Illinois has a few extra steps for becoming a gun owner vs other states, but there are no special or extra steps if you live in Chicago or Cook County. Before 2013, Chicago used to have a Chicago Firearm Permit process, but that is now gone, and the gun registration is also gone.

In Illinois, the background check process for buying a firearm first involves applying for a firearm owner's card, often called FOID card.

It looks like this:

You apply for this card online on the ISP website. Filling out the application is relatively easy and costs $10.00.
You would pay with a credit card (or debit card, pre-pay card) or an electronic check.  Make sure the name and address you use matches your driver's license (or state ID card if you don't have a driver's license).   Check that the address includes the apartment or unit number in the same manner as the driver's license or state ID card.
The card should arrive to you in the mail in about 30-45 days.

Apply for a FOID with the ISP

Once you receive the card, you may use it for:

  • Renting firearms to try them out before buying one
  • Training classes
  • Purchase your first firearm and ammunition



Q: What is a FOID?
A: It is a background check card required by Illinois. All Illinois firearm owners must have one

Q: Do I need anything different or additional in Chicago or Cook County?
A: No, not after 2013.

Q: How do I get a FOID?
A: Apply for one on the Illinois State Police web site. The cost is $10.00, and they take about 30-45 days to arrive in the mail. Information should exactly match your driver’s license, and include a digital photo.

Apply here:

Q: What does that on-line application look like?  Is it complicated?
A: The ISP has an on-line process now,
it's hard to see the pages that will be displayed unless you are actually applying, 
but the ISP has a PDF document to show you what to expect:
ISP FOID Overview:

Q: Who qualifies for a FOID?
A: Generally, anyone who does not have a felony, and who doesn't have mental health issues or convictions for domestic issues. The ISP has a more detailed list on their web site:

Q: Does this FOID card allow me to carry a loaded gun?
A: No, it just allows you to own and transport a firearm. If you want to carry a loaded gun, you next apply for a FCCL

This is the concealed carry card - notice the blue heading (the FOID card has an orange heading):

Q: What can I do with a FOID card?
A: You may purchase a firearm and ammunition. An unloaded and encased firearm may be transported outside your home.

Q: Now that I'm going to buy or be around guns, what should I know?
A: You should know the four rules of firearm safety:

1. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
2. Never point the firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.

Q: How do I take a firearm home from a gun store?
A: The firearm must be unloaded and enclosed in a case. While in Illinois a case is any container that closes, you should consider using a gun case for extra safety. You can also use the box or container the firearm was packaged in, but a gun case may be better.

Q: How much does a gun case cost?
A: Common cases cost between $20.00 to $30.00

Q: What if I have children at home?
A: Firearms should be kept out of reach and/or locked away from children and from anyone who might not be responsible. Additionally, Chicago and Cook County both have storage requirement ordinances.