Should Texans Get a Texas CHL or a License from Another State?

I’ve seen ads in the paper and booths at the gun show offering Texans a CHL license from other states.  Or more precisely, offering Texans a license but failing to mention that it isn’t a Texas issued license being offered.  It used to be Utah licenses that were popular.  These days, it is primarily a Florida license since Utah laws have changed in recent years.  Utah no longer issues licenses to people who live in a state that has a CHL program unless that person already has a license from their own state.   So, should you get a Texas CHL or opt for a license from another state?  Like with most decisions, there are pros and cons.

Benefits of getting a license from another state that Texas will honor:

  • Shorter class time to get a new license
  • No shooting range qualification to demonstrate proficiency
  • Depending on the state, no written test
  • Lower state license fees in some cases though class cost is generally similar
  • Texas honors the license from the other state through state-to-state reciprocity agreements


Negative consequences of a Texan having a license from some other state:

  • Travel is complicated.  Some states only recognize licenses held by a resident of the issuing state.  In other words, Colorado may only recognize a Florida license if the license holder actually lives in Florida.   A Texan in Colorado carrying with a Texas license is legal, but a Texan carrying in Colorado with a Florida license may be committing an offense.
  • A non-Texas class isn’t going to cover Texas law.  The Texas class teaches Texans the rules on where one can and cannot carry,  what the laws are pertaining to the use of force, etc.  These laws differ from state to state.
  • License eligibility requirements may differ.   The laws of another state may say that you are eligible for their license but you could be ineligible to get a Texas license under Texas eligibility requirements.  That fact could be brought up in court should you ever use your firearm defensively or violate a Texas firearm related statute.
  • Licenses from other states like Florida are valid for longer than 5 years.  This means that unlike a Texas license, they cannot be used as a replacement for the seller phoning in a background check.  This means firearm purchases may take longer or result in having to come back in a week to pick up the purchase.

In my personal opinion,  getting a license from some other state is not a substitute for a license from your own state.  Only your own state’s class will teach the laws of your state.     My advice is that a Texan should get a Texas license.  You will know you meet the eligibility criteria and you will receive instruction pertaining to Texas laws.    The Texas license may involve a little longer class, a written test, and range qualification, but it is worth the investment of a little extra time to know the laws of your home state.

After you have a license from your home state, you might want to consider getting another state’s license because that license may be accepted by some additional states which do not honor the Texas license.   Many people get a Texas license and then go get a Utah and/or Florida license so that the expiration dates overlap.  This way if you do ever have a license that expires before your renewal arrives, you have another license with overlapping expiration.

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