The UK takes a step back from stricter domestic measures for visiting hunters



The European Firearms Pass (EFP), introduced in the 1991 EU Firearms Directive after a proposal by FACE to the rapporteur at the time in the European Parliament, is one of the rare EU initiatives that could truly be considered positive for hunting and hunters. It has become over time, a kind of passport considerably facilitating the free movement of hunters and sport shooters within the EU (and even beyond that given that both Norway and Switzerland have accepted the use of this document).

Three Member States however – Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom – have still not fully recognised the EFP. They continue to require the use of an additional document to be issued in advance for each visiting hunter and sport shooter to their respective territory – a document for which the visitor does not only have to pay (relatively expensively) but also, in the case of Ireland and until recently the UK, submit in advance for the special permit application the original of the EFP (entailing the risk of having this official document lost in the post and moreover preventing the hunter from going to another country during the period where these two countries’ authorities keep the EFP for their application process).

FACE has persistently objected against this through interventions before delegations and officials from the three countries applying these stricter measures, but also by drawing the attention of the European Commission to the problem (notably via Parliamentary questions). FACE believes that these practices are incompatible with the very objective of the Firearms Directive, namely, to facilitate the free movement of people, in this case hunters and sport shooters, within the internal market. Moreover they add nothing to public security and complicate unnecessarily the life of law-abiding hunters and sport shooters travelling to these countries.

It now seems our message has been listened to in the UK – at least in part. Although still requiring a special police issued British Visitors Permit in addition to the original EFP on arrival at a UK port before entry is permitted, the British Home Office has recently changedthe UK Firearms Act of 1988 in such a way as to allow from 1 October 2011 the production of a copy of the EFP as an alternative to sending the original when applying for this British Visitors Permit for travelling to England, Wales and Scotland (the change will not extend to Northern Ireland). We are hoping that this change will eventually be followed by a complete abrogation of the stricter measures, including the requirement of a special visitors permit, in the three countries and that the EFP will finally be fully recognised by all Member States of the EU.