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Virginia Gun Laws and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map

Everything you need to know about owning a firearm in the state of Virginia

Virginia State Seal

Virginia Reciprocity Map

Last Updated: 2021

Virginia Concealed Carry Reciprocity Overview

8.6M

STATE POPULATION

638K

LICENSES ISSUED

7.4%

LICENSE PERCENTAGE

48

STATES HONORED

21

MINIMUM AGE TO CC

5

YEARS LICENSE VALID

35

RECIPROCATING STATES

NO

CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY

6

CC CERTIFIED INSTRUCTORS

Being fully aware of your gun rights and state’s laws is the first step every Virginian must take toward responsible firearm ownership. The next is understanding how Virginia gun laws translate across state lines. 

Virginia has issued 638,000 CC licenses, meaning that 7.4% of the population are already permitted to Conceal Carry (CC). Only 15 states don’t recognize a Virginia CC license, while all others do, either without restriction or with some provisions.

Obtaining your CC license and owning a gun is about much more than understanding statistics, however. It is an experience that can provide the carrier with a positive life change. Concealed Coalition offers fully certified instructors providing knowledge, awareness, and confidence to our customers to help make this happen.

Virginia Concealed Carry Classes

Summary of Virginia Gun Laws

Your Virginia Gun Rights

Gun laws in Virginia can be subject to change at any time. The best way to stay current is to bookmark the Virginia State Police (VSP) website, where you’ll find the latest reliable information covering every aspect of handgun permits. Here are a few of the most important points:

Virginia is a shall-issue state where residents may file their CC handgun permit applications in their county of residence via the circuit court. Courts charge a $10 fee for application processing or permit issuance. Local law enforcement may charge a fee of $35 or less to investigate applicants, and the state police may charge up to $5 for application processing.

Anyone 21 years and over may apply who does not answer “Yes” to any of 21 questions provided by the VSP. Nonresidents must apply to the VSP Firearms Transaction Center via email or mail at:

Firearms Transaction Center
Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permits
Criminal Justice Information Services Division
Department of State Police
P.O. Box 85141
Richmond, VA 23285-5141

Open Carry in Virgina

Those 18 years and older and who may legally own a firearm can open carry by obtaining their license from a circuit court, with open carry legal throughout the state except where prohibited by statute. Section 18.2-287.4 of the Code of Virginia details open carry restrictions, which will not apply to any Virginians who are lawfully hunting or engaging in recreational activities at an established shooting range or shooting contest.

Semiautomatic rifles and pistols may be open carried, provided they are not equipped with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition. Shotguns may be open carried unless they can hold seven or more rounds in the chamber, even if the weapon isn’t loaded. Guns with folding stocks or those equipped with or designed to accommodate silencers are also restricted from open carry.

Concealed Carry in Virginia

CC is legal for residents and nonresidents and requires a Virginia handgun permit or valid state permit or license, respectively, issued by either a circuit court or the VSP. Prohibited CC areas can depend on local policy, which can vary between locations, so check before visiting.

Firearms training is an excellent way to learn and understand your state’s gun laws. Concealed Coalition has trained over a million people to become responsible, certified gun owners. Classes are available locally and online.

Self Defense Laws in Virginia

A CC license is a powerful way to protect yourself and others. It is crucial to know where state laws draw the line for self-defense to avoid excessive action.

Use of Force

Use of force in defense of oneself or others is legally justified in Virginia, provided the individual using force is not the aggressive party, and that the individual believes it’s necessary to protect themselves from imminent danger of overt acts threatening unlawful force, serious bodily harm, or death. 

Use of Deadly Force

The law permits deadly force in defense of oneself or others only if there was a present danger of great bodily injury such as malicious wounding, rape, or murder. Use of deadly force is permitted in defense of dwelling only if the trespasser is reasonably believed to be intruding with intent to cause great bodily injury or death.

Protecting Yourself After Use of Force

Acting under the perception of a legitimate threat with a reasonable belief of imminent harm should be viewed as justified, as long as the use of force did not exceed proportionate necessity or persist after the threat had ended.

Firearms training is an excellent way to gain the skills necessary to gauge threat levels. Contact the Concealed Coalition team at 800-805-2238 or email info@my.concealedcoalition.com for further information on training.

Virgina Guns Laws by Statute

Concealed Coalition is dedicated to dispelling the myths surrounding gun ownership and promoting a culture of understanding, responsibility, and confidence. Our certified instructors are qualified across multiple states, and our online or local training classes provide convenient learning environments run by instructors who care.

Contact us today at (804) 203-2513 or email to discuss your concealed carry permit educational needs.

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Virginia Gun Laws and Concealed Carry Basics

CONCEALED CARRY BASICS IN VIRGINIA

QUESTION

ANSWER

Does Virginia recognize constitutional carry?

No.

Is open carry permitted in Virginia?

The laws about carrying guns in Virginia are nuanced. While Virginia is an open-carry state, there are exceptions regarding the type of firearm and the age of those carrying. 

If Virginia requires a license to carry a concealed firearm, how are those licenses issued?

Virginia honors all valid out-of-state concealed carry permits issued to individuals who are at least 21 years old and carrying a photo ID issued by a government agency. Residents must have a Virginia Handgun Permit in order to carry in the state as the state does not honor constitutional carry.

What is the minimum age in Virginia to get a concealed carry license?

Virginia residents must be 21 years of age to acquire a concealed carry license.

Can you concealed carry weapons other than handguns in Virginia with a concealed carry license (or under permit-less carry if applicable)?

No, Virginia residents cannot concealed carry weapons other than handguns.

Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in Virginia?

Virginia state law allows residents to carry stun guns and tasers without a permit, and use them in self-defense, unless they’ve been convicted of certain crimes. 

Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in Virginia?

Pepper spray is legal to buy, carry, ship, and use in Virginia if you are at least 18 years old.

Does Virginia have magazine capacity restrictions for handguns?

Handguns cannot exceed 20 rounds.

Does Virginia have ammunition restrictions?

Section 18.2-308.3 of the Code of Virginia details restricted ammunition types, included rounds coated with plastic or containing metal alloys.

CONCEALED CARRY LOCATIONS IN VIRGINIA

QUESTION

ANSWER

Where can't I carry a concealed firearm in Virginia?

The following locations are excluded, even with a CC permit:

  • Any place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held, unless the person has a good and sufficient reason
  • Air carrier airport terminals
  • The state Capitol building
  • Courthouses, jails, and juvenile detention facilities
  • Elementary, middle, or high schools and any portion of property reserved for educational purposes or activities
  • Executive branch offices
  • On the property of a child-care center or preschool during operating hours
  • Within 40 feet of polling places
  • Private property where the owners have prohibited CC

Some Virginia cities and counties have restrictions based on location. It is always prudent to ask ahead if you have any CC doubts before entering a location. This proactive approach will help to avoid unpleasant situations for you and those around you.

Where can I carry a concealed firearm in Virginia?

CC is permitted in state and national parks, forests and wildlife management areas, with some exceptions, so check with the location beforehand. CC is also allowed in roadside rest areas, bars, and restaurants, provided no alcohol is consumed by the carrier, and the firearm is securely locked and hidden from view if it’s in a vehicle.

Can you carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle in Virginia?

A concealed handgun permit is not necessary when carrying a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel and such handgun is secured in a container or compartment in the vehicle or vessel.  The term “secured” as used does not require the compartment to be locked.

Can you carry a concealed firearm at roadside rest areas in Virginia?

Yes, concealed carry is allowed at roadside rest areas in Virginia if you are a registered permit holder.

Can you carry a concealed firearm in state/national parks, state/national forest and Wildlife Management Areas in Virginia?

A permit is required to carry concealed weapons in state parks. Although it is now legal to carry loaded guns in national parks, guns cannot be fired except in rare circumstances. If you can possess firearms legally according to the laws of the state in which a park is located, you can generally carry them in that park. 

Can you carry a concealed firearm in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in Virginia?

Yes, you can concealed carry in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. However, to exercise responsible gun ownership, we encourage you don’t drink while concealed carrying.

Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in Virginia?

Check with the hotel to learn about its policies.

Does Virginia have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?

This is generally allowed with or without a permit, provided the weapon is securely contained and out of sight in the vehicle. There are some location restrictions.

IMPORTANT GUNS LAWS IN VIRGINIA

QUESTION

ANSWER

Do you have a duty to notify a police officer that you're carrying a concealed firearm in Virginia?

Virginians are required to notify only when asked.

Are "No Weapons Allowed? signs enforced in Virginia? If, yes, violating the sign would be considered to be a crime. If, no, violating the sign would not be considered a criminal offense.

Such signs carry the force of law if posted in state locations or on private property.

Does Virginia have preemption laws related to concealed carry (i.e., Does state law supersede local laws regarding the possession of handguns)?

Preemption exists for most firearm laws in the state.

Does Virginia have a red flag law?

Yes.

Does Virginia state law define brandishing?

Reckless firearm handling is prohibited, as is brandishing, pointing, or holding a firearm in a manner that could induce fear.

Does Virginia have laws regarding carrying a concealed firearm while using alcohol or chemical substances?

This is forbidden in public places.

Does Virginia issue concealed carry licenses to non-residents?

Nonresidents of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 21 years of age or older, may apply in writing to the Virginia State Police for a five year permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Does Virginia allow the public to access concealed carry registry information through public records law?

No, except for permits issued before July 1, 2008.

HANDGUN PURCHASE & POSSESSION IN VIRGINIA

QUESTION

ANSWER

Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in Virginia?

A state permit is not required to purchase or possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun. Virginia residents may purchase firearms from any licensed Federal Firearms Licensee, even if they are out of state.

Are background checks required for private gun sales in Virginia?

Virginia Code §18.2-308.2:3 requires a criminal history background check be performed for employees of a gun dealer to transfer firearms, whether full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, paid or unpaid

Does my current Virginia concealed carry license exempt me from needing a background check when I purchase firearm? 

Yes. On July 1, 2020 Virginia signed into law that all sales of firearms are required to be completed through a dealer who must submit a background check.

Is there a waiting period after purchasing a handgun in Virginia?

Virginia imposes no waiting period between the time of purchase and the actual physical transfer of a firearm. However, there is a 30-day limitation between handgun purchases.

Do handguns need to be registered in Virginia?

No, handguns are not required to be registered in Virginia.

What is the minimum age to possess and transport a handgun in Virginia?

You must be 18 years of age to purchase or transport a firearm in Virginia. According to Virginia code § 18.2-308.7, there are penalties for persons under the age of 18 who carry or transport a firearm.

Can I possess/carry a handgun in my home without a license in Virginia? 

Open Carry is legal in Virginia in most places with or without a Concealed Handgun Permit for anyone who is at least 18 years old. 

VIRGINIA CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE INFORMATION

Virginia Requirements

An applicant must:

  • Be at least 21 years old;
  • Reside in the county in which the application is submitted;
  • Demonstrate competence with a handgun;
  • Be an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States;
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States;
  • Not be a fugitive from justice;
  • Not be ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:118.2-308.1:2 or Section 18.2-308.1:3 (and effective July 1, 2021, 18.2-308.1:6, or 18.2-308.1:7, or 18.2-308.1:8) or a similar law of any other state;
  • Not be ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:1 and who was discharged from the custody of the Commissioner less than 5 years before the date of this application;
  • Not be ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:2 and whose competence or capacity was restored less than 5 years before the date of this application;
  • Not be ineligible to possess a firearm under Section 18.2-308.1:3 and who was released from commitment less than 5 years before the date of this application;
  • Not be subject to a restraining order, a protective order, an emergency substantial risk order or substantial risk order and prohibited by Section 18.2-308.1:4 or Section 18.2-308.1:6 from purchasing or transporting a firearm;
  • Not be prohibited by Section 18.2-308.2 from possessing or transporting a firearm, except that a permit may be obtained in accordance with subsection C of that section;
  • Not have been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the 5-year period immediately preceding the application, if one of the misdemeanors was a Class 1 misdemeanor, but the judge shall have the discretion to deny a permit for two or more misdemeanors that are not Class 1;
  • Not be addicted to, or an unlawful user or distributor of, marijuana or any controlled substance;
  • Not have been convicted of a violation of Section 18.2-266 or a substantially similar local ordinance, or of public drunkenness, anywhere in the United States, or its territories within the 3-year period immediately preceding the application;
  • Not be an individual who the court finds is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others (The sheriff, chief of police, or attorney for the Commonwealth may submit to the court a sworn written statement indicating that the applicant is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others. The statement shall be based upon personal knowledge of such individual or of the specific acts);
  • Not have been convicted of, or have a charge pending of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm in violation of Section 18.2-280 or Section 18.2-286.1 or brandishing of a firearm within the 3-year period preceding the application;
  • Not be an individual who has been convicted of, or have a charge pending of stalking;
  • Not be an individual whose previous convictions or adjudications of delinquency were based on an offense which would have been at the time of conviction a felony if committed by an adult;
  • Not have received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within 5 years of this application;
  • Not be otherwise ineligible pursuant to this section, who, within the 3-year period prior to the application, found guilty of any criminal offense set forth in Section 18.2-247 or of a criminal offense of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana or any controlled substance;
  • Not have been found guilty of any criminal offense set forth in Section 18.2-247 or a charge of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana or any controlled substance, or a substantially similar law of any other state within the 3-year period immediately preceding the application; and
  • Meet federal law requirements.

In addition, as of July 1, 2021:

Any person enrolled into the Voluntary Do Not Sell Firearms List pursuant to Chapter 12 (§ 52-50 et seq.).

Fees:

  • A $50 fee is charged for renewals and initial licensing.
  • A $100 fee is required for non-residents. 
  • There are no fees for retired LEOs with 15 years of service. 
  • King William County residents are permitted to $15 initial and renewal fees.

Valid For:

A Virginia concealed carry license is valid for 5 years. See below for steps on renewing your concealed carry license.

Processing Time:

The expected processing time is 45 days. 

Please note, as of June, 2021, the Virginia State Police website indicates the following.
** DUE TO A HIGH VOLUME OF APPLICATIONS, THE CURRENT PROCESSING TIME FOR NONRESIDENT CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS IS 5 TO 6 MONTHS.**

Non-Resident Concealed Carry License:

Applicants who do not reside in Virginia can apply by mail. An application package can be obtained by emailing the Virginia state police at nonrespermit@vsp.virginia.gov or writing to them at the following address:

Firearms Transaction Center 
Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permits
Criminal Justice Information Services Division
Department of State Police
P.O. Box 85141 
Richmond, VA 23285-5141

The application package will provide requirement and qualification information, a Virginia State Police fingerprint card, a return envelope for the completed application and a checklist to ensure that all necessary information is provided. Further information can be viewed on the Virginia State Police Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permit webpage

The processing time for nonresident concealed handgun permits can be 3 to 6 months.

Name & Address Changes:

You must provide a written notice to the Department of State, using this form, and submit a $10 fee. 

Lost or Stolen CC License:

If your concealed handgun permit has been destroyed, mutilated, stolen or lost, you may apply for a replacement permit for $5. Contact your county sheriff. Some counties have replacement applications online. 

 

 

Residency Changes:

Virginia issues resident and non-resident permits, so you can apply for your permit at any time. If you have a permit issued by a state in which Virginia has established concealed handgun permit reciprocity or recognition, it will be honored in Virginia as long as the permit remains valid regardless of the change of address. However, you should confirm the validity of the permit with the issuing agency based on the change of address.

If a person with a Virginia handgun permit establishes residency in another state, the permit is valid until it expires, provided you submit the above referenced Name/Address change form.

VIRGINIA CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE APPLICATION PROCESS

Step One:

Any person 21 years of age or older may apply in writing to the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city in which he or she resides, or if he is a member of the United States Armed Forces, the county or city in which he is domiciled, for a five-year permit to carry a concealed handgun.  There is no requirement as to the length of time an applicant for a Concealed Handgun Permit must have been a resident or domiciliary of the county or city where he or she resides.

Before applying, complete a state-approved firearms training course. For available classes and trainers, click here.

Step Two:

After training with a Concealed Coalition state certified instructor, download the Virginia concealed carry permit application, or pick one up from the circuit court or sheriff’s office.

Step Three:

File the application along with a copy of a firearms training certificate in person or by mail with the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city in which the applicant resides.

Step Four:

You will be notified by mail if your application has been approved.

VIRGINIA CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE RENEWAL PROCESS

Renewal Overview

A Virginia license is valid for five years, and holders are typically notified via mail 90 days before their permit expires. Virginians can reapply up to 180 days following license expiration. Application fees for renewal are the same as initial applications. Applications are available online or through the circuit courts and the local sheriff’s office. All applications must be filed with the circuit court clerk and are typically approved or denied by mail within 45 days.

The CC license renewal process and costs for nonresidents are the same as with their original permit application. Proof of handgun competence, new fingerprints, and photos are also necessary. The VSP recommends that nonresidents submit their renewals a minimum of four months before license expiration. 

Nonresidents may request renewal process materials online at nonrespermit@vsp.virginia.gov or by writing to:

Firearms Transaction Center
Nonresident CHP Permits

Criminal Justice Information Services Division
Department of State Police
P.O. Box 85141
Richmond, VA  23285-5141

All written requests must include the applicant’s complete name, mailing address, telephone number, and the original Virginia nonresident permit file number.

In-Person or Mail Renewal

Persons who previously have been issued a concealed handgun permit are not required to appear in person to apply for a new five-year permit; the application for the new permit may be submitted via the United States mail. The circuit court that receives the application shall promptly notify the applicant if the application is incomplete or if the fee submitted is incorrect.

If the new five-year permit is issued while an existing permit remains valid, the new five-year permit shall become effective upon the expiration date of the existing permit, provided that the application is received by the court at least 90 days but no more than 180 days prior to the expiration of the existing permit.

Concealed Carry for Law Enforcement Officers and Retired LEOs

Either of these officer types may CC anywhere in the U.S. under LEOSA provisions. RLEOs must annually meet the same firearms training and qualifications required of active LEOs. This results in a certification valid for one year from the state police. RLEOs of the VSP must submit the following to gain credentials to CC nationwide:

  • Fingerprint impressions on state police card
  • One 2-by-2-inch passport photo
  • Form SP-216A
  • Forms SP-218 and SP-218A

The state may change the documentation requirements at any time. Retired LEOs should contact the state police for the most up-to-date information on the required materials before attempting to pursue their CC license.

Firearms Training & Competency

The certified instructors at Concealed Coalition will teach you the applicable laws for your state and how to carry and fire a firearm safely. Training is available across the U.S. and online, so contact us with any questions or to sign up.

Proper firearms training is essential for any individual with the right to carry a gun, and especially those who do not receive training as part of their employment. Various types of training and qualification are available to help Virginians seeking their CC license:

A Firearms Training Course With a State-Certified Instructor

Concealed Coalition offers training to learn more about guns. The team’s highly specialized instructors provide actionable lessons based on their extensive practical experience to ensure you gain tested and reliable skills. You can reach them at 800-805-2238 or by emailing info@my.concealedcoalition.com to find out more about online courses.

NRA Training

Use a local training locator to determine where and when the NRA offers Virginia classes near you and which specific lessons they provide.

Documents from Participation in an Organized Shooting Competition

Individuals presenting evidence of sufficient experience with a firearm through participation in an organized shooting competition may consider this applicable as proof of handgun competency toward acquiring a CC license.

Hunter Safety Courses

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) provides hunter training for Virginians, which is compulsory for those who are first-time hunters or 12 to 15 years old. Courses are offered online (available to Virginia residents only) or in person at certain locations.

DD Form 214 or Military Orders for Active or Former Military Members

he military document DD Form 214 is the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. It is issued when a service member performs active duty or has completed at least 90 consecutive days of active-duty training.

Applicants who can provide proof of either current military service or an honorable discharge from any armed services branch may consider that documentation sufficient evidence of firearm competency toward acquiring a CC license.

Firearms Safety Courses From Other Providers

Firearms training and education are sometimes provided by public and private institutions, colleges, and other parties. Instructors must be certified by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) as either a firearms instructor or a private security services instructor or by the National Rifle Association. The VSP is not affiliated with and does not endorse any firearms safety courses of instruction to the public.

Connect With Concealed Coalition for More Information and Certification

Concealed Coalition is dedicated to dispelling the myths surrounding gun ownership and promoting a culture of understanding, responsibility, and confidence. Our certified instructors are qualified across multiple states, and our online or local training classes provide convenient learning environments run by instructors who care.

Contact us today at 800-805-2238 or email to discuss your concealed carry permit educational needs.

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