Whether you’re new to owning a firearm or have had a gun for home defense for years, getting a concealed carry permit may seem daunting. It doesn’t have to be. There are many reasons and ways to carry a concealed weapon, but the first step is knowing the laws. Applying for a CCW varies by state. Read about the process for getting a Maryland Wear/Carry Handgun Permit (WCHP) below.

Similar to permit requirements, states vary greatly in their processes for how an applicant obtains a concealed handgun permit, what their permits/licenses are called, whether licenses include photographs, whether fingerprinting is required, license duration, license costs and turnaround times. Some states allow an applicant to complete an application online, while others require an in-person visit to the office of the respective issuing authority. There are even states that require the applicant to provide a list of non-related character references.

Concealed Carry Permit Basics

Maryland is a may-issue state with concealed weapons permits issued at the state level by the Secretary of the Maryland State Police. May-issue is when the issuing authority is allowed to use its own discretion in either issuing or denying a permit and is only required to issue a handgun carry permit when he or she finds, based on an investigation, that the applicant (1) has not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or to another, and (2) has good and substantial reason to wear, carry or transport a handgun, such as a finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.

Open and concealed carry are legal in Maryland only for Maryland Wear/Carry Handgun Permit (WCHP) holders. To obtain a WCHP, applicants must be at least 21 years old (or 18 years old for employment purposes only), and must show a good and substantial reason to carry a handgun. There are six categories of handgun permit applications:

  • Owner or employee of a business
  • Professional activities
  • Correctional officers
  • Former police officers
  • Private detective, security guard, special police and railroad police
  • Personal protection

Maryland does grant permits to non-residents.

Federally Prohibited Persons

The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 make it illegal for a person who fits into any of the prohibited categories to ship, transport, receive or possess firearms or ammunition. These laws prevent a state from issuing a concealed handgun permit/license as it would be illegal for people who fit in these categories, by federal law, to own or possess a gun.

What Are the License Requirements in Maryland?

An applicant must:

  • Be at least 21 years old (an applicant between 18 and 21 years of age may only be issued a wear and carry permit to possess a regulated firearm required for employment)
  • Have successfully completed required firearms training, within two years prior to applying or meet a training exemption
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year has been imposed, or convicted of a criminal offense for which you could have been sentenced to more than two years’ incarceration (or has been pardoned or granted relief under 19 U.S.C. Section 925(c))
  • Not have been convicted of a crime involving the possession, use or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance
  • Not be presently an alcoholic, addict or habitual user of a controlled dangerous substance unless under legitimate medical direction
  • If under age 30, have no adjudications of delinquency in a juvenile court for any act that would be a felony or “crime of violence” if committed by an adult or for any misdemeanor carrying a statutory penalty of two years or more, and have never been committed to any detention, training or correctional institution for more than one year as a juvenile
  • Based on an investigation, not have exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or others
  • Have a good and substantial reason​ to wear, carry or transport a handgun, such as finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against danger
  • Meet federal law requirements

Do I Need Firearms Training in Maryland?

Yes. To qualify for a handgun permit, applicants must successfully complete, prior to application and each renewal, a firearms training course approved by the Secretary of State Police that includes:

  • For an initial application, a minimum of 16 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor
  • For a renewal application, 8 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor.

The training includes classroom instruction on:

  • State firearms law
  • Home firearms safety
  • Handgun mechanisms and operation

A firearms qualification component that demonstrates the applicant’s proficiency and use of the firearm with a minimum score of 70 percent accuracy is also required.

Exemptions – There are training exemptions for active or retired law enforcement officers; active, retired or honorably discharged members of the U.S. armed forces or the National Guard; and qualified handgun instructors registered with the Maryland State Police.

Be sure to verify that any firearm training you receive to obtain your permit is approved by the state of Maryland.

How Do I Get a Concealed Handgun Permit in Maryland?

Step 1: Complete a state-approved firearm training course within two years of application or meet a training exemption.

Step 2: Get fingerprints taken at an Electronic Fingerprint Processing Center authorized by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Step 3: Complete your application using the online licensing portal. As of October 1, 2019, paper applications will be rejected and returned to the applicant with instructions to submit the Wear and Carry Permit application via the licensing portal. You will need the following:

    • A copy of your firearms training certificate
    • Passport-style color photographs of yourself from the past 30 days
    • Electronic fingerprints

Pay the fee.

Step 4: You will receive application status updates via email as your application progresses and will be notified within 90 days of submittal of a complete application whether your application has been approved or denied.


For more information, visit the USCCA Maryland gun laws page now…