Administration or public agency, hunters & sport shooters or quite simply a collector, it is not easy to order a weapon or a product subject to an import or export license. Because depending on the legislation of your country, the one in which you want to acquire something essential to your mission or your passion, it will be complex (even downright discouraging) not to make mistakes in the drafting of your file, in choosing the right administrative documents to provide or the various steps to follow, we have decided to take advantage of the networks (administrations, legal firms, manufacturers, etc.) that we use on a daily basis to enable our customers, civilians and military personnel, to be able to buy “off the shelf” everything they need… or want!

The import of weapons and ammunition from the USA (or other products listed on the American Munition List):

Largely dominated by the USA (32% of the world market over the period 2013/2017), arms exports - from missile-type weapon systems to a simple AR15 - from this country are perfectly codified under the authority of two separate administrations (under the aegis of the US Department of State), ATF and BIS - we will not discuss OFAC here. The ATF (bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives) will be more specifically in charge of examining exports for all products subject to ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and USML (US Munitions List) legislation, i.e. Most products intended for armies (rockets, tanks, planes, etc.), certain weapons and ammunition and certain electronic products (IR optics, thermal vision, etc.). The BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security) will regulate products subject to the EAR (Export Administration Regulations) and the CCL (Commerce Control List), which represents a vast list of products (in particular ballistic protection, shotguns and certain optics such as red dots.

Depending on the membership of one or the other ITAR and USML or EAR and CCL regulations, the export process, the administrative elements, the file to be submitted, the tax and the processing time will be different. It should be noted that below certain amounts (mainly for the EAR and the CCL) the "friendly" countries of the USA are exempt from license and will be considered NLR (Non License Required).

Of course, export to countries under sanctions or embargo will be impossible, unless specifically authorized. Similarly, any export of products submitted to ITAR or USML to the production by the customer (whether trader, end-user or distributor) of an import license validated by the competent authorities of the country of delivery .

Import / Export of Weapons - General Principles:

There are as many import / export and arms control regulations as there are countries (with the notable exception of the Schengen area which has a common regulation more or less accepted and implemented by its member states). Similarly, most countries have an agency dedicated to the development of exports of their arms industries, with a specific procurement system, and (except in France) subject to a tax (more or less high). Of course, any sale of weapons for export (or of products considered as such) is supposed to be under the control of the UN, which has a dedicated office, UNODA, and according to the rules established by the TCA ( Treatment of Arms Trade) - some think-tanks (small arms survey, SIPRI ...) and associations have also specialized in this sector.

In practice - and for transportation and delivery to be legal - whether you are a government or a local baker, the following administrative documents are required:

  • The official authorization of the exporting country (where the seller is located)
  • The official authorization of the importing country (the customer is located)
  • An End User Certificate (a document that officially determines who will use the delivered material - this document will mostly provide the services that authorize the export)
  • All the documents required for transport (transport slip ...)

Once the goods arrive at their destination, according to the customs control rules, it will be necessary to call a customs forwarder (who has the appropriate authorization to keep the goods until the customs control has been done and - impossible to cut it - that taxes have been paid).

The particular case of IPC member countries

A set of 14 countries adhere to the CIP (Standing International Commission for the Firearms Test). This body, hosted by the Belgian government has established a convention that allows member countries recognition of the different marks of proof on weapons, and defined the technical rules (resistance to pressure and the type of projectile, approvals, "ball d "steel" ...) that ensure the quality of weapons and ammunition manufactured by the signatories or imported by them or within their borders.

Concretely this implies, for an import from the US or from any non-member country of the IPC, AND BEFORE THE WEAPON IS GIVEN TO THE CLIENT, a passage through the test bench, which will punch the weapon (after the necessary test obviously) so that it can be "released" on the market of the CIP area.

It is a pledge of confidence for the owner who will be certain that the rules of the art have been respected and that the mechanical strength of the weapon allows a safe use.