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Maryland Wear and Carry Permit Guide

The Maryland Wear and Carry Permit Guide provides comprehensive information on the process and requirements for obtaining a wear and carry permit in the state of Maryland. Understand the steps and qualifications needed to legally carry a concealed firearm in Maryland.

On June 23, 2022, the United States Supreme Court rendered its opinion in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) v. Bruen, striking down as unconstitutional New York's proper cause requirement for issuance of a permit to carry a handgun. The Court confirmed what we've long believed to be true; that there exists a right to carry a handgun for self-defense beyond one's home. New York's proper cause requirement is indistinguishable from Maryland's good and substantial reason requirement for issuance of a carry permit. The opinion leaves no doubt that Maryland's good and substantial reason requirement is unconstitutional:

The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 780 (plurality opinion). We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.

New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

–New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, 597 U.S. ___ (2022)

Good and substantial reason is unconstitutional and is therefore unenforceable. Full stop.

On July 5th, 2022, Governor Larry Hogan issued the following statement:

Over the course of my administration, I have consistently supported the right of law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms, while enacting responsible and common sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. “Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision in New York law pertaining to handgun permitting that is virtually indistinguishable from Maryland law. In light of the ruling and to ensure compliance with the Constitution, I am directing the Maryland State Police to immediately suspend utilization of the ‘good and substantial reason’ standard when reviewing applications for Wear and Carry Permits. It would be unconstitutional to continue enforcing this provision in state law. There is no impact on other permitting requirements and protocols. “Today’s action is in line with actions taken by other states in response to the recent ruling.”

In response, the Maryland State Police provided this advisory:

The Maryland State Police Licensing Division is in the process of updating the Licensing Portal to reflect these changes. Until these updates are complete, applicants submitting a Wear and Carry Permit application are directed to select “Personal Protection / Category Not Listed Above” as their “Handgun Permit Category”. Applicants are not required to attach documents to the “PERSONAL PROTECTION DOCUMENTATION” section on the “Upload Documents” page of the Wear and Carry Permit application.

Additional information and a link to the Licensing Portal, can be found on the Maryland State Police website. Maryland State Police Licensing Division.

We welcome the Governor’s order and the decision to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen. For the first time in decades, ordinary responsible, law-abiding citizens in Maryland will have their Second Amendment right for self-defense outside the home respected. We stress that permit holders, nationwide, are the most law-abiding persons there are, with crime rates far below that of commissioned police officers. The Second Amendment is not a threat to the public. It protects the right of self-defense and that protection is fully consistent with public safety.

Separately, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals found that the “good and substantial reason” requirement is unconstitutional under the 2nd Amendment. Find its opinion HERE.

Maryland Carriage and Transport of Handguns

Maryland has a blanket ban on the carriage and transport of handguns within the state, with exceptions. One of those exceptions is for those who’ve been issued a license, known as a Wear and Carry Permit, which is required to be able to lawfully carry a handgun concealed or openly in public for self-defense (concealed and open carry are both lawful with a permit). This permit is described in State law under Maryland Public Safety Article §§ 5-301 through 5-314 and is issued by the Maryland State Police (MSP) through its Licensing Division (MSPLD). The Licensing Division follows its own Standard Operating Procedures for how permits are issued and managed. Applicants for a permit must satisfy several requirements before being considered qualified. The process typically takes between 60 to 90 days for most applicants. 

While the “good and substantial reason” requirement is now unenforceable, Maryland’s other requirements for a carry permit are not directly affected by the decision in Bruen. Those other requirements include training, fingerprinting, and background checks. Bruen did NOT convert Maryland (or any other state) into a permitless state. Carry permits issued by Maryland are still required by law to carry a handgun in public. Maryland still does not currently recognize carry permits issued by any other state.

Who is Eligible for a Wear and Carry Permit?

The Maryland State Police Licensing Division (MSPLD) issues Wear and Carry permits to applicants in accordance with Md. Public Safety Art. § 5-306. Generally, this includes all responsible, law-abiding persons not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing firearms (with exceptions) and of at least 21 years of age and who complete the State’s requirements. The right to carry a handgun for self-defense is sufficient reason to apply for an unrestricted permit. Wear and Carry Permit applicants must submit completed applications through the Maryland State Police Licensing Portal. That Portal allows the applicant to include proof of training or exemption, fingerprints, passport-style photo, and $75 non-refundable fee. Use of the Portal does require one to have an email address. Maryland does issue permits to residents of other states, but they must be trained (or training exempt) by an MSP Qualified Handgun Instructor and must be LiveScan fingerprinted by an entity in Maryland and meet the other requirements applicable to residents.

Md. Public Safety Art. § 5-306(a)

(a) Subject to subsection (c) of this section, the Secretary shall issue a permit within a reasonable time to a person who the Secretary finds:
(1) is an adult;
(2)(i) has not been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than 1 year has been imposed; or
(ii) if convicted of a crime described in item (i) of this item, has been pardoned or has been granted relief under 18 U.S.C. § 925(c);
(3) has not been convicted of a crime involving the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance;
(4) is not presently an alcoholic, addict, or habitual user of a controlled dangerous substance unless the habitual use of the controlled dangerous substance is under legitimate medical direction;
(5) except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, has successfully completed prior to application and each renewal, a firearms training course approved by the Secretary that includes:
(i) 1. for an initial application, a minimum of 16 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor; or
2. for a renewal application, 8 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor;
(ii) classroom instruction on:
1. State firearm law;
2. home firearm safety; and
3. handgun mechanisms and operation; and
(iii) a firearms qualification component that demonstrates the applicant’s proficiency and use of the firearm; and
(6) based on an investigation:
(i) has not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or to another; and
(ii) has good and substantial reason to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, such as a finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger. [This requirement is invalid under Bruen]

Applicants under the age of 30 face extra scrutiny, as imposed by § 5-306(c)

(c) An applicant under the age of 30 years is qualified only if the Secretary finds that the applicant has not been:
(1) committed to a detention, training, or correctional institution for juveniles for longer than 1 year after an adjudication of delinquency by a juvenile court; or
(2) adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court for:
(i) an act that would be a crime of violence if committed by an adult;
(ii) an act that would be a felony in this State if committed by an adult; or
(iii) an act that would be a misdemeanor in this State that carries a statutory penalty of more than 2 years if committed by an adult.

Who Should Apply?

Wear and Carry Permits may be issued to any adult (18 years of age or over) who meets the following criteria:

    1. An applicant between 18 and 21 years of age may only be issued a wear and carry permit to possess a regulated firearm required for employment. – P.S. 5-133 (d)(2)(v)
    2. Has not been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year has been imposed; or convicted of a criminal offense for which you could have been sentenced to more than 2 years incarceration.
    3. Has not been convicted of a crime involving the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance;
    4. Is not presently an alcoholic, addict, or habitual user of a controlled dangerous substance unless under legitimate medical direction;
    5. Based on an investigation, has not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or others;
    6. As of October 1, 2013, has successfully completed the Maryland State Police approved firearms training course within 2 years prior to submitting the original or renewal application.

How Much Does It Cost?

All fees will be collected electronically at the time of application submission in the Licensing Portal. Acceptable forms of payment include Visa and MasterCard.

Original/Initial – $75.00 – Fingerprint Fees not included
Renewal – $50.00 – Fingerprints No Longer Required
Subsequent – $50.00 – Fingerprint Fees not included
Replacement/Modification – $10.00 – Fingerprints not required

Active/Retired Law Enforcement Officers of this State or a County/Municipality (PS 5-304) – $0.00

When Should I Renew?

The initial Handgun Permit expires on the last day of the holder’s birth month following two (2) years after the date the permit is issued. Permits that have been modified or are a duplicate expire on the date provided on the initial permit.

A Handgun Permit may be renewed for successive periods of three (3) years each if, at the time of an application for renewal, the applicant possesses the qualifications for the issuance of a permit and pays the renewal fee as established in the subtitle.

The renewal process is the responsibility of the applicant and should be started no less than 90 business days from expiration of the permit. Timely renewal is the responsibility of the permit holder. The Licensing Portal will only send out renewal reminders for Wear and Carry permit applications that have been submitted through the online portal.

It is the permit holder’s responsibility to notify the Licensing Division of address changes, in writing, within 30 days of any change. You must mail this change to the same address as you would mail an application.


Maryland Wear and Carry Permit Training must be completed before submission of an application. Under Md. Public Safety Art. § 5-306 and COMAR Sec., these classes must consist of material on state (Maryland) firearm law, home firearm safety, handgun mechanisms and operation, and a firearms qualification component that demonstrates the applicant’s proficiency and use of the firearm. Unless otherwise exempt from the training requirements, an applicant must get this training from an MSP Qualified Handgun Instructor and complete a 16-hour training course for an initial application with a minimum 70% accuracy rating by the applicant in the live fire portion of the class. These classes often run anywhere from $250 to $400 and up. An 8-hour course will be required upon renewal of an issued permit. Maryland permits are valid for two years plus until the applicant’s birth month for the first permit and for three years for renewals.

Who is exempt from the training?

Md. Public Safety Art. § 5-306(b)

(b) An applicant for a permit is not required to complete a certified firearms training course under subsection (a) of this section if the applicant:
(1) is a law enforcement officer or a person who is retired in good standing from service with a law enforcement agency of the United States, the State, or any local law enforcement agency in the State;
(2) is a member, retired member, or honorably discharged member of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard;
(3) is a qualified handgun instructor; or
(4) has completed a firearms training course approved by the Secretary.

Note that law enforcement officers of another State are NOT exempt, only federal and Maryland law enforcement officers are exempt. The Maryland State Police have a list of Instructors HERE, but we also encourage you to visit our 2A-Friendly Businesses section for available lessons from entities that support MSI by becoming Corporate Members. Click on the “Firearms Instruction” tab.

Wear and Carry Permit Qualification and Course of Fire

Wear and Carry Permit Course of Fire (See Basic Practical Handgun Course on page 3)
Certified Qualification Score Sheet

Qualified Handgun Instructors are defined in Md. Public Safety Art. § 5-101(q) as:

(q) “Qualified handgun instructor” means a certified firearms instructor who:
 (1) is recognized by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training commissions;
 (2) has a qualified handgun instructor license issued by the Secretary; or
 (3) has a certification issued by a nationally recognized firearms organization.

They are further described in Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) Title 29, Subtitle 3, Chapter 29.03.01, §§ –

A current firearms instructor who’d like to become an MSP Qualified Handgun Instructor and provide the Wear and Carry Course can submit their credentials through the MSP’s website HERE. Once a certificate is returned by the MSP, the instructor will be able to provide Maryland courses and will be listed publicly on their website. Basically, any NRA-certified instructor for the Basic Pistol class can qualify.

Submitting the Application

Applications for Wear and Carry Permits can only be submitted online via the Maryland State Police Licensing Portal. Applications can be started at any time but may be submitted only after all requirements are fulfilled and the application is complete. All applicants must have a valid email address, as the State Police do not accept paper applications. Here are the steps:

  • As outlined in the Training section, complete the training or prepare proof of training exemption (scanned copies of documents in filetypes .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .doc, and .docx)
  • Acquire LiveScan fingerprinting for a Wear and Carry Permit (AKA Handgun Permit) Application – Prints for other purposes (i.e., HQL) are not accepted
    Fingerprints are valid for one year after they’re taken
    From MSP’s Fingerprinting Page:
    Wear and Carry: 
    Below is the information that you should provide to the LiveScan technician for fingerprinting:
    Agency Authorization Number: 9400082484
    Agency ORI Number: MDMSP6000
    Reason Fingerprinted: MD Public Safety Article, Section 5-305
  • Make an account on the State Police’s Licensing Portal
  • Tab over to “HGP Applications” and select the green “START NEW HGP APPLICATION” button
  • Under “Handgun Permit Category,” select “Personal Protection / Category Not Listed Above,” then underneath select which type of application this is (New, Renewal, Modification, etc… MSP describes the application types HERE)
  • Complete the “Application Questionnaire” in full. At Question 15, “Reason for a Handgun Permit,” enter “Self-Defense.”
  • Continue filling out the application in full (including requested references)
    • Contact information of current spouse, significant other, co-inhabitant, or most recent partner within the last five years
    • Contact information of at least three unrelated references who’ve known the applicant for at least two years
  • Provide LIVESCAN fingerprints TCN/PCN code (The prints MUST be for a Wear and Carry Permit (AKA Handgun Permit) and from an authorized entity by the MD Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services. LiveScan prints for other purposes do not suffice and the prints are not currently interchangeable.)
  • At the “Documents” section, upload your passport-style photo, and certificate of training completion or exemption. We recommend attaching a scanned copy of your Livescan receipt.
  • There is no need to upload documentation substantiating “self-defense”
  • Complete the application, pay the required $75 fee using a credit card, and submit.

NOTE: For any applicant who has not received their account activation/confirmation email or their forgot password email in the Licensing Portal: Click “LOG IN” on the Portal home page and then click “FORGOT PASSWORD?” on the Account Log In page. Then enter your email address and click “SUBMIT”. You should receive your respective email shortly thereafter.

Currently, applications are being processed within a few weeks, but the State Police may take up to and could exceed 90 days before deciding on whether or not to issue a permit. Md. Public Safety § 5-306(a) states that the Maryland State Police shall issue a permit within a “reasonable timeframe” and § 5-312(a)(2) provides:

(2) A person whose application for a permit or renewal of a permit is not acted on by the Secretary within 90 days after submitting the application to the Secretary may request a hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings by filing a written request with the Secretary and the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Also, Processing of Handgun Permit Applications SOP 29-19-004 at .05 Procedures, A. Responsibilities 3. states:

The Handgun Permit Unit personnel will:
a. ensure all permits are issued in accordance with: 18 U.S.C. §922(g) (1-9), Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Safety Article, Title 5, Sub-Title 3, Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Safety Article §5-133 and the Code of Maryland Regulations, Title 29.03.02.
b. within three business days of receipt, applicable applications will be forwarded to the Administrative Investigation Unit, to conduct a background investigation, as required in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Safety Article, §5-306.
c. ensure all applicants meet the requirements outlined in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Safety Article, §5-306.
d. ensure approval or denial of all initial applications within 90 days of the receipt of an accepted application.
e. ensure approval or denial of all renewal applications within 45 days of the receipt of an accepted application.
f. track all applications, initial and renewal, to ensure issuance within 90 days or 45 days respectively.
g. act as the liaison between the Licensing Division, the Handgun Permit Review Board* and the Office of Administrative Hearings.
h. maintain all records, and track all decisions issued by the Handgun Permit Review Board* and the Office of the Administrative Hearings.

Handgun Qualification License Issuance

If you do not already have a Maryland Handgun Qualification License (HQL), the license Maryland requires to be able to purchase handguns, you can request one from the MSP at no added cost and without further training after being issued a Wear and Carry Permit. The State Police have a separate portal for applying for the HQL here:
Create an account and then when applying, make the following selections pictured below and click “Start Application”

With respect to the Wear and Carry Permit, on 7/22/2022, the State Police issued an update on their efforts to meet the increased demand for permits and address many of the common problems encountered with incomplete applications.

Permit Restrictions

As of 7/7/2022, any restrictions printed on the reverse side of previously-issued permits are no longer in effect and are no longer being issued prospectively. See Maryland State Police Licensing Division Advisory LD-HPU-22-003 “W&C Permit Modifications”.

MSI recommends applying for a $10 modification for a card explicitly without restrictions. Carry permit holders are still exceedingly rare in Maryland and law enforcement agencies do not regularly encounter them. Being wrongfully detained is still a risk.

Where are Firearms Prohibited?

Restriction on the wear, carry and transport of handguns and firearms in certain places appear throughout Maryland law and regulations.  Below are statutes and regulations detailing the handgun and firearm restrictions.  This list should not be considered all-inclusive.
  1. On school property (CR 4-102)
  2. Within 1,000 feet of a demonstration in a public place (CR 4-208)

  3. In legislative buildings (SG 2-1702)

4. Aboard aircraft (TR 5-1008)

  1. In lodging establishments where the innkeeper reasonably believes individuals possess property that may be dangerous to other individuals, such as firearms or explosives (BR 15-203)
  2. On dredge boats, other than two 10 gauge shotguns (NR 4-1013)

  3. In or around State-owned public buildings and grounds (COMAR

  4. On Chesapeake Forest Lands (COMAR

  5. In State Forests (COMAR

  6. In State Parks (COMAR

  7. In State Highway Rest Areas, unless properly secured within vehicle (COMAR

  8. In community adult rehabilitation centers (COMAR

  9. In child care centers, except for small centers located in residences, firearms may not be kept on the premises​ ​(COMAR 13A.16.10.04)​

Appeals Process

For those denied outright by the MSP, or if a Wear and Carry permit contains unacceptable restrictions, options are available to seek the issuance or modification of a permit. Within 10 days of denial, one must appeal in writing to either the MSP to ask for an “Informal Review” or to the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). Appeals may also be taken to the OAH within 10 days of any decision of the MSP after an Informal Review.

Maryland State Police Informal Review

The MSP will allow applicants to present any further information regarding their denial to more senior management within the Licensing Division. Unless provided significant new information at that time, it is unlikely MSP’s initial decision will be affected.

Maryland OAH Formal Appeal

OAH hearings are run by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) and are quasi-formal trials with rules and procedures. These proceedings are “de novo” which means that additional evidence can be submitted at these hearings. In an OAH proceeding, the focus is on whether the MSP’s decision should be sustained and the applicant bears the burdens of proof and persuasion. The ALJ gives deference to the MSP’s determination. An attorney is not legally required but is necessary as a practical matter. Decisions of the ALJ can be appealed to circuit court.

Places and Times In Which Firearms Can Not Be Legally Carried by a Permit Holder

Local jurisdictions has narrow authority to create their own prohibitions

AdditionallyMD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-209 gives local jurisdictions narrow authority to create their own prohibitions on where firearms may be carried or possessed and by whom. Check local jurisdictions’ codes for any restrictions. MSI maintains an informational page containing links to county and local codes and ordinances HERE. Permit holders should be aware of MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-206, which guides how law enforcement officers may determine whether an individual is armed legally.

Maryland State and Local Weapons Laws

Unlawfully carrying a handgun in violation of MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-203(a)(1)(i) is also a strict liability crime, which means there is no requirement that the individual knowingly or willfully carried in violation of the law. For more on this, read our article on the recent Maryland Court of Appeals case Lawrence v. State HERE.

Be aware that First Degree Assault includes the illegal threat with a firearm (sometimes called informally “brandishing”). See MD Code, Criminal Law, § 3-202(a)(2). Of course, if your life is truly imminently at risk or you are at imminent risk of great bodily harm, and you can meet the other elements of lawful self-defense (including the duty to retreat if outside the home, if a safe avenue of retreat is available), as defined in the MD case law, your attorney could assert a complete defense to the First Degree Assault charge.

The Rule: Don’t pull it, and don’t threaten with it, unless you would be otherwise justified in actually firing it. For First Degree Assault, the prosecutor need only show that the defendant used a firearm with an intent to frighten, that the defendant had the present ability to bring about physical harm and that the victim was aware of the threat. See Synder v. State, 210 Md.App.370, 382 (2013). First Degree Assault is a felony in Maryland and is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The use of, or the threat of lethal force, should always be the last resort.

For more info on laws important to gun owners in Maryland, visit our Maryland State and Local Weapons Laws page.


Maryland does not currently recognize the permits of any other state or American territory. MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-303 states:
A person shall have a permit issued under this subtitle before the person carries, wears, or transports a handgun.
Put simply, unless one has a permit issued by the Maryland State Police, they cannot carry a handgun legally in Maryland (not counting law enforcement or those who may carry a firearm under LEOSA). Residents of other states can apply for a Maryland, and those applications are now being treated no differently than Maryland residents. But, again, applicants must be trained (or training exempt) by a MSP Qualified Handgun Instructor and must be LiveScan fingerprinted by an entity in Maryland. Many states do recognize Maryland permits and some states, like Pennsylvania, will issue a non-resident permit to a Maryland resident who holds a Maryland Wear and Carry permit. MSI strongly recommends obtaining such permits. See the page for Maryland for more information on reciprocity.