Can Firearms Be Shipped Through the U.S. Mail?

Wrapped Gun

Can Firearms Be Shipped Through the U.S. Mail?

updated 5/20/2022

Can firearms be shipped through the U.S. Mail (USPS)?

Some firearms can be shipped through the U.S. mail.  Whether certain firearms can be shipped through the U.S. mail depends on what type of firearms they are.  Simply, long guns: yes;  handguns: no.  However, under federal law, a non-licensed individual may not transfer (and this would include shipping to someone) a firearm to a non-licensed resident (non-FFL) of another state.  (To learn more about selling/gifting to a person in another state click: Selling Firearms across state lines)  However, a non-licensed individual may mail a long gun to a resident of his or her own state, and they may also mail a long gun to an FFL of another state.

The USPS recommends that long guns be mailed via registered mail and that the packaging used to mail the long gun be ambiguous so as to not identify the contents.  Handguns are not allowed to be mailed through USPSSee 18 U.S.C. §§1715, 922(a)(3), 922(a)(5), and 922(a)(2)(A).  Rather, handguns must be shipped using a common or contract carrier (e.g., UPS). Also, please note that FedEx no longer allows any firearms to be shipped using their services, unless the shipper holds an FFL and has entered into an approved FedEx Firearms Shipping Compliance Agreement before shipping any firearms.

Shipping handguns and other firearms through a common or contract carrier

Under federal law, a non-licensed individual may ship a firearm (including a handgun) by a common or contract carrier (e.g., UPS) to a resident of his or her own state, or to a licensed individual (FFL) in another state.  However, it is illegal to ship any firearm to a non-FFL in another state.  The carrier must be notified that the shipment contains a firearm, however, carriers are prohibited from requiring any identifying marks on the package which may be used to identify the contents as containing a firearm.  See 18 U.S.C. §§922(a)(2)(A), 922(a)(3), 922(a)(5), 922(e), 27 CFR 478.31 and 478.30. 

Can I ship my firearm to myself for use in another state?

Yes.  In accordance with the law as described in the preceding section, a person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in care of another person in another state where he or she intends to hunt or engage in other lawful activity.  The package should be addressed to the owner and persons other than the owner should not open the package and take possession of the firearm.

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