Below are some guidelines for shipping firearms and ammunition, along with notes related to specific shippers. We encourage you to review the specific shipper’s web site as shippers have different guidelines.
You must ship to an FFL holder:
Federal law requires all modern firearms be shipped to a holder of a valid Federal Firearms License (FFL). Any person who is legally allowed to own a firearm is legally allowed to ship it to an FFL holder for any legal purpose (including sale or resale).
[18 U.S.C. 922(a)(2)(A), 922(a) (3), 922(a)(5) and 922(e), 27 CFR 178.31, 27 CFR 478.31 and 478.30]
(B9) May a nonlicensee ship a firearm by carrier?
A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by 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.
(B8) May a nonlicensee ship a firearm through the U. S. Postal Service?
A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of his or her own state or to a licensee in any state. Handguns are not mailable. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun. A nonlicensee may not transfer any firearm to a nonlicensed resident of another state. The Postal Service recommends that longguns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms.
Any shipper who does not have an FFL is considered to be an unlicensed person. Unlicensed persons can ship modern firearms to their home or a licensed FFL dealer only. If the buyer is not licensed, they will need to make arrangements to have the item shipped any address of chosen or to a licensed FFL dealer in their state.
Knives, air guns, accessories, and most gun parts:
These items need not be shipped to an FFL holder. Note, however, that each firearm contains at least one part the ATF considers a firearm, typically the part containing the serial number. This part must be treated as a complete firearm when shipping the item.
US Mail – unlicensed persons:
- Unlicensed persons can ship a rifle or shotgun by US Mail.
- Unlicensed persons cannot ship a handgun by US Mail. Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (for example, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles) are defined as handguns.
- Postal regulations allow the Post Office to open your package for inspection.
- Ammunition cannot be shipped by US Mail.
US Mail – licensed persons:
- Licensed persons can ship rifles, shotguns, or handguns by US Mail. In fact, we suggest you use the USPS, as it is now the most cost-effective way to ship a handgun.
- To ship a rifle or shotgun, you need only inform the Post Office the package contains a firearm.
- A licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer can ship a handgun via the US Post Office if the licensed dealer fills out a US Post Office Form PS 1508 and files it with the local Post Office branch where the handgun is to be shipped.
- UPS will accept handgun shipments by Next Day Air only.
- Rifles and shotguns can be shipped by UPS ground service.
- UPS will accept shipments of ammunition. Special labeling is required
FedEx – licensed persons:
- FedEx will allow a licensed person to ship firearms. Contact the carrier for details and to arrange shipment.
FedEx – unlicensed persons:
- FedEx will not allow an unlicensed person to ship a firearm.
Most other shippers:
Most other shippers will no longer accept firearm shipments. Airborne and Roadway have specifically prohibited firearm shipments.
Page C-39, section 3.0, Rifles and Shotguns: “Although unloaded rifles and shotguns not precluded by 1.1e and 1.2 are mailable, mailers must comply with the Gun Control Act or 1968, Public Law 90-618, 18 USC 921, et seq., and the rules and regulations promulgated there under, 27 CFR 178, as well as state and local laws. The mailer may be required by the USPS to establish, by opening the parcel or by written certification, that the gun is unloaded and not precluded by 1.1e.”
Page C-39, section 6.0, PROHIBITED PARCEL MARKING: “For any parcel containing a firearm or a ballistic or switchblade knife, any marking that indicates the contents is not permitted on the outside wrapper or container.”
The following pertains only to licensed dealers shipping handguns:
Page C-37, section 1.3, Authorized Persons: “Subject to 1.4, handguns may be mailed by a licensed manufacturer of firearms, a licensed dealer of firearms, or an authorized agent of the federal government…….”
Page C-38, section 1.5, Manufacturers and Dealers: “Handguns may also be mailed between licensed manufacturers of firearms and licensed dealers of firearms in customary trade shipments, or for repairing or replacing parts.”
Page C-38, section 1.6, Certificate of Manufacturers and Dealers: “A licensed manufacturer or dealer need not file the affidavit under 1.4, but must file with the postmaster a statement on Form 1508 signed by the mailer that he or she is a licensed manufacturer or dealer of firearms, that the parcels containing handguns (or major components thereof) are customary trade shipments or contain such articles for repairing or replacing parts, and that to the best of his or her knowledge or belief the addressees are licensed manufacturers or dealers of firearms.”