California CCW FAQ

A Thank you to The Calguns Foundation for providing a lot of good information on their website from which we on occasion have referenced to build this complete FAQ.

What is a California license to carry (LTC or “CCW”)?

Like the other 49 states in this country, California has a legal program in place that allows (in theory) that citizens may apply to receive a “license to carry” a handgun or “concealed carry permit.” Licenses are issued by local licensing authorities (a “sheriff of a county” or a “chief or other head of a municipal police department of any city or city and county”) per the law in Cal. Penal Code section 26150, et seq. In essence, having a CCW permit in California makes you exempt from certain firearm related laws. Without the permit one could not carry an open or concealed handgun (loaded or unloaded) in public places.


How do I get a California license to carry a handgun?

Please refer to our guide for obtaining a California Concealed Handgun License/Permit.


What do I do if my county has a long waiting list?

Sadly, many counties use this tactic to make it difficult for applicants to obtain permits. Look for opportunities to support change by supporting litigation and electoral candidates that look to change these programs.


How long does it take to get approved?

Despite the practices of some counties, Cal. Penal Code section 26205 states:

“The licensing authority shall give written notice to the applicant indicating if the license under this article is approved or denied. The licensing authority shall give this notice within 90 days of the initial application for a new license or a license renewal, or 30 days after receipt of the applicant’s criminal background check from the Department of Justice, whichever is later. If the license is denied, the notice shall state which requirement was not satisfied.”


Can my county put restrictions on an issued license?

Yes, but only “reasonable restrictions or conditions that the issuing authority deems warranted, including restrictions as to the time, place, manner, and circumstances [of carry].” (Cal. Penal Code section 26200(a).) However, any restrictions “shall be indicated on any license issued.” (Cal. Penal Code section 26200(b).)


How Often Do I have to Renew and what is the process?

The license in California is good for two years. If you still reside in the same county that issued your permit you will not have to obtain new fingerprints but there could be a renewal fee. Contact your county’s issuing department and setup an appointment to process the renewal.