Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is a license required to carry a concealed handgun in West Virginia?
A: No, CHLs are optional, so long as the person is at least 21 years of age or older, is not prohibited from possessing a firearm, and is a United States citizen or legal resident thereof. Persons between18 and21 years of age must obtain a provisional CHL to lawfully carry a concealed handgun without some other lawful authorization.
Additional exemptions from the state’s licensing requirements are set forth in W. Va. Code § 61-7-6, which is contained on pages 7-8 of this booklet.
Q. Is there any benefit to obtaining an optional CHL if I am not required to do so?
A: Yes, as a valid optional CHL will allow you to lawfully carry a handgun in any state which honors or recognizes West Virginia CHLs. In addition, a valid optional West Virginia CHL qualifies as an alternative to the NICS background check when purchasing a firearm as set forth on page 12 of this booklet. Finally, persons with valid West Virginia CHLs are permitted to possess a concealed firearm in a locked motor vehicle in the Capitol Complex and in certain municipal areas requiring a CHL, if applicable.
Q. Will my provisional CHL be recognized by other states?
A. The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office will work to seek recognition for provisional CHLs. However, it may be that many states will require the license holder to be 21 years of age or older for recognition. Unless you are certain you are lawfully authorized to carry a handgun in another state, you should refrain from doing so.
Q: How long is a concealed handgun license valid?
A: Optional CHLs are valid for five years from the date of issuance, unless revoked prior to that, and are valid throughout the state during the five-year period. The provisional CHL is valid throughout the state until the licensee turns 21 years of age, unless sooner revoked.
Q: What do I do when my optional concealed handgun license has expired?
A: If you wish to renew your optional CHL, you may apply to the sheriff in your county of residence and pay the applicable fees. Provided all licensure requirements are met, the sheriff will issue you a new license. The training course requirements are waived for renewal applicants who previously qualified.
Q: Can my license be revoked?
A: Your license will be revoked if you violate or become unable to meet any of the licensing application requirements. You must immediately surrender your license to the issuing sheriff when you become ineligible for continued licensure.
Q: What should I do if my license is lost or destroyed?
A: You may obtain a duplicate or substitute license for a fee of $5.00 by filing a notarized statement with the issuing sheriff indicating that your license has been lost or destroyed.
Q: Where can I apply for a concealed handgun license?
A: At the office of the sheriff in your county of residence. A list of sheriffs’ offices is in this booklet.
Q: How much does a license cost?
A: For an optional CHL for persons 21 years of age or older, the cost is $75.00 and is paid to the sheriff at the time you apply. If your application is approved, you pay an additional $25.00 prior to issuance of the license for the State Police background check. Those fees are reduced to $25 to the sheriff and $15 to the State Police for Provisional CHLs.
Q: What are the training requirements to obtain a license?
A: Before filing your CHL application, you must present evidence that you have successfully completed one of the following training courses:
1) Any “NRA” (National Rifle Association) handgun safety or training course;
2) Any handgun safety or training course available to the public through an official law enforcement organization or an educational institution;
3) Any handgun safety or training course conducted by an instructor certified by the State or by the NRA; or
4) Any handgun safety or training course conducted by the U.S. military, reserves, or National Guard.
An applicant must present a photocopy of a certificate of course completion, an affidavit from the instructor, or some other document which verifies successful training course completion in order to obtain a CHL. The document shall include the instructor’s name, signature and NRA or state instructor identification number, if applicable.
Q: Is live fire of a handgun required for completion of my training?
A: Yes, in order to satisfy the handgun safety and training course requirement, proof of actual live firing of ammunition by the applicant is required.
Q: Do West Virginia CHLs qualify as an alternative to a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check under the Brady law, 18 U.S.C. Section 922(t)?
A: Optional CHLs issued on or after June 4, 2014 qualify as an alternative to a NICS Background Check. Provisional CHLs will not qualify, and will be clearly marked that the provisional CHL is not NICS exempt.