Non-Resident Licenses (When the Ohio Concealed Handgun License Isn't Enough)

Editor's Note: Laws and rules change. While the author sought to ensure accuracy at the time this article was published, it is incumbent upon the reader to verify any potential changes since then. CLICK HERE for the latest revised and expanded version.

By Ken Cormack

First things first – The Disclaimers: This article attempts to explain the concept of non-resident concealed carry licenses and permits, describes the application processes for some of the states that offer them, and lists the factors you should consider when choosing which non-resident licenses to obtain. It makes no attempt to describe the differences in the laws of the various states, with regard to firearms ownership in general, or concealed carry specifically.

Even if you choose not to obtain a non-resident license from any state, the following point still bears mentioning with regard to your Ohio Concealed Handgun License, since it too, allows you to carry concealed in several states other than Ohio: It is up to you to research and understand the laws of each state you plan to visit, whether simply transporting, or carrying a firearm in any state. This cannot be overstated as it can mean the difference between a pleasant trip, and an arrest. These laws vary widely from state to state, and only the laws of the state you are in at the time, apply. Know the laws of the states into which you plan to bring your handgun. Professional legal assistance is advised, to answer any questions.

To this, Buckeye Firearms Association's Legislative Chair Ken Hanson adds the following: “Most federal law exemptions for CHLs apply only to a resident license, in the resident's home state. For example, the federal school zone restriction doesn't apply to someone with a CHL, but only if it is a resident license, and inside the state of residence". So again, readers are cautioned to perform careful legal research, and consult professional legal assistance.

WHAT IS A NON-RESIDENT LICENSE, AND WHY WOULD I WANT ONE?

Simply stated, a non-resident license is a license from a given state, offered to citizens who do not live in that state. For states that offer both resident and non-resident classes of licenses, this can be a factor in where those licenses are valid. Possession of a non-resident license generally allows legal carry in any state that recognizes a resident class license from the issuing state. However, this is not universally the case. Colorado (CO), Florida (FL), Kansas (KS), Michigan (MI), New Hampshire (NH), South Carolina (SC), and West Virginia (WV) only honor licenses for residents of the issuing state. They do not honor non-resident licenses. Careful selection of non-resident concealed handgun licenses can greatly expand the number of states in which you could legally carry your handgun, beyond the states already available with an Ohio CHL.

WHERE IS EACH LICENSE VALID?

Let us first look at the Ohio Concealed Handgun License, and the states in which that license is honored.

OHIO CONCEALED HANDGUN LICENSE
Valid: AK*¹, AR*, AZ*², DE*, FL*³, ID*², IN², KSº, KY*², MI*²³, MNº, MO*², MTº, NC*, NMº, OH, OK*², SC*³, SD², TN*², UT*², VA*, VT¹, WA*, WV*³, WY*

The above list shows the sum total of all states in which the Ohio license is currently valid. This list includes Ohio itself, the 18 states with which Ohio has mutual reciprocity (at the time of this writing), and Vermont (which requires no license at all). Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, and New Mexico are listed, which specifically honor Ohio, without concern for mutual reciprocity. (The Ohio license is honored there, but Ohio does not recognize their licenses.) And finally, Indiana and South Dakota are included, which honor licenses from ANY state, without concern for mutual reciprocity.

To expand the list of states in which an Ohio licensee can legally carry, we'll examine a few particular non-resident licenses. They are:

THE PENNSYLVANIA NON-RESIDENT LICENSE
Valid: AK*¹, AR*, AZ*², FL*³, GA, ID*², IN², KY², LA, MO*², MS, MTº, NC*, ND, OK*², PA, SD², TN*², TX, UT*², VA*, VT¹, WY*

THE NEW HAMPSHIRE³ NON-RESIDENT LICENSE
Valid: AK*¹, AL, AZ*², GA, ID*², IN², KY*², LA, MO*², MS, NC*, ND, NH, OK*², PA, SD², TN*², UT*², VT¹, WY*

THE FLORIDA NON-RESIDENT LICENSE
Valid: AK*¹, AL, AR*, AZ*², DE*, FL*³, GA, ID*², IN², KY*², LA, MO*², MS, MTº, NC*, ND, NM, NV, OH, OK*², PA, SD², TN*², TX, UT*², VA*, VT¹, WY*

THE MAINE NON-RESIDENT LICENSE
Valid: AK*¹, AZ*², ID*², IN², KY*², ME, MO*², OK*², SD², TN*², UT*², VT¹

*States having mutual reciprocity with Ohio - Alaska (AK), Arizona (AZ), Arkansas (AR), Delaware (DE), Florida (FL), Idaho (ID),Kentucky (KY), Michigan (MI), Missouri (MO), North Carolina (NC), Oklahoma (OK), South Carolina (SC), Tennessee (TN), Utah(UT), Virginia (VA), Washington (WA), West Virginia (WV), and Wyoming (WY)

º States that honor the Ohio license specifically, without need of mutual reciprocity – Kansas (KS), Minnesota (MN), Montana (MT),
and New Mexico (NM)

¹ States where anyone who can legally own a firearm can carry it concealed, with no permit or license required - Vermont (VT) and Alaska (AK)

² States that honor licenses and permits issued by any other state, without need of mutual reciprocity - Arizona (AZ), Idaho (ID), Indiana (IN), Kentucky (KY), Michigan (MI), Missouri (MO), Oklahoma (OK), South Dakota (SD), Tennessee (TN), and Utah (UT)

³ States that only honor licenses / permits for residents of the issuing state. They do not honor non-resident permits from other states - Colorado (CO), Florida (FL), Kansas (KS), Michigan (MI), New Hampshire (NH), South Carolina (SC), and West Virginia (WV)

The Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida, and Maine lists above show the states in which each of those NON-RESIDENT licenses is valid.As you can see, there can be a great deal of overlap in where each license is accepted. For example, Arizona (AZ)accepts the Ohio license, as well as non-resident licenses from Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida, and Maine. To highlight this overlap, any state that recognizes the Ohio license is shown above in ITALICS, when it also appears in the lists for the non-resident licenses.

The states appearing above in BOLD show the net gain to an Ohio-licensed person, should you choose to obtain the non-resident license from the state in whose list the BOLD states appear. For example, although the Maine non-resident license is valid in 12 states, eleven of those states are already covered by an Ohio license. Thus, the eleven covered by Ohio are shown in ITALICS, while Maine, being the only state in the Maine list which does not appear in the Ohio list, is shown in BOLD. The BOLD states, therefore, are your net gain in number of states in which you can legally carry, should you choose to obtain the relevant non-resident license.

NOTE: Although a state may honor both your Ohio CHL and a non-resident license, as a resident of Ohio I recommend that you rely primarily on your Ohio license when traveling in those states. In other words, when traveling in Arizona, leverage your primary Ohio license's direct reciprocity with Arizona, rather than relying upon any of the out-of-state non-resident licenses discussed here. This will minimize confusion for both you AND for any law enforcement officer you may come in contact with. The exception to this, is Florida. IF you obtain a Florida non-resident license, use that as your primary license when in Florida. (If you do not obtain a Florida non-resident license, you are still covered in Florida by reciprocity, with your Ohio license.)

HOW THESE CONCEALED HANDGUN LICENSES COMBINE, FOR DIFFERENT NET YIELDS

An OHIO Concealed Handgun License provides...

OH (of course)

PLUS...

States with mutual reciprocity with Ohio

AK, AR, AZ, DE, FL, ID, KY, MI, MO, NC, OK, SC, TN, UT, VA, WA, WV, WY

PLUS...

Additional states not already listed, that honor either the Ohio license specifically, or that of “any” state
IN, KS, MN, MT, NM, SD

PLUS...

VT – No license needed

This results in the following total list of states in which you can legally carry a concealed handgun...
AK, AR, AZ, DE, FL, ID, IN, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NM, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WY
(26 States, Total, or 52% of the country)

Add just a PENNSYLVANIA non-resident license to your Ohio CHL, and the following additional states become available to an Ohio resident...

PA (of course)

PLUS...

States not already listed under Ohio, which honor a PA non-resident license
GA, LA, MS, MT, ND, TX

This results in the following total list of states in which you can legally carry a concealed handgun...
AK, AR, AZ, DE, FL,GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NM, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WY
(32 States, Total, or 64% of the country)

COST: $26 (Cost ratio of $5.20 per state, for the 6 additional states gained.)

Or...
Add just a NEW HAMPSHIRE non-resident license to your Ohio CHL, and the following additional states become available to an Ohio resident...

NH (of course)

PLUS...

States not already listed under Ohio, which honor a NH non-resident license
AL, GA, LA, MS, ND, PA

This results in the following total list of states in which you can legally carry a concealed handgun...
AK, AL, AR, AZ, DE, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NH, NM, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WY
(33 States, Total or 66% of the country)

COST: $20 (Cost ratio of $3.33 per state, for the 6 additional states gained.)

Or...
Add just a FLORIDA non-resident license, and the following additional states become available to an Ohio resident...

FL (Note: Because Florida itself is already covered via reciprocity with Ohio, we don't really count it here as an“additional” state)...

PLUS...

States not already listed under Ohio, which honor a FL non-resident license
AL, GA, LA, MS, ND, NV, PA, TX

This results in the following total list of states in which you can legally carry a concealed handgun...
AL, AK, AR, AZ, DE, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NM, NV, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WY
(34 States, Total, or 68% of the country)

COST: $117 (Cost ratio of $14.62 per state, for the 8 additional states gained.)

Or...
Add just a MAINE non-resident license to your Ohio CHL, and the following additional states become available to an Ohio resident...

ME (of course)

Although the Maine non-resident license is valid in 12 states, the eleven states other than Maine are already covered by the Ohio license.

This results in the following total list of states in which you can legally carry a concealed handgun...
AK, AR, AZ, DE, FL, ID, IN, KS, KY, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NM, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, and WY
(27 States, Total, or 54% of the country)

COST: $60 (Cost ratio of $60.00 per state, for the 1 additional state gained.)

Or...Add ALL of the PENNSYLVANIA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, FLORIDA and MAINE non-resident licenses to your Ohio CHL, for the following total list of states in which you can legally carry a concealed handgun...

AK, AL, AR, AZ, DE, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NH, NM, NV, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WY
(36 States, Total, or 72% of the country)

COST: $223 (Cost ratio of $22.30 per state, for the 10 additional states gained.)

HOW THESE NON-RESIDENT LICENSES COMPARE

If comparing solely based on flat out-of-pocket cost for each application, without regard to how many (or which) states are offered by a given license, the winner is New Hampshire ($20), followed closely by Pennsylvania ($26), then Maine ($60),and finally Florida ($117).

If comparing solely based on the number of additional states offered by each individual non-resident license, without regard for cost or which particular states are covered, the order of preference changes thus: Florida in 1st,with 8 states gained. New Hampshire is 2nd, with 7, Pennsylvania is 3rd, with 6 states gained, and Maine is 4th, at just 1 state gained.

The number of states gained by each license, however, can be greatly influenced, and the apparent clear winners above, can become just an “also ran”, when you begin combining non-resident licenses, as explained later, as more sophisticated comparisons are possible, and warranted.

On the basis of “cost per number of states” in which the licensee can legally carry, the best “bang for the buck” is New Hampshire, at $20 for a 7 state gain, or $2.85 per additional state. A New Hampshire non-resident license is also the only non-resident license accepted in NH. They really don't need to honor other states' licenses since they offer one of their own to any licensee of any state, quite inexpensively.

Pennsylvania follows very close behind, at $26, for a 6 state gain, at $5.20 per additional state.

Florida, though providing the largest gain in additional states for any single non-resident license, falls solidly into third place based on cost per state at $117 for a 8 state gain, or $14.62 per additional state. This cost gets even higher if you factor in expenses for getting fingerprinted (I paid $15 at the local BMV – not all Police Departments will print for free any more), for the services of a Notary Public (another $2, also at the BMV), and the $9 I paid for passport photos. These additional expenses raise the cost ratio to $17.87 per additional state gained.

Consider too, that if you only want to be legal in Florida, you do NOT need this license, as Florida already has reciprocity with Ohio, and thus accepts an Ohio license. If you choose to get a Florida license, it'll be to gain the states other than Florida itself, which honor the Florida non-resident license, and which do not accept an Ohio CHL. This point stands out among the non-resident licenses I chose to obtain. None of the other states from which I obtained non-resident licenses (NH, ME, or PA) were already covered by an Ohio license.

Coming in last is Maine, at $60 for a single-state net gain. Factor in the $9 I paid for passport photos to accompany this application, and the total becomes $69. It's the only option if you are planning on going to Maine, as Maine does not honor any state license but their own. However, just like New Hampshire, they don't need to honor other licenses since they offer one of their own to any licensee of any state.

MIX AND MATCH - PLAYING THE NUMBERS GAME

When considering a Florida non-resident license, if you don't need NV or TX, then AL, GA, LA, MS, NH, ND and PA can all be gained for far less money, through the much cheaper New Hampshire non-resident license. If you already have a NH non-resident license, this lowers the Florida net gain to just 2 states, and increases the cost ratio of obtaining the Florida non-resident license to $58.50 per additional state gained.

If you don't need AL or NV, then GA, LA, MS, ND, PA and TX can all be gained for far less money, through the much cheaper Pennsylvania non-resident license. If you already have a PA non-resident license, this also lowers the Florida net gain to just 2 states, and increases the cost ratio of obtaining a Florida non-resident license again, to $58.50 per additional state gained.

If you don't need NV, then AL, GA, LA, MS, ND, PA and TX can all be gained for far less money, through a combination of BOTH the much cheaper New Hampshire AND Pennsylvania non-resident licenses (a combined cost of $46.00, for a cost ratio of $5.75 per state to gain all the states also offered by Florida, with the exception of NV, with NH thrown in for good measure.) If you already have the NH and PA non-resident licenses, this lowers the Florida net gain to just 1 state, increasing the cost ratio of the additional Florida-specific state gain, to $117.00 per additional state.

Certainly, additional combinations are possible, each one changing the total cost, the net yield in number of states, and the cost ratio of price per additional state gained. The examples above gave priority to obtaining the least expensive licenses first, for the best cost ratios, and greatest yield. Describing additional combinations here, is simply beating a dead horse. The point to remember for those considering the Florida license for the large number of states in which it is valid, is to consider that less expensive alternatives are available, save for a one of two state difference. If you don't need those one or two states, you can save a lot of cash by skipping the Florida license.

OBTAINING THE FL, ME, NH, AND PA NON-RESIDENT LICENSES

FLORIDA - Can be obtained by mail

The necessary forms can be requested from the web site of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Licensing. Point your web browser to the following web page:

There are 4 items you will need to order from the web page:

The application itself - “Concealed Weapon or Firearm Application”
Fingerprint cards - “Fingerprint Card – Firearm Licenses”
The instructions - “How to be licensed to Carry a Concealed Weapon or Firearm”
And finally - “Questions and Answers Pertaining to the Use of Deadly Force” (This explains Florida Law)

The materials will be mailed to you at no cost, and will arrive in about a week. Follow the instructions and complete the forms.

You will need to submit the following with your application:

A passport-type photo
Copies of any firearms training certificates (Page 2 of the instructions lists what's acceptable)
You must be fingerprinted by a trained agency (I had mine done at the local BMV for $15)...
(Important – see the FINGERPRINT CARD INSTRUCTIONS note on Page 3 of the instructions)
The application will need to be notarized when you sign (also available at the BMV for $2)

The cost is $117, is valid for 5 years, and it takes up to 90 days to process the application.

MAINE – Can be obtained by mail

The necessary forms can be obtained from the web site of the Maine Department of Public Safety, Maine State Police.Point your web browser to the following web page:

Select “Weapons Permits and Professional Licensing”. You will need the “Concealed Firearms Booklet” (this explains Maine's firearms laws) and the “Non-resident Concealed Firearms Permit Application”.

Mail everything to:

Chief of the Maine State Police
Dept. of Public Safety – Maine State Police
Licensing Division
164 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0164

Phone (207) 624-7210

You will need to submit the following with your completed application:

The two “Authority to Release Information” forms at the end of the application – Sign them
Photocopies of all concealed firearms permits/licenses you may have from other states
A copy of your DD-214 (if you were in the military)
A copy of your birth certificate or INS document
Two color passport photos

Proof of knowledge of handgun safety (copies of any firearms training certificates you may have)

The cost is $60, is valid for 4 years, and the time to process the application is up to 60 days for non-resident licenses (My check cleared within 12 days, so I'm hopeful I'll be seeing the license much sooner than that.)

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Can be obtained by mail

Download the “Application for Non-Resident Pistol / Revolver License” available at the following web page:

Mail everything to:

NH State Police
Permits and Licensing Unit
33 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03305

You will need to submit the following with your completed application:

A copy (front and back) of your valid Ohio Concealed Handgun License

The cost is $20, is valid for 4 years, and according to the State Police web site, the time to process is listed as 14 days. If denied, you will receive written notification of the reason for denial. If you have not received a response after three weeks, call (603) 271-3575.

(Update: The recorded greeting on that phone number indicates that processing of applications is currently taking one month.)

PENNSYLVANIA – Can be obtained by mail

The necessary application form can be obtained from the web site of the Centre County Sheriff by pointing your browser to the following link:

Mail everything to:

Centre County Sheriff's Office
213 East High Street
Bellefonte, PA 16823

You will need to submit the following with your completed application:

A photocopy of your Ohio Concealed Handgun License
A photocopy of your Drivers License
A Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope

The cost is $26, is valid for 5 years, and the time to process was an astounding 9 days! (This even included a weekend,and two days postal transit time in each direction. I was so impressed with what I calculate was a 3-day in-office turn-around, that I sent a personal “Thank You” to Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau and his staff.)

WHY I CHOSE THE FL, ME, NH, AND PA NON-RESIDENT LICENSES

So why did I opt to apply for all four of the non-resident licenses that I chose (FL, ME, NH and PA)? I travel each year to northern New England, and neither New Hampshire nor Maine accept the Ohio license. Nor do they accept any states' non-resident license but their own. Until the Ohio Attorney General negotiates reciprocity with those states, my only options for carry in New Hampshire or Maine are each state's own non-resident licenses.

I purchased the PA license because I often travel to and through Pennsylvania. The Ohio and Maine licenses are not valid there, but the New Hampshire and Florida licenses. Additionally, I gain Texas, and when coupled with the New Hampshire license, I thus have access to every state offered by the Florida non-resident license, except Nevada.

I hadn't initially considered Florida due to cost. However, having later obtained Florida to gain Nevada, the PA license becomes redundant (FL + NH gives everything that FL + NH + PA offers.) When the PA and FL licenses come due for renewal, I'll re-evaluate the need for Nevada. If I still need it, I will drop the Pennsylvania license and renew Florida ($117). If I no longer need Nevada, I will drop Florida, and renew Pennsylvania ($26). The states in which each license is valid could always change between now and then, as well.

The above map shows all the states with which the combined OH, FL, ME, NH, and PA licenses will allow me to legally carry concealed. Although the map does not show Alaska, it's covered, as well, as both a state with Ohio reciprocity, or as a state (like Vermont) where no license or permit is required.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER STATES THAT OFFER NON-RESIDENT LICENSES?

The following additional states offer non-resident licenses, though you will see the reasons I declined to pursue any of these:

Arizona (AZ) – Non-resident licenses cannot be obtained by mail, and your training must take place in Arizona.

Connecticut (CT) – Will allow application by mail, but as a “May Issue” state, the issuing authority may arbitrarily choose to deny your application.

Idaho (ID) - Will allow application by mail, but you have to go there to pick up the license.

Indiana (IN) - Non-resident licenses appear to be available only to owners of businesses located in Indiana.

Iowa (IA) - Cannot be applied for by mail, is only valid for one year, and as a “May Issue” state, the issuing authority may arbitrarily choose to deny your application.

Maryland (MD) - Non-resident licenses cannot be obtained by mail, and you must show cause for fear (with police reports, etc.) Nearly impossible to obtain.

Massachusetts (MA) - Available by mail, but very expensive ($100 per year!) There's a ton of paperwork, and first-time applicants for a Massachusetts non-resident license must receive training from a Massachusetts-certified firearms instructor. Your firearm must be registered with the state (or there's a mandatory 1-year minimum prison sentence.) You would also need a separate Massachusetts Firearms ID card just to buy or possess ammunition within the state.

Minnesota (MN) – Non-resident licenses cannot be obtained by mail. You can apply with any sheriff, but must do so in person.

Nevada (NV) - Non-resident licenses cannot be obtained by mail. You can apply with any sheriff, but must do so in person.

New Jersey (NJ) - Non-resident licenses cannot be obtained by mail. This state makes obtaining a non-resident license extremely difficult, and New Jersey's firearms laws are hideous and confusing.

North Dakota (ND) - Non-resident licenses cannot be obtained by mail, and training must come from a North Dakota certified instructor.

Oregon (OR) - Will only issue non-resident licenses to residents of adjacent states (Washington, California, Idaho and Nevada.)

Rhode Island (RI) - Issuance is discretionary (“may issue”), and there are inconsistencies between Attorney General and Licensing Authority requirements.

South Carolina (SC) - Readily available to non-residents who own property in South Carolina, but non-property owners must “show a need”.

Texas (TX) - Non-residents must first obtain a Texas ID, and have a safety class given by a Texas-certified firearms instructor.

Utah (UT) - Although the entire process can be handled by mail, you must have training by a Utah-certified firearms instructor.

Virginia (VA) - The entire process can be completed by mail, offering coverage in LA, MT, NM, PA, and TX, beyond what the Ohio license provides. If you already have a Florida non-resident license, you already have these states covered. (Pennsylvania also offers all except NM.)

Washington (WA) - Non-resident licenses cannot be obtained by mail.

Every license obtained provides additional freedom to move throughout the country, in the states to which you travel, ableto defend yourself and your loved ones. Each license obtained from the various states also lends validity and political weight to the pro-gun community's efforts in each state to lobby for improvements to their respective concealed carry legislation.

Obtaining these additional licenses demonstrates the need for national reciprocity. As I think about my concealed handgun licenses I know how I would feel if I had to apply for, and carry, a wallet full of non-resident drivers licenses. I have to consider what I would do if I had to drive through a state that either didn't honor my home-state's license, didn't offer a non-resident license, and didn't honor the non-resident licenses of other states. What would I do if I couldn't obtain such licenses by mail? What would it be like if the only training that passed muster in a given state was training offered only by an instructor certified by that state?

For now, there's just something about knowing I can legally carry my concealed handgun in 36 states (72% of the country.) And if relating my experience in obtaining these additional licenses helps others realize what's possible, and can motivate them to obtain one or more non-resident licenses for themselves, then I've done “A Good Thing™” helping fellow Ohio CHL-holders enjoy greater levels of freedom and personal safety, in their travels throughout the United States.

For more information on carrying concealed in other states, check out http://www.handgunlaw.us .

Ken Cormack is a “Defender” of Buckeye Firearms Association.


Editor's Note: Laws and rules change. While the author sought to ensure accuracy at the time this article was published, it is incumbent upon the reader to verify any potential changes since then. CLICK HERE for the January 2009 revised and expanded version.

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