Do You Need Your CCW Permit On You While Carrying?


This question comes up a lot.  Is it necessary to keep a concealed carry permit on your person all the time while you’re carrying?  Here’s a simple rule of thumb – if you’re not in a state with permitless concealed carry (i.e. Vermont), then yes.

Here’s why: if you need to use your pistol in defense, the police will ask to see your concealed carry permit.  Even in an open carry state, if you wear your firearm in that state’s definition of “concealed”, that requires a concealed carry permit.

Notable Exception: Open Carrying in Open Carry States

If you were wearing an outside the waistband holster that’s clearly visible, in an open carry state, you probably don’t need to show your concealed carry permit.  It does help.

Where It Pays To Have Your Concealed Carry Permit Ready

States have different names for their individual concealed carry permitting process.

If you’re traveling out of state, in a state that has a reciprocity agreement with your state, the first thing the police are going to want to see is your concealed carry permit.  They may call it something else.  But, especially in the event that someone was injured or even killed, they need to see that permit or those legal defense costs are going to sky-rocket quickly.  These titles include:

Term Abbrev. State(Ex.)
Concealed Handgun License CHL Texas
Concealed Handgun Permit CHP Louisiana
Concealed Firearm Permit CFP Utah
Concealed Carry License CCL Illinois
Concealed Carry Permit CCP Maine*
Conceal Carry Weapon Permit CCW Ohio
Concealed Defensive Weapon Permit CDWP
Concealed Deadly Weapon License CDWL Delaware
Concealed Weapons License CWL Idaho
Concealed Weapon Permit CWP South Carolina
License to Carry (Firearms) LTC/LTCF Pennsylvania
Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon CCDW Kentucky
Pistol/Revolver License PRL New Hampshire
*Constitutional carry as of July, 2015.

Questions Related to Carrying Your Permit On Your Person

Q: I just got word that my concealed carry permit has been issued and is in the mail.  Can I start carrying now?

Absolutely not!  Until that permit is physically on your person, you are not legally allowed to carry concealed.


This is because it poses a danger for you and those around you in the event you actually do need to use your firearm or, conversely, are confronted about having one in a public place.

If you have a concealed carry permit and are confronted about having a weapon – due to printing, spotting, or similar – you can legally justify it.  More importantly, if it’s not an officer of the law asking, you don’t have to respond.  Now, if you don’t have your concealed carry permit on you – you are tangibly breaking the law.

Q: What if a state I’m traveling to doesn’t have reciprocity with my state for CCW?

If the state you are in doesn’t acknowledge the state that issued your concealed carry permit, you cannot legally carry concealed in that state.  Period.

In many cases, you can apply for a non-resident permit.  With exception to New York, New Jersey, and California, non-residents are generally encouraged to investigate non-resident concealed carry permits if their home state isn’t duly acknowledged.

Q: If I need to use my concealed carry firearm and I don’t have my permit on me – what do I do?

Call an attorney.  Comply with all lawful orders given to you by law enforcement.

The best mentality to maintain is to understand the police’s viewpoint when dealing with you.  Without your permit on you, having just used your concealed carry firearm – the police have absolutely no idea if you’re a good guy or a bad guy.  Many factors depend on how the situation went down but ultimately – legally – this is a matter that needs to be put in the capable hands of legal council.

Q: I’m in a constitutional carry state – do I need my concealed carry permit on me?

If you come from a state that issued you a concealed carry permit – keep that permit on you while you’re armed.

Constitutional carry still has restrictions and limitations – it just allows for permitless concealed carry.

Even though Vermont is a constitutional carry state, the City of Burlington tried to pass a gun ban in 2013.   It was in effect for a little while until it was eventually overturned – but it goes to show that even in a constitutional carry state, restrictions apply.

Do you have any other questions related to concealed carrying?  Feel free to post them below or on our Facebook page.  We try to answer them in a timely manner!

About James England | View all posts by James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry…

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 36 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his CZ-75D PCR in an Alien Gear MOD holster.

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  • Chris Lee

    All valid points. Many internet commandos will claim that the Second Amendment is their permit, or that their citizenship is their permit. As much as I agree and think that yes, as American Citizens we all should have the Right to carry concealed or open without requiring a permit, it simply isn’t that way in most States.

    That being said, it would be prudent for anyone looking to carry a concealed weapon to first understand each and every State law surrounding concealed carry. Even if you’re just visiting a State with a reciprocity agreement with your issuing State. In some States you may be able to carry into a particular facility while in the State you’re visiting or you’re traveling through, you may not be able to carry in exact same facility.

    Some examples would be schools, banks, etc…

    Even if it was a good shoot, you may still be prosecuted for a firearms offense simply because you weren’t aware of the law. Also understand that in most States, carrying a concealed firearm without the legal permit is a serious offense and often carries a jail sentence with it. So travel and carry accordingly.

  • Theron Keller

    In Virginia, we had the law changed a few years back to make carrying your Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) similar to a driver’s license. It is no longer a “gun crime” to not have your permit on your person, but rather a civil fine, which can be waived if you show the court that you did have a permit. One should not be guilty of a gun crime for merely forgetting a wallet.

    Code of Virginia, § 18.2-308.01. Carrying a concealed handgun with a permit

    B. Failure to display the permit and a photo identification upon demand by a
    law-enforcement officer shall be punishable by a $25 civil penalty, which
    shall be paid into the state treasury. Any attorney for the Commonwealth of
    the county or city in which the alleged violation occurred may bring an
    action to recover the civil penalty. A court may waive such penalty upon
    presentation to the court of a valid permit and a government-issued photo

  • Wolf Wylde

    I live in Idaho. Upon clearance, I received a temporary paper copy to carry pending receipt of my actual permit/card. It stays with my license at all times . . . in this day and age, I would think it wise to carry your documentation at all times, even when not carrying. Even when not carrying, it is a step towards validating yourself as a legitimate, and law abiding citizen because most issue states do a full background check. A valid permit helps to instantaneously establish that fact.

  • Marc

    Which Glock is that in the picture?

    • T.B

      Looks like a Gen 3 19/23.

  • Creepermoss

    In Oregon, failure to produce a valid CHL is Prima Facie evidence that you do not have such a permit. Carry without your card, and you may never need one again.

  • Truth_Squad

    A non-law enforcement civilian told me they have the right to ask anyone to see their concealed weapons permit anytime or anywhere without getting in trouble with the law in Pennsylvania. Is this true???