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Firearm Registration: Important Things to Remember

Key Terms Used in this Guide

  • DC Official Code: The laws of the District of Columbia. Individuals may access the current DC Code online.
  • FFL or Federal Firearms Licensee: A business authorized by the US government to sell and buy firearms.
  • FRS or Firearms Registration Section: The branch of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) that registers firearms for the public.

Transporting a Firearm You Already Own for Registration

When transporting your firearm in a vehicle, it must be unloaded, with neither the firearm nor any ammunition readily accessible or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the transporting vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the driver's compartment, the firearm or ammunition must be unloaded and contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. If you are transporting your firearm in a manner other than in a vehicle, it must be unloaded, inside a locked container, and separate from any ammunition.

Whenever in possession of a firearm, a registrant shall have in his or her possession the registration certificate, or exact photocopy thereof, for such firearm, and exhibit the same upon the demand of a law enforcement officer. (DC Official Code §7-2502.08) If you are transporting an unregistered weapon to or from FRS in order to register it, you may only do so during regular FRS business hours (Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm).

Do not bring ammunition with you when you register your firearm. Possession of ammunition for an unregistered firearm is prohibited in the District of Columbia, and you may be subject to criminal charges. If registering a semi-automatic firearm, do bring the empty accompanying magazine. Please note that it is illegal to possess a magazine that holds more than ten rounds of ammunition in the District of Columbia.

Retrieving Your Firearm From a Dealer

Under DC law, a firearms dealer cannot release a firearm to a purchaser until 10 days after the initial date of purchase. (DC Official Code §22-4508) A gun dealer will not release your firearm until you return with your approved registration certificate.
Re-registering Your Firearm

Pursuant to District law, firearms must be re-registered every three years (DC Official Code § 7-2502.07a). For renewals, registrants must attest to:

  •     Possession of the registered firearm;
  •     The registrant’s address; and
  •     The registrant’s continued compliance with variance registration requirements.

MPD is working to develop a convenient online re-registration system. The re-registration process will be launched on January 1, 2014, with details about the requirements being mailed to the address of record for registrants. In the meantime, no registrations will expire.