Storage and Safekeeping Requirements for Firearms
Release date: Tue 5 June 2012
Last updated: Mon 28 November 2016
Storage requirements for firearms and ammunition
The safe storage and carriage of firearms and ammunition by firearm licence holders is a fundamental requirement of firearms regulation in the State of Victoria and necessary to ensure that public safety and peace is preserved.
There are specific storage requirements for each category of firearm licence in Victoria. These are set out in Schedule 4 of the Firearms Act 1996 (the Act). These storage requirements must be met in order for an individual to possess a firearm:
Storage requirements for a firearm licence (Category C and D longarms, general category handguns)
Storage requirements for collectors licences
Storage requirements for heirlooms licences
Storage requirements for ammunition collectors licences
Safekeeping of firearms and ammunition while being carried or used
There are specific legislative requirements for the safekeeping of firearms and cartridge ammunition whilst they are being carried or used.
Regardless of the type of firearm, Section 126 of the Firearms Act requires that a person carrying or using a firearm or cartridge ammunition must:
- Ensure that the firearm/cartridge ammunition is carried or used in a manner that is secure and is not dangerous; and
- Take reasonable precautions to ensure that the firearm/cartridge ammunition is not lost or stolen.
Safekeeping of firearms when being transported in vehicles
The information below has been developed to provide firearm licence holders a guide on how firearms and ammunition should be transported in most circumstances.
Police will treat each individual case on its merits and there may be circumstances where the guidelines are followed but criminal charges are still warranted if the overall security of the firearms are compromised due to aggravated circumstances.
For example if a firearm is securely stored in the trunk but the owner of the vehicle is driving the vehicle while intoxicated or speeding they might be considered to have compromised the security of the firearm. Additionally circumstances such as this may indicate that the firearm owner may not really understand the responsibilities required for proper firearm ownership.
- Firearms should be transported in a padded cover or hard case, unloaded and preferably rendered inoperable;
- While being transported, firearms and ammunition should be kept out of sight and stored in separate receptacles that are either secured to the inside of you vehicle or in a lockable component of your vehicle; and
- Cartridge ammunition should be stored separately from the firearms in a part of the vehicle not readily accessible by an unauthorised person. A lockable glove box would suffice provided the key to the glove box is kept securely by the holder of the firearm licence and cannot be accessed by persons unauthorised to possess ammunition or firearms.
Licence holders should exercise a common sense approach to storage when transporting their firearms and be mindful of all of their obligations.
General storage considerations
Licence holders are encouraged to take a ‘common sense’ approach and to be mindful of considerations over and above legislation to ensure firearms are not lost or stolen.
Ask yourself; is there anything more I can reasonably do to ensure my firearms are not lost or stolen?
In particular, care should be taken to avoid leaving firearms stored at unoccupied premises for extended durations, particularly in remote locations. Identifiers of the possible existence of firearms at a premise (such as firearm stickers on cars) should also be avoided.
The Firearms Act 1996 and Victoria Police place great emphasis on firearm safekeeping.
Penalties for failure to comply with these storage requirements range from 60 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment increasing up to 240 penalty units or 4 years imprisonment depending on the category of firearm being carried and used.
Notification to Victoria Police of storage addresses
It is a legislative requirement that Victoria Police is advised of the physical storage location of each firearm possessed by a licence holder.
The notification of a storage address is a part of the licence or permit to acquire application process. Licence holders can elect to store their firearm/s in a single location or multiple locations, provided that each storage location complies with the storage requirements set out in legislation.
It is also a legislative requirement that the holder of a licence must notify Victoria Police in writing should the ordinary storage address of a firearm change. Notification must occur within 14 days. The change of details form can be found here.
It is a condition of all firearm licences that the holder of the licence must permit a member of police to inspect their storage arrangements at any reasonable time.
When conducting an inspection, police will also inspect the quantity and type of firearms stored as this determines the nature of the storage required. They will also verify the details of firearms stored at a location.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I store my firearms and ammunition in the same safe?
Legislation requires that cartridge ammunition must be stored in a locked container separate from the receptacle in which the firearm is stored.
Victoria Police has determined that for the purposes of implementing this part of the legislation, a single, purpose-built storage receptacle comprising of two separate lockable compartments, one for ammunition and one for firearms, is classified as separate storage areas (and therefore suitable) provided that each compartment is locked with a separate lock and key or combination lock.
The key consideration is that firearms cannot readily accessed by persons not authorised to do so.
Can I store my firearms at another licence holder’s address?
Yes, however the following requirements must be satisfied:
- If the licence holder has access to the firearms, they must be the holder of the appropriate licence for the category of firearm/s being stored;
- The licence holder where the firearms are to be stored must continue to ensure that the storage facilities are in compliance with legislation. For example, the addition of a firearm/s stored at a particular location may necessitate the fitting of an alarm system;
- Licensing Regulation Division must be advised of that storage address if it is an ordinary storage address; and
- The firearm/s are not able to be accessed by anyone who is not the holder of the applicable firearms licence.
If you are the holder of a general category handgun licence and you propose to be absent from Victoria for a substantial period of time or you are temporarily incapacitated, you may arrange for another licence holder to apply for a permit to store your handguns.
Can I store my firearms at an address where there is no licence holder?
Yes, provided that the storage facilities comply with requirements and you ensure that access to the firearms are unable to be accessed by persons not authorised to do so.
What is defined as an ordinary storage address?
For the purpose of the Firearms Act 1996, Victoria Police defines the term ‘ordinarily be stored’ as the place where the firearm will most regularly be kept for the majority of days during any given year.
Do I need to notify Victoria Police of places where my firearms are temporarily stored (for example, at a motel whilst on a camping/shooting trip)?
No, only the location of where firearms are ordinarily stored in any given year.
Can alternative methods of storage be approved by the Chief Commissioner, including in a commercial storage/shipping container?
Yes, provided that Victoria Police is of the opinion that the alternative method is, at a minimum, as secure as the manner provided for that item. Please contact the Licensing Regulation Division for more information.
I am a Victorian licence holder, can I store my firearms interstate?
Firearm storage requirements vary between Australian jurisdictions. If you want to store firearms in a state other than Victoria you will need to check the storage requirements of the state that you wish to store your firearms in and obtain permission to do so.
If it is permissible for you to change the ordinary storage address of firearms registered in Victoria to another state, you must advise Victoria Police of the new storage address within 14 days of their relocation.
I reside interstate and hold a firearm licence in my state, can I store my firearms at a Victorian address?
You may only store firearms in Victoria if you have a Victorian firearm licence. If you reside interstate you can nominate a Victorian address as your ordinary storage address only if you hold a firearm licence for work purposes. This does not apply to interstate or international licence holders who are visiting or working in Victoria on a temporary basis.
Information for international visitors can be found here.