Handgun Qualification License


**UPDATED 4/15/2024**​

The Maryland State Police is aware of the Fourth Circuit​​​'s November 21, 2023 op​inion deeming the HQL law to be unconstitutional. On December 5, 2023, the State requested a re-hearing before the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. On January 11, 2024, the Fourth Circuit granted the State's petition for rehearing the case before the full Fourth Circuit. Oral arguments for this case were heard before​ the court on March 21, 2024. During the re-hearing process, the requirements of the HQL remain in place. Additional information will be posted to this site as it becomes available.

The November 21, 2023 opinion of the Fourth Circuit and the subsequent Advisory can be viewed by clicking the below links. 

U.S. Fourth Circuit HQL Opinion (full text)​   

LD-HQL-23-003 (Advisory) 4th Circuit HQL Opinion​

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 Sh​ould 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.

When Should I Renew?​​​

The initial Handgun Qualification License expires ten (10) years from the date of issuance. 

A Handgun Qualification License may be renewed for successive periods of ten (10) years each if, at the time of an application for renewal, the applicant possesses the qualifications for the issuance of a license and submits a $20.00 nonrefundable application renewal fee. The Handgun Qualification License Renewal application should be submitted at least fourteen (14) days prior to the expiration of the current Handgun Qualification License.

Handgun Qualification License renewal applicants are NOT required to submit ​fingerprints or complete a firearms safety training course as part of the application for the renewal of an active Handgun Qualification License.​​​ 

​The EGOV System will email renewal reminders to Handgun Qualification License holders who hold an active license that will be expiring.

It is the license holder’s responsibility to notify the Licensing Division of any email or address changes, in writing, within 30 days of any change. You may also log into your account and update your email or physical address under the demographics page.


Please refer to the below Instructions on how to submit a HQL renewal application:

  • ​Login to your eMDSP  account. 
  • Enter your User ID and Password. (If you have forgot your User ID and or Password, please click on Forgotten Password)
  • Click on Renew License.
  • Verify License and Click Continue (in yellow).
  • On the left side under Menu Click on Demographics. Please update the Demographics page (ex: address, phone #s and Driver's License information). Once updated click on Update at the bottom of the page.
  • Application Questions: Please answer the following questions by choosing the respective answer(s) from the drop-down menu(s) provided.  Once all questions are answered, please Click on Submit at the bottom of the page.
  • Document Upload page- If you have any documents that you need to upload, please attach them to this page (ex. Expungement documents) if not, please Click on Next at the bottom of the page.
  • Please review your application and if everything is correct, Click on Pay Fees at the bottom of the page.
  • Checkout page- Click Transfer (this will take you to the Payment Processor).
  • Please enter your credit card information and Click Pay.
  • Receipt page will appear, confirming that the renewal application has been submitted.
​IMPORTANT REMINDER REGARDING HANDGUN QUALIFICATION LICENSE (HQL) RENEWALS: HQL renewal applications must be submitted​ prior to the expiration date of the current HQL. HQL renewal applications submitted after the expiration date will result in the rejection of the HQL renewal application and require a new HQL application be submitted with a new training certificate and proof of Livescan fingerprint submission. 

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



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.​​

expand HQL :  ‎(1)
expand HQL : 2013 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(2)
expand HQL : 2016 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(1)
expand HQL : 2017 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(3)
expand HQL : 2018 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(1)
expand HQL : 2020 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(3)
expand HQL : 2021 ADVISORIES & BULLETINS ‎(1)
expand HQL : 2023 Advisories & Bulletins ‎(3)


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