Applying for the Maryland Handgun Qualification License (HQL)

As of October 1, 2013, purchasing a handgun in the State of Maryland requires purchasers to possess a valid Handgun Qualification License (HQL), or to qualify for an exemption.

You are exempt from possessing an HQL only if you:

  1. Possess valid credentials or retirement credentials from a law enforcement agency of the United States, the State, or any local law enforcement agency in the State;
  2. Are an active or retired member of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard, and possesses a valid military identification card; or
  3. Purchase, rent, or receive an antique, curio, or relic firearm, as defined in federal law or in determinations published by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

You are exempt from the HQL training (but must still get the HQL) if you

  1. Have within the last three years satisfactorily completed a firearms training course approved by the Secretary as an exemption from the Firearms Safety Training Course;
  2. Have within the last three years satisfactorily completed a course of instruction in competency and safety in the handling of firearms as prescribed by the Department of Natural Resources under Natural Resources Article, §10-301.1, Annotated Code of Maryland;
  3. Are a Qualified Handgun Instructor;
  4. Are an honorably discharged member of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard;
  5. Are a former law enforcement officer of the State or a local law enforcement agency in the State who has successfully completed initial law enforcement training;
  6. Are an employee of an armored car company and has a permit issued under Public Safety Article, Title 5, Subtitle 3, Annotated Code of Maryland; or
  7. Lawfully own a regulated firearm.

Note: To purchase a handgun in Maryland, you must also be a Maryland resident, be at least 21 years old, and not be a “prohibited person”. 

Step-by-Step HQL Application Instructions

You have thirty (30) days from the time you start the HQL process to 1) get the fingerprinting and background check done and 2) get the required training (if not exempt). We highly recommend getting the training done first, including your qualification shoot; then going to a LiveScan fingerprinting facility for fingerprinting; then starting the application process, below.

  1. Go to
  2. If you have not done so already, create an account.
  3. Log in using your new account.
  4. Select the “Initial Application” link in the middle of the page.
  5. Select “Firearms Services” as the Program.
  6. Under License Type, select the appropriate dropdown:
    1. HQL Permit Exempt – This option requires you to have a valid Maryland Wear and Carry Permit.
    2. HQL Standard – This option is for anyyone who has not purchased a regulated firearm prior to October 1, 2013, AND requires you to complete a minimum four-hour training course. (If this is you, you can sign up for an upcoming training course if you have not done so already.)
    3. HQL Training Exempt – This option is for anyone who meets one or more of the training exemptions listed above.
  7. Select “Application” as the Application Method.
  8. Select “Start Application” and proceed through each page until you complete the application. The final screen will allow you to ‘Finish’ the application, review your information and submit payment for the license.

Getting Help

If you have any questions about this process, please contact your instructor, contact us through our web site, or message us through our Facebook page.