Virginia is a shall-issue state. For residents, applications are filed with the circuit court in their county of residence, and non-residents must mail their application to the State Police.
There is no permit or firearms registration required when buying a handgun from a private individual, provided the buyer and seller are both Virginia residents. However, based on SB70/HB2 being signed into law, as of July 1, 2020, all sales are required to be completed through a dealer who must submit a background check. Additionally, a one handgun per month purchase restriction is now in effect, although concealed carry permit holders are exempt.
Open carry is legal in Virginia without a permit for anyone who is at least 18 years old who can legally possess a firearm. However, Localities, such as Alexandria and Newport News may ban the open carry of firearms in public buildings, parks and at special events.
Concealed carry is legal for residents with a Virginia Handgun Permit (HP) and non-residents with any valid state license/permit. Virginia HPs are issued to both residents and non-residents at least 21 years old and require a state-approved firearms training course and demonstrated competence with the firearm. Some areas are off-limits, including airport terminals and places of worship during services. In addition, municipalities may ban guns in government buildings and areas such as public parks, recreation or community centers, and outdoor areas being used during permitted events. In terms of reciprocity, Virginia honors all out-of-state concealed carry permits.
On March 11th, 2021, Governor Northam signed HB 2310 which allows individuals who completed online firearms training prior to January 1st, 2021, but were prohibited from appearing in person at their circuit court clerk’s office due to COVID restrictions, to apply for a concealed handgun permit through April 30th, 2021.
Although not codified by statute, Virginia case law supports self-defense, a version of the castle doctrine and stand your ground in certain circumstances. There is no duty to retreat, and you can defend yourself at any location you are legally permitted to be.
Defense of Self or Others Virginia law allows the use of self-defense where a person, who is not the aggressor:
Reasonably believes the person is in imminent danger of an overt act threatening unlawful force, serious bodily harm or death; and
Uses the amount of force reasonable in relation to the threat.
A person may only use deadly force if there was a present danger of great bodily injury. An individual is allowed to defend not only his or her person from harm if the person being defended would have been justified in using self-defense.
Defense of Dwelling Although Virginia law does not allow deadly force to prevent an entry into a home or dwelling, non-deadly force may be used to prevent an unlawful entry into a dwelling. Deadly force is only justified in circumstances where a person reasonably believes the intruder will commit great bodily injury or death.
Does Virginia have magazine capacity restrictions for handguns?
No more than 20 rounds for handguns.
Although Virginia has no law restricting large capacity ammunition magazines, Virginia law defines “assault firearm” as any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol which expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock. These assault firearms are prohibited from being loaded and carried on or about the person, openly or concealed, on any public street, road, alley, sidewalk, public right-of-way, or in any public park or any other place of whatever nature that is open to the public in the cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, or Virginia Beach or in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, or Prince William. There are exceptions for concealed handgun permit holders and individuals actually engaged in lawful hunting or lawful recreational shooting activities at established shooting ranges or shooting contests.
Can you carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle in Virginia?
Yes, with a permit. Handguns may be transported in a vehicle without a permit if secured in a container or compartment including a console, glove compartment or any other area of the vehicle or vessel that possesses the ability to be closed.
Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in Virginia?
The granting of a concealed handgun permit pursuant to this article shall not thereby authorize the possession of any handgun or other weapon on property or in places where such possession is otherwise prohibited by law or is prohibited by the owner of private property.
Does Virginia have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?
No locality shall adopt any workplace rule, other than for the purposes of a community services board or behavioral health authority as defined in § 37.2-100, that prevents an employee of that locality from storing at that locality's workplace a lawfully possessed firearm and ammunition in a locked private motor vehicle. There is an exception for any local or regional jail, juvenile detention facility or state-governed entity, department or agency.
Are "No Weapons Allowed" signs enforced in Virginia? If yes, violating the sign would be considered to be a crime. If no, violating the sign would not be considered a criminal offense.
No. "No Weapons Allowed" signs have no force of law unless they are posted in areas that are mentioned by the law as being off limits.
Does Virginia have preemption laws related to concealed carry (i.e. Does state law supersede local laws regarding the possession of handguns)?
Partial. The state has preemption of firearms laws in Virginia, except effective July 1, 2020, localities may prohibit firearms, ammunition, or components thereof in the following places, provided that notice is properly posted:
Any building, or portion of a building owned or used by a locality for governmental purposes;
Recreation or community centers; or
Any public street, road, alley, or sidewalk or public right-of-way or other place that is open to the public that is being used by, or is adjacent to, a permitted event or an event that would otherwise require a permit;
Prohibit the outdoor shooting of firearms in areas so heavily populated as to make such conduct dangerous to the inhabitants;
Impose limited prohibitions on possession of a loaded firearm on public highways;
Prohibit the discharge of firearms; and
Require the maintenance of safety devices on storage equipment for firearms.
In addition, municipalities may adopt local ordinances regulating the possession and storage of firearms, ammunition or components, or combination thereof, in government buildings and areas such as public parks, recreation or community centers, and outdoor areas being used during permitted events.
Yes, Virginia has a red flag law as SB240/HB674 was signed into law on April 10, 2020. As of July 1, 2020, an attorney for the Commonwealth or a law-enforcement officer may petition the court to issue an ex parte emergency substantial risk order. The order prohibits the person who is subject to the order from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm for the duration of the order. The person is also required to surrender his concealed handgun permit if he possesses one. and advises the person to voluntarily relinquish any firearm within his custody to the law-enforcement agency that serves the order. The order may be issued for a maximum of 180 days.
Yes. It shall be unlawful for any person to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. However, this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense.
As a responsibly armed American, regardless of the laws in your state, it is unwise to carry while under the influence of any substance that could impair your judgement, slow your reaction times or impact your decision-making abilities. Any decision you make while carrying a firearm could have life-altering consequences.
Does Virginia issue concealed carry permits to non-residents?
Yes. Virginia does issue permits to non-residents.
PUBLIC ACCESS TO CONCEALED CARRY REGISTRY?
Does Virginia allow the public to access concealed carry registry information through public records law?
No, except for references to the issuance of concealed handgun permits in any order book before July 1, 2008. The law allows disclosure:
To law enforcement agencies and officers for law enforcement purposes;
Of records by the State Police concerning permits issued to nonresidents; and
Of statistical summaries, abstracts or other records containing information in an aggregate form that does not identify any individual permittees.
Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in Virginia?
No. A permit is not required to purchase a handgun in Virginia.
SB 69/HB 812 was signed into law on April 10, 2020. As of July 1, 2020, any person who is not a licensed firearms dealer will be prohibited from purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period. One of the exceptions to the law is for anyone that holds a valid Virginia concealed handgun permit.
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State Constitutional Provision
That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power."
Anyone who can legally possess a firearm may carry it concealed in permitless carry states without a permit/license. The minimum age* for permitless carry is shown. Check each state’s page for more information and any restrictions that may apply.
*PC-18 = permitless carry if at least 18 years old
*PC-21 = permitless carry if at least 21 years old
Not be ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:1 and who was discharged from the custody of the Commissioner less than 5 years before the date of this application;
Not be ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:2 and whose competency or capacity was restored less than 5 years before the date of this application;
Not be ineligible to possess a firearm under Section 18.2-308.1:3 and who was released from commitment less than 5 years before the date of this application;
Not be subject to a restraining order, a protective order, an emergency substantial risk order or substantial risk order and prohibited by Section 18.2-308.1:4 or Section 18.2-308.1:6 from purchasing or transporting a firearm;
Not be prohibited by Section 18.2-308.2 from possessing or transporting a firearm, except that a permit may be obtained in accordance with subsection C of that section;
Not have been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the 5-year period immediately preceding the application, if one of the misdemeanors was a Class 1 misdemeanor, but the judge shall have the discretion to deny a permit for two or more misdemeanors that are not Class 1;
Not be addicted to, or an unlawful user or distributor of, marijuana or any controlled substance;
Not have been convicted of a violation of Section 18.2-266 or a substantially similar local ordinance, or of public drunkenness, anywhere in the United States, or its territories within the 3-year period immediately preceding the application;
Not be an individual who the court finds is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others (The sheriff, chief of police, or attorney for the Commonwealth may submit to the court a sworn written statement indicating that the applicant is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others. The statement shall be based upon personal knowledge of such individual or of the specific acts);
Not have been convicted of, or have a charge pending of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm in violation of Section 18.2-280 or Section 18.2-286.1 or brandishing of a firearm within the 3-year period preceding the application;
Not be an individual who has been convicted of, or have a charge pending of stalking;
Not be an individual whose previous convictions or adjudications of delinquency were based on an offense which would have been at the time of conviction a felony if committed by an adult;
Not have received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within 5 years of this application;
Not be otherwise ineligible pursuant to this section, who, within the 3-year period prior to the application, found guilty of any criminal offense set forth in Section 18.2-247 or of a criminal offense of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana or any controlled substance;
Not have been found guilty of any criminal offense set forth in Section 18.2-247 or a charge of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana or any controlled substance, or a substantially similar law of any other state within the 3-year period immediately preceding the application; and
Applicants who do not reside in Virginia can apply by mail. An application package can be obtained by emailing the Virginia state police at [email protected] or writing to them at the following address:
Firearms Transaction Center Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permits Criminal Justice Information Services Division Department of State Police P.O. Box 85141 Richmond, VA 23285-5141
The application package will provide requirement and qualification information, a Virginia State Police fingerprint card, a return envelope for the completed application and a checklist to ensure that all necessary information is provided. Further information can be viewed on the Virginia State Police Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permit webpage.
The processing time for nonresident concealed handgun permits can be 3 to 6 months.
You must provide written notice of a change of address on a form provided by the Department of State Police and pay a $10 fee.
If your concealed handgun permit has been destroyed, mutilated, stolen or lost, you may apply for a replacement permit. Contact your county sheriff. Some counties have replacement applications online. The cost is $5.
Moving to Virginia and interested in applying for a resident permit? How soon can you apply? Virginia issues resident and non-resident permits, so you can apply for your permit at any time. If you have a permit issued by a state in which Virginia has established concealed handgun permit reciprocity or recognition, it will be honored in Virginia as long as the permit remains valid regardless of the change of address. However, you should confirm the validity of the permit with the issuing agency based on the change of address.
Moving from Virginia and have a Virginia resident permit? Does that permit transfer to your new state? Is there a grace period during which your Virginia permit remains valid? If a person with a Virginia handgun permit establishes residency in another state, the permit is valid until it expires, provided you submit the above referenced Name/Address change form.
An applicant must demonstrate competence with a handgun by one of the following:
Completing any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or a similar agency of another state;
Completing any National Rifle Association (NRA) firearms safety or training course;
Completing any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law-enforcement agency, junior college, college, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Department of Criminal Justice Services;
Completing any law-enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division or subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement;
Presenting evidence of equivalent experience with a firearm through participation in organized shooting competition or current military service or proof of an honorable discharge from any branch of the armed services;
Obtaining or previously having held a license to carry a firearm in this Commonwealth or a locality thereof, unless such license has been revoked for cause;
Completing any in-person firearms training or safety course or class, conducted by a state-certified or NRA-certified firearms instructor;
Completing any governmental police agency firearms training course and qualifying to carry a firearm in the course of normal police duties; or
Completing any other firearms training which the court deems adequate.
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) and Retired LEOs (RLEOs) may choose to carry under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), often referred to as HR 218. Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 926B & 926C, qualified LEOs and qualified retired LEOs, or those separated from service in good standing, can carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with some exceptions. For details check out our Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) page.
Per Code of VA § 18.2-308.016, RLEOs with proof of service may annually participate and meet the training and qualification standards to carry firearms as is required of active LEOs in the Commonwealth. If the RLEO meets the training and qualification standards, the chief law-enforcement officer shall issue the RLEO certification, valid one year from the date of issuance, indicating that the RLEO has met the standards of the Commonwealth to carry a firearm.
Per the Virginia State Police (VSP) LEOSA webpage, to qualify for the nationwide carry privilege, a VSP retiree must receive authorization from the VSP. To do so, the VSP retiree must first submit the following to the Virginia State Police Firearms Transaction Center:
Two passport photos – each 2×2 inches in size
SP-216A: Retired Personnel Firearms Training Report
SP-218: Authorization to Carry a Concealed Handgun
SP-218A: Concealed Handgun Authorization – Retired State Police Officers
When all items have been completed and submitted as a complete package, the sworn VSP retiree will be issued an Authorization card, an annual qualification sticker and a letter from the superintendent detailing the conditions of the nationwide carry privilege. These items are mailed directly to the applicant.
Where Can I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Virginia?
Carry in bars/restaurants that serve alcohol? Yes, unless posted and provided you consume no alcohol.
Carry in my vehicle without a permit/license? Yes, with a permit or without a permit if it is secured in a container or compartment.
Carry in roadside rest areas? Yes.
Carry in state/national parks, state/national forests and WMAs? Yes, with a permit, except for Hog Island WMA, Buggs Island or upon the water on Gaston Reservoir.
Where Can't I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Virginia?
Places off-limits even with a permit/license
Any child day center or public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds (except for a person with a valid permit can carry in their vehicle and unloaded firearms in closed containers in or upon a motor vehicle);
That portion of any property open to the public and exclusively used for school-sponsored functions or extracurricular activities while such functions or activities are taking place; and
Most public colleges & universities have promulgated regulations prohibiting carry in buildings and at events;
Places of religious worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held, without "good and sufficient reason" (although this may seem vague and ambiguous, there is no statutory definition) Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-283];
As of July 1, 2021, Capitol Square and the surrounding area, any building owned or leased by the State, or any office where State employees are regularly present performing their official duties provided the areas are posted conspicuously (exceptions include property owned or operated by a public institution of higher education and state parks); [Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-283.2];
As of July 1, 2021, within 40 feet of any building, or part thereof, used as a polling place, including one hour before and one hour after its use as a polling place;
City property and streets where special events are being held in the city of Alexandria;
Public buildings, meetings and town-held events in the town of Blacksburg;
City buildings, recreation centers and city parks in the cities of Richmond and Winchester;
City buildings, parks, recreation and community centers and other municipal property in the city of Roanoke;
City parks, buildings, recreational/community centers and on public streets or in the right-of-way adjacent to a city park that is being used for a permitted event in the city of Charlottesville;
City buildings, facilities, parks and in streets when used for public events in the city of Falls Church;
County buildings, community centers, parks and recreation centers in Fairfax County (guns and ammunition);
County buildings, offices and parks in Loudoun County (although concealed carry permit holders are exempt when visiting county parks);
Government buildings, parks, recreation, or community center owned or used by County government and events with county-issued permits in Arlington County;
That portion of Hog Island Wildlife Management Area bordering on the James River and lying north of the Surry Nuclear Power Plant, except while hunting deer or waterfowl in conformity with a special permit issued by the department [4VAC15-40-120];
Buggs Island or upon the water on Gaston Reservoir (Roanoke River) from a point beginning at High Rock and extending to the John H. Kerr Dam [4VAC15-40-140]; and
The possession of throwing stars, switchblades, ballistic knives or like weapons is illegal in Virginia. It is legal to openly carry any legal knife in Virginia. It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk, Bowie knife, machete, razor, or any knife of a like kind. Possession of any knife with the exception of a pocket knife having a folding metal blade of less than 3 inches is prohibited in schools.
I can legally carry a concealed firearm in Virginia, but can I wear a COVID 19 protective mask while carrying concealed?
There is no known statute in Virginia making it illegal to wear a COVID mask while carrying concealed. A state statute was identified, making it illegal to wear a mask with the intent to conceal an individuals identity, however the law does not apply in the case of a declaration of a disaster or state of emergency by the Governor in response to a public health emergency where the emergency defines the mask appropriate for the emergency, and provides for the duration of the waiver.
CARRY WHILE GUN HUNTING?
Can you concealed carry while shotgun/rifle hunting in Virginia?
Yes, with a valid concealed handgun permit, provided the handgun is not used to hunt or take wildlife.
Can you concealed carry while bow hunting in Virginia?
Yes, with a valid concealed handgun permit, except not on any waterway or on property where such possession is otherwise prohibited by law or is prohibited by the owner of private property. Furthermore, the possession of a concealed handgun permit does not authorize the use of the concealed handgun for hunting.
Here at the USCCA, it is our mission to provide responsible gun owners with the tools they need to be educated and trained. Our team is constantly working to provide you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of self-defense laws available for every state.
If you have any questions that you don’t see answered here — let us know! Just email [email protected] and we will be sure to get your question resolved. Your feedback matters to us, and we appreciate you helping to make this page the best possible resource for responsible gun owners!
Permit numbers were obtained from the Crime Prevention Resource Center’s publication entitled, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States.” Numbers include resident and non-resident permits for those states that issue both.
The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.
If you have any questions regarding USCCA Membership, Delta Defense, handguns laws or the lawful process of carrying concealed, please contact the award-winning Delta Defense Customer Engagement Team.
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