Types of Importers
The commercial importation of firearms, ammunition and implements of war for commercial purposes is generally done by a Type 08 or Type 11 Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) who must also be registered with ATF under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). The commercial importation of sporting shotguns, sporting shotgun parts, and ammunition for sporting shotguns is exempt from the registration requirements of the AECA. Listed below are those who may engage in importation activities.
A holder of a Type 08 or Type 11 FFL and AECA registration. A licensed importer may obtain an approved ATF F 5330.3A (Form 6, Part I) import permit to import sporting firearms, sporting ammunition, surplus military rifles and shotgun, and surplus military curio or relic handguns that meet the sporting criteria for on ATF Form 4590, for commercial purposes. Firearms imported by a licensed importer must be marked in accordance with the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 923(i) and 27 CFR § 478.92
Licensed Dealer, Pawnbroker & Manufacturer
A holder of a Type 01, Type 02, or Type 07 FFL respectively. A licensed dealer, pawnbroker or firearms manufacturer may occasionally obtain an approved ATF F 6 (Part I) import permit to import firearms and ammunition for his or her own use, for repair, or as the import agent for a specific customer. A licensed dealer, pawnbroker or firearms manufacturer may not import firearms or ammunition for resale or other commercial purposes. 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A).
A holder of a Type 03 FFL. A licensed collector may obtain an approved ATF F 6 (Part I) import permit to import rifles and shotguns, other than surplus military rifles and shotguns, which have been classified as curio or relics, for their personal collection. A licensed collector may also import a handgun, other than a surplus military handgun, which has been classified as curio or relic. for their own personal collection provided the handgun meets the sporting criteria for on ATF F 5330.5 (Form 4590).
Any person registered with ATF as an importer of U.S. Munitions Import List Articles pursuant to ATF F 5330.4 (Form 4587). A registered importer may import articles enumerated on the U.S. Munitions Import List (USMIL) into the United States for commercial purposes pursuant to an approved ATF Form 6. If the articles sought for importation for are also subject to the import controls of the Gun Control Act (GCA) (e.g., firearms, firearm barrels, ammunition, and/or the National Firearms Act (NFA) (e.g, machineguns, silencers, etc,) the importer would also need to hold a Type 08 or 11 Federal Firearms License under the GCA and pay Special (occupational) tax under the NFA.
Non-Licensed Resident of the U.S.
Any person residing in the U.S. who does not hold an FFL. A non-licensed resident of the U.S may obtain an approved ATF F 6 (Part I) import permit to import sporting ammunition for his or her own use but not for resale or other commercial purpose. However, a non-licensed resident of the U.S. may not obtain an approved ATF Form 6 import permit to import nonsporting ammunition or any firearm. Any non-licensee who desires to import a firearm into the U.S. must have the firearm imported on his or her behalf by a qualified FFL, and the subsequent transfer of the firearm to the non-licensee must be in compliance with Federal, State and local law.
Non-Licensed, Non-Resident U.S. Citizen
A U.S. Citizen who lives abroad. A non-licensed U.S. citizen, who lives abroad and intends to return to the U.S. with sporting firearms, sporting ammunition or certain implements of war (e.g., firearm component parts) acquired while outside the U.S., may obtain an approved ATF F 6 (Part I) import permit to import sporting firearms and ammunition into the U.S. prior to his or her return to the U.S. for his or her own personal use.
U.S. Military Personnel
Members of the U.S. armed forces. A member of the U.S. armed forces who is on active duty outside the U.S. or who has been on active duty outside the U.S within the 60-day period immediately preceding the intended importation, may obtain an approved ATF Form 6 (Part II) import permit to import sporting firearms and ammunition to his or her place of residence for his or her own personal use. 18 U.S.C. 925(a)(4).
A foreign national. An alien entering the U.S. to establish residency may obtain an approved ATF F 6 (Part I) import permit, prior to the date U.S. residency is established (90 days after his or her date of arrival in the U.S.) to import sporting firearms, sporting ammunition, and certain implements of war (e.g., firearm component parts). The items approved for importation must accompany the alien or be contained in his or her shipment of personal effects. 18 U.S.C. 922(d)(3).
A foreign national temporarily in the U.S. A non-immigrant alien may obtain an approved ATF F 5330.3D (Form 6 NIA) to temporarily import firearms and ammunition (other than firearms subject to the controls of the National Firearms Act (NFA) for lawful hunting activities, to attend a qualified shooting event, or for exhibition at a qualified trade show. The event or trade show must be sponsored by a national, State or local firearms organization devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms. The non-immigrant alien must attach to his or her Form 6 (NIA) permit application, as appropriate, a copy of a valid hunting license or permit issued to him or her by a jurisdiction within the U.S., a copy of his or her invitation to participate in a qualified hunting or shooting event, or a copy of his or her reservation for exhibiting at a qualified trade show. An approved Form 6 (NIA) will be valid for a period not to exceed 12 months, and may be used for multiple, temporarily importations of any or all of the items listed on the approved Form 6 (NIA) during that 12-month period. If the Form 6 (NIA) permit application approved by ATF was supported by attaching a copy of a qualified hunting license or permit, the non-immigrant alien will need to present both the approved Form 6 (NIA) and a valid, qualified hunting license or permit to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the time of each entry into the U.S. If the Form 6 (NIA) permit application was supported by attaching copies of more than one invitation or reservation to participate in qualified shooting competitions or exhibit at qualified trade shows, the non-immigrant alien may present the approved Form 6 (NIA) to CBP officials for multiple entries into the U.S., the number of which will be limited to the number of such documents attached to his or her approved import permit. 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5).
For additional information on the importation of firearms and ammunition by foreign nationals, please go to Subsection R of the Question and Answer Section of ATF P 5300.4 — Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide – 2014 Edition (Revised 3-7-15).