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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
- Must be a minimum of 21 years old to apply
- Must reside in Wisconsin
- Valid for 5 years
- Costs $40 (+$Training Course)
Note: Any resident or non-resident that is 18 years old and can legally possess a firearm may open carry. No permit is required in this case. A permit is required to open carry in a vehicle however.
Is it Required to Carry Concealed?
It Depends On Your City. Certain cities have banned open carry on city property. Some cities, including Denver, have ruled open carry illegal altogether. Check with your local city to be sure.
May Issue or Shall Issue?
Wisconsin is a shall issue state, meaning the law states that they shall issue a permit if you meet all requirements.
Process to Apply
To get a concealed carry permit in Wisconsin, you are required to apply directly to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
- Complete an in person, instructor led handgun training course. The following types of courses are accepted:
- A hunter education program.
- A firearms safety or training course that is conducted by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors.
- A firearms safety or training course that is offered by a law enforcement agency, or at a college or other organization taught by an instructor certified by a national or state organization that certifies firearms instructors.
- A firearms safety or training course offered to law enforcement officers or owners and employees of licensed private detective and security agencies.
- Documentation that the individual completed military, law enforcement, or security training that gave the individual experience with firearms that is substantially equivalent to a course or program mentioned above.
- A current or expired license, or a photocopy of a current or expired license, that the individual holds or has held that indicates that the individual is licensed or has been licensed to carry a firearm in this state or in another state or in a county or municipality of this state or of another state unless the license has been revoked for cause. You must complete form DJ-LE-289 from the DOJ website and include it with a copy of the license.
- Documentation of completion of small arms training while serving in the U.S. armed forces, reserves, or National Guard as demonstrated by an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions.
- Complete an application online here. You’ll need the following items to complete the application:
- A copy of the certificate that proves you completed a WI approved firearms training course.
- Your WI state issued I.D. or driver’s license.
- Application fee: A check or money order for $40 made payable to “Wisconsin Department of Justice“.
- Note: At this time, it doesn’t appear that Wisconsin requires you to submit fingerprints for a background check. Regardless, they will conduct a criminal background check on you after submitting your application.
After these steps are completed, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is legally required to inform you in 21 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.
Reasons an Applicant Won’t Be Approved
Your application is almost guaranteed to be denied if you meet any of the following conditions:
- 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 adjudicated delinquent in the last 20 years for an act that if committed by an adult would be a felony.
- 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.
- Municipal courtrooms.
- Any government buildings – a “no guns” sign should be posted to warn you.
- Federal prisons.
- Jails, prisons, or correctional facilities.
- Police stations, sheriff’s offices, state patrol stations, or the office of a Division of Criminal Investigation special agent of the DOJ.
- Indian reservations.
- Post offices.
- Military bases.
- School property.
- The Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, the Wisconsin Resource Center, or any secured unit or secured portion of a mental health institution.
- Passed the security checkpoint at airports.
- Anywhere you decide to consume alcohol. You cannot carry a firearm if you consume any alcohol.
Transporting a Handgun Through & Throughout WI
With a Concealed Carry Permit
If you have a WI or WI 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 WI or WI recognized concealed carry permit, you are eligible to transport a handgun through (from another state into WI) and throughout (within WI) the state by abiding by the following guidelines:
- You must legally possess the firearm.
- The firearm must be unloaded and secured.
- The firearm (and ammunition) cannot be readily accessible by the driver or any passengers.
- The firearm and the ammunition cannot be stored in the glove compartment or passenger console.
- If the vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the glove compartment, the firearm and ammunition must be stored locked within a compartment/container that is securely affixed to the vehicle’s interior.
Additional Notes About WI Handgun Law
Does WI 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.
Does WI 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 WI Recognize?
WI recognizes the following states’ concealed carry permits, so long as the permit was issued to someone 21 years of age or older:
Read more about WI reciprocity here.
Reciprocity – Where is the WI Permit Recognized?
The WI concealed carry permit is recognized in the following states:
- April 9, 2017 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against the carrying ban imposed by the Madison Metro Transit system. Therefore, this was removed from the Location Restrictions for Carrying section.
- September 1, 2017 – West Virginia now honors the Wisconsin permit – graphic updated.
- April 14, 2018 – Due to a recent supreme court ruling, you now need a WI or WI recognized permit to carry in a vehicle, even openly. Transportation section updated.