Maryland Handgun Qualification License

Since 2013, residents of Maryland who wish to buy, transfer, or rent a firearm have been required to obtain a Handgun Qualification License.

Since 2013, residents of Maryland who wish to buy, transfer, or rent a firearm have been required to obtain a Handgun Qualification License. The HQL is issued by the Maryland State Police at a cost of $50 for an original, and $20 for renewal or replacement. There are several categories of individuals who are exempted from the HQL requirements. First, let’s look at exactly what is required to get an HQL.

How to Obtain an HQL

The first step in getting your HQL is to get your fingerprints taken. This is to facilitate your background check. Fingerprints are valid for 12 months prior to the submission of your application. Next, you need to take a qualified Firearms Training Safety Course. The Maryland State Police website has a list of Qualified Handgun Instructors. The safety course will include four hours of instruction and cover the following topics at a minimum:

  • State Firearm Laws
  • Home Firearm Safety
  • Handgun Mechanisms and Operation
  • Operation and Handling Demonstration

The course is good for three years, so if you begin the HQL process but get sidetracked before completing it, you might not need to take the safety course again. After completing fingerprints and the safety course, stop by your nearest State Police office and fill out an application. Be sure to bring copies of your documents, and your driver’s license. You can also apply online now. Here is the link. Note: As of January 1st, 2021, MSP will no longer issue a paper copy of the HQL. a digital version will be emailed to you, whether you apply in person or online.


There are two categories of exceptions to the HQL. Those who do not need one to buy, transfer, or rent a firearm, and those who are not required to take the training component.

You are not required to obtain an HQL if you are:

  • A licensed firearms manufacturer
  • An active law enforcement officer, or retired in good standing from a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency from the state of Maryland
  • Active or retired member of the United States Military or National Guard (with valid ID)
  • Purchasing, renting, or receiving an antique, relic, or curio firearm as defined by federal law
  • A Maryland licensed firearms dealer

The following persons are required to obtain an HQL, but not required to complete the training component:

  • Anyone who has completed a firearms training safety course approved by the Maryland State Police
  • Anyone who has completed a Maryland Department of Natural Resources Hunter’s Safety Course
  • If you are currently a Qualified Handgun Instructor
  • If you have been honorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard
  • If you are employed as an armed guard and have a handgun permit issued by the MSP
  • If you already lawfully own a regulated firearm, you do not need to complete the training component in order to apply for an HQL

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