Disclaimer: The topics and guidelines discussed in this post pertain to the importing and exporting of firearms in the United States only. For regulations governing the import and export of firearms in a country other than the U.S., please consult with your local governing bodies.
Online auctions and marketplaces like GunBroker.com have opened up collector and antique firearms to a global audience. While this is great news when you’ve got an item up for sale, it can turn quickly turn into a hassle if the buyer lives overseas. While shipping internationally isn’t impossible, there are strict processes that must be followed anytime you import or export firearms from the United States.
Do Your Homework
Firearms laws vary greatly from country to country. As a seller, it’s important to do some digging should you have a buyer located abroad – for example it can be nearly impossible to import a handgun in Japan. There are also a number of items that are illegal to import or export from country to country. In the U.S., these items include such things as armor-piercing ammunition, high-capacity magazines and certain items deemed to be considered assault rifles. Because the laws vary so greatly from place to place, you’ll need to work with an firearms exporting expert who can help you through the process, which bring us to our next topic.
Exporting Firearms from the United States
Firearms can only be exported from the United States via a licensed exporter that is located within the United States. Much like businesses or individuals with an Federal Firearms License (FFL), these exporters are properly licensed and have the depth of knowledge needed when working with customs departments around the globe. GunBroker.com has a list of firearms exporters, or you can check around locally for recommendations or through search engines like Google.
Importing Firearms into the United States
Those without a FFL license MAY NOT import any item considered to be a firearm. Any individual with a FFL may import a firearm for personal use or for another individual. While the FFL holder does not need to posses an importer’s license of occasional imports, there are certain forms that are required:
The licensee must first submit a ATF Form 6, Part I to the Imports Branch for approval. The licensee may then present the approved Form 6 and completed ATF Form 6A to the U.S. Customs Service. Contact the Bureau of ATF, Imports Branch, Washington, DC 20226, (202) 927-8320 for forms.
Items that may be accessories but are not considered to be actual firearms may be imported without any special consideration or precautions. This would include things like holsters, scopes, ammo bags, etc.
Again, because of the wide variance in rules and regulations, we highly recommend contacting your preferred FFL holder to discuss the item you’re looking to purchase prior to transferring any funds. Because of the frequency with which regulations can change, these FFL import and export experts can be the difference between securing a great find or spending your cash on fines and lawyer’s fees.
Click to view the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ FAQ on importing and exporting firearms.