In the Netherlands, the possession of all firearms, ammunition, and other weapons is prohibited. It is also forbidden to use weapons. There are some exceptions, for instance to trade in weapons and ammunition or if you practice shooting sports. In such cases you will still need a weapon licence.
Prohibited weapons (in Dutch) are divided into 4 categories in the Arms and Ammunition act (Wet wapens en munitie, in Dutch), which contain among others:
- Category I: such as knives, arrows, fake weapons (in Dutch), realistic-looking toys (toy weapons with a CE marking for children under 14 years of age are allowed), and more
- Category II: most types of firearms, tasers, pepperspray, and more
- Category III: throwing knives, firearms not covered in Cat. II, alarmpistols, and more
- Category IV: bayonets, swords, batons, crossbows, and more
There are separate rules (in Dutch) for airsoft weapons (spring-, gas-, or air-powered weapons). For 'category IV weapons', such as swords, rapiers, certain airguns, harpoons, and crossbows different rules apply as well (in Dutch). Adults may own category IV weapons, but certain acts are prohibited. For instance, you may not carry these on you on public roads.
Do you want to own or trade in weapons and ammunition? For instance, if you are a hunter or sport shooter. You need a weapons licence. There are different types of licences:
- recognition (in Dutch)
- consent (in Dutch)
- authorisation (in Dutch)
- dispensation (in Dutch)
You need recognition if you intend to use weapons for commercial purposes Recognition is a licence to handle weapons commercially, for example to sell, rent, or repair a weapon. You can apply for recognition with the chief constable of the police force in your police region (in Dutch).
Consent or export licence
You need consent or an export licence if you intend to import, export, or transit weapons. You can apply for consentor an export licence from the Central Import and Export Office (Centrale Dienst voor In- en Uitvoer, CDIU).
Authorisation or hunting licence
You need authorisation, for example, to have or transport a weapon or ammunition. You need this type of licence if you practice shooting sports. There are two types of authorisation for the shooting sports:
- a private weapons licence (for individuals)
- an association licence (for shooting clubs)
You are not allowed to hunt if you have a valid hunting licence. You can apply for any type of authorisation or a hunting licence with the chief constable of the police force in your police region (in Dutch).
Do you need a dispensation? A dispensation is an individual exception to a statutory prohibition, in this case the Arms and Ammunition Act. For example, a dispensation for a weapon to re-enact historical battles. You can apply for dispensation to own a weapon from Justis (Ministry of Justice and Security, in Dutch).
How to apply for a weapons licence
Do you want to apply for a weapons licence? You must meet the conditions, which depend, among others, on the type of weapon you are applying for (in Dutch). You should always have a reasonable interest in owning a weapon. For example, you need a stun gun for your job to sedate animals.
To apply for a weapons licence, you must go through the following steps:
- You must submit your application in person to the Chief of Police in your police region (in Dutch).
- You must also complete a WM32 enquiry form and verify that you are trustworthy and mentally stable (in Dutch).
- You must provide 3 references from whom the police can request information.
- You have to make sure you have a safe storage facility for your weapon(s). The police will check this on site.
- If the weapons licence is granted, you must collect it in person with the police.
Biological weapons are prohibited in the Netherlands. No company may develop, manufacture, stock, procure, or possess biological weapons.
Online application via Message Box
You can apply for a licence for weapons and ammunition with the Dutch Police, Justis or the CDIU (Dutch Tax and Customs Administration) via Message Box. Message Box is a secure e-mail system that enables entrepreneurs to exchange digital messages with Dutch government agencies.