How to Get a C&R License in California

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Antique weapons manufactured before 1899 are exempt from C&R licensing.
Antique weapons manufactured before 1899 are exempt from C&R licensing. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

A Curio and Relic license is needed when someone wishes to own a curio or relic weapon. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives established the regulations for C&R licenses nationally. Some states have other requirements, in addition to the applicant possessing a federal C&R license. California's requirements to obtain a C&R license are similar to the federal requirements, with special requirements for owning a handgun or other concealable C&R weapon.

Obtain form ATF Form 7CR from the BATFE website. Completely fill out the application, providing any requested documents. Submit the application, along with the fee, which is $30 as of July 2011. The BATFE will approve or deny your application usually within a few weeks. If approved, the license is valid for three years before you must reapply.

Provide your local chief law enforcement officer, such as the sheriff, two copies of ATF Form 7CR. Also determine if there are city or county regulations relating to C&R weapons.

Buy a weapon classified as a curio or relic, meaning it was manufactured before 1959. Antiques manufactured before 1899 are automatically exempt from needing a C&R license. In California, buyers may not purchase a curio or relic online, inside the state or across state lines that can be concealed, such as a pistol, unless purchased from a class-one licensed FFL dealer.

Pass the background check and wait 10 days to collect your purchase, if it is a handgun. Both are required even for curios or relic concealable weapons, with a purchasing limit of one pistol per 30 days. Those possessing a class-three C&R license, plus a certificate of eligibility -- obtainable through the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms -- are exempt from the purchasing limit. Rifles are exempt from purchasing limits, waiting periods and background checks.

Fill out and submit the Curio or Relic Handgun Report, available on the CADOJ, Bureau of Firearms' website, if you purchased a pistol or other concealable weapon. There is a $19 processing fee, payable to the CADOJ, Bureau of Firearms, as of July 2011.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider owning a hunting license before applying for a C&R license. BATFE requires a copy of your hunter's license or permit. The BATFE considers you likely ineligible for a C&R license if you don't have a hunting license.
  • If your C&R weapon was purchased out-of-state, you must file the Curio or Relic Handgun Report form within five days of its arrival in California. Failure to do so could result in criminal prosecution.

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