Shipping Firearms & Ammunition

It is LEGAL to ship firearms and ammunition but must be done in compliance with federal laws and by the shipping companies policies.

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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

As described below a "Nonlicensee" and "unlicensed person" is an individual (shipper) that does not possess a Federal Firearms License (FFL). A "Licensee" is an individual or company (gun store) that possesses an FFL. Common or Contract Carrier are carriers such as United Parcel Service (UPS) and Fed Ex.

May a nonlicensee ship a firearm through the U.S. Postal Service?
A nonlicensee may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensed resident of another state. A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of his or her own State or to a licensee in any state. The Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no markings of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms. Handguns are not mailable. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun.
[18 U.S.C. 1715, 922(a)(3), 922(a)(5) and 922 (a)(2)(A)]

May a nonlicensee ship a firearm by common or contract carrier
A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by a common or contract carrier to a resident of his or her own State or to a licensee in any State. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun. In addition, Federal law requires that the carrier be notified that the shipment contains a firearm and prohibits common or contract carriers from requiring or causing any label to be placed on any package indicating that it contains a firearm.
[18 U.S.C. 922(a)(2)(A), 922(a)(3), 922(a)(5) and 922(e), 27 CFR 478.31 and 478.30]

May a nonlicensee ship firearms interstate for his or her use in hunting or other lawful activity?
Yes. A person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in care of another person in the State where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner. Persons other than the owner should not open the package and take possession of the firearm.

Antique Firearms:
Antiques do not need to be shipped to a licensee. These can be shipped directly to another individual.
The ATF has defined an "Antique Firearm" as
(a) any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; and
(b) any replica of any firearm described in paragraph (a) of this definition if such replica;
(1) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fired ammunition, or
(2) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available to the ordinary channels of commercial trade.

Firearm parts:
Most parts do not need to shipped to a licensee. A firearm part which has a serial number must be treated as a complete firearm and must be shipped to a licensee.

Ammunition:
Ammunition must be shipped separately from packaging that contain firearms. Special labeling is required. Some carriers treat ammunition as dangerous or hazardous materials. Guidelines vary by carrier so ensure you check directly with the carrier for specific details.

Hunting in or traveling to another State:
A nonlicensee may ship a firearm to himself or herself in care of another person in the State where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner. Persons other than the owner should not open the package and take possession of the firearm.

Relocating out of State (moving):
A person who lawfully possesses a firearm may transport or ship the firearm interstate when changing his or her State of residence.
Certain NFA firearms must have prior approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) before they may be moved interstate. The person must notify the mover that firearms are being transported. He or she should also check State and local laws where relocating to ensure that movement of firearms into the new State does not violate any State or local ordinance.

See more ATF FAQ's