Clearing Weapons

Generally speaking, firearms purchased in the United States and taken out of the country by a resident may be imported back into the country. However, it is the responsibility of the returning resident to provide a bill of sale or commercial document indicating proof of possession or ownership. Customs forms 4455, "Certificate of Registration," or 4457, “Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad,” may be used for this purpose.

However, guns purchased outside the United States are subject to complicated clearance procedures and are very difficult to import. You will need to apply for a permit by filling out the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Form 6, "Application and Permit for Importation of Firearms, Ammunition, and Implements of War." Active military personnel need to use a special form. To receive a form, contact any ATF office. The main office may be reach at:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
650 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Room 5300
Washington, D.C. 20226, U.S.A.
Phone: (202) 927-8320
Fax: (202) 927-2697

It is recommended that anyone considering the shipment of foreign-purchased guns into the States consult with a local U.S. consulate or embassy prior to departure.

Weapons, ammunition, and other devices prohibited by the National Firearms Act will be denied entry unless specifically authorized by the ATF. Due to the risk of accidental explosion, UniGroup Worldwide's policy stipulates that ammunition cannot be shipped with household goods.

Firearms manufactured before 1898 may be imported into the United States without difficulty. Ensure the gun is a genuine antique; replica firearms require authorization from the ATF to clear customs.


Weapons with fixed blades generally are permitted entry into the United States. However, souvenirs such as swords, camel whips, machetes, and similar items capable of being used as weapons could be in violation of local and state laws.

According to U.S. Customs, knives designed for “'utilitarian use' such as household purposes, personal grooming, trade or professional employment, crafts or hobbies, hunting and fishing, and scouting activities are also permitted unrestricted entry, provided that the imported knife does not open automatically and is not a switchblade." However, a switchblade is allowed for one-handed people for their personal use.

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