How to Obtain a Pistol Permit in Erie County

To posses a handgun (revolver or otherwise) in New York State, you are required to have a pistol permit.  Possess includes shooting, or even holding, not just owning. There are several steps that must be completed in order for a permit to be issued. These are the flaming hoops requirements that Erie County and the State of New York presently impose on Pistol Permit applicants.

  1. In order to apply for a pistol permit in Erie County, you must be 21 years of age and be a resident of Erie County. You are not required to buy or own a gun at the time of application. (but you will be required to purchase or co-register one later in the process)
  2. Applicants must have instruction in the safe handling of firearms from a certified instructor, and proof of such training must be submitted with the application. The NRA ‘Basic Pistol’ Course fills this requirement.
  3. If you have been arrested, or charged with any offense except minor traffic infractions (speeding or stop signs), you must complete a certificate of disposition with your application. Certificates of disposition can be obtained from the Court where your case was heard. They consider your failure to disclose any criminal charge, (even if dismissed and sealed), sufficient cause to deny your application.
  4. Obtain an Erie County application packet. This will contain your bifold application, as well as two cardstock New York State application/fingerprint cards. Many of the NRA Instructors Provide this packet, as well as assistance in completing it with their ‘Basic Pistol’ course. You can also obtain it by mail by sending a self addressed, stamped envelope to: Erie County Clerk’s Office
    Pistol Permit Department
    92 Franklin Street
    Buffalo, NY 14202
  5. Fill in your application packet (With Black Ink Only) leaving the signature sections blank (it needs to be signed in the presence of a notary) The spaces labeled ‘License Number’, ‘County Issue’, ‘Code’, ‘Date of Issue’, ‘Expiration Date’, and ‘NYSID Number’ are to be left blank.
  6. Obtain 4 Character references. (it would be in your best interest to choose character references who are reachable by telephone during normal business hours (9-5).
    Erie County states that they preferably live in your city, town, or village. Some police departments however, change this should, to a must. Such Departments include: Cheektowaga, and Tonawanda.
  7. Have your 4 character references fill out all of their information on both of the card stock application sheets.
  8. Have 4 Passport Size photos taken, Print your name on the backside of each of the four photos. (These are for your background check, the pistol permit clerks will take another (digital) picture at the end that will appear on your license)
  9. Have your application Notarized. This can be done at just about any bank, and several of the ladies at the pistol permit office are also notaries, but the lines are shorter at the bank.
  10. Obtain a US Postal Service Money Order, for the Amount of:  $105.25 This fee is for processing fingerprint inquiries.
  11. You now must appear in person at the Erie County Pistol Permit Office. You will submit your completed, notarized application, your money order, passport photos, and proof of marksmanship training. They will stamp the two cardstock applications, give them back to you(with two additional fingerprint cards) and instruct you to contact your local police department for fingerprinting.
  12. If you live in the City of Buffalo, or of you live in a town or village without a police department, You need to be fingerprinted at the Erie County Sheriff’s ID Department: 134 West Eagle Street, Buffalo NY . Their Hours are Monday – Thursday 8:15-11:45AM and 1:00-3:00PM
    If you live in any other town, call your local police department, and request an appointment to be fingerprinted for a pistol permit.
    Agencies do charge a fee for fingerprinting, and the cost varies by agency. Some agencies will return the fingerprint cards to the pistol permit department, some agencies require that you take it back.
  13. Wait while your fingerprints are sent to the FBI.
  14. After your fingerprints are returned from the FBI, your paperwork is sent back to the local police department. They perform a background check and your references are contacted.
  15. Once the investigation is completed your application is sent to your county’s Pistol License office and then forwarded to the Judge for review and decision.
  16. The paperwork will be again returned to the Pistol License office and they will send you a letter informing you of the outcome.
  17. Once receiving this letter, you now have 60 days to purchase (or coregister) a handgun, and have your license validated. If you fail to meet this deadline, they consider your application ‘withdrawn’.
    If purchasing a Handgun, You will select a handgun, pay for it, obtain the receipt from the dealer or private owner you are purchasing from, but you can not take the firearm home with you, you must leave it with the seller.
    If co-registering a handgun, you must have the owner of the pistol make a photocopy of his pistol permit, and write you a letter giving you permission to co-register specific firearms. The initial validation costs $20.00, and includes co-registration of up to 5 handguns.  Each additional firearm costs 3$ (there are different fees involved once you already have a license for adding and deleting pistols, and they are charged differently)
  18. If approved, you will have to go to the Pistol Permit Office to have your license validated. Bring the letter you received, the purchase receipt or co-register letters, and the $20.00 fee.
  19. You will now give the clerks an electronic image of your thumb-print, and they will take a digitized photo of you, both of which will be printed on your license.
  20. The Actual license will be mailed to you.
  21. Once your license comes in the mail, the firearms registered, or co-registered to you will be listed on the reverse side of your license. Take your new license back to the shop, or seller that you purchased the hangun from, and now that the pistol appears on your license, you may finally take possession of it.
  22. You are now a legal handgun owner in New York State.

In the comments, I’d be interested in hearing details about when you applied for your pistol permit, and how long it took. (Information about what Police department was responsible for processing your paperwork would also be useful to those looking to obtain permits)

69 comments to How to Obtain a Pistol Permit in Erie County

  • Shane

    How does all this NY pistol permit stuff work for an out-of-State vistor to come to a competition? Am I breaking NY laws by showing up?

  • Peter Vasilion

    Excellent question. The answer is “no” as long as you are officially registered to compete in an approved tournament, have proof of registration (a letter from the sponsor), and do not stay in New York State for more than 24-hours either side of the tournament. Also: you are not allowed to carry or travel with your handguns except to/from the match. No travel to Canada either. Most out-of-state persons arrested for Criminal Possession of a Weapon are arrested at the border after being denied entry into Canada and having a gun on them without a New York State license.

  • BobyLeeSBee

    I applied back around August 2014 and still waiting. Its taking forever, I have a clean record; but this process seems to be taking foreveeeeer…..bureaucracy

  • James

    I live in Erie County NY, the Village of Akron. I applied for my permit in January of 2013, about a week after the NY “SAFE” Act went into effect…and it was approved in February 2014. I got my fingerprints done first. Since they have to be done electronically, I had to get them done at a UPS Store (I know that may sound strange, but it’s true). My interview with the police was done by a civilian employee of the Erie County Sheriff’s office over the phone. The same person also called my references. This took place about six months after I applied. I had applied for unrestricted carry, but was only granted permission for target/hunting. A friend’s son applied on the same week as I did, and he was 22 years old at the time (almost half my age) and he was granted unrestricted carry by the same judge. My denial of unrestricted carry was due to “…insufficient cause, and insufficient experience with other firearms…”. Excuse me, but I’ve been shooting for sport and hunting with shotguns and rifles since I was a little kid. The friend’s son only began shooting rifles and shotguns a couple of years before applying for his pistol permit. The system in New York State, especially Erie County, is messed up. Anyway, the entire process (aside from the cost of my pistol at the end) was about $200. This included the required safety course, photos, fingerprints, and application fees.

  • Lorinda

    We did our application in February and received our letters in the mail today 11/20/15 but it does not tell us if we have “unrestricted” permit. All it says is” you have been approved by the licensing judge to receive a Pistol Permit issued by the Erie County Clerk” how do we find out if its target or unrestricted? Thanks

  • Peter Vasilion

    When you go to the Erie County Clerk’s Office to pick up your actual license, you will find out then. The plastic card will indicate whether there are any restrictions. Unfortunately, the Clerk’s staff can’t give out that sort of information over the phone since they do not know for sure who is on the other end of the phone! Good luck!

  • Jack

    Anyone who has been approved for a CCW permit through Erie County. Any Suggestions on the “Reason” to provide, other than legal right to do so under the 2nd amendment?

  • Peter Vasilion


    As an attorney, I offer to meet with prospective pistol permit applicants to review their applications or any omissions or contradictions. I go over their individual backgrounds, histories, and living circumstances in order to come up with a custom “Reason” to be allowed to carry concealed. I don’t consider there to be a “magic” answer to that question.

    Peter Vasilion, Esq.

  • Adam

    I live in Cheektowaga and will be applying for a pistol permit however one of my character witnesses lives in the village of Depew will this be acceptable seeing that Cheektowaga requires all 4 character witnesses to be from Cheektowaga.

  • Peter Vasilion

    If your witness lives in the portion of Depew that is serviced by the Cheektowaga Police Department, then yes. Otherwise, no.

  • Dave

    What if you moved to Cheektowaga recently and have no acquaintances in the area?

  • Jung Choi


    I applied for my license back in August of 2015 and about 4 weeks ago, got the call from the local PD for the interview. All my references have been contacted as well. I know it all depends on the judge reviewing my request but any ideas as to what my wait is now? I really hope I get my permit within the next month.

  • Jung Choi

    I called the Pistol permit office yesterday to get a status and was told that it is now being prepped to go before a judge. the lady mentioned that it will probably take a full year for the permits to be processed. Hopefully I will have mine in the next 3-4 months.

  • Larry

    If I apply and acquire a pistol license in Erie country/ NYS do I have to buy a pistol at that time? Or can I wait a year or two to make my purchase?

  • Larry, you have to buy (or co-register) a pistol within x many days of receiving the approval letter.

  • Larry

    Can you co-register a friends pistol ? or does if have to be an immediate family member ?

  • Sam

    If I have received treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, I will most likely be denied?

  • Peter Vasilion

    There is no guaranty that you will be denied. It depends on whether you were reported to the iSARS database which depends on the counselor and the treatment agency’s policies. Also, if you were in treatment more than 3 years ago, it is unlikely there would be a record.

    Generally speaking, they will deny someone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital or someone who is in active treatment for a true mental illness.

    Hope this helps.


  • Larry

    If H.R. 38 – CONCEALED CARRY RECIPROCITY ACT OF 2017 is passed. What affect will it have on us here in NYS ? Could this mean that we would have people from all over the country CCW and we will be stuck with our restrictions ?

    Will this be good or bad for NYS permit holders ?

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