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 North Dakota Concealed Weapon License (CWL) 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

North Dakota is a shall-issue state, although law enforcement has some discretion in issuing licenses to anyone they have reason to believe is or has been a danger to self or others. Shall-issue means licensing authorities are compelled to issue a license as long as an applicant meets the basic requirements set out by state law. Concealed carry licenses are issued at the state level by the attorney general.

Open carry of handguns is legal for residents with a Concealed Weapon License (CWL) and for non-residents with a valid resident concealed carry license from a state that North Dakota honors. The minimum age is 18. Some areas are off-limits, including bars.

The definition of concealed carry in North Dakota is if the weapon is carried in such a manner as to not be discernible by the ordinary observation of a passerby. There is no requirement that there be absolute invisibility of the firearm or dangerous weapon, merely that it not be ordinarily discernible. The state allows permitless concealed carry for adults who have been residents for at least 30 days and are not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm. Permitless concealed carry is also allowed for non-residents with a valid resident concealed carry license from a state that North Dakota honors. Individuals concealed carrying under permitless carry must carry their driver’s licenses or state IDs and MUST inform law enforcement that they are in possession of the firearm upon any in-person contact. Restrictions on places that a firearm may be possessed still apply. Concealed carry is also legal for non-residents with resident permits from states that North Dakota recognizes.

North Dakota issues Class 1 and Class 2 CWLs. Both licenses are equally valid within North Dakota. However, because of additional testing requirements, the holders of a Class 1 license have reciprocity in many more states than those who hold a Class 2 license. CWLs require completion of a state-certified firearms training course. North Dakota issues licenses to full-time active military duty stationed in the state and non-residents if they have a concealed carry permit from their home state, which must have reciprocity with North Dakota.

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 North Dakota?

An applicant must:

  • Be at least age 18 for a Class 2 license; age 21 for a Class 1 license
  • Be a resident of North Dakota; or on full-time active military duty stationed in North Dakota; or a resident of a state that has reciprocity with North Dakota and who possesses a valid concealed weapon license in their home state
  • Have successfully completed the training requirements
  • Not be an individual specified in section 62.1-02-01, and for a class 1 firearm license the applicant must:
    • Not have been convicted of a felony
    • Not have been convicted of a crime of violence
    • Not have been convicted of an offense involving the use of alcohol within three years prior to the date of application
    • Not have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense involving the unlawful use of
      narcotics or other controlled substances within 10 years prior to the date of
    • Not have been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude
    • Not have been convicted of an offense involving domestic violence
    • Not have been adjudicated by a state or federal court as mentally incompetent,
      unless the adjudication has been withdrawn or reversed
    • Be qualified to purchase and possess a firearm under federal law
  • Satisfactorily complete the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) application form and successfully pass the criminal history records check conducted by the BCI and FBI. This includes information on any court-ordered treatment or commitment for mental health, alcohol or substance abuse. The applicant shall provide the director of the BCI written authorizations for disclosure of the applicant’s mental health and alcohol or substance abuse evaluation and treatment records. The bureau may deny approval for a license if the bureau has reasonable cause to believe the applicant or licensee has been or is a danger to self or others as demonstrated by evidence, including past pattern of behavior involving unlawful violence or threats of unlawful violence; past participation in incidents involving unlawful violence or threats of unlawful violence; or conviction of a weapons offense. In determining whether the applicant or licensee has been or is a danger to self or others, the bureau may inspect expunged or sealed records of arrests and convictions of adults and juvenile court records.

Do I Need Firearms Training in North Dakota?

Yes. Applicants must successfully complete a testing procedure conducted by a certified test administrator. An applicant must be 21 years of age for a Class 1 license and at least 18 years of age for a Class 2 license. An applicant for a Class 1 license and Class 1 license renewal must:

  • Participate in classroom instruction that sets forth weapon safety rules and the deadly force law of North Dakota
  • Complete an open-book test based upon a manual
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a firearm or dangerous weapon through certification by a certified instructor, participation in an organized shooting competition or dangerous weapon course of training, or possession of a license from another state, or evidence of weapons experience during military service
  • Complete an actual shooting or certified proficiency exercise

An applicant for a Class 2 license is required to successfully complete the open-book test offered for the Class 1 license but not a live-fire component.

All testing must take place within the state of North Dakota and cannot be held in conjunction with testing for any other state.  

How Do I Get a Concealed Handgun Permit in North Dakota?

Step 1: All new applicants must complete the required training before applying. Contact a test administrator to schedule your training and testing. Check with the test administrator before completing the application; many test administrators provide a computer and printer at the training site for this purpose.

Step 2: Decide if you want a Class 1 or Class 2 license.

  • Complete the online application. You will need a printer. The last step of the online application process generates a form that you are required to print or
  • Download the application, complete it and print out a copy to mail in or
  • Complete it at the testing site, if available.

Step 3: Make an appointment with a test administrator and take a copy of the printed application to the testing appointment. The test administrator may charge up to $50 (plus range fees, if applicable). All first-time applicants must pass a written, open-book test based on the Concealed Weapon License Manual.

All testing must take place within the state of North Dakota and cannot be held in conjunction with testing for any other state. The application must be submitted to the BCI within 30 days of the testing date.

Step 4: Applicants for a Class 1 license will also need to complete classroom instruction, demonstrate familiarity with the weapon and successfully complete a firearms proficiency shooting test.

Step 5: Gather the following required documents and submit them to the Bureau of Criminal Inspection (BCI) within 30 days of the testing date. (Applications submitted more than 30 days after the testing date are invalid and cannot be processed).

  • Cashier’s check or money order for $60 payable to “North Dakota Attorney General”
  • Photocopy of a driver’s license or state ID
  • Two official color passport photos
  • Two fingerprint cards (for new applicants)

Non-residents must include a copy of a valid concealed carry license from your home state of residence. (You are a resident of whichever state issued your driver’s license.) If your state does not have reciprocity with North Dakota, you are not eligible for a North Dakota license.

Non-resident active-duty military must include a copy of your PCS orders to North Dakota.

Applicants born outside of the U.S. must be a legal resident of the U.S. If you were born outside the U.S. or its territories, attach a copy of your U.S.-issued Born Abroad birth certificate or the Alien Registration/INS Registration documentation or a Naturalization certificate or a valid US Passport.

Mail the completed application and all required documents to:

P.O. Box 1054
Bismarck ND 58502

The BCI does not accept applications submitted by fax, email or hand delivery.

Step 6: You will be notified if your application has been approved.


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