Governor Doug Burgum relaxed North Dakota concealed carry restrictions by signing constitutional carry legislation (House Bill 1169) into law, allowing residents to conceal carry within the state, but there is still a concealed weapon permit system with two classifications of licenses for those who want to benefit from reciprocity.
One is a bit more difficult to qualify for than the other, but its reciprocity is covered by nearly 80 percent of the U.S.
All the same, one generally can’t legally concealed carry without a Class 1 or Class 2 license.
How to apply for the North Dakota concealed carry permit
The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is the state’s licensing authority, and processes all North Dakota concealed carry permit applications.
Step one: determine if you’re even eligible for the license.
- U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident alien status
- Legally qualify to possess a firearm
- 18 year old age requirement for Class 2 licenses, 21 for Class 1 licenses
- North Dakota residency, full-time active military duty stationed in North Dakota, or residency in a state sharing reciprocity with North Dakota and also having a valid permit within that home state
- No disqualifying offenses, screened through criminal background checks
Thirteen questions on the application form will also gauge criminal, mental, legal, controlled substance and other types of backgrounds.
Alcohol offenses in the past 10 years will bar an applicant from a Class 1 license, but not a Class 2 license. Notably, both licenses provide the same rights within North Dakota — one simply is recognized by more states because it has more stringent training standards.
While non-violent felony offenses and certain misdemeanor offenses usually restrict firearm possession, one may petition the courts in North Dakota to restore firearm privileges on those grounds. As this isn’t legal advice, contact an attorney on that one.
Step two: complete the online application, submit it and print a copy. The application is the same for new and renewal Class 1 and 2 licenses.
Take that printed copy to a North Dakota concealed weapon test administrator and complete the open book test. They will fill out information on the application form.
That test is required for both classes. Class 1 applicants will need to also attend classroom instruction, demonstrate firearms familiarity and complete a shooting proficiency test.
All testing must be completed in-state, but testing may be waived for licensed active duty North Dakota Peace Officers. There can and very well may be test administrator fees on top of the $60 application fees. These may be up to $50 with additional range fees.
When renewing Class 1 licenses, all testing must be completed again. Class 2 licenses need not go through this process, nor is retesting necessary if downgrading from a Class 1 license to Class 2.
After that, mail the application and fee to the BCI (this is the only way they will accept the final application) with the right documents.
- A photocopy of a current driver’s license
- Two color passport photos (no hats, glasses or any other funny business) with one’s name on the back of each
- For new applicants and those upgrading to Class 1: two fingerprint cards
- For nonresident applicants: a copy of their current, valid, home-state CCW permit that shares reciprocity with North Dakota
- For military applicants: a copy of PCS orders (no home-state CCW permit is necessary)
- For applicants born outside U.S.: a copy of U.S.-issued Born Abroad birth certificate, Alien Registration/INS Registration documentation, naturalization certificate or a valid U.S. passport (just one of these is necessary)
Allow for up to 60 days of processing time. If applicable, there will be a denial letter sent to those who do not qualify, and in it will be instructions on how to send a written request for review and reconsideration of the denied application.
No matter which license one has, it doesn’t allow carrying a weapon anywhere within the state.
North Dakota gun laws restrict firearms in certain locations
North Dakota gun laws limit where concealed weapons are carried just as much as who carries them.
Interestingly, firearms may not be knowingly possessed at locations where bingo is the primary gaming activity.
Concealed weapons may not be taken into establishments that sell liquor and allow liquor consumption on the designated premises, as per North Dakota Century Code 62.1-02-04. However, if the designated area is blocked off and there is a section on the premises where those under the age of 21 may also be, then a concealed weapon may be carried within that non-liquor serving portion of the premises.
North Dakota Century Code 62.1-02-05 outlines public gatherings as gun-free zones, but what even is a public gathering then? Schools, athletic/sporting events, churches and a publically owned or operated building.
But, good news: there are a few exceptions to “public gatherings” in the law. That nebulous term doesn’t extend to state or federal parks, students in hunter safety classes, gun shows, motor vehicles (but if loaded, only with a license, and unloaded or in a trunk without a license), public rest areas and restrooms, those licensed in churches with the religious leader’s approval and a few other notable areas under the section.
Under North Dakota Century Code 62.1-02-13, employers may not prohibit weapons stored in vehicles in their parking lots. They may not even ask about it. They may not condition employment on whether or not the employee does or does not have a license.
An employer also cannot terminate employment, discriminate against an employee or expel a customer from the premises for exercising the right to keep and bear arms and potentially exercising legal self-defense, as long as the firearm isn’t exhibited on the property for any reason other than “lawful defensive purposes,” according to North Dakota Century Code 62.1-02-13.
However, that doesn’t apply to elementary, middle and high school property; correctional facilities; property involving national defense, aerospace or homeland security; locations that deal with explosive materials; motor vehicles owned, leased or rented by an employer; the state hospital; and any other property where firearms are prohibited by federal or state law.
Beyond state location restrictions, reciprocity also plays a major role in how to concealed carry in North Dakota.
Why North Dakota concealed carry reciprocity matters
Yes, North Dakota concealed carry reciprocity is the measurement of who may travel to North Dakota with a recognized concealed carry permit or license, and where North Dakota residents may travel to with their license.
However, the real kicker is that reciprocity is, generally speaking, the deciding factor when choosing between a Class 1 or 2 license. The Class 1 license, which has more rigorous training and education standards, is recognized by 39 states, whereas the Class 2 is recognized by 25.
The specific states may be tracked with a CCW reciprocity map.
Those states that recognize the North Dakota concealed weapons license in their state will have their permits recognized in North Dakota, according to North Dakota Century Code 62.1-04-03.1.
It also will affect which nonresidents may apply for a North Dakota concealed weapons license. Only those within states North Dakota shares reciprocity with (while also owning that state’s CCW permit) may apply for the nonresident permit.
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About The Author
Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the pacific northwest. He graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in public relations and apparel.