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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

A firearm (as well as ammunition and other defense articles) is imported on the day it is released from the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and brought into the United States, which may be different from the day it is physically received by the importer. The date of import is based on the Gun Control Act’s regulatory definition of importation in 27 CFR 478.11. The permissible period of time within which importers must comply with applicable marking and recordkeeping requirements is calculated using the date of importation as the starting point. See related August 27, 2010, Open Letter posted on the ATF website.

ATF is no longer the Federal agency responsible for collecting excise tax on imported firearms and ammunition. Please contact the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for excise tax information and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for import duty information.

27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(E) requires an imported firearm to be marked with the name of the country in which it was manufactured, among other information. 27 CFR 478.112(b)(1)(ii) requires the country of export to be identified on the import permit application, but this information should not be marked on the firearm.

NFA regulations in 27 CFR 479.33 provide a special exemption for manufacturers. This section provides for relief from the payment of Special (Occupational) Tax for persons conducting business exclusively with or on behalf of the United States Government (USG). This section also relieves any person manufacturing NFA firearms solely for or on behalf of the USG from the requirement to file ATF Form 2 and Form 5. The special exemption does not extend to importers.

18 U.S.C. 922(o) and 27 CFR 479.105(c) restrict the importation of machineguns after May 19, 1986. Since that date machineguns may only be imported for sale or distribution to a department or agency of the United States or any State or political subdivision thereof, or for use by dealers as a sales sample for such government entities. There is no provision to permanently import a machinegun for training purposes. Importers may contact the Department of State to determine if they may temporarily import a machinegun for training purposes on a DSP-61 (temporary import license). The importer must also abide by the requirements of ATF Rul. 2004-2 for any temporary importation of NFA firearms. Machineguns imported temporarily pursuant to Department of State authority still must be registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record with ATF and are subject to the NFA’s transfer requirements.

27 CFR 478.112(b)(1)(iv)(A) requires an import permit applicant to identify the name and address of the manufacturer of a firearm sought for import. 27 CFR 478.112(c)(2)(iii) requires an imported firearm’s country of manufacture to be identified on ATF Form 6A, Release and Receipt of Imported Firearms, Ammunition, and Implements of War. 27 CFR 478.92(a)(1)(ii)(E) requires the country in which an imported firearm was manufactured to be marked on the firearm. For the purposes of these sections of Gun Control Act regulations, country of manufacture is the name of the country where manufactured as that country existed at the time the gun was manufactured, even if that country no longer exists.

For example, the manufacturer’s address for a firearm made in Yugoslavia should include Yugoslavia in the appropriate block of the import permit application. The country of manufacture recorded on ATF Form 6A and the country of manufacture marked on the firearm would also be Yugoslavia, even though that country no longer exists.

Please note that the country of export, foreign seller address, and foreign shipper address, which are also reported to ATF as part of the import process, should reference the current name of the applicable country (e.g., Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, etc.).

A commercial importer must be registered in accordance with the Arms Export Control Act. You can download the application to register, ATF F 5330.4 (4587), Application to Register as an Importer of U.S. Munitions Import List Articles, at There is a fee, and the processing time is 2-4 weeks.

Yes. Gas masks are “defense articles” subject to regulation under the Arms Export Control Act. ATF regulates the importation of gas masks and generally requires an ATF Form 6 import permit for lawful importation of these items. The standard processing time is 4-6 weeks from the date ATF’s Firearms and Explosives Imports Branch receives a complete Form 6 application. You can download the Form 6 at

The GCA does not require export licenses. However, most firearms and ammunition must be exported in accordance with the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976. Regulations implementing this Act generally require a license to be obtained from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, Department of State, PM/DDTC, SA-1, Room 1200, 2401 E St., N.W., Washington, DC 20037; (202) 663-1282.

The export of sporting shotguns and ammunition for sporting shotguns is regulated by the U.S. Department of Commerce rather than the State Department. An export license is generally needed to export these shotguns and ammunition. For further information, contact them at their nearest district office or the Bureau of Industry and Security, Outreach and Educational Services Division, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th St. & Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20230, (202) 482-4811.

When exporting NFA firearms, ATF Form 9 must be completed and approved by ATF prior to export.

[22 U.S.C. 2778, 27 CFR 479.114 and 479.116]

Yes. A licensed dealer may make an occasional importation of a firearm for a non-licensee or for the licensee’s personal use (not for resale). The licensee must first submit an ATF Form 6, Part I to ATF for approval. The licensee may then present the approved Form 6 and completed ATF Form 6A to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Contact the Bureau of ATF, Firearms and Explosives Imports Branch for forms at (304) 616-4550, or download them from the ATF Web page at

Yes, the barrel length and overall length of a firearm are required pieces of information on an import permit application. Gun Control Act (GCA) regulations in 27 CFR 478.112(b) and Arms Export Control Act regulations in 27 CFR 447.42(a)(1) make this information a mandatory part of completing the permit application. Effective immediately, applications which lack this information, provide only a range (e.g., 18-24 inches), or which are non-specific (e.g., 18+ inches) with respect to barrel length and overall length will be returned without action by ATF for more information from the applicant.

Barrel length and overall length are important factors in helping ATF determine whether a firearm is importable, helping U.S. Customs and Border Protection reconcile a permit to the actual shipment during the release process at a port of entry, and may be useful in assuring that the correct duty is paid. In addition, the barrel length and overall length of a firearm are determining factors in whether a firearm is subject to the additional controls of the National Firearms Act (NFA). A shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches and an overall length of less than 26 inches and a rifle having a barrel of less than 16 inches and an overall length of less than 26 inches are classified as NFA weapons.

ATF does not have the ability or authority to issue End User Certificates certifying to whom imported articles will be distributed after their importation into the United States. Neither the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) nor the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA) require importers to establish end user information prior to importation, and so ATF does not collect such information on its import permit applications. Consequently, ATF cannot issue End User Certificates when approving applications to import regulated commodities.