Handgun Qualification License

New Features:

  • Enhanced security feature requiring a registreation code to unlock a user account or to recover a forgotten password. Applicants who are not aware of their registration code can find a link on the E-Gov site to request their registration code be sent to the email address associated with their E-Gov account.
  • Qualified Handgun Instructor​ Renewal Process (additional information can be found on the QHI webpage: Qualified Handgun Instructor

As of January 1, 2021, the Maryland State Police Licensing Division has discontinued printing Handgun Qualification Licenses (HQL). All HQL applicants approved on or after January 1, 2021, will receive, via email, a notification that the application has been reviewed and approved.  Approved applications will have the HQL attached to the email. Applicants have the option of printing the HQL if they desire a paper copy of the license.  This paper license, or an electronic copy of the license, must be presented to a dealer or any other person, prior to selling, renting, or transferring a handgun, in accordance with MD Public Safety §5-117.1 and COMAR​


EMAIL: msp.hql@maryland.gov

Unless otherwise exempt, as of October 1, 2013, a Maryland resident must possess a valid Handgun Qualification License before he/she may purchase, rent, or receive a handgun. Details on exemptions may be found below. You do not need a Handgun Qualification License to own a gun you already have. The Handgun Qualification License is only needed for purchasing, transferring, or renting a regulated firearm after October 1, 2013.

Click here to view the full text of the Law

Please Note: Residency exemptions have been made for active military personnel and their spouses.

Q: How do you verify the credentials of current or retired military personnel?

A: Please refer to the following web-page. http://www.cac.mil/uniformed-services-id-card/

Who Should Apply?

A person may not purchase, rent, or receive a handgun after October 1, 2013 unless they possess a valid Handgun Qualification License (HQL) issued by the Maryland State Police or qualify for exemption status.

Exceptions to possession of the HQL License

  1. A Licensed Firearms Manufacturer.
  2. Active law enforcement officer or a person retired in good standing from a law enforcement agency of the United States (Federal Law Enforcement), the State, or a local law enforcement agency of the State.
  3. Active or retired member of the United States Armed Forces or National Guard and possesses a valid military identification card.
  4. A person purchasing, renting or receiving an antique, curio or relic as defined in federal law.
  5. Maryland licensed firearms dealers. (Sole Proprietors)

Required to have the HQL, but exempt from the training component

  1. Someone who completed a firearms safety training course approved by the Secretary of the Department of Maryland State Police.
  2. Has completed a course of instruction in the competency and safety of firearms as prescribed under Natural Resources Article, §10-301.1, Annotated Code of Maryland. Application for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Hunter Safety Course Certificate can be obtained from here and may be used in lieu of Qualified Handgun Instruction.
  3. Is currently a qualified handgun instructor.
  4. Is an honorably discharged member of the armed forces of the United States or National Guard.
  5. Is an employee of an armored car company who has a handgun permit issued by MSP.
  6. ​​Lawfully owns a regulated firearm, you do not have to complete the training to apply for the Handgun Qualification License.

In accordance with the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, individuals who are voluntarily admitted to an inpatient psychiatric facility (either state, private or acute general), for a period of 30 consecutive days or more, or involuntarily certified and retained by an Administrative Law Judge may have to surrender their firearms and will be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm unless an individual is granted relief from firearm disqualification. MDH​ makes available to persons who are prohibited from possessing certain firearms a process to apply for relief from these prohibitions.

How to Apply

The Handgun Qualification License is accessible online through MyLicense. For access, please click HERE.

To apply for an HQL, the law requires a fingerprint based background check. Fingerprints are valid for a 12 months prior to submission of the application.   

More information about the fingerprinting process is available HERE. You cannot submit your application until fingerprinting is completed, unless you already possess a Maryland Wear and Carry Permit.

Within 3 years prior to the submission of an HQL application, an applicant must demonstrate a satisfactory completion of a Firearms Safety Training Course. Qualified Handgun Instructors can be found online HERE. The Firearms Safety Training Course must be instructed by a Qualified Handgun Instructor, and shall consist of a minimum of 4 hours of instruction and include the following minimum curricula:

  1. State Firearm Law. Overview of the State firearm laws, including discussion of what constitutes a regulated firearm, how to properly purchase or transfer a firearm, where allowed to carry or transport a firearm, when necessary to possess a carry permit, who is prohibited from possessing firearms, and state law relating to minors, permissible levels of force, and use of deadly force.
  2. Home Firearm Safety. Overview of handgun and firearm safety in the home, including discussion of access to minors, locking and storing of firearms, and use of safety devices, such as secure lock boxes.
  3. Handgun Mechanisms and Operation. Overview of the proper operation and safe handling of a handgun, including cleaning and maintenance, the loading and unloading of ammunition, and the differences between revolvers and semi-automatic handguns.
  4. Operation and Handling Demonstration. Orientation component that demonstrates the person’s safe operation and handling of a firearm, to include a “live fire” component in which the applicant safely shoots the weapon. An applicant may not be required to fire in excess of 15 yards during qualifications.

How Much Does It Cost?

Acceptable methods of payment include Visa or MasterCard

Original/Initial – $50.00 - Fingerprint Fees not included
Renewal – $20.00 - Fingerprint not required

Replacement/Duplicate - $20.00

Frequently Asked Questions


Below you will find links to PDFs of relevant Maryland statutes, provided for your convenience. Please note that laws change over time. The below documents are for reference purposes only. To obtain the most recent text of any legislation, please go online to LexisNexis to access the up-to-date Maryland code.

collapse Category : Handgun Qualification License ‎(7)
How do I apply for a Handgun Qualification License?

​Prior to October 1, 2013, the application process will be automated on the Maryland State Police Licensing Division webpage.​

How will a firearms dealer know that I have a Handgun Qualification License?

​The Maryland State Police will issue a Handgun Qualification License to present to the dealer.​

How do I register to instruct the Firearms Safety Training Course?

​Prior to October 1, 2013, the registration process will be automated on the Maryland State Police Licensing Division webpage.​

How does a new resident register a regulated firearm?

​Prior to October 1, 2013, the registration process will be automated on the Maryland State Police Licensing Division webpage.​

How can I prove I legally owned a handgun before October 1, 2013 and am therefore exempt from the training requirement?

​When applying for your HQL you will be asked for the serial number of your legally owned handgun. Upon providing that serial number you will have met your obligation.​

Do I need an HQL to fire at a gun range?

​No. An HQL is the only required to purchase, rent or transfer a firearm.​

How do you verify the credentials of current or retired military personnel?

Please refer to the following web-page: http://www.cac.mil/uniformed-services-id-card/​

collapse HQL : 2013 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(2)
Advisory informing all Maryland State Police Qualified Handgun Instructors of new regulations and new regulations and processes.
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Advisory referencing processing of applications prior to October 1, 2013.
50 KB
collapse HQL : 2016 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(1)
Advisory referencing removal of photo from HQL license.
365 KB
collapse HQL : 2017 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(3)
Advisory referencing a a June 21,2017 system outage
55 KB
Advisory reminding all Maryland's Licensed Firearms Dealers that a person may not purchase, rent, or receive a handgun unless they possess a valid HQL issued by the Maryland Department of the State Police.
297 KB
Alternative Ammo for Live Fire Trng
This Advisory pertains to alternative ammunition for Handgun Qualifications License live fire training component.

51 KB
collapse HQL : 2018 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(1)
This pdf is referencing the Upcoming System Outage.
300 KB
collapse HQL : 2020 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(3)
Discontinuing Printing of HQL Cards
Bulletin referencing the discontinuing of printing HQL cards.
120 KB
HQL Vitual Training and email
Bulletin pertaining to Handgun Qualification License Virtual Training (AMENDED) and E-Mails
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Discontinuing Printing of HQL Cards
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collapse HQL : 2021 ADVISORIES & BULLETINS ‎(1)
My License system upgrade and outage. New QHI renewal process.
152 KB