North Carolina

The state of North Carolina operates with a shall-issue policy. This means that a gun license shall be issued at the local level by the local sheriff's office to any applicant who will be able to meet specific requirements. Unlike other states, shall-issue states give little to no discretion to the authorities to determine whether a gun permit should be given to an applicant, especially if all requirements have been satisfied. However, there is one required to obtain a  pistol purchase permit or a concealed handgun permit that is required when procuring a firearm (a handgun) either from a private individual or from a state-authorized dealer. When applying for a purchase permit, the applicant must satisfy a compelling reason for acquiring the permit, such as for self-defense or for collection. The application may take up to 30 days, and only residents of the states are allowed to purchase handguns. 

Much like other shall-issue states, the state of North Carolina allows gun owners to carry their pistols openly without a permit as long as the carrier is 18 years old and older. However, counties have the authority to regulate which areas are open carry allowed. Depending on the county, open carry may be prohibited on public roads, sidewalks, alleys, schools, and the State Capitol grounds. 

Meanwhile, concealed carry of a handgun requires a gun permit of license in the state of North Carolina. The state issues a Concealed Handgun Permits (CHP) to residents and members of the military permanently posted in North Carolina and require a firearms training course that has been approved by the state. The minimum age is 21 years old. For more information about these licenses, read through this quick guide to learn more about the gun permit application process in the state of North Carolina!

Let's start with the basics. 

North Carolina CCW Handgun License

In order to apply for a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permits (CHP), the applicant must: 

  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Have completed an approved firearms training class (minimum 8 hours).
  • Be a resident of North Carolina for 30 days preceding the filing of the application.
  • Be a resident of the County application is filed in.
  • Be a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident alien.
  • Not suffer from a physical or mental infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a handgun.
  • Not been convicted of an impaired driving offense within three years prior to the date on which the application is submitted.
  • Not had judgment continued for or free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a disqualifying criminal offense.
  • Not currently or has not been adjudicated or administratively determined to be lacking mental capacity or mentally ill.
  • Qualify in all Federal Law Requirements

Here’s a step-by-step guide when applying for a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permits (CHP):

STEP 1: Complete a firearm training course if required.

STEP 2: Download the application. Some counties have online applications.

STEP 3: Take the application to your local sheriff’s office and complete it under oath. Please secure a copy of the following documents before applying as they need to be submitted together with your application form:

  • The original certificate of completion from a firearms course;
  • NC driver’s license or ID card and proof of residence;
  • Military personnel must bring forms 1380E (active duty) or DD-214 (discharged);
  • Naturalized citizens must bring your Naturalization Certificate or a valid U.S. Passport;
  • S. citizens born outside of the U.S.A. to U.S. parent(s) must bring your documentation from the Department of State; and
  • Lawful permanent resident aliens must bring a valid U.S. Permanent Resident Card.

The sheriff will take 2 sets of fingerprints. Sign a release authorizing disclosure to the sheriff of any records relating to your mental health.

STEP 4: Wait for the notification of the results of your application.

Renewal of North Carolina gun permits must be done once you receive a written notice from the sheriff’s office that your concealed carry is about to expire. These notices are sent out at least 45 days prior to the expiration date of the license. It is important that you apply to renew your license before it expires so that its validity is extended up to the time that you receive your new license. If in case you miss the expiration date of your license but renews within the next 60 days, the sheriff may waive the requirement of taking another firearms safety course; however, the person may not carry a concealed handgun under this expired permit. Filing of a permit renewal application starts within 30 days prior to the expiration of the original permit. Please note that a concealed handgun permit holder who is or will be deployed for military service is allowed to apply with the sheriff for an extension of the concealed handgun permit up to an additional 90 days after his or her scheduled deployment ends.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to apply for a renewal of your North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permits (CHP):

STEP 1: Download an application.

STEP 2: Submit your completed application to your local sheriff's office along with the following:

  • A notarized affidavit stating that you remain qualified;
  • A newly administered set of fingerprints, if they are not already on file with the State Bureau of Investigation; and
  • The renewal fee.

STEP 3: You will be notified by mail if your application has been approved.

The following are the fees that need to be paid during the application/renewal of the North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permits (CHP):

Initial Permit, 5 years validity

$90.00 (price varies by county)

Renewals, 5 years validity

$75.00 (price varies by county)

North Carolina CCW Gun Laws

Vehicle Carry


A person without a CCW permit can carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle if it is not concealed and visible, and they have no felony convictions. This means that as long as the handgun can be readily seen by a person approaching and the gun is readily accessible. That being said, carrying the gun under the front seat or in an unlocked glove box or console is illegal.

Must Notify Officer


North Carolina gun laws states you have to inform an approaching law enforcement officer for official businesses that you are carrying a firearm. You are required to carry your permit at all times during which the license holder is in actual possession of a concealed handgun.

The Law:

Open Carry


Open carry in North Carolina is legal and accepted. However, be aware that it is illegal to carry a handgun in sites listed as Off-Limits and other regulated sites.

The Law:
160A-189 – Firearms
153A-129 – Firearms

Constitutional Carry


North Carolina does not have constitutional carry yet. In 2017 a bill to introduce permit-less carry passed the lower stages of the house so we are still waiting to see if it actually becomes law.

Purchase and Possession


A permit or license is not required to purchase any rifle or shotgun in the state of North Carolina. Residents of the state may purchase these firearms in states contiguous with North Carolina.

A license is required to purchase, sell, transfer, inherit, or receive a handgun and may be obtained by application to the county sheriff for the area in which the recipient resides or where the transaction takes place. A license or permit shall be valid for a period of five years to county residents in the state of North Carolina. Antique firearms shall be exempt from this requirement. A permit or license may be issued to a nonresident if he/she is a collector of firearms.

A permit or license shall be issued to an applicant if the sheriff has determined that he/she is of good moral character, has successfully passed a criminal background check, and can show good cause for desiring to carry a handgun including for self protection or protection of family, the home, business, or property, or for purposes of target shooting, hunting, or collecting.

A license or permit may be denied based on the reason (the applicant supplied) for the necessity of a handgun and he/she shall be notified in writing with the reason for denial, within seven days. An application for a license or permit shall be granted or denied within 30 days of application. If an application is approved, the license or permit shall be issued immediately. No permit or license shall be issued to any individual:

  • currently under indictment for a felony or who has been previously convicted of a felony, unless he/she has been pardoned and had his/her rights restored to allow the purchase of a firearm under the Felony Act;
  • who is a fugitive from justice; 
  • who is a drug addict or a user of an illegal drug;
  • who has been determined to be mentally incompetent or who has been confined to a mental health facility;
  • who has received a dishonorable discharge from the military;
  • who has renounced his/her United States citizenship;

who is under an order of protection for the harassment, stalking, or threatening of a child or an intimate partner.

Appeals for the denial of a permit or license may be made to the Chief Judge of the District Court where the application was made.

A permit to purchase a handgun shall be valid for only one handgun. Additional handguns require separate permits for which an applicant must obtain. A strong case must be made to the issuing authority for additional handguns.


Possession of a rifle, shotgun, or handgun is not regulated by the state.

It is illegal to possess or carry a handgun if under the age of 18. Exceptions include military personnel while in the course of their duties, for any educational or recreational purpose under adult supervision, or any minor who is emancipated and in his/her own residence, or engaged in hunting or trapping with permission in writing from a parent or guardian.

Unless under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, a minor under the age of 12 may not possess or use any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded.

Carrying a Firearm

It is illegal to carry a concealed firearm on or about the person unless at one’s residence or on property owned by him/her or in possession of a concealed handgun permit. A permit shall be issued by a sheriff within 90 days of application to an individual who:

has been a resident of the state of North Carolina for at least 90 days prior to application, and is a United States citizen;

has no medical condition, whether physical or mental, which may inhibit him/her from handling a handgun safely;

  • can provide proof of successful completion of a safety and training course including instruction in concealed carry and use of deadly force, concealed carry laws and regulations, and the firing of handguns;
  • has not been determined to be mentally impaired or mentally ill by any judge;
  • has not been convicted for any violent misdemeanor, or has received a suspended sentence for such;
  • has not been charged with any offense that would disqualify him/her from eligibility for a permit to carry, or is currently on bond, or has been released pending any trial or sentence for such an offense;
  • does not have a conviction for driving while impaired in the past three years;

may not legally possess, receive, own, or receive any firearm, under federal or state law. 

The sheriff of the county for which the applicant resides shall receive the application (on a form provided by the sheriff and under oath) for a permit to carry concealed, accompanied by a full set of fingerprints, a certificate of completion of a safety course approved by the sheriff’s office, a release authorizing any mental health documentation to be examined, a non-refundable fee of $80.00, and a $10.00 fee for fingerprint processing. Any individual carrying a concealed handgun must have the carry permit on his/her person at all times while carrying, and display such permit to law enforcement personnel when requested to do so.

The permit is valid throughout the state for five years from the date of issue.  The county sheriff shall notify permit or license holders in writing, within 45 days of expiration. The notice will be sent first class to the licensee’s residence. If a licensee does not receive written notice of renewal, he/she is still responsible for renewing the permit or license. If the licensee applies for renewal within 90 days prior to expiration, the permit or license shall remain valid past the expiration date, until further notice of either a renewal or denial from the sheriff.

A sheriff has the right to waive any requirement for attendance of a firearms safety course provided the licensee applies for renewal within 60 days after expiration. Thirty days prior to expiration, permit holders shall apply for renewal by completing a renewal form, and including an affidavit that has been notarized attesting to the applicant’s eligibility for a permit, along with a full set of fingerprints, and $75.00 for renewal.

An individual in possession of a concealed handgun permit shall notify the sheriff within 30 days of any address change. Any permit that has been lost or stolen must be reported to the issuing sheriff. 

Reasons for denial, revocation, or nonrenewal of a permit must be provided in writing within 90 days of the decision and can be appealed by petitioning a district court judge for the district where the application was filed.

The court’s decision shall be final on the matter. A temporary emergency permit may be issued by the sheriff if he/she determines that an individual is at risk and requires a handgun to protect self, family, or property. A temporary permit does not qualify for renewal and is subject to revocation by the sheriff at any time without a hearing.

A concealed handgun permit shall not be valid and does not allow for carry:

  • on any school grounds, whether public or private;

  • where admission is charged in an assembly of people;
  • in an area or business where alcohol is sold for consumption on the premises; on the grounds or within, the Governor’s Western Residence, The Executive Mansion, or the State Capitol Building;
  • in any courthouse or facility used for court;
  • in any federally prohibited location;
  • in any house of corrections or law enforcement facility;
  • in a facility or building where government offices are housed exclusively;
  • in any bank or financial institution;
  • on any premises conspicuously posted that prohibits the concealed carry of a handgun;
  • in a public place regulated by the state or a political subdivision or any political subdivision, while engaged in any parade activity, a funeral procession, or any demonstration or picket activity;

The Governor of the state of North Carolina may restrict firearms in situations where a state of emergency has been declared, or when it is dangerous to possess firearms off of one’s own property, such as in cases of rioting.

Antiques & Replicas

Any antique firearm shall be exempt from restrictions involving the purchase of firearms.

Machine Guns

It is illegal to manufacture, give, sell, or possess a machine gun or frame, receiver or parts used for conversion to a machine gun. Under North Carolina state law, a machine gun may be possessed if a permit is obtained from the sheriff to do so. Regardless of federal law, the right to possess a machine gun is not guaranteed, and solely based on the sheriff’s decision.

Range Protection

No shooting range shall be civilly, or criminally prosecuted for issues arising from nuisance, noise, or noise pollution.

§ 14-409.45. Definitions

The following definitions apply in this Article:

(1) Person.--An individual, proprietorship, partnership, corporation, club, or other legal entity.

(2) Sport shooting range or range.--An area designed and operated for the use of rifles, shotguns, pistols, silhouettes, skeet, trap, black powder, or any other similar sport shooting.

(3) Substantial change in use.--The current primary use of the range no longer represents the activity previously engaged in at the range.

§ 14-409.46. Sport shooting range protection

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person who owns, operates, or uses a sport shooting range in this State shall not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article and the range was in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time the range began operation.

(b) A person who owns, operates, or uses a sport shooting range is not subject to an action for nuisance on the basis of noise or noise pollution, and a State court shall not enjoin the use or operation of a range on the basis of noise or noise pollution, if the range was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article and the range was in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time the range began operation.

(c) Rules adopted by any State department or agency for limiting levels of noise in terms of decibel level that may occur in the outdoor atmosphere shall not apply to a sport shooting range exempted from liability under this Article.

(d) A person who acquires title to real property adversely affected by the use of property with a permanently located and improved sport shooting range constructed and initially operated prior to the time the person acquires title shall not maintain a nuisance action on the basis of noise or noise pollution against the person who owns the range to restrain, enjoin, or impede the use of the range. If there is a substantial change in use of the range after the person acquires title, the person may maintain a nuisance action if the action is brought within one year of the date of a substantial change in use. This section does not prohibit actions for negligence or recklessness in the operation of the range or by a person using the range. 

(e) A sport shooting range that is operated and is not in violation of existing law at the time of the enactment of an ordinance and was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article, shall be permitted to continue in operation even if the operation of the sport shooting range at a later date does not conform to the new ordinance or an amendment to an existing ordinance, provided there has been no substantial change in use.

§ 14-409.47. Application of Article

Except as otherwise provided in this Article, this Article does not prohibit a local government from regulating the location and construction of a sport shooting range after the effective date of this Article.

North Carolina Concealed Carry Reciprocity

North Carolina's Reciprocity States

States that will honor a North Carolina ccw permit

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

North Carolina honors these state ccw permits

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Districts & Territories
District of Columbia, New York City, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

States that will not accept a North Carolina ccw permit

California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island

Places where you CAN’T carry in North Carolina

  • Law enforcement office or facility
  • Detention or correctional facility
  • A building or part of building housing in which there are state offices.
  • Any public or private school building or bus, campus, grounds, recreation area, athletic fields or other property used or owned by an educational institution.
  • Schools, public or private, all levels including universities. Gun can remain locked in vehicle, if you have a permit.
  • A curricular or extracurricular activity sponsored by a school
  • Any places of assemblies such as a picket line, demonstration, parade or funeral procession. Carry at a parade or funeral is now allowed if you have a permit.
  • On any private premises where notice that carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited
  • State Capitol Building, the Executive Mansion, the Western Residence of the Governor, or on the grounds of any of these buildings
  • Any place alcohol beverages are consumed or sold, - applies to restaurants if posted.
  • Any person consuming alcohol or under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol.
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by Federal Law.

Place where you CAN carry in North Carolina

  • State parks
  • State and national forests
  • Road side rest areas
  • Vehicle
  • Parade (with permit)
  • Funeral (with permit)
  • School campus (with permit) - must remain locked in vehicle, cannot be carried on school grounds.
  • All areas of the state - except those listed as Off-Limits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Concealed carry permits/licenses are issued by the Sheriff of the county the applicant resides in.

It can take up to 45 days to process an application or renewal of a concealed carry permit in North Carolina.

You have the right to appeal the denial of the license to the District Court.

Section 14-415.15(c) states that any person denied a CCW permit has the right to appeal the decision. The appeal must be in written format and filed with the District Court citing the reasons for the appeal. In general, appeals are considered without a hearing with the decision being sent to the appellant in writing.

Permits to purchase a handgun are issued by the sheriff in your county. You can only apply for a permit in your county off residence.

Only machine guns are required to be registered.

Yes, under statute 14-404 a person not residing in the county of application can get a Pistol Purchase Permit but it is limited to collecting firearms.

North Carolina Off Limit Statues

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the Commissioner of Agriculture is authorized to prohibit the carrying of firearms in any manner on the State Fairgrounds during the period of time each year that the State Fair is conducted.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, any prohibition under this section shall not apply to the following persons:

(1) Any person exempted by G.S. 14-269(b)(1), (2), (3), (4), or (5).

(2) Any person who has a concealed handgun permit that is valid under Article 54B of this Chapter [Chapter 14 of the General Statutes], or who is exempt from obtaining a permit pursuant to that Article, who has a handgun in a closed compartment or container within the person's locked vehicle or in a locked container securely affixed to the person's vehicle. A person may unlock the vehicle to enter or exit the vehicle provided the firearm remains in the closed compartment at all times and the vehicle is locked immediately following the entrance or exit.

(2015-195, s. 4(a).)

(a) It is the intent of the General Assembly to prescribe a uniform system for the regulation of legally carrying a concealed handgun. To insure uniformity, no political subdivisions, boards, or agencies of the State nor any county, city, municipality, municipal corporation, town, township, village, nor any department or agency thereof, may enact ordinances, rules, or regulations concerning legally carrying a concealed handgun. A unit of local government may adopt an ordinance to permit the posting of a prohibition against
carrying a concealed handgun, in accordance with G.S. 14-415.11(c), on local government buildings and their appurtenant premises.

(b) A unit of local government may adopt an ordinance to prohibit, by posting, the carrying of a concealed handgun on municipal and county recreational facilities that are specifically identified by the unit of local government. If a unit of local government adopts such an ordinance with regard to recreational facilities, then the concealed handgun permittee may, nevertheless, secure the handgun in a locked vehicle within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or area within or on the motor vehicle. 

(c) For purposes of this section, the term "recreational facilities" includes only the following:

 (1) An athletic field, including any appurtenant facilities such as restrooms, during an organized athletic event if the field had been scheduled for use with the municipality or county office responsible for operation of the park or recreational area.
 (2) A swimming pool, including any appurtenant facilities used for dressing, storage of personal items, or other uses relating to the swimming pool.
 (3) A facility used for athletic events, including, but not limited to, a gymnasium.

(d) For the purposes of this section, the term "recreational facilities" does not include any greenway, designated biking or walking path, an area that is customarily used as a walkway or bike path although not specifically designated for such use, open areas or fields where athletic events may occur unless the area qualifies as an "athletic field" pursuant to subdivision (1) of subsection (c) of this section, and any other area that is not specifically described in subsection (c) of this section."

(e) A person adversely affected by any ordinance, rule, or regulation promulgated or caused to be enforced by any unit of local government in violation of this section may bring an action for declaratory and injunctive relief and for actual damages arising from the violation. The court shall award the prevailing party in an action brought under this subsection reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs as authorized by law.

s. 6; 2015-195, s. 15.)

Notwithstanding G.S. 14-415.11(c), any of the following persons who has a concealed handgun permit issued pursuant to this Article or that is considered valid under G.S. 14-415.24 is not subject to the area prohibitions set out in G.S. 14-415.11(c) and may carry a concealed handgun in the areas listed in G.S. 14-415.11(c) unless otherwise prohibited by federal law:

(1) A district attorney.

(2) An assistant district attorney.

(3) An investigator employed by the office of a district attorney.

(4) A North Carolina district or superior court judge.

(5) A magistrate.

(6) A person who is elected and serving as a clerk of court.

(7) A person who is elected and serving as a register of deeds."

(8) A person employed by the Department of Public Safety who has been designated in writing by the Secretary of the Department and who has in the person's possession written proof of the designation.

(9) A North Carolina administrative law judge.

2015-195, s. 1(c).)

On State-owned game lands, and all other lands unless prohibited by the landowner, persons may lawfully carry any firearm openly that they are otherwise lawfully entitled to possess, and may also carry a concealed handgun if they possess a current and valid concealed handgun permit issued to them. However, persons may not hunt with any firearm being carried unless such firearm is authorized as a lawful method of take for that open season. The exempted game lands where concealed carry is prohibited are:

  • Buckhorn
  • Harris
  • Sutton Lake
  • Mayo
  • Hyco
  • Lee
  • Chatham 
  • Pee Dee, area north of U.S. 74
  • Butner-Falls
  • Jordan
  • Vance
  • Kerr Scott
  • Dupont
  • Bladen Lakes
  • Wayne Bailey-Caswell, area north of U.S. 158 and east of N.C. 119