Virginia Laws and Regulations

Registration and Purchasing

With the exception of machine guns, firearms are not registered in Virginia. 

Transportation of Firearms

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.

Concealed Carry

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 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.

Reciprocity and Recognition

Listing of states with which Virginia has Reciprocity Agreements

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the laws concerning knives; specifically, the carrying of a non-concealed knife, and are there knife designs, blade sizes, etc., that are prohibited?
Virginia Code Section 18.2-311 describes certain weapons, including some knives, which are illegal to possess in Virginia. Additionally, refer to Virginia Code Section 18.2-308 for specific prohibitions concerning concealed weapons. It is suggested that you contact your county or city authorities to inquire as to whether or not there are applicable local ordinances.

Are firearms registered in Virginia?
With the exception of machine guns, firearms are not registered in Virginia.

May I travel through Virginia with a firearm in my vehicle?
Please refer to Transporting Firearms through Virginia in this web site.

May I “open carry” a firearm in Virginia?
A firearm may be carried openly in Virginia except where prohibited by statute.  Please refer to Sections 18.2-279 to 18.2-311.2. The Code of Virginia may be searched at

What is the legal age to purchase or possess a firearm?
A person must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shotgun from a licensed firearms dealer. To purchase a handgun from a licensed firearms dealer, you must be at least 21 years of age, pursuant to federal law. For statutory regulations concerning underage persons possessing firearms, refer toVirginia Code Section18.2-308.7, possession or transportation of certain firearms by persons under the age of eighteen.

What is the legal age to purchase ammunition?
Virginia law does not address age requirements for the purchase of ammunition. Federal law requires an individual to be at least 21 years of age to purchase handgun ammunition, and at least 18 years old to purchase rifle or shotgun ammunition.

What are the laws concerning the private sale of a handgun?
To privately sell a firearm, it is recommended that you safeguard information pertaining to the transaction such as the date the firearm was sold, the complete name and address of the buyer, and the make, model, and serial number of the firearm. The seller and buyer of a handgun must be a resident of the state in which the transfer occurs.  Should the firearm ever be located at a crime scene, trace of the firearm will determine the licensed dealer who last sold the firearm and will identify the last buyer of the firearm. To have your name removed from this process, you may consider placing your firearm on consignment with a licensed dealer. This will also ensure that the firearm is transferred only to a lawfully eligible individual.

Why was my firearms purchase application placed in a status of delay?
The criminal history record information check required prior to the purchase of a firearm in Virginia is accomplished by a name check in conjunction with the purchaser’s race, sex, and date of birth.  It is not unusual for a “hit” response to occur upon query the national and state databases due to similar or exact personal descriptors of the prospective purchaser and those listed on an arrest record.  When this occurs, review is necessary to determine if the prospective purchaser may be the same individual contained in these files, as well as lawful eligibility if probable identification is determined.

Does one have to have U.S. citizenship to be eligible to purchase a firearm?
A buyer who is a lawful permanent resident alien the United States may purchase firearms in the Commonwealth of Virginia pursuant to the same identification and residency requirements as a citizen.  Prohibitions apply, however, to “any alien in the United States in a non-immigrant status” with certain exceptions and a waiver process. Contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives if you have questions about these regulations.

What are the disqualifications for the purchase of a firearm?
Please refer to Firearms Purchase Eligibility Test in this web site.

Are law enforcement officers subject to the background check when purchasing firearms?
Law enforcement offices are not exempt from the federal misdemeanor crime of domestic violence disqualification and therefore, must consent to a background check when purchasing firearms.  The exception to this requirement is the purchase of a duty weapon from a licensed firearms dealer on behalf of an Employer’s Certification Letter.

Is a concealed handgun permit issued in another state valid or recognized in Virginia?
States with which Virginia has entered into concealed handgun permit reciprocity agreements, or which Virginia will grant recognition, are listed on our Reciprocity and Recognition page.

Are Virginia concealed handgun permits issued to non-Virginia residents?
Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.06 authorizes the issuance of concealed handgun permits to non-Virginia residents. Please refer to Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permits in this web site.

The address on my Resident Concealed Handgun Permit is no longer correct. Is my permit still valid?
Yes, but you may request a replacement permit if you wish. The clerk of a circuit court that issued a valid concealed handgun permit shall, upon presentation of the valid permit and proof of a new address of residence by the permit holder, issue a replacement permit specifying the permit holder’s new address. See 18.2-308.011.

The address on my Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permit is no longer correct. Is my permit still valid?
Yes. Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.06, which governs the issuance of nonresident concealed handgun permits, makes no provisions for changes of address. A permit once issued remains valid until the expiration date is met, or upon suspension or revocation, regardless of the change of address. However, the Virginia State Police will issue change of address cards upon request. Holders of nonresident permits are requested to notify the Virginia State Police, Firearms Transaction Center (FTC) in writing at P.O. Box 85141, Richmond, VA, 23285-5141 or on-line at [email protected]. Additional information is available at

Are military personnel considered residents or nonresidents for the purpose of a concealed handgun permit?
Active military personnel, 21 years of age and older, assigned to a Virginia duty post or the Pentagon may apply for a Virginia resident permit, which are issued by the circuit court of the county or city in which the applicant resides. Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.02 (B.5.) authorizes current military service to be considered proof that the applicant has demonstrated competence with a handgun.

I am a new resident to Virginia and possess a concealed handgun permit issued by a permit-reciprocal state.   Will my permit still be honored in Virginia?
A permit issued by a state in which Virginia has established concealed handgun permit reciprocity or recognition will be honored in Virginia as long as the permit remains valid regardless of the change of address.  It is suggested that you confirm the validity of the permit with the issuing agency in this instance.

In the instance of a traffic stop, should I advise the police officer that I have a concealed handgun permit?
Virginia law does not require you to notify the officer that you have a permit. However, Section 18.2-308.01, of the Code of Virginia, requires you to be in possession of the permit whenever you are carrying a concealed handgun and to display the permit and a government-issued photo-identification upon demand by a law-enforcement officer.