Understanding Gun Laws and Regulations in Cyprus

Cyprus maintains a robust and stringent firearms regulatory system. Designed to uphold public safety and security, these laws regulate the possession, usage, and trading of firearms. This article seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of the gun laws in Cyprus, discussing the types of licenses, requirements, and classes of guns, including rifles, pistols, and shotguns.

Gun Laws in Cyprus

The gun laws in Cyprus are primarily governed by the Firearms and Ammunition Law, Chapter 113, updated in 2004. This law sets out the requirements for gun ownership, the types of firearms that can be legally owned, the process for obtaining a license, and penalties for violations.

According to the law, the possession and use of firearms in Cyprus are strictly regulated, and all firearms must be registered. The law prohibits automatic firearms, and it generally restricts access to handguns. However, there are exceptions for sport shooting and collectors.

Types of Licenses and the Licensing Process

In Cyprus, there are primarily two types of firearms licenses:

  1. Shotgun License: This license permits the holder to possess a shotgun, mainly for hunting purposes. The applicant must possess a hunting license and be at least 18 years old.
  2. Sport Shooting License: This license allows the holder to possess a handgun for sports shooting. It requires the applicant to be a member of an officially recognised shooting club, complete a safety course, and be at least 21 years old.

For collectors, a special license is available that permits the possession of antique and deactivated firearms. This license can only be obtained under strict conditions and usually requires a detailed application process.

License Requirements

The process of obtaining a firearms license in Cyprus is rigorous and thorough, designed to ensure that only eligible and responsible individuals have access to firearms.

  1. The applicant must be at least 18 years old for a shotgun license and at least 21 years old for a sport shooting license.
  2. The applicant must submit a completed application form to the local police station. The form includes personal details, the reason for firearm possession, and the type of firearm intended to be owned. The police conduct a background check on the applicant. This includes a criminal records check and may include interviews with the applicant and possibly with neighbours or associates.
  3. The applicant must have a clean criminal record.
  4. The applicant must be of sound mental health, as confirmed by a medical certificate.
  5. The applicant must have a legitimate reason for owning a firearm (e.g., hunting, sport shooting, collection).
  6. The applicant must complete a firearms safety course.
  7. For a sport shooting license, the applicant must be a member of a recognised shooting club.
  8. For a shotgun license, the applicant must have a hunting license.

Firearms Classes

In Cyprus, firearms are categorised into classes based on their type and use:

  1. Handguns: Handguns are generally restricted in Cyprus, except for sport shooting and collection. For sport shooting, the license holder can only use the handgun at a licensed shooting range.
  2. Shotguns: Shotguns are allowed for hunting, and a hunting license is required. The maximum allowed gauge is 12, and the maximum number of cartridges that can be loaded is two.
  3. Rifles: Rifles are generally prohibited in Cyprus, except for certain types used in sport shooting.
  4. Air Guns: Air guns with a power exceeding one joule require a license.
  5. Antique and Deactivated Firearms: These are permitted for collection with a special license.

Storage and Transportation

Firearms must be stored unloaded, in a locked container, and separate from ammunition. When transported, firearms must be unloaded and concealed from view.

Penalties for Violation of Gun Laws

Violation of gun laws in Cyprus can result in severe consequences. The Firearms and Ammunition Law, Chapter 113, states clear penalties for various infractions. These range from monetary fines to imprisonment, depending on the nature and severity of the violation.

  1. Illegal Possession: The unauthorised possession of any firearm is a serious crime in Cyprus. This includes possessing a firearm without a valid license, possessing a firearm not specified in your license, or possessing an illegal firearm such as an automatic weapon. The penalty for illegal possession can be up to seven years imprisonment.
  2. Improper Use: Using a firearm in a manner not specified by your license, such as using a sport shooting handgun outside of a licensed shooting range, can result in up to five years imprisonment.
  3. Improper Storage: Failing to properly store firearms and ammunition can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment. This includes storing firearms loaded, not in a locked container, or storing firearms and ammunition together.
  4. Illegal Sale or Transfer: Selling or transferring firearms without the proper authorisation can result in up to seven years imprisonment. This includes selling or giving a firearm to someone who does not have the appropriate license.
  5. Carrying in Public: Carrying a firearm in public without the necessary authorisation can result in up to two years imprisonment.
  6. Failing to Report Lost or Stolen Firearms: If a firearm is lost or stolen, it must be reported to the police immediately. Failure to report can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.

These penalties highlight the seriousness with which Cyprus treats gun control. Any violation of the gun laws is considered a severe infraction and is dealt with accordingly. As always, it is advised to consult with a legal expert to fully understand the laws and the potential consequences of any violations.

Handgun Regulations

Handguns are generally restricted in Cyprus, with the law stating that private citizens are not allowed to own handguns for personal protection. However, as mentioned above, there are a few exceptions to this rule:

  1. Sport Shooting: Individuals can own a handgun if they are actively participating in sport shooting activities. To qualify for this exception, the individual must obtain a Sport Shooting License, which requires membership in a recognised shooting club and completion of a safety course. The handgun can only be used at a licensed shooting range.
  2. Collectors: Collectors may own handguns if they are antique or deactivated and are part of a genuine collection. To qualify for this exception, collectors must obtain a special license and meet stringent conditions.
  3. Law Enforcement and Military Personnel: Officers of the law and active military personnel may be allowed to carry handguns as part of their official duties. The specifics will depend on their position, rank, and the regulations of their specific agency or branch of the military.
  4. Armourers and Firearms Dealers: People involved in the legal trade of firearms may possess handguns for the purpose of their business, subject to specific licensing and regulation.

It’s important to note that these exceptions are not automatic. Each requires a specific license, with its own set of requirements and conditions. Furthermore, all handgun owners, regardless of the exception they fall under, are subject to Cyprus’ stringent rules on firearm storage and transportation.

Members of foreign protection units, such as diplomatic security, may also be granted an exemption and be allowed to carry handguns under certain conditions in Cyprus.  Diplomatic security personnel, such as those protecting ambassadors or consulates, may be permitted to carry handguns. This is typically arranged through diplomatic channels and would require approval from the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cyprus Police.

Rules on Hunting riffles and licenses

In Cyprus, hunting is a regulated activity, and the use of hunting rifles is controlled under the Firearms and Ammunition Law, Chapter 113. Here are some key points regarding hunting rifles and licenses:

Hunting License in Cyprus

To hunt in Cyprus, individuals must first acquire a hunting license. The Department of Forests, under the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, is responsible for issuing hunting licenses. To qualify for a hunting license, the applicant must:

  1. Be at least 18 years old.
  2. Pass a hunting examination which tests knowledge of hunting laws, safety rules, and animal species.
  3. Not have any convictions related to hunting or wildlife conservation.

Hunting licenses must be renewed annually and are only valid for specified hunting seasons and areas, as determined by the Department of Forests.

Shotgun License

To use a hunting rifle, typically a shotgun, the hunter must also have a shotgun license. The criteria for obtaining this license are:

  1. The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  2. The applicant must have a clean criminal record.
  3. The applicant must be of sound mental health, as confirmed by a medical certificate.
  4. The applicant must have a legitimate reason for owning a firearm (in this case, hunting).
  5. The applicant must complete a firearms safety course.

It’s important to note that the shotgun license allows the possession of shotguns only, and it does not permit the use of other types of firearms for hunting.

Rifles and Shotguns for Hunting

Rifles are generally prohibited in Cyprus. However, shotguns are commonly used for hunting. The law stipulates that the maximum allowed gauge for a shotgun is 12, and the maximum number of cartridges that can be loaded at any one time is two.

Rules for Use

Hunting is only allowed during certain seasons and in certain areas, as specified by the Department of Forests. There are also restrictions on the types of game that can be hunted, with certain species being protected.

Hunting is not allowed within 200 meters of residential areas, public roads, or other specified areas. Using spotlights or other forms of artificial light to hunt is also prohibited.

Storage and Transportation

When not in use, hunting rifles must be stored unloaded, in a locked container, and separate from ammunition. When being transported, they must be unloaded and concealed from view.

Cyprus has stringent gun laws in place to ensure public safety. All potential firearm owners should understand these laws thoroughly before purchasing or using firearms. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and can result in significant penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Our Services

At Chambers & Co, we offer a comprehensive suite of legal services related to firearm laws and regulations. Our legal expertise extends to both individuals and corporate entities. Here are some of the primary services we offer in this regard:

  1. Firearm Licensing: We offer legal assistance in obtaining various types of firearm licenses. This includes helping clients understand the eligibility requirements, assisting with the application process, and providing representation if a license application is denied.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: We provide advice on complying with all relevant firearm laws and regulations. This includes rules regarding the safe storage and transportation of firearms, the use of firearms for sport shooting or hunting, and the sale or transfer of firearms.
  3. Legal Representation: If a client is charged with a firearm-related offence, we provide skilled legal defence. Our team of expert lawyers can represent clients in court, working to ensure their rights are upheld and seeking the best possible outcome for their case.
  4. Firearm Laws Consultation: We provide consultations for clients who wish to understand more about firearm laws in Cyprus. Whether a client is considering obtaining a firearm license, is a sport shooter or hunter seeking to ensure they are operating within the law, or a collector looking to add to their collection, we can provide expert advice.
  5. Foreign Protection Units Advisory: For foreign protection units and diplomatic security needing to understand the firearm regulations applicable to them in Cyprus, we provide detailed advice and guidance.
  6. Policy Advocacy and Legislation: We work with stakeholders, including government entities and advocacy groups, to shape firearm policies and legislation. This includes providing expert advice and analysis on proposed changes to firearm laws.

Our approach is always tailored to the individual needs of our clients, and we pride ourselves on providing clear, practical advice. We are committed to upholding the highest standards of professional conduct and integrity.  Contact our lawyers in Limassol for additional information.