Firearms - Guides - Importation & Verification of Firearms, Ammunition - Import Activities in FTZ/CBW

General Information

Import Activities in Foreign Trade Zones & Custom Bonded Warehouses
Foreign Trade Zones

Visit the Foreign Trade Zone website

A Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) is a secure area located in or near U,S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ports of entry, but are legally considered to be outside the CBP territory for the purpose of tariff laws and CBP entry procedures. FTZ designated areas are the U.S. version of are known internationally as Free Trade Zones.

  • Foreign and domestic merchandise may be moved into an FTZ for operations, not otherwise prohibited by law, including storage, exhibition, assembly, and processing. All FTZ activity is subject to public interest review. An FTZ site is subject to the laws and regulations of the U.S. as well as those of the state and local community in which it is located.
  • Authority for establishing an FTZ facility is granted by the Foreign Trade Zone Board under the Foreign Trade Zone Act of 1934, as amended. 19 U.S.C. § 81a-81u. The Foreign Trade Zone Act is administered through two sets of regulations, the Foreign Trade Zone regulations (15 CFR, Part 400) and CBP regulations (19, CFR, Part 146). The Executive Secretariat of the Board is located within the Import Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, DC.
Customs Bonded Warehouse

A Customs Bonded Warehouse (CBW) is a building or stipulated secure area in which dutiable goods may be stored without payment of duty. The authority to establish a CBW is set forth in 19 U.S.C. § 1555. Bonded manufacturing and smelting and refining warehouses are established under 19 U.S.C. §§ 1311 and 1312.

Upon entry of goods into the CBW, the importer and warehouse proprietor incur liability under a bond. This liability is generally canceled when the goods are:

  • Exported or deemed exported
  • Withdrawn for supplies to a vessel or aircraft involved in international traffic
  • Destroyed under CBP supervision
  • Withdrawn for consumption within the U.S. after payment of duty.
FTZ/CBW Import Permit Application Requirements and Processing Procedures

When an importer submits an ATF F 5330.3A (Form 6) import permit application seeking authority to enter firearms, ammunition or other implements of war into an FTZ or CBW, the application will be conditionally approved, and a letter outlining the procedures to be followed will be attached to and made a part of the approved ATF Form 6 import permit. The approved ATF Form 6 imports permit must then be presented to CBP port officials to secure permission to move the articles into the FTZ or CBW. Please note that the law provides that the period of storage within a CBW may not exceed 5 years.

An importer who wishes to withdraw firearms, ammunition, and/or other implements of war from am FTZ or CBW, must submit an ATF Form 6 requesting authority to remove the articles from the FTZ or CBW. Such applications will be processed in accordance with pertinent import provisions of the Gun Control Act, the National Firearms Act and/or the Arms Export Control Act.

Firearms, ammunition and other defense articles are frequently placed into an FTZ or CBW in order to either delay the payment of import duty or to store the articles pending subsequent withdrawal for export or entry into the U.S. Often, the entry of the firearms or ammunition placed into an FTZ or CBW for storage is restricted by law. For example, ATF can only approve the entry of machineguns or other weapons subject to the NFA, nonsporting firearms and nonsporting ammunition into the U.S:

  • For sale to a qualified law enforcement or government agency
  • For use as a model or sales sample (NFA weapons only)
  • For use is scientific testing or research (except machineguns)
International Import Certificates

The International Import Certificate (IIC), Form BXA-645/ATF-4522/DPS-53) was adopted as part of an agreement between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Department of State to facilitate international cooperation in export control matters and to create a standardized method of control. When an importer submits an IIC form to ATF, it is usually submitted in together with an ATF Form 6 import permit application. If the ATF Form 6 application is approved, the IIC will also be processed by ATF, and it will bear the same control number assigned to the corresponding approved ATF Form 6. However, an importer may also request that ATF process an IIC submitted for commodities that are subject to ATF’s import controls but do not require an approved ATF Form 6 import permit for entry into the U.S. (e.g., dynamite). Please note that, unlike an approved ATF Form 6, which is valid for 12 months, an IIC is valid for only 6 months, and the importer may need to request a second IIC if the articles listed on the ATF Form 6 will not be imported during the first 6 months of the permit’s life.


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Last Reviewed January 27, 2020