 11, section 4033 the DOJ is no longer accepting COE applications via mail. COE applications must be filed electronically by accessing the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS) at the following URL https://cfars.doj.ca.gov

How do I apply for a new COE (You have never had a COE or your current COE has been expired for more than 90 days)?

You must apply for a new COE through the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS). The CFARS is a web-based application system that enables individuals to apply for, and receive their COE electronically from the DOJ. You can access the electronic application by accessing the following URL https://cfars.doj.ca.gov Please note: prior to submitting your COE application through the CFARS, you must first submit your fingerprint impressions to the DOJ. To submit fingerprint impressions, you must take a completed Request for Live Scan Service form (BCIA 8016) to a Live Scan station and pay the designated fees. Please refer to the live scan station location information. The Live Scan operator will provide an Applicant Tracking Identifier (ATI) number on your copy of the Request for Live Scan Service form (BCIA 8016). The ATI number documents your fingerprint submissions. (You must enter your ATI number on the designated space of the COE application). Once you have completed your fingerprint submission requirements, you can complete the electronic COE application process using the CFARS. A CFARS COE User Guide is available for information on how to submit a COE application electronically.

If you are an out-of-state resident applying for a COE and you are unable to provide your fingerprints via Live Scan, you must use the “hard card” fingerprint method by having your fingerprints taken on two hard cards at a local law enforcement agency in your state of residence. You must then mail the two completed fingerprint hard cards and a check for $71 to:

Department of Justice
Bureau of Firearms
Licensing and Certification of Eligibility Section – COE Unit
P.O. Box 160487
Sacramento, CA 95816-0487

Once mailed, you must apply for a COE through the CFARS.

How do I renew my COE (Your current COE is set to expire in the near future or has already expired)?

You must renew your COE through the CFARS. Fingerprint submissions are not required for a COE renewal.

Please note: you must renew your COE no later than 90 days after its expiration date, otherwise you must re-apply for a new COE, which will require you to re-submit fingerprint impressions.

What are the fees associated with a new and renewal COE application?

  • Initial COE Application – The fee is $71, which is collected by the Live Scan Operator during the required fingerprint submission. If you reside outside of the State of California and have your fingerprint images taken by your local law enforcement agency using hard cards, you must remit a check made payable to the DOJ in the amount of $71.
  • Renewal COE Application – The fee is $22, which is paid electronically when the application is submitted through the CFARS.

Benefits of Using CFARS:

Creating a CFARS account is quick and free! Take advantage of the following benefits when you use the CFARS.

  • Convenience– The online application eliminates the need to mail an application and/or forms to the DOJ and saves time. You have the ability to apply, renew or modify your COE as well as report any change in employment with a firearms dealer or ammunition vendor through the online application.
  • E-mail notifications – With an account, you will receive electronic (complete, incomplete, and reject) notifications for your COE submission.
  • Pay by credit card – The system accepts major credit cards such as Visa, Master Card, American Express and Discover.
  • Save time and money – By applying/renewing online, you’ll save time by not having to mail in an application and also save money on postage.
  • Check your COE status – Due to the sheer volume of COE applications and renewals, the process can take anywhere between 6-8 weeks. By applying online you can log in and check the status of your application at any time.
  • View and print your Certificate of Eligibility – Once your application is approved, you can download and print your Certificate of Eligibility directly from the CFARS.
  • View your COE account history – You can view your account history (including notices) by logging on to your CFARS account.
  • Submit an issue – With an account, you may submit an issue by accessing “Report an Issue.”
  • Streamlined processing – Save time completing future renewal applications as your personal information is encrypted and securely stored. Thus, there is no longer the requirement to re-type your personal information.
  • Manage employee privileges – As a business owner, you can confirm/track employee COE status’, manage DOJ notifications, submit reports, submit payment for your employees’ COEs, or delegate said administrative responsibilities to a designated employee.

Additional Bureau of Firearms Links

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