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Note: The processes listed below apply to the majority of people. If you are active-duty military, honorably discharged military, law enforcement, or retired law enforcement, the processes below may be slightly different (easier) when applying for a concealed carry permit.
Types of Concealed Carry Permits
Note: Washington sometimes refers to their concealed carry permit as a concealed pistol license(CPL).
1) Residents & Non-Residents
- Must be a minimum of 21 years old to apply
- Must be a U.S citizen
- Valid for 5 years
- Costs $48 (+$Fingerprinting fees)
Note: Any resident or non-resident that is 21 years old and can legally possess a handgun may open carry. No permit is required in this case.
Is it Required to Carry Concealed?
No – you may open carry or carry concealed with a concealed pistol license.
May Issue or Shall Issue?
Washington is a shall issue state, meaning the law states that they shall issue a permit if you meet all requirements.
Process to Apply
Follow these instructions to determine where you can apply for a WA concealed pistol license as a resident
- If you live in an unincorporated area of a county: apply at your county sheriff’s office.
- If you live in an incorporated city or town: apply at your city/town’s police department or your county sheriff’s office.
- Call the law enforcement agency you’ll be applying with (determined above) to check that they provide fingerprinting services for concealed pistol license applications. If they don’t, you should be able to get a complete set of fingerprints taken at another local law enforcement agency.
- Bring the following items to the location determined above to complete the application process:
- A copy of your WA state issued I.D. or driver’s license.
- Application fee: A check or money order for $48 made payable to the law enforcement agency you’re applying to. They will also accept cash or debit/credit cards in person.
- Fingerprint fee: This fee varies depending on the law enforcement agency you’re applying with, but should be minimal.
- After submitting these items and completing the application, the law enforcement agency will take a complete set of fingerprints. These will be used to conduct your criminal background investigation.
After these steps are completed, the department processing the application is legally required to inform you in 60 days or less whether the permit has been approved or denied. A denial, whether it be for a new issue or a renewal, may be appealed.
To get a WA concealed pistol license as a non-resident, you can apply at any Washington law enforcement agency. Once you choose an agency, the application process is the same as above.
Reasons an Applicant Won’t Be Approved
If the applicant meets any of the following conditions, his/her application is almost guaranteed to be denied:
- You are illegally in the United States.
- You’ve been convicted of a felony.
- You’ve been convicted of a violent crime, including domestic violence.
- You’ve been convicted of a crime punishable by a prison term greater than 1 year.
- You’ve been convicted of an offense involving narcotics or a controlled substance in the last 3 years.
- You are subject to a restraining order or other similar court order.
- You are a drug addict, habitual drunkard, an unlawful user of any controlled substance, or are determined to be of unsound mind.
- You have a mental illness.
- You’ve received voluntary or involuntary treatment in a psychiatric hospital, mental institution, or similar treatment facility for any reason.
- You are a fugitive from justice.
- You’ve been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces.
- You are subject to a firearms seizure order.
Location Restrictions for Carrying
It is unlawful to carry a handgun, even if you have a concealed carry permit, in the following locations:
- Federal buildings.
- Federal prisons.
- In any facility owned or operated by the office of administrative hearings, including rooms where the office of administrative hearings is conducting an administrative hearing.
- Courthouses, or any building or room connected to court proceedings.
- Jails, prisons, detention facilities, or other correctional facilities.
- Law enforcement facilities, or any facility used for the confinement of a person.
- Indian reservations.
- On any horse racing association grounds.
- At any outdoor music festival.
- Post offices.
- Public mental health facilities certified by the state Department of Social and Health Services.
- Any state institution for the care of mentally ill patients.
- Military bases.
- School grounds, including some colleges and universities.
- In all facilities of the Washington State School for the Blind and the Washington State School for the Deaf.
- Child-care facilities.
- Passed the security checkpoint at airports.
- Bars, or any portion of an establishment that is off-limits to those under 21 years of age.
- Anywhere you decide to consume alcohol. You cannot carry a firearm if you consume any alcohol.
Transporting a Handgun Through & Throughout WA
With a Concealed Carry Permit
If you have a WA or WA recognized concealed carry permit, you may transport a handgun in a vehicle while it is loaded and on your person.
Without a Concealed Carry Permit
If you do not possess a WA or WA recognized concealed carry permit, you must abide by the following guidelines when transporting a handgun through (from another state into WA) and throughout (within WA) the state:
- You must legally possess the firearm.
- The handgun must be unloaded.
- The handgun must be secured in a container or compartment.
- If you leave the vehicle and leave the handgun in the vehicle, the handgun must be locked inside and concealed from plain view.
Alternatively, you may carry an open, unloaded handgun in a holster on your person in your vehicle. The magazine must be completely removed.
Additional Notes About WA Handgun Law
Does WA Law Incorporate Stand Your Ground?
The Stand Your Ground law permits you to use force, and not retreat, when faced with a threat. Stand Your Ground protects your use of force, even deadly force, when used to protect yourself or others if you reasonably believe there is an imminent threat of serious harm or death. To be protected under Stand Your Ground, you must be in a place where you have the lawful right to be.
WA law doesn’t specifically have a stand your ground law, but if you are attacked you have no duty to retreat.
Does WA Law Incorporate the Castle Doctrine?
The Castle Doctrine is similar to Stand Your Ground. The Castle Doctrine permits you to use force (even deadly force), and not retreat, when you’re in your own home. This again assumes you reasonably believe there is an imminent threat of serious harm or death on yourself or others in your home.
This ‘castle’ is sometimes broadened to cover you when you’re in your yard, car, etc. Each state’s Castle Doctrine law is written differently – consult your state’s law to confirm if your state extends the meaning of a ‘castle’ to cover more than just your home.
Reciprocity – What State Permits Does WA Recognize?
WA recognizes the following states’ concealed carry permits, so long as the permit was issued to someone 21 years of age or older:
Reciprocity – Where is the WA Permit Recognized?
The WA concealed pistol license is recognized in the following states: