Firearm Shipping Rules


Sellers, this page provides information regarding federal laws and shipping regulations that must be followed when shipping a firearm or ammunition following a auction. If you need information about how to buy a firearm through, please refer to our Buyers Page.

This page contains information specific to sellers shipping firearms inside the United States. For sellers located outside the United States, please see our Import and Export page.

Shipping Legalities

Federal Law requires that all modern firearms be shipped only to a holder of a valid Federal Firearms License (FFL). The recipient must have an FFL, but the sender may be unlicensed. Any person who is legally allowed to own a firearm is legally allowed to ship it to an FFL holder for any legal purpose (including sale or resale).

Here is exactly what the ATF 'Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide' (ATF P5300.4) says:

(B9) May a non-licensee ship a firearm by carrier?

A non-licensee may ship a firearm by carrier to a resident of his or her own state or to a licensee in any state. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun. In addition, Federal law requires that the carrier be notified that the shipment contains a firearm and prohibits common or contract carriers from requiring or causing any label to be placed on any package indicating that it contains a firearm. [18 U. S. C. 922( a)( 2)(A) and 922( e), 27 CFR 178.31]

(B8) May a non-licensee ship a firearm through the U. S. Postal Service?

A non-licensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of his or her own state or to a licensee in any state. Handguns are not allowed to be mailed. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun. A non-licensee may not transfer any firearm to a non-licensed resident of another state. The Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms.


Antique firearms can be shipped directly to a buyer, without going through a licensed dealer. An antique firearm is a firearm built in or before 1898, or a replica thereof. The exact ATF definition of an antique firearm is:

Antique firearm. (a) Any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; and (b) any replica of any firearm described in paragraph (a) of this definition if such replica (1) is not designed or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire fixed ammunition, or (2) uses rim fire or conventional center fire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.

Knives, air guns, accessories, and most gun parts need not be shipped through an FFL holder. Certain gun parts - usually those with a serial number - are considered to be a full firearm by ATF. These parts must be treated as a complete firearm and shipped appropriately.

Ammunition must be clearly identified as 'Small Arms Ammunition' on the outside of the box. Many carriers prohibit the shipment of ammunition, while others require it be labeled as dangerous or hazardous materials.

The Commerce in Firearms and Ammunition (CFA) is the code that governs modern firearms. This code is available online here.

We highly suggest all sellers arrange for transfer through a licensed FFL dealer. Violation of the CFA is a felony with severe penalties

Federal and State Law Resources

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has a very comprehensive site containing information about the various Federal and state laws regulating firearms. Please refer to the ATF information for legal questions regarding firearms.

  • ATF Home page:
  • ATF Compilation of the various state laws:
  • ATF Firearms Division Main Page:

Shipment by Unlicensed Persons

Any one that ships that does not have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) is considered to be an 'unlicensed person'. This section contains infAnyone without a Federal Firearms License (FFL) is considered to be an 'unlicensed person'. This section contains information on how unlicensed persons can ship firearms. If you are an FFL holder, you can skip to the next section.

You must only ship firearms to a licensed dealer. Unlicensed buyers must make arrangements to have the item shipped to a licensed dealer in his state. The buyer must provide a copy of the dealer's signed FFL before you ship a gun.

When shipping, you must inform the carrier that the package contains a firearm, by law. Firearms cannot be loaded, and ammunition must be shipped in a separate box - though many shippers may not accept ammunition shipments. Some carriers may wish to see a copy of the signed FFL before accepting a package, and we highly recommend purchasing insurance on any firearm shipment.

Notes on Specific Shippers:

US Mail: The United States Postal Service allows an unlicensed person to ship a rifle or shotgun, but they may not ship a handgun through US Mail. Postal regulations allow USPS staff to to open your package for inspection. Note: shipping ammunition by US Mail is strictly prohibited. More information on firearms shipping regulations can be found on the US Post Office Postal Explorer site.

FedEx Express: All firearms must be shipped via the FedEx Priority Overnight service, and ammunition must be shipped as hazardous goods via Ground.

FedEx Ground: FedEx Ground will transport and deliver firearms (excluding handguns) throughout the U.S. Ammunition must be shipped as hazardous goods via Ground in compliance with ORM-D, the postal code for a hazardous package. Note: many FedEx stores do not accept firearm packages of any kind, and we recommend using regional offices to manage your shipment.

UPS: Handgun shipments are only carried on UPS Next Day Air, rifles and shotguns may be shipped by UPS ground service. UPS permits ammunition shipments.

Shipment by Licensed Persons

Any shipper with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) is considered to be a 'licensed person'. This section contains information on how licensed persons can ship firearms. If you do not have an FFL, please see the previous section of this page for shipping instructions.

Since licensed persons are responsible for knowing the law, we are going to assume you already understand the CGA and know the applicable Federal, state, and local laws.

Notes on specific shippers:

US Mail: Licensed persons can ship a rifle, shotguns, or handguns by US Mail.

IPage C-37, section 1.3, Authorized Persons: "Subject to 1.4, handguns may be mailed by a licensed manufacturer of firearms, a licensed dealer of firearms, or an authorized agent of the federal government..."

Page C-38, section 1.5, Manufacturers and Dealers: "Handguns may also be mailed between licensed manufacturers of firearms and licensed dealers of firearms in customary trade shipments, or for repairing or replacing parts."

Page C-38, section 1.6, Certificate of Manufacturers and Dealers: "A licensed manufacturer or dealer need not file the affidavit under 1.4, but must file with the postmaster a statement on Form 1508 signed by the mailer that he or she is a licensed manufacturer or dealer of firearms, that the parcels containing handguns (or major components thereof) are customary trade shipments or contain such articles for repairing or replacing parts, and that to the best of his or her knowledge or belief the addressees are licensed manufacturers or dealers of firearms."