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Frequently Asked Questions

Firearm Safety Certificate Program

General FAQs

  1. What are the Firearm Safety Certificate requirements?
  2. What are the exemptions from the Firearm Safety Certificate requirement?
  3. If I already have a Handgun Safety Certificate, do I still need a Firearm Safety Certificate?
  4. Do I need a Firearm Safety Certificate if I begin a long gun transaction prior to January 1, 2015, but don’t take possession of the long gun until after December 31, 2014?
  5. How do I get a Firearm Safety Certificate?
  6. How much does the Firearm Safety Certificate cost?
  7. Are there any minimum qualifications/requirements for a person who wants to take the Firearm Safety Certificate Test?
  8. How can I prepare for the Firearm Safety Certificate Test?
  9. How can I get a Firearm Safety Certificate Study Guide?
  10. How can I view the Firearm Safety Certificate webinar?
  11. If I don't pass the test, can I take it again?
  12. How long is a Firearm Safety Certificate valid?
  13. If I lose my Firearm Safety Certificate can I get a replacement?
  14. Do I need a Firearm Safety Certificate if I am receiving a firearm from my mother or father?
  15. Do I have to carry my Firearm Safety Certificate with me whenever I possess or transport my firearm?
  16. Is a Firearm Safety Certificate required when a firearm is being loaned?
  17. I am moving into California and intend to bring my firearm with me. Do I need a Firearm Safety Certificate?
  18. What is the "safe handling demonstration" requirement?
  19. When must the safe handling demonstration take place?
  20. What are the exemptions to the safe handling demonstration requirement?

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  1. What are the Firearm Safety Certificate requirements?
    • Prior to purchasing or acquiring a firearm, unless exempted, you must have a valid Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC). You must present your FSC to the firearms dealer at the time you begin a transaction to purchase or acquire a firearm.

  2. What are the exemptions from the Firearm Safety Certificate requirement?
    • There are several FSC requirement exemptions. In addition to the previous Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC) exemptions, a person issued a valid hunting license is exempt from the FSC requirement for long guns only. (Pen. Code, § 31700, subd. (c).)

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  4. If I already have a Handgun Safety Certificate, do I still need a Firearm Safety Certificate?
    • o A valid HSC can still be used to purchase/acquire handguns until it expires. For long gun purchases/acquisitions made on or after January 1, 2015, an FSC is required. An FSC can be used to purchase/acquire both handgun and long guns.

  5. Do I need a Firearm Safety Certificate if I begin a long gun transaction prior to January 1, 2015, but don’t take possession of the long gun until after December 31, 2014?
    • Yes. Effective January 1, 2015, an FSC must be obtained prior to taking possession of a long gun, regardless of when the DROS transaction was initiated.

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  7. How do I get a Firearm Safety Certificate?
    • To obtain an FSC you must score at least 75% (23 correct answers out of 30 questions) on the FSC Test covering firearm safety and basic firearms laws. The true/false and multiple choice test is administered by Instructors certified by the Department of Justice who are generally located at firearms dealerships.

  8. How much does the Firearm Safety Certificate cost?
    • The fee for taking the FSC Test and obtaining an FSC is twenty-five dollars ($25). The $25 fee entitles you to take the test twice (from the same DOJ Certified Instructor) if necessary.

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  10. Are there any minimum qualifications/requirements for a person who wants to take the Firearm Safety Certificate Test?
    • Yes. The FSC applicant must be at least 18 years of age and must present clear evidence of identity and age by presenting a California Driver License or California Department of Motor Vehicles Identification Card.

  11. How can I prepare for the Firearm Safety Certificate Test?
    • The best way to prepare for the FSC Test is to read the FSC Study Guide. The study guide contains all the information necessary to pass the test. The FSC webinar is also a useful study tool.

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  13. How can I get a Firearm Safety Certificate Study Guide?
    • The FSC Study Guide is available to view or download from this website at How can I view the Firearm Safety Certificate tutorial?

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    • If I don't pass the test, can I take it again?
      • Yes. The $25 fee entitles you to take the test twice if necessary. If you fail the test the first time, you may retake another version of the test from the same DOJ Certified Instructor without any additional fee after 24 hours have elapsed. The DOJ Certified Instructor is required to offer or make available to you the FSC Study Guide or refer you to view the webinar.

    • How long is a Firearm Safety Certificate valid?
      • An FSC is valid for five years from the date of issuance.

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    • If I lose my Firearm Safety Certificate can I get a replacement?
      • Yes. A replacement FSC is available only through the DOJ Certified Instructor who issued your FSC. The FSC replacement cost is $5. The replacement FSC will reflect the same expiration date as your original FSC.

    • Do I need a Firearm Safety Certificate if I am receiving a firearm from my mother or father?
      • Yes. Prior to taking possession of the firearm, you must have a valid FSC. Pursuant to Penal Code section 27875, subdivison (c), within 30 days of the transfer, you must also report the acquisition to DOJ on Form BOF 4544, pdf.

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    • Do I have to carry my Firearm Safety Certificate with me whenever I possess or transport my firearm?
      • No. Mere possession/ownership of a firearm does not require an FSC. However, you do have to present your FSC to the firearms dealer at the time you begin a transaction to purchase/acquire a firearm.

    • Is a Firearm Safety Certificate required when a firearm is being loaned?
      • It depends on the specific circumstances. Generally, a person being loaned a firearm must have a current FSC. However, an FSC is not required if the loan does not exceed three days in duration and the person loaning the firearm is at all times within the presence of the person being loaned the firearm.

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    • I am moving into California and intend to bring my firearm with me. Do I need a Firearm Safety Certificate?
      • No, you do not need an FSC to move into California with your firearm. However, there are important rules related to personal firearm importation that must be followed, and which are explained on this website. (Pen. Code, § 17000.)

    • What is the "safe handling demonstration" requirement?
      • The safe handling demonstration is a statutory requirement that firearm purchasers/recipients execute a series of specific steps related to safely loading and unloading the firearm. The safe handling demonstration must be performed under the supervision of a DOJ Certified Instructor, and the purchaser must sign an affidavit attesting to the completion of the safe handling demonstration. The performance steps of a successful safe handling demonstration can be found beginning on page 45 of the Firearm Safety Certificate Study Guide, pdf .

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    • When must the safe handling demonstration take place?
      • The safe handling demonstration must be performed on or after the date the Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) is submitted to DOJ, and prior to the delivery of the firearm. You may find it helpful to perform the safe handling demonstration prior to actually initiating the DROS to ensure that you will be able to take possession of the make and model you select.

    • What are the exemptions to the safe handling demonstration requirement?
      • The exemptions to the safe handling demonstration include all the exemptions from the FSC requirement.

        The FSC program also provides for an exemption when physical disability deprives an individual the necessary agility to execute the safe handling demonstration. A signed, written letter from a licensed physician attesting that a physical disability precludes an individual from being able to perform the safe handling demonstration is required for this exemption. This exemption applies to the safe handling demonstration only. There is no exemption from the FSC requirement based on physical disability.

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Certified Instructor FAQs

  1. What is the DOJ Certified Instructor's role in the Firearm Safety Certificate Program?
  2. What are the qualifications for becoming a DOJ Certified Instructor?
  3. Where can I obtain the firearms safety instruction training that will qualify me to obtain DOJ Certified Instructor certification?
  4. How do I apply to become a DOJ Certified Instructor?
  5. How long is my DOJ Instructor Certification valid?
  6. What are the requirements for renewing my DOJ Certified Instructor Certificate?
  7. If I lose my DOJ Certified Instructor Certificate can I get a replacement?
  8. How much can I charge for administering the Firearm Safety Certificate Test and issuing the Firearm Safety Certificate?
  9. Are there any minimum qualifications/requirements for a person who wants to take the Firearm Safety Certificate Test?
  10. Can a DOJ Certified Instructor delegate administering the Firearm Safety Certificate Test and issuing FSCs to his/her employees?
  11. Can a DOJ Certified Instructor delegate overseeing the safe handling demonstration to his/her employees?
  12. When a DOJ Certified Instructor purchases/acquires a firearm, can he/she sign the Certified Instructor portion of the Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit?
  13. What is meant by “that handgun” and “that long gun” as used in the safe handling demonstration requirements in Penal Code sections 26850, subdivision (a), and 26860, subdivision (a)?
  14. When must the Safe Handling Demonstration be performed?
  15. What are the Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit responsibilities?
  16. How do I obtain the necessary Firearm Safety Certificate Program materials?
  17. What can I do if I make a mistake after entering the individual’s information in the FSC system for their Firearm Safety Certificate?
  18. What must I do if I discontinue my participation in the Firearm Safety Certificate Program?
  19. How long must I retain Firearm Safety Certificate Test Answer Sheets and Firearm Safety Certificate issuance records?
  20. What do I do with the unused Handgun Safety Certificates I have after December 31, 2014?

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  1. What is the DOJ Certified Instructor's role in the Firearm Safety Certificate Program?
    • The DOJ Certified Instructor administers the Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) test, issues FSCs, and oversees safe handling demonstrations.

  2. What are the qualifications for becoming a DOJ Certified Instructor?
    • DOJ Certified Instructor applicants must have a Certificate of Eligibility as proof of being able to lawfully possess firearms in California.

      DOJ Certified Instructor applicants also must possess a certification to provide firearms training from one of the entities identified in Penal Code section 31635.

  3. Where can I obtain the firearms safety instruction training that will qualify me to obtain DOJ Certified Instructor certification?
  4. How do I apply to become a DOJ Certified Instructor?
    • You must submit a Certified Instructor Application, BOF 037, pdf,to DOJ with copies of your qualifying certification pursuant to Penal Code section 31635 and your valid Certificate of Eligibility.

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  6. How long is my DOJ Certified Instructor Certificate valid?
    • The DOJ Instructor Certification is valid for five years.

  7. What are the requirements for renewing my DOJ Certified Instructor Certificate?
    • Upon login to the FSC program web-based application, DOJ Certified Instructors will receive pop-up notifications beginning 60 days prior to expiration of their DOJ Certified Instructor Certification. The DOJ Certified Instructor will be required to submit an application for renewal (Form BOF 037) to DOJ. The application is available online at http://oag.ca.gov/firearms/fsc.

  8. If I lose my DOJ Certified Instructor Certificate can I get a replacement?
    • Yes. In the event of loss or destruction, you may reprint your Certified Instructor Certificate through the web-based application.

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  10. How much can I charge for administering the Firearm Safety Certificate Test and issuing the Firearm Safety Certificate?
    • The maximum fee you can charge for administering the FSC Test and issuing an FSC is $25. This fee entitles the applicant to take the test twice if necessary.

  11. Are there any minimum qualifications/requirements for a person who wants to take the Firearm Safety Certificate Test?
    • Yes, the FSC applicant must be at least 18 years of age and must present clear evidence of identity and age by presenting a California Driver License or California Identification Card.

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  13. Can a DOJ Certified Instructor delegate administering the Firearm Safety Certificate Test and issuing FSCs to his/her employees?
    • No. A DOJ Certified Instructor must perform all functions of the FSC requirements, including administering the FSC Test and issuing FSCs.

  14. Can a DOJ Certified Instructor delegate overseeing the safe handling demonstration to his/her employees?
    • No. Only DOJ Certified Instructors may oversee the safe handling demonstration.

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  16. When a DOJ Certified Instructor purchases/acquires a firearm, can he/she sign the Certified Instructor portion of the Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit?
    • Yes, a DOJ Certified Instructor may oversee his/her own safe handling demonstration and sign the safe handling demonstration affidavit.

  17. What is meant by “that handgun” and “that long gun” as used in the safe handling demonstration requirements in Penal Code sections 26850, subdivision (a), and 26860, subdivision (a)?
    • “That handgun” and “That long gun” is either the very handgun or long gun being transferred, or one of the same make and model as the one being transferred.

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  19. When must the Safe Handling Demonstration be performed?
    • The safe handling demonstration must be performed on or after the date the DROS is submitted to DOJ, and prior to the delivery of the firearm. The Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit (Form BOF 039) must be completed prior to the delivery of the firearm.

  20. What is the Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit?
    • The firearms dealer or his/her employee agent must complete and attach to the Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) an affidavit stating the safe handling demonstration requirement was met. The DOJ Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit Form, BOF 039, pdf, must be signed and dated by the DOJ Certified Instructor, the firearm purchaser/recipient, and the dealer or his/her employee agent delivering the firearm.

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  22. How do I obtain the necessary Firearm Safety Certificate Program materials?
    • As a DOJ Certified Instructor, you will be given access to the web-based application. Upon login, FSC materials, including the FSC Study Guide, FSC Manual, and test materials are available for viewing/printing. The FSCs will be generated individually through the system.

  23. What can I do if I make a mistake after entering the individual’s information in the FSC system for their Firearm Safety Certificate?
    • After you have entered the individual’s information into the web-based application, you will be allowed to preview the information entered before you formally submit the information that generates the FSC. Once you have submitted the information and the FSC is generated, you cannot edit the record. If a mistake is made after you have submitted the information, a replacement FSC would be required and the DOJ Certified Instructor would be subject to the $5 replacement fee.

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  25. What must I do if I discontinue my participation in the Firearm Safety Certificate Program?
    • You must notify DOJ within 2 business days of when you discontinue your participation in the FSC Program. You can submit your notification via email to boffscprogram@doj.ca.gov .

  26. How long must I retain Firearm Safety Certificate Test Answer Sheets and Firearm Safety Certificate issuance records?
    • You must retain all completed test answer sheets for five (5) years from the test date. FSC issuance records will be available through the web-based application for five (5) years.

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  28. What do I do with the unused Handgun Safety Certificates I have after December 31, 2014?
    • Unused HSCs can be returned to DOJ by March 1, 2015 for refund. Unused HSCs are cards that have not been filled out and have not been voided. You must submit a written request for refund to:

      California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms - HSC,
      P. O. Box 820200,
      Sacramento, CA 94203-0200.

      Your written request must include your name, mailing address, DOJ Certified Instructor Number, how many cards are being returned, and the reason for return.

    Any unused HSCs returned to DOJ after March 1, 2015, will be destroyed by DOJ and no refund will be issued.

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Firearms Dealers' FAQs

  1. What is the firearms dealer's role in the Firearm Safety Certificate Program?
  2. How do I obtain the necessary Firearm Safety Certificate Program materials?
  3. What are my Firearm Safety Certificate Program documentation requirements for the transfer of firearms?
  4. It is illegal to photocopy federal credentials. How do I retain a copy of the proof of exemption documentation for individuals with federal credentials?
  5. What are the exemptions from the Firearm Safety Certificate requirement?
  6. What are the Firearm Safety Certificate requirement exemption codes?
  7. What are the Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit responsibilities?

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  1. What is the firearms dealer's role in the Firearm Safety Certificate Program?
    • The firearms dealer:

        
      • Ensures and documents that firearm purchasers/transferees present a valid Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) or valid exemption documentation at the time of purchase;
        
      • Completes and maintains a Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit attesting that the mandated safe handling demonstration was successfully performed; and
        

  2. How do I obtain the necessary Firearm Safety Certificate Program materials?
    • DOJ Certified Instructors will be given access to the web-based application. Upon login, FSC materials, including the FSC Study Guide, FSC Manual, and test materials are available for viewing/printing. The FSCs will be generated individually through the system. The Child Safety Warning tags will only be available to order from DOJ. The warning tags can be requested via email at boffscprogram@doj.ca.gov .

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  4. What are the Firearm Safety Certificate Program documentation requirements for the transfer of firearms?
    • In addition to entering the FSC number or the FSC exemption code on the Dealer Record of Sale (DROS), you must keep a copy of the FSC or a copy of the proof of exemption documentation with the original DROS for three years.

      You must also complete and attach to the DROS an affidavit stating the safe handling demonstration requirement was met.

  5. It is illegal to photocopy federal credentials. How do I retain a copy of the proof of exemption documentation for individuals with federal credentials?
    • For individuals with federal credentials record the person's name, federal agency, and credential number rather than photocopying the credentials.

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  7. What are the exemptions from the Firearm Safety Certificate requirement?
    • There are several FSC requirement exemptions. In addition to the previous HSC exemptions, a person issued a valid hunting license is exempt from the FSC requirement for long guns only [Penal Code 31700(c)].

  8. What are the Firearm Safety Certificate requirement exemption codes?
      • X01 = Special Weapons Permit Holder
      • X02 = Operation of Law Representative
      • X03 = Handgun being returned to the owner
      • X13 = FFL collector with COE (curio and relic firearms only)
      • X21 = Military - Active Duty
      • X22 = Military - Reserve
      • X25 = Military - Honorably Retired
      • X31 = Peace Officer - California - Active
      • X32 = Peace Officer - Federal - Active
      • X33 = Peace Officer - California - Honorably Retired
      • X34 = Peace Officer - California - Reserve
      • X35 = Peace Officer - Federal - Honorably Retired
      • X41 = Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) Permit Holder
      • X81 = P.O.S.T. 832 PC (Firearms) Training
      • X91 = Particular and Limited Authority Peace Officers
      • X95 = Law Enforcement Service Gun to Family Member
      • X98 = Valid Hunting License (long guns only)

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  10. What are the Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit responsibilities?
    • The firearms dealer or his/her employee agent must complete and attach to the Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) the DOJ Safe Handling Demonstration Affidavit, BOF 039, pdf stating the safe handling demonstration requirement was met. The affidavit must be signed and dated by the DOJ Certified Instructor, the firearm purchaser/recipient, and the dealer or his/her employee agent delivering the firearm.

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Certified Instructor Training (Comparable Entity) FAQs

  1. Does the California Department of Justice recognize training entities that can provide the marketplace with individuals qualified to serve as DOJ Certified Instructors?
  2. What are the minimum requirements for California Department of Justice recognition of an entity providing comparable instruction in firearms safety specified in Penal Code section 31635?
  3. How do I apply for California Department of Justice recognition of my firearms training entity?
  4. Is there a fee to apply for California Department of Justice recognition of a comparable entity?

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  1. Does the California Department of Justice recognize training entities that can provide the marketplace with individuals qualified to serve as DOJ Certified Instructors?
    • Yes, Penal Code section 31635 authorizes DOJ to recognize entities which provide comparable instruction in firearms safety training as the entities specified within that subdivision. The statute also authorizes DOJ to issue a DOJ Certified Instructor card to applicants possessing training certification from any entity so recognized by DOJ.

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  3. What are the minimum requirements for California Department of Justice recognition of an entity providing comparable instruction in firearms safety specified in Penal Code section 31635?
    • The training must be conducted by a DOJ Certified Instructor with a minimum of 100 hours verifiable experience in providing firearm safety teaching/training. The proposed training curriculum must include the following course content: Instruction on Safe Handling Demonstration Steps for the following conventional firearm types:

      • Semiautomatic pistol
      • Double action revolver
      • Single action revolver
      • Pump action long gun
      • Bolt action long gun
      • Semiautomatic long gun with detachable magazine
      • Semiautomatic long gun with fixed magazine
      • Break top long gun (single or multiple barrel versions)
      • Lever action long gun

      Instruction on Safe Handling Demonstration Steps as required by Penal Code section 26850 for the following Handguns with Alternative Designs:

      • Semiautomatic pistol with a non-locking slide
      • Semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine
      • Semiautomatic pistol with a magazine-operated toggle lock
      • Semiautomatic pistol with a top-feeding magazine
      • Semiautomatic pistol with a tip-up barrel
      • Break-top revolver
      • Single shot pistol
      • Derringer

      Instruction on how to render a handgun safe in the event of a jam (malfunction) as required by Penal Code section 26850, subdivision (c).

      Requirement for all students to successfully perform the Safe Handling Demonstration with the conventional firearm types. The firearms used for the demonstration must be provided by the DOJ Certified Instructor.

      A sample copy of the Certificate of Completion.

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  5. How do I apply for California Department of Justice recognition of my firearms training entity?

    An application for Department of Justice Recognition of Entity Giving Comparable Firearms Safety Instruction to Entities Specified in Penal Code Section 31635 form is available for download from this website at http://www.oag.ca.gov/firearms/fsc .

  6. Is there a fee to apply for Department of Justice recognition of a comparable entity?

    No. There is no DOJ fee associated with the application process.

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