Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library

Northern Ireland. 2005 ‘Import and Export of Firearms (Regulation of Firearm Imports).’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005; Sections 3-11, 19-25 (Appendix 5), pp. 106-110. Belfast: Northern Ireland Assembly. 1 February

Relevant contents

Transfers To and From Other European Union (EU) States

3. The European weapons directive 91/477/EEC introduced harmonised community arrangements for licensing firearms movements between EU States. To move firearms and ammunition from one member State to another, a licence (a transfer licence) must be obtained from the one in which the firearms or ammunition are situated. Member States can insist that certain types of firearms are not transferred to their territory without their prior agreement.

4. These arrangements apply to all transfers of firearms covered by the Directive, including commercial consignments, mail order sales or where a person buys or permanently acquires a firearm in another EU State and wants to bring it back to his State of residence. They do not apply where individuals take their firearms temporarily to another member State on the basis of a European firearms pass (EFP), for example for a shooting trip or competition. Residents of a member State wishing to bring a firearm to the UK require a British visitor's permit in addition to a EFP. A separate visitor's permit is also required for a resident of the EU, other than GB, to visit Northern Ireland.

5. Non-EU State import and export licensing arrangements apply to commercial transactions in weapons of war and to those weapons which are controlled under firearms legislation but which do not fall within the directive's definition of firearms, for example stun guns and CS gas canisters.

6. Detailed arrangements for import and export of firearms and ammunition are as follows -

Imports from other EU States

7. A DTI import licence is not required for firearms, component parts and ammunition entering Northern Ireland from other member States either on a commercial or private basis providing the following requirements are met -

(a) a licence authorising the transfer of the firearms to Northern Ireland has been issued to the transferor by the member State from which the firearms are transferred;
(b) the licence (or a document referring to it) accompanies the firearms at all times until they reach their destination in Northern Ireland and can be produced on demand to a constable or an officer of HM Customs and Excise; and
(c) the Northern Ireland transferee of the firearms is authorised under the Firearms Order to possess the firearms in question, as a firearms dealer or a firearm certificate holder (unless exempt from the need to hold a certificate).

8. The licence referred to in (a) above may be either a specific licence issued by the member State from which the firearms are transferred or an open licence granted by that State to a firearms dealer. An open licence is issued only where the Northern Ireland transferee of the firearms is a firearms dealer. In the case of a transfer by a firearms dealer under an open licence, the document which must accompany the consignment to another EU State (that is the document corresponding to that referred to in (b) above) should be a declaration by the dealer giving details of his open licence, the transferee and the firearms in the consignment.

9. The UK has advised other member States that its prior consent is required before a licence can be issued authorising the transfer of any weapons or ammunition prohibited under Article 45 of the Order, and covered by Categories A to C of the directive, to Northern Ireland. The UK's prior consent is given in the form of a DTI import licence. It must be obtained by the prospective Northern Ireland transferee of the consignment and it will specify the type and number of prohibited weapons or ammunition that may be transferred to Northern Ireland under it. Applications should be made to DTI in accordance with the instructions in this Appendix.

10. Prohibited weapons can therefore only lawfully enter Northern Ireland from member States if -

(a) the three requirements detailed at paragraph 7 above are met; and
(b) an appropriate prior consent import licence has been granted by DTI to the Northern Ireland transferee. Unlike the position in GB, prior consent is not required for handguns imported directly into Northern Ireland. However, if they are transported through Great Britain, this can only be done by a carrier authorised to carry prohibited weapons under section 5 of the 1968 Firearms Act.

11. The above licensing requirements also apply where a person imports a firearm privately from a member State, for example by mail order or as part of his personal possessions, if the firearm has been newly purchased or acquired elsewhere in the EU. For temporary transfers see paragraph 4 above.

Imports from non-EU States

19. Firearms and ammunition, as defined in Article 2(2), are subject to DTI import licensing requirements if consigned from outside the EU or from the Channel Islands.

20. These include firearms which are serviceable and those which are not; replica firearms capable of being fired or which can be readily converted so that they are capable of being fired, gas pistols, aerosol CS or pepper gas sprays and similar weapons.

21. No import licence is required to import the following -

(a) cartridges for smooth-bore guns containing five or more shot, none of which exceeds 0.36 inch (9 mm) in diameter;
(b) blank cartridges not exceeding one inch (25.4 mm) in diameter;
(c) air guns with kinetic energy of one joule or less;
(d) ammunition for air guns;
(e) firearms more than one hundred years old;
(f) any item not classified to Chapter 93 of the HM Customs and Excise Integrated Tariff, including vehicles, ships and aircraft incorporating a firearm;
(g) any component of ammunition;
(h) any firearm deactivated in accordance with Article 2(7).

22. Although firearms at (e) do not require an import licence, the guidance on Article 81 (1) is relevant in determining whether a firearm should be regarded as "antique" for the purpose of the firearms legislation.

23. Commercial importation of firearms, component parts and ammunition requires an individual import licence. Applications for import licences should be made on completed form ILB/W and submitted to Import Licensing Branch at the address shown in paragraph 2. With the exception of those firearms, component parts and ammunition falling under Article 46, (exemptions from requirement of authority of Secretary of State under Article 45 (prohibited weapons)) applications should be accompanied by a copy of the authority to possess the items in Northern Ireland (for example a firearm certificate or a firearms dealer's certificate).

24. As a concession for non-commercial importation of firearms and ammunition requiring import licences, HM Customs and Excise accept the following documents in lieu of import licences -

(a) a valid Northern Ireland firearm certificate;
(b) a visitor's permit.

The firearms or ammunition must be freely declared to HM Customs and Excise upon importation as being a personal non-commercial importation.

25. The Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfer of Explosives Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993 (POMSTER) removed the requirement for an import licence to import explosives. The importation of explosives, however, is still prohibited unless accompanied by a transfer document (or a certified true copy) known as a Recipient Competent Authority (RCA) document issued by the Chief Constable. There is some overlap between ammunition controlled by DTI and by the Chief Constable and, where this is the case, both sets of documents are required.

ID: Q6853

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