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How to Buy a Firearm in the State of Virginia

Updated on June 19, 2013
VIrginia's laws for purchasing firearms tend to be similar to gun laws in other States.
VIrginia's laws for purchasing firearms tend to be similar to gun laws in other States. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

The US Constitution allows the ownership of guns by private citizens and Federal law provides strict guidelines under which a citizen can purchase those firearms. However, each state has the right to create their own laws and requirements for the purchase of firearms as long as they work jointly with Federal law. The Virginia Firearms Transaction Program (VFTP) was enacted in 1989 to regulate firearms purchases in the State of Virginia.

Eligibility for Firearm Purchase in Virginia

To be eligible for a firearms purchase in the State of Virginia, a person must fit into these requirements. A violation of any of these guidelines could prevent the person from legally obtaining a firearm in the State of Virginia.

  1. Must not be under indictment for a felony offense.
  2. Must not be the subject of a felony or misdemeanor arrest warrant in any State.
  3. Must not have been an adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile (14 years or older at the time of the offense) of an act that would be a felony when committed by an adult; this applies to anyone who is currently 28 years old or younger.
  4. Must not have been adjudicated as a juvenile (14 years or older at the time of the offense) for the offenses of murder, kidnapping, rape, or armed robbery; this makes the person ineligible for gun ownership regardless of current age, unless the Governor of Virginia permits a restoration of rights.
  5. Must not have been convicted of a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years.
  6. Must not have an outstanding protective order or restraining order that involves a spouse, former spouse, a person with whom the person shares children in common, or someone with whom the person cohabited as an intimate partner.
  7. Must not be addicted to or an unlawful use of illegal or prescription drugs such as marijuana, depressants, stimulants, narcotics, or controlled substances. The Federal Gun Control Act defines addicted persons and unlawful users as anyone who has been convicted for use or possession of a controlled substance within the past year, or anyone found through drug testing to use controlled substances unlawfully within the last year.
  8. Must not have been acquitted by reason of insanity or adjudicated as legally incompetent, mentally incapacitated, or incapacitated.
  9. Must not have been involuntarily admitted to a facility or involuntarily ordered to attend outpatient treatment mental health treatment.
  10. Must not have been the subject of a temporary detention order, followed by a voluntary admission for mental health treatment.
  11. Must not have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces.
  12. Must not be an illegal alien or a nonimmigrant alien in the United States (with the exception of hunting licenses).
  13. Must not have renounced one’s status as a US Citizen.
  14. Must not have been convicted of domestic violence involving the use, threat of, or attempted use of physical force committed against a current or former spouse, parent, guardian of the victim, when person convicted is the person who shares the child in common, a person who cohabits or cohabited with the victim as a souse, parent, or guardian.
  15. Must not have been convicted under Virginia Law of 2 misdemeanors within 36 months, for possession of controlled substance, possession of marijuana, or any offense involving synthetic marijuana within the past 5 years. This applies to the purchase of handguns only.

General Rules and Laws for Firearms Purchase in Virginia

Virginia Law prescribes the following laws and regulations for the purchase of a firearm.

  • No permits required to own or purchase single handgun, rifle, or shotgun in Virginia. However, a permit is required for the purchase of more than one handgun in a month, and machine guns must be registered.
  • Acceptable forms of identification required to purchase firearms in Virginia include an active driver’s lease, a recently paid property tax bill or real estate tax bill for an existing address of residence, a recent utility bill, a recent, cancelled bank check, a recent vehicle registration, and a recent hunting or fishing license.
  • Birth certificates and a social security cards will not be accepted as a form of identification.
  • Consent form must be filled out truthfully. Lying on the consent form is considered a punishable offense.
  • Non-residents may not purchase a firearm in Virginia until a state police approval report has been received by the seller or until 10 days have passed since the application was accepted.
  • Virginia state law prohibits purchase of firearms by anyone legally incompetent or mentally incapacitated.
  • Virginia state law prohibits the purchase of firearms by any person convicted of a felony unless they have had their rights restored by the Governor.
  • Virginia state law prohibits the purchase of a firearm by any person involved in a protective order for domestic abuse and/or stalking.
  • Virginia state law requires a Concealed Handgun Permit in order for a person to carry a concealed handgun.
  • Federal law prohibits the purchase of firearms by fugitives from justice, anyone dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces, anyone who has renounced their citizenship, and illegal aliens.
  • Firearms may be carried openly except where firearms are prohibited by law (e.g. anyplace that sells liquor, schools).
  • Individuals must be at least 21 years of age to purchase a firearm, though there is no minimum age limit to purchase ammunition.

Laws Regarding the Private Sale of Handguns in Any State

In a private sale of a handgun, the seller must obtain the name and address of the buyer, and keep records of the make, model, and serial number of the gun sold. Both the seller and buyer must be residents of the State where the transaction occurs. Firearms located at the scene of a crime will be traced back to the last known purchaser through the gun shop that sold it. Another option is to sell the gun by placing in on consignment with a licensed gun dealer. That person must be able to prove that the gun was sold and who it was sold to if he or she wishes to stay out of trouble.

Steps for Purchasing a Firearm in Virginia

To purchase a firearm legally in the State of Virginia:

  1. Visit a licensed and registered firearms dealer, and be ready to prove you are of minimum age to purchase the firearm. Bring along at least 2 forms of acceptable identification required for the purchase of a firearm. The main form of identification will be a valid driver’s license and the ancillary identification must match the information provided on the driver’s license.
  2. Decide which firearm you wish to purchase. Apply for Multiple Handgun Purchase Certificate with the Virginia State Police prior to the purchase of more than one handgun within a month.
  3. Be advised that a consent to perform a background check must be agreed to and a form signed prior to the completion of the sale.
  4. A small processing fee is required for the purchase process – it is slightly lower for Virginia residents than for non-residents.
  5. The dealer will enter the purchaser’s information into the computerized National Instant Background Check System (NICS) or will call NICS directly. In as little as 2 minutes, the gun dealer will have access to all state and national criminal databases.

If the background check passes and the purchase is approved, the firearms purchase is completed. Failure to get approval, however, doesn’t mean an automatic denial of purchase. It simply means that the purchase will be delayed until a further review of the purchaser’s profile can be accomplished.


Wikihow. How to Buy a Firearm in Virginia.

Virginia State Police. Firearms Purchase Eligibility Test.

Virginia State Police. Firearms/Concealed Weapons.

Korvin, Alan and Miscalco, Steve. Gun Laws. Gun Owner’s Guide.


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