In Virginia, adults 18 and older can purchase and openly carry a gun without a license. However, you must be at least 21 years old and obtain a concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed gun in your car or on (or near) your body, unless you are in your own home, on your own property, or at your place of business. (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308.) For more information, see Open and Concealed Gun Carrying Laws in Virginia.
How to Obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit in Virginia
To obtain a concealed handgun permit, you must apply at the sheriff’s office in the county where you reside. To qualify, you must:
- be at least 21 years old
- be a resident of Virginia, and of the county or city where you are applying for a permit (non-Virginia residents may apply for a non-resident concealed handgun permit, discussed below)
- submit to fingerprinting and a criminal history records check
- not be ineligible based on any disqualifying factors (see below), and
- show proof of successful completion of a handgun safety and training course.
(Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308(D).)
Non-Virginia Resident Concealed Handgun Permits
Non-Virginia residents may apply to the Virginia State Police for a five year permit to carry a concealed handgun. Application packages are available to download through the State Police website.
To obtain a permit, you must meet the same qualification standards that are applicable to Virginia residents (described above), and you must not be disqualified based on any of the factors listed below.
If you become ineligible or disqualified from possessing a permit, your concealed carry privileges will be revoked and you will be required to return your permit to the State Police Department.
When your permit expires at the end of the five year term, you may apply for a renewal permit. Renewal requires the same application process as for new applications.
Who is Disqualified from Obtaining a Concealed Handgun License in Virginia?
Applicants who fall into any of the categories below are disqualified from obtaining a concealed handgun license in Virginia:
- someone discharged from state custody, commitment in a mental institution, or whose competency or capacity was restored within the five years before the permit application date
- anyone subject to a restraining or protective order
- someone who has been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the five year period before the date of the permit application
- individuals addicted to, or unlawful users or dealers of marijuana or other controlled substances; or who have been found guilty of illegal possession or distribution of these substances within three years prior to the permit application date
- anyone convicted of public drunkenness, or substantially similar laws in other states within three years prior to the date of the permit application
- non-U.S. citizens (other than lawful permanent residents)
- individuals discharged from the U.S. armed forces under dishonorable conditions
- fugitives from justice
- anyone whom a court finds would be likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others
- someone with a pending charge for a felony or any of the specified violent or domestic crimes
- a person who was convicted of being delinquent based on an offense that, if committed by an adult, would have been a felony, and
- people who have been convicted of other specified crimes (such as, but not limited to, assault, sexual battery, or stalking)
(Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308.09.)
Does Virginia Recognize Concealed Handgun Permits From Other States?
Yes. Virginia recognizes concealed handgun carry permits issued by other states, as long as:
- the permit holder is at least 21 years old
- the issuing state provides a means of instantly verifying the validity of the permit, accessible 24 hours per day, and
- the issuing states guidelines prevent people from obtaining a license who would be denied under Virginia’s laws.
(Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308(P).)
The Virginia State Police’s website provides a list of states with reciprocity agreements with Virginia.
Penalties for Failing to Obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit
It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to carry a concealed handgun in Virginia without a concealed carry permit (unless you are in your own home, on your own property, or at your fixed place of business). Penalties for a first offense include a fine of up to $2,500, up to 12 months in jail, or both.
A second offense is a Class 6 felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both.
A third or subsequent offense is a Class 5 felony, and incurs a fine of up to $2,500, at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both.
Getting Legal Help
If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Virginia, or if you are facing charges for a gun permit violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.