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Firearms

Overview

The Australian, state and territory governments share responsibility for firearms in Australia.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs administers the granting of permission to import certain types of firearms and firearm-related articles under the regulatory scheme set out in the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (the Regulations).

Carrying firearms or firearm-related articles when stopping over in Australia

If you are travelling from one country to another and only passing through Australia, any firearms or firearm-related articles can be transhipped.

Transhipment requires you to have an Australian export permit in place and also requires the articles to remain under the effective control of Australian Border Force while in Australia. You should contact the Defence Export Control Office or the Australian Border Force about obtaining the relevant export permission.

The type of article being carried will determine the appropriate export permission.

Importing firearms and firearm-related articles

The application to import firearms or firearms related articles (including accessories, parts, magazines, ammunition, components of ammunition and imitation firearms) is controlled under the Regulations. Articles can only be imported if they are included in the items listed in Part 2 of Schedule 6 of the Regulations, in accordance with the requirements corresponding to that item.

There are three requirements for importation:

  • import tests
  • serial numbers
  • safety testing

Import tests are a set of legislative requirements, all of which must be met before a decision can be made by the Delegate of the Minister for Home Affairs on an application.

All firearms, frames and receivers manufactured on or after 11 January 1900 must have a serial number. Firearms must also comply with safety requirements outlined on the Can you bring it in page on the Australian Border Force website.

A person seeking to import an article must be able to satisfy all of the criteria of the applicable import test.

The import tests which require the permission of the Department of Home Affairs are:

  • official purposes test
  • specified purposes test
  • specified person test
  • sports shooter test
  • international sports shooter test
  • dealer test—category C and D articles
  • returned goods test

Permission under the public interest or national interest test can only be granted by the Minister for Home Affairs or an appropriate Minister within the Home Affairs portfolio.

If an import permit has been issued to a dealer under the dealer test and are being held as dealer stock, the Regulations also provide for the Department of Home Affairs to certify the end user as one of the following:

  • certified sports shooter for restricted category C articles
  • certified buyer (for government purposes)
  • certified buyer (vertebrate pest control)

The importing dealer's import permit must be presented to the Australian Border Force. The articles will be held by the licensed firearm dealer, as dealer stock, on their licensed premises.

The issue of a Certified Buyer Certificate allows for the release of articles from dealer stock to the certified buyer nominated on the Certified Buyer Certificate.

The application process and requirements for importation and certification is the same. Import permission is required where the articles sought to be imported have not yet arrived in Australia. Where articles have already been legally imported into Australia—for example, by a licensed firearm dealer under the dealer test—certification is required to facilitate the release of the articles from dealer stock.

Any import permission granted will be subject to the relevant conditions contained in Part 3 of Schedule 6 of the Regulations. Import permission may contain any other condition that the Department of Home Affairs thinks appropriate.

The Department of Home Affairs can also certify an international sports shooter for restricted category C articles to participate in specific clay target competitions (outlined in the Regulations).

State and territory police services administer other import tests and certifications, including:

  • police certification test for category A and B firearms, paintball markers, imitation firearms and underwater powerheads
  • category H article test
  • certification as:
    • a certified sports shooter or certified international sports shooter for category H articles
    • a certified primary producer for category C firearms and parts
    • a person certified for business or occupational purposes for category H articles
    • a certified collector for category H article

Permit to acquire

Most states and territories have laws about permits to acquire (PTA). A PTA is a statement by the relevant firearms registry that when your firearm or firearm-related article is imported you will be authorised to possess that article for its intended purpose. It is important to note that a PTA does not constitute import permission.

You should contact the relevant state or territory firearm registry to see if you need a PTA. If a PTA is required, import permission or certification cannot be granted without it.

When articles arrive in Australia without import permission

If articles have arrived in Australia without import permission they may be detained or seized by the Australian Border Force.

If articles are detained, in exceptional circumstances you may be able to access the Post Import Permission Scheme. If the articles are seized you risk having them forfeited, destroyed or exported.

Imitation and deactivated firearms

Deactivated firearms are treated in the same way as working firearms.

Imitation firearms can be imported under the police certification test. However, an imitation firearm is one that does not contain any part of a real firearm. An imitation firearm must not be capable of discharging any type of projectile by means of an explosive charge or compressed gas.

A blank-fire firearm is not an imitation.

Suppressors

Suppressors cannot be imported for use by civilians.

Where a civilian has been issued with a suppressor permit by the firearms registry in their jurisdiction, these permits only allow for locally manufactured suppressors to be purchased.

Airsoft

The laws that regulate the sport of airsoft are a matter for the government of each state and territory.

The Department of Home Affairs does not administer an import test for airsoft related articles, however permission is required to bring airsoft firearms into Australia.

Under the regulations, airsoft firearms can generally be imported under the police certification test. This test is administered by the states and territories, and allows police forces in each jurisdiction to grant import permission to suitable applicants for certain firearms and firearm-related articles. Your local firearms registry will be able to provide you with information about how to make an application to import via the police certification test.

Stricter import controls apply to airsoft firearms which are substantially the same in appearance as fully automatic firearms. This is because they can be used for criminal activities, such as robberies. The realistic appearance also increases the risk that police and security officers confronted with an airsoft firearm that is substantially the same in appearance as a fully automatic firearm will believe that the risk posed is higher than it actually is, and respond accordingly.

National Firearms Agreement

In February 2017, the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council agreed to an updated 2017 National Firearms Agreement.

The updated agreement amalgamates the 1996 National Firearms Agreement and 2002 National Handgun Agreement into a single point of reference for firearms regulation in Australia.

State and territory firearm registries

State and territory police are generally responsible for administering firearms within Australia. The websites for state and territory firearms registries are below.

Exporting firearms

To export firearms, see:

Firearms import tests

The Department of Home Affairs administers the following import tests for firearms and firearm-related articles:

  • firearm dealers
  • specified person and certified buyers, including vertebrate pest controllers and primary producers
  • sports shooters
  • international sports shooters
  • returned goods
  • official purposes (importing on behalf of government agencies)
  • specified purposes, including film production, research and development and sanctioned activity (foreign law enforcement/military)

To find out which import tests are relevant for the firearm or firearm related article you wish to import, refer to the Provisional classification indicator.

Applications are generally processed within 6-8 weeks from the date all required information is received from the applicant.

Before you apply

Before you submit an application to import firearms or firearms related articles, you should contact your state or territory firearms registry to discuss local requirements and to ensure you are licensed or authorised to possess the article for your intended use.

There is no fee for making an application for import permission or certification to the Department of Home Affairs. Your application to import should be made in the same name that appears on your firearms licence (or exemption / authorisation) relevant to the articles sought to be imported. All export documents (when necessary) should also be in the same name.

Firearm dealers

The dealer test is for appropriately licensed firearms dealers who wish to import category C and D firearms and/or parts, accessories and magazines relating to these firearms. The Dealer Test Fact Sheet contains more detail about the test criteria and post import requirements.

To import firearms or firearm-related articles as a firearms dealer, complete the Application to import firearms or firearms related articles portal.

Importing magazines under the dealer test

A dealer can import magazines for category C and D firearms as well as parts for those firearms under the dealer test. These magazines can only be released to appropriately certified end users (Certified Buyers or Certified Sports Shooters) and Government.

Specified person and certified buyers

The specified person and certified buyer tests are for licensed individuals who wish to acquire category C or D firearms and/or parts to control vertebrate pests by:

  • importing the firearm(s) themselves (specified person), or
  • purchasing the firearm(s) from a licenced firearms dealer within Australia (certified buyer)

The following fact sheet contains more detail about the test criteria and post import requirements:

To import firearms or firearm-related articles as a specified person or certified buyer, complete the Application to import firearms or firearms related articles portal.

Sports shooters

The sports shooter test is for licensed individuals who:

  • require a semi-automatic shotgun to compete in Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) events due to a lack of strength or dexterity, or
  • owned a semi-automatic or pump-action repeating shotgun on 15 November 1996 and were also a member of the ACTA on that date

The Australian Clay Target Association must approve the firearm you wish to import for use at their facilities and during their events before you submit an application to our department. The following fact sheet contains more detail about the test criteria and post import requirements:

To import firearms or firearm-related articles as a sports shooter, complete the Application to import firearms or firearms related articles portal.

International sports shooters

The international sports shooter test is for licensed individuals travelling to Australia for an approved clay target event. The International Sports Shooter Test Fact Sheet contains more detail about the test criteria and post import requirements.

To import firearms or firearm-related articles as an international sports shooter, complete the Application to import firearms or firearms related articles portal.

Returned goods

The returned goods test is for individuals who:

  • have exported a firearm from Australia and wish to import the same, unmodified firearm, or
  • wish to export a firearm from Australia and import the same, unmodified firearm

The Returned Goods Test Fact Sheet contains more detail about the test criteria and post import requirements:

To import firearms or firearm-related articles under the returned goods test, complete the Application to import firearms or firearms related articles portal.

Official purposes (importing on behalf of government agencies)

The official purposes test is for appropriately licensed individuals who are importing articles on the behalf of government agencies. Importation of such goods by persons who are subcontractors to primary contractors or tenderers to government is allowed. The Official Purposes Test Fact Sheet contains more detail about the test criteria and post import requirements.

To import firearms or firearm-related articles under the official purposes test, complete the Application to import firearms or firearms related articles portal.

Specified purposes

The specified purposes test covers the importation of firearms and firearm-related articles for:

  • film production
  • development of mountings for a laser target designator
  • ammunition, or a component of ammunition, supplied under contract to a person outside Australia
  • repairs, modification or testing, or for use in training, manufacture, assembly, research or development under a contract with an Australian or foreign government
  • sanctioned activity (foreign law enforcement/foreign military)
  • research and development where the importer's principal or sole occupation is the business of developing firearms technology or other defence and law enforcement related products, or
  • testing of ammunition manufactured in a state or territory

The Specified Purposes Test Fact Sheet contains more detail about the test criteria and post import requirements.

To import firearms or firearm-related articles under the specified purposes test, complete the Application to import firearms or firearms related articles portal.

Legislation

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