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CCW: Overview of the Permitting Process

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Obtaining a CCW permit might seem like an arduous process, but it's really fairly straightforward. You can start the application right now on your desktop computer. For your convenience, I've summarized the CCW permit process below for several Northern California law enforcement agencies. However, you should still read through your particular agency's website for their specific requirements.

You likely spend thousands of dollars on insurance every year to protect your home and car. Why not invest in protecting yourself and your family from a violent encounter?

Step 1: Application

Click the links below to start the application process in your county or city:

On the application, fill in your identifying information and provide a photo of your California Driver’s License. In addition, you must provide two documents which prove residency within the agency's jurisdiction. Acceptable proof of residency is a usually a RECURRING bill such as:

  • Utility bill

  • Bank statement

  • Cell phone bill

  • Credit card statement

  • Mortgage statement

In the section which asks for “cause,” simply state that you wish to have a CCW permit for self-protection. List up to 3 handguns you would like to carry. Be sure to write in the correct serial numbers.

Pay a fee to the issuing agency which varies from agency-to-agency. Expect to pay at least $250 for the application process, background check, and fingerprinting fees.

Step 2: Interview and Fingerprinting

The issuing agency may conduct a short interview to determine if you are of “good moral character.” If you have a clean past, then there’s little to discuss. The key is to tell the truth about any events that you may have been involved in. They just want to make sure that you aren’t a “loose cannon" before issuing you a permit.

Some agencies may require a psychological evaluation and references in addition to the interview.

The issuing agency may fingerprint you "in house" while others may have you conduct a Live-Scan at a commercial location. The fingerprint cards are submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) which will run a background check to determine if you have any disqualifying criminal history. This can take a couple of weeks to several months depending on the efficiency of the DOJ and the agency under which you are applying.

Step 3: Training

Depending on your issuing agency, training can begin before or after the interview and background check. For example, some agencies such as the Solano County Sheriff require you to wait until the background check has been completed before training, but others are more flexible and let you begin training sooner.

The training for the initial permit includes lectures about self-defense, firearm safety and fundamentals, conditions for carry, etc. You will also have to pass an agency-specific live-fire qualification course. Most of these courses-of-fire are at close range, with reasonable time frames, and a fairly large target. We offer additional training to prepare you for the qualification (the CCW 3: Basic Pistol course or private lessons).

Some agencies have a list of approved CCW trainers from which you must choose (Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Alameda, SFPD, etc.) Contra Costa, Yolo, and Sacramento Counties don’t have a list, but you must receive training from a California DOJ-certified trainer (Paladin is certified). In addition to the application fees listed above, the cost for training ranges from about $300 for 8-hours of training and up to $600 for 16-hours. Once you have completed your required training sessions, you will send in your training certificate(s) to the agency.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff is the only agency which requires that the official live-fire qualification course be done at their facility on a separate day. All other agencies allow the third-party training providers to qualify their applicants.

Step 4: Pick up your Permit

Once you've completed the steps, the agency will contact you to set up an appointment to pick up your official CCW permit. Congratulations and carry safely!

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