As of 18 January 2024, Exemption No. 4 under the Firearms Act 1996 (the Act) has been cancelled.
This Exemption allowed people to possess antique firearms (which did not use cartridge ammunition, or for which cartridge ammunition was not commercially available) without usual licencing, registration and storage requirements.
Firearms previously held under the authority of Exemption No. 4 will now be subject to the licencing, storage and registration provisions of the Act.
Anyone who owns antique firearms must now take steps to ensure their possession of those firearms is compliant with the legislation.
Antique firearms owners have four options:
- Apply for an individual exemption (to continue to possess these firearms in compliant firearms storage for a limited time whilst applying for a suitable firearms licence and registration),
- Apply for a firearms licence, or a licence upgrade now (however, this will require immediate surrender of the firearms to a licenced dealer during the process),
- Sell the firearm through a licensed firearms dealer; or
- Surrender the firearm to police for destruction (Tasmania has an ongoing firearms amnesty).
Tasmania Police understands this change will impact the owners of antique firearms. The opportunity to apply for a time limited individual exemption will give owners time to consider their options to keep, sell or dispose of the firearms.
The Commissioner of Police (the Commissioner) has established a project to manage the cancellation of the exemption, the Antique Firearms Transition Project (AFTP). The project team will work with the affected community members to resolve their possession of relevant firearms.
Non-firearm licence holder
- Decide if you want to keep the antique (pre-1900) firearms (via exemption or licence) or sell through a dealer or surrender to police for destruction.
- Keeping: complete the Application for Exemption Form – Antique Firearms and return it to the Antique Firearms Transition Project (AFTP). You will need to store the firearms in accordance with the Firearms Act 1996. If you wish to apply for a firearms licence, your firearms will be required to go immediately to a firearms dealer for the duration of the application and registration process.
- Selling: contact a firearms dealer and arrange taking your firearm to them for appraisal as soon as practicable.
- Surrendering: contact your local police station to arrange a time to surrender your firearms for destruction. Do not openly carry firearms into a police station.
- Decide if you want to keep your registered or unregistered firearms (via exemption or licence upgrade) or sell through a dealer, or surrender to police for destruction.
- Keeping: contact the Antique Firearms Transition Project team by email to advise of your intentions for your registered exempt antique firearms, or any unregistered antique firearms in your possession. The AFTP team can then review your licence and registration records and contact you with advice. An Application for Exemption Form – Antique Firearms, may or may not be required depending on your circumstances.
- Selling: to sell your registered and unregistered exempt firearms, contact a firearms dealer as soon as practicable to arrange appraisal – don’t forget your blue registration forms for the registered firearms.
- Surrender: for both registered and unregistered firearms, contact your local police station to arrange a time to surrender your firearms for destruction – don’t forget the blue registration forms for the registered firearms.
- You will be contacted by owners of both registered and unregistered antique firearms about registration processes and costs, storage processes and costs, and opportunities to buy firearms from owners.
- You are not required to accept any firearms for sale or registration or storage, however any firearms abandoned to you are required to be surrendered to police (see chart). Contact the AFTP team regarding abandoned firearms and arrangements for surrendering them to police.
- The Firearms Act 1996 allows unauthorised people in possession of firearms to surrender them to police or licensed firearms dealers. Instructions on how to deal with these firearms is included in the Firearms Regulations, 2016. The Antique Firearms Transition Project will allow owners to maintain possession of their firearms if they have suitable firearms storage, via an individual exemption. If you have questions, contact the AFTP team for advice.
The Firearms Act 1996:
The Firearms Regulations, 2016:
In 1997, the Commissioner issued a general exemption to owners of firearms manufactured before 1 January 1900. This exemption was issued shortly after the commencement of the Firearms Act 1996 (the Act).
Exemption No. 4 allowed people to possess certain firearms specifically manufactured before 1 January 1900, without the requirement for a firearms licence, registration and storage requirements under the Act.
Antique (pre-1900) firearms which were subject to Exemption No. 4 can’t be fired with commercial cartridge ammunition.
Antique (pre-1900) firearms are described as being:
• Manufactured before I January 1900, and
• Is a muzzle loading firearm, and
• Does not use cartridge ammunition.
From 18 January 2024, Exemption No. 4 is cancelled. Owners of antique (pre-1900) firearms must be licenced, and the firearms registered and stored in compliance with the Firearms Act 1996.
Antique firearms owners have four options:
1. Apply for an individual exemption (to continue to possess these firearms in compliant firearms storage for a limited time whilst applying for a suitable firearms licence and registration),
2. Apply for a firearms licence, or a licence upgrade now (however, this will require immediate surrender of the firearms to a licenced dealer during the process),
3. Sell the firearm through a licensed firearms dealer; or
4. Surrender the firearm to police for destruction (Tasmania has an ongoing firearms amnesty).
We’ve conducted a review and as a result, the Commissioner has cancelled Exemption No. 4.
Exemption No. 4 operated to exclude a category of firearm (pre-1900 firearms) from the licensing and registration regime under the Firearms Act 1996 rather than a person (or class of persons) being exempted. The Exemption is not, therefore within the power conferred upon the Commissioner by the Act.
Excluding this category of firearms is not consistent with the intent of the Act or the expectations of the Tasmanian community with regard to licencing, registration and storage provisions for other types of firearms.
The exemption has also been subject to misinterpretation, and some people have relied on it to possess firearms that take commercially available cartridge ammunition. This was never the intent of this exemption. To have firearms with this capability that aren’t subject to registration and storage requirements is a potential risk to the community.
Community safety is our key priority and ensuring that necessary protections are in place regarding the possession of firearms – including antique firearms – is an important part of that strategy.
In the first instance, affected people will be able to apply for an individual time-limited exemption which comes at no cost to the applicant.
Individual exemptions will be issued for a defined time period to allow for a review of the circumstances and determination of the applicable licencing and registration requirements. Applicants will need to apply for a licence and register these firearms in due course, or dispose of them by sale through a licensed firearms dealer or surrender to police.
The details of the costs associated with the registration of an antique firearm and the application costs for those that are not current licence holders are available on our website.
The costs associated with registration and application of possessing an antique firearm are:
- Application for exemption – $0.00 – no cost.
- Application for Permit to Acquire $22.10
- 5 year licence $153.00
- 3 year licence $108.80
- TasTAFE Firearms Safety Training Course $350.00
- Replacement Firearms Licence card $13.60
- Registration of a firearm approximately $60.00 each
- Install or upgrade of storage $500+
- Firearms Dealers storage fee approximately $10 per week per firearm
An unlicensed person who wished to maintain possession of 10 firearms could expect to pay up to $1500. This does not include the cost associated with storage requirements.
Note: If the owner of any unregistered firearms manufactured before 1 January 1900 no longer wants to maintain possession, they must either dispose for sale through a licensed firearms dealer or surrender to police for destruction.
Anyone in possession of an unregistered firearm manufactured before 1 January 1900 needs to decide if they want to continue to possess or dispose (for either sale or destruction) at the earliest opportunity so we can guide you through the process.
Police will adopt an educative and discretionary approach to enforcement however it is important that affected firearms owners make contact with the project team to commence the process as soon as possible.
However firearms owners are urged to take steps to at the earliest opportunity, including contacting the Antique Firearms Transition Project for advice on their individual circumstances.
No, the Department will not be offering reimbursement to those in possession of unregistered antique firearms, however they may wish to contact a Firearms Dealer to discuss on-selling of firearms.
If you want to keep your unregistered antique firearm you must apply for a time limited exemption or a firearms licence.
During the exemption period, owners will need to either apply for a firearms licence, or sell or surrender the firearm.
We’re encouraging affected firearms owners to contact us at the earliest opportunity so we can help guide you through the process.
If you choose to surrender your firearm/s for destruction, you may contact your nearest Tasmania Police station to discuss and arrange surrender of your firearms. Under the Amnesty Provisions in Section 129 of the Firearms Act 1996, no action will be taken against you.
Alternatively, you may wish to surrender the unregistered firearm/s to a Firearms Dealer for appraisal and possible sale. This is permitted by Section 109 of the Firearms Act 1996.
Guidance for applying for a time limited individual exemption is here.
Guidance for applying for a firearms licence is available on the Firearms Services website.
If your application is supported, you will be required to complete a Firearms Safety Training Course that relates to the category of firearm you wish to possess, prior to the granting of a licence.
If you intend applying for a licence, you will still need to apply for an individual exemption in order to lawfully possess a firearm while you are awaiting the granting of a licence. The exemption will stipulate conditions that include the need for appropriate storage arrangements, in accordance with the legislation.
If you are not able to meet those storage requirements, the project team will assist you in identifying an appropriate solution, which may involve:
- Surrendering the firearm/s to a Firearms Dealer for temporary storage while the application is progressed.
- Storing the firearm/ with an appropriate Firearms Licence holder, who holds the appropriate category of licence and can safely and securely store the firearm on your behalf.
- Surrendering the firearm/s to your nearest police station may be necessary if the above options are not available.
We will adopt an educative and discretionary approach to enforcement.
We’ll also be continuing to liaise with key stakeholder groups including approved firearms clubs for collectors and historical societies, firearms representative groups and firearms dealers to ensure affected parties are supported through these changes.
We understand that these changes mean affected owners will need to take action and we are committed to working with them through this process.
However, if affected owners don’t take any actions and are subsequently found in possession of an unregistered antique firearm and have not taken reasonable steps to either apply for an exemption, licence, register, surrender or dispose, the firearms may be seized and charges prosecuted. The possession of an unregistered firearm is an offence under the Act and carries a penalty of a fine and up to two (2) years imprisonment.
The sale of any firearm in Tasmania must be conducted by a licensed Firearms Dealer. If it is your intention to sell your firearm/s interstate, you will need to contact a Firearms Dealer for further information. Note: Firearms Dealers may charge a fee for this service and will need to take possession of the firearm/s for the transaction to occur.
There is no specified timeframe for an exemption to be processed, and it will depend on the complexity of your circumstances, the successful identification of your firearm/s and the total volume of applications received. It is hoped that exemptions will be determined within 4 to 6 weeks of application and the project team will be suitably resourced to manage high workloads.
A new licence could be issued after 28 days if the licence holder includes all relevant information and has previously completed an approved Firearms Safety Training Course. Completion of the firearms safety course, through TasTAFE, can only be booked after you have been approved by Firearms Services to undertake the course. Once TasTAFE notify Firearms Services that you have satisfactorily completed the firearms safety course, only then can the licence be given final consideration for issuing.
The registration process can only be undertaken by a licensed firearms dealer and can usually be completed within 5 working days after the dealer receives the firearm.
Concurrently, work is underway to seek legislative amendment to the Act. Consideration will be given to whether possession of antique firearms is permitted and, if so, the licence and training requirements that would apply.