This is not meant to represent what needs to be done in all states or that it is 100% correct, as the process is constantly evolving with State and Federal changes. This is meant to give an example of the steps to be taken to obtain your pistol permit in NYS and give general guidance.



Have you been thinking of applying for a concealed carry pistol permit? If so, you’re not alone. The last year has seen a noticeable rise in the number of pistol permit applications submitted in New York State. The trifecta of a pandemic, unemployment and political unrest has convinced many people to move from “I’d consider that” to “I would definitely feel more comfortable if I did.”

The steps to applying for a pistol permit in New York State are fairly straightforward, but, as they say, the devil is in the details. Meaning, you need to make sure you’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s, because mistakes or omissions will make the process take a lot longer.

There are three types of pistol permits that can be issued in New York State (outside of NYC, which has its own laws): possess on premises, a restricted permit limited to target and hunting only, and unrestricted concealed carry.

  • A Possess on Premises permit is often issued to small business owners or homeowners and must be kept at that location. You can’t drive it back and forth between the two.
  • A permit limited to hunting and target shooting only does just that: it allows the bearer to transport and use their pistol for those two purposes and those two purposes only.
  • A permit to carry concealed unrestricted allows you to carry your pistol with you, as long as it is holstered and not obviously visible.



Step 1: Take a NYS Pistol Permit Class

Before you can even apply for a pistol permit, you need to complete a Firearms Safety Class from a NYS certified instructor. Proof of this completion must be submitted with your application.

It’s important to do your research before signing up for a class. Be cautious about signing up with an instructor whose main purpose is to give you the bare minimum of information just so you can check the box and buy a gun. Your instructor should also provide assistance with filling out the applications and answering any questions you may have even after the class is over.

Remember, you’re taking on significant responsibility when you become a firearms owner. Understanding the guidelines about when you can and cannot discharge your firearm, and knowing how to carry concealed safely, are crucial to the safety of you and those around you. A reputable instructor will make sure you’re comfortable with these potentially new concepts.

As an added bonus, judges know which instructors have a reliable reputation, and that often speaks in your favor when they review your application.

In Western New York, you may want to reach out to Firearms Training of WNY. Find out more about them here.


Step 2: Have your fingerprints taken

Fingerprinting must be done prior to submitting your application. The timing is rather specific: your fingerprinting must be done at least 48 hours prior to your appointment and/or the submittal of your application but no more than 30 days beforehand.

In New York State, the fingerprinting process is managed by a service called IdentoGO.

To be fingerprinted by IdentoGO you must make an appointment by telephone (877- 472-6915) or online at https://uenroll.identogo.com/workflows/151Z1G.  – This is ERie County only, may want to expand out to other counties.

You’ll need the following information:

Service code: 151Z1G ORI# NY931040Z

Reason: Pistols

You’ll need to provide your name exactly as it appears on your New York State Driver’s License or Non-Driver ID and arrive at the fingerprinting location at your scheduled time.

Step 3: Select your references

Both the state and the county require you to submit character references. The county in which you reside will have specific guidelines about whom you may choose. For example, they may have to live in a specific county or town and you may need to have known them for a minimum number of years. They generally cannot be family members or related individuals such as boyfriends or girlfriends.

Be very selective when choosing your character references. In essence, the interviewing officer and the judge will want to understand the type of people you spend time with. Make sure your references are respectable upstanding citizens themselves; do not select anyone with a criminal history as that will complicate and lengthen the approval process for you.

Steps 4 and 5: Fill out both applications (state + county)


To complete the State of New York Pistol/Revolver License Application (PPB3), you will need to provide your:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Address
  • Physical Description
  • Criminal History
  • Mental Health History
  • Character References (4)
  • Some form of identification

Make sure you get your application notarized by a Notary Public or Commissioner of Deeds on the back where it says under “Jurat.”



Each county within New York State has its own application.

For example, to fill out the PPA-4R application in Erie County you’ll need:

  • Your notarized NYS PPB-3, with four (4) references, signed by all references
  • Proof of citizenship and/or immigration document(s) (if you weren’t born in the US)
  • Copy of your NYS Drivers License or Non-Drivers ID
  • Copy of your social security card or W-2 (with full social security number)
  • Fingerprint
  • Your photo*
  • 4 references (must be the same four you listed on the PPB-3.)
  • Additional documents required if you’re applying for a Business Protection Permit
  • If applicable, a Certificate of Dispositions for ALL arrests including SEALED cases and DWI (except traffic infractions)

*Note: The photo may be taken anywhere passport photos are taken or at the Erie County Clerk’s Administrative Office for $10.00. It should be 2” x 2” and can be either black & white or color. They will not accept a selfie or an amateur photo; it needs to be from an approved source.  Remember to print your name on the back.

Here’s a link to all of the counties in New York State. From there you’ll be able to find the information specific to you.

Step 6: Submit your application to the County Clerk

Pick up your application packet by visiting your county’s Pistol Permit Office, requesting one be mailed to you or downloading the paperwork from the county’s website.

Applications usually have to be submitted in person, however, due to COVID-19, many locales have temporarily suspended in-person pistol permit services and are offering mail-in service instead.

Be sure to double-check the “what to bring” checklist for your county before submitting your paperwork.


Step 7: The Interview Process

Once it’s been received, your application will be assigned to a law enforcement officer. The officer will conduct extensive background checks on you and all of your references. You’ll also be interviewed. Sometimes the interview is conducted over the phone, sometimes you’re asked to visit their office, and sometimes they’ll come visit you.

This goes for your references as well. Be sure to follow up with each of them. If they miss the law enforcement representative’s call, make sure they call back right away so your application doesn’t get displaced to the bottom of the pile!

Step 8: The Review Process

After the background checks are complete, your application goes to the Pistol Permit Office. They’ll check to be sure all the paperwork is in order and all the steps have been completed.

And now your application moves on to the judge. The judge will review all the submitted information, background checks and personal interviews. This is an important step because ultimately, the judge is responsible for determining whether you can safely carry a gun.

Step 9: You’ve been approved! 

Once a permit has been approved by the Licensing Judge, you will receive your permit in the mail.


In the same way you were thoughtful about selecting your Firearms Safety Class instructor, you also need to be selective in finding a gun shop. You’ve probably been researching different types of handguns online, or getting suggestions from friends. Be aware that what’s perfect for one person may not be perfect for you. Find a gun store that will work with you and your needs to match you with the perfect firearm. You don’t want a dealer that’s just interested in selling what’s in inventory or what’s on sale.

The first thing the dealer should do is to ask a lot of questions about how and why you’re planning to use your gun. First and foremost is the application: will you be using it for hunting? business protection? concealed carry?

As you consider various models, the dealer should help you determine:

  • Can you shoot it? Make sure it’s not too awkward or cumbersome for you.
  • Can you hide it? If you wear slim-fitting athletic pants a bulky revolver will be tough to conceal.
  • How strong is the revolver kickback? You need to be prepared.
  • How’s the grip? Avoid having to overreach.
  • Can you fit your fingers in comfortably?
  • Can you access it quickly? Fumbling around to access your gun won’t be of much help.
  • How are you going to carry your gun?
  • Do you usually wear a belt?
  • How does it feel in your hand?
  • Do you have any medical issues or aches & pains that need to be considered?

Reach out to local gun clubs. Some of them will let you try out several guns to be sure you find the best one for your needs.

The most important thing when selecting your first handgun is to feel like you can carry concealed responsibly. You absolutely don’t want to feel obvious or uncomfortable.

For more details on choosing the right handgun, check out our other resources here and here.


Here are the most important things to keep in mind when applying for a pistol permit for concealed carry, and then purchasing your first gun:

Pay attention to all of the details during the application process. Remember, any mistakes or omissions will make the process take a lot longer.

  1. Be sure to choose a reputable Firearms Safety Class NYS certified instructor. This will help you carry safely and get approved more quickly.
  2. Choose your references wisely. Someone with a criminal record or sketchy past won’t be of much help to you during the investigation phase.
  3. Make sure your references follow up with any missed calls. The assigned law enforcement official has a lot on his or her plate and won’t have time to keep calling back.
  4. Take your time and make a thoughtful decision before purchasing that first gun. Find a gun shop that sincerely wants to find the perfect gun for your needs.
  5. Recognize the importance of responsibly carrying a concealed weapon. It’s an important privilege and needs to be treated as such.


  1. Thankyou so much for this information. I needed a step by step breakdown of how to get my pistol permit and this explains everything. I greatly appreciate your efforts

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