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This FAQ exists to aid non-residents of Pennsylvania in obtaining a Pennsylvania concealed weapons permit. Although my (and others) reading of the appropriate statutes indicate that permit issuance is non-discretionary for both residents and non-residents, the reality is that many sheriffs will either issue permits on a discretionary basis or refuse to issue permits to non-residents. Unfortunately, taking a sheriff to court can be a hassle and isn't too feasible unless you live in a bordering state and the county whose sheriff you're suing is close enough. A news posting from Chris BeHanna provides some information on this issue.
Pennsylvania has entered into reciprocity agreements with certain other states including Florida which issues non-resident permits. There is more information at the Pennsylvania Attorney General's website. Note that individual Pennsylvania law enforcement officers may not be aware of reciprocity.
The following advice came from someone who wished to remain anonymous. The reference to clueless clerks refers to counties where I listed the clerk as saying that it was illegal to issue to non-residents (those counties still require updating). He obtained his permit in late 1995: "It required a lot of telephone work to get a PA CCW as a non-resident. The best piece of advice I can give is to talk directly to the sheriff not some clerk who has no idea what they are talking about. A lot of counties said I was the first person to ever ask such a question. It has been a little over a year since I got mine so I don't know if things are still the same in all the counties I dealt with. Elections change things you know."
This note came from a reader: "I would like to point out that as of 31 Mar 2011, PA state law changed for non-residents to get a LTCF (license to carry firearm). Non-residents may not do everything by mail any longer. They *must* visit the county that they are requesting the license."
The following advice came from Ken Grubb of Miami, Florida: "I'm given to understand that many PA Sheriffs are using the Pennsylvania Instant Check System for issuing CCWs. It would probably be a good idea, regardless of the county to which one is applying, to call and find out: 1) if they use the Pennsylvania Instant Check System, 2) has it been up and running in recent weeks, and 3) if it's down, is a second trip required."
Note that Pennsylvania state law regarding firearms requires that a permit be denied to an applicant who lacks a CCW permit from his or her home state unless the applicant's home state doesn't have a CCW permit system. For example, a resident of Vermont could get a Pennsylvania CCW permit since Vermont doesn't have a CCW permit system, but a resident of New Jersey is out-of-luck since New Jersey does have a CCW permit system (as a rule, New Jersey only issues CCW permits to the well-connected). Some Sheriffs, however, still require home-state permits, period.
I've received queries about exactly where a person can and cannot carry a firearm in Pennsylvania. There is a book available which should help answer those questions.
The following eleven counties are not listed due to lack of information: Berks, Blair, Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Forest, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Juniata, Mifflin, and Venango.
Here's a link to a page containing contact information for all Pennsylvania Sheriffs.
Map copied from the United States Census Bureau Website.
This page went online the first week of February 1997. Last updated November 3, 2014 by (paccw AT mindspring.com).