How do I get a California license to carry?

California law requires that applicants for a California carry license:

  1. Have good moral character;
  2. Have good cause for issuance of the license (under Peruta v. Gore, the fundamental, individual right of armed self-defense protected under the Second Amendment constitutes “good cause” for the issuance of a license); and,
  3. Be a resident of the county (or a city within the county) if applying to a county sheriff, or a resident of the city if the applying to a chief of police. (Under certain circumstances, one may apply to a county sheriff for a limited 90-day license if that person’s “principal place of employment or business” is located in that county; however, research shows that such licenses are virtually never issued.)

To begin the process, applicants must complete a state-standard application form and submit it to the licensing authority. The licensing authority has a duty to collect the applicants’ fingerprints (if required; see, section 26185) and the CA DOJ background check fee ($95), and, if there is a local application fee, not more than 20% of the local fee, plus any local fee for fingerprint rolling. The balance of the local application fee can only be required if the license is issued.

The licensing authority may not issue a license until they have received the CA DOJ background check report stating that the applicant is not prohibited from possessing firearms. (See, Cal. Penal Code sections 26185(a)(3) and 26195(a).)

Psychological evaluations may be required of initial applicants, but the cost may not exceed $150 and the applicant must only be referred to a licensed psychologist used by the licensing authority for the psychological testing of its own employees. (See, Cal. Penal Code section 26190(f)(1).)

In order to receive a license after the application has been approved, the applicant must also fulfill a statutory training requirement (with the specific course of training as approved by the licensing authority) and pay the balance of the local fees (if any). (See, Cal. Penal Code sections 26150(a)(4), 26155(a)(4), 26165, 26202.)

For a much more detailed analysis of the California carry license application process, including significant legal analysis and additional FAQs, please download our Carry License Application Guide.