How to Mail Guns Legally


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January 3, 2023

Mailing items like firearms from point A to point B can be a hassle, as you usually have to jump through multiple hoops to send it through legally. Since these items can be a real threat during shipping, you want to be able to send them through while adhering to the many rules and regulations set by the ATF. 

Luckily, as long as you are not breaking federal, state, or local laws, you can send your firearm through the mail. Unfortunately, depending on what you’re sending and where the laws can be very different. And to complicate matters even further, carriers like FedEx can have specific rules that you will have to follow first. 

However, in this guide, we will detail the things that you have to consider and do before you can send your firearm through the mail. You have two choices when it comes to sending a firearm. You can either send it through an FFL or without one. 

Sending a Firearm through the Mail without FFL 

When sending a firearm without the FFL, there are very serious limitations on where and who you can send it to. For one, you cannot send a long firearm outside your state and handguns in and out of state without an FFL. You can only send a firearm within your “state of residence.”  

According to the ATF, a state of residence is where you intend to stay forever and are currently present. It is also the state where you spend substantial chunks of the year, where you can vote. As long as you are sending the firearm within a state that meets these parameters for you, you will be able to send it without an FFL. 

Who Are You Sending It To?

When you consider where you are sending the firearm, you will have to consider who will be receiving it. Legally speaking, you can send your guns to anyone within your state, as long as they do not have an explicit warrant against owning guns. They will also need to provide proper documentation to show that they can handle this firearm. This documentation usually comes in a federal firearms license or other proof. 

A background check on the person you are sending it to is also a good idea, as you want to make sure that they are not:

  • Mentally Unstable Individuals 
  • Former US Citizens 
  • Undocumented Worker 
  • Convicted Domestic Abuser
  • Felon
  • Dishonorably Discharged Veteran 

As long as the recipient does not fall into one of these categories, you can send it to them. If the individual happens to use the firearms you sent them to commit a felony, you face criminal charges as well. 

Shipping to Yourself

Shipping the gun to yourself does carry a multitude of exceptions to various rules mentioned earlier. You can send the gun to yourself in a different state without an FFL. You can pack the firearm with other belongings, but only you can receive the package after showing proper authentication. 

Furthermore, the weapon you are sending should also comply with the state’s local laws. So even though you can send it from one state, the weapon might be sent back for not complying with local laws. 

Choose a Carrier 

There are select carriers you can choose to send your firearm through, such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS. The USPS allows its non-licensees to send rifles and shotguns through the mail but will not allow people to send handguns or pistols without a license. 

If you wish to send smaller guns like pistols through the mail, you can choose carriers like FedEx or UPS. However, FedEx only allows individuals with an FFL license to ship a firearm through their service. Therefore, you will not be able to ship your gun through their service if you do not have the appropriate license. 

Shipping through FedEx 

Since FedEx is easily one of the biggest carriers in the world, we’re adding a section about them. And since they follow all of the sending regulations with an FFL license, you can follow their guidelines to the dot. 

Disassemble Bigger Guns 

Before you can ship the guns of your choice, you will have to pack them as per ATF rules. Therefore, you will have to pack the guns separately from the ammunition. If you are sending a bigger gun, like a shotgun or an assault rifle, you will need first to disassemble it. Once you do so, it will fit in the box properly. 

No Ammunition

Ammunition is a dangerous item to ship, and FedEx does not deal with them. They have a strict policy against ammunition, so you will likely have to send it through other means. Furthermore, the guns you pack should be empty and should not have any ammunition. Even if you pack the ammunition in a different box, you cannot ship it through FedEx. You will neither be able to ship ammo through any of their associated retail outlets. 

Pack the Firearm Properly 

When it comes to packing the firearms, you will need to properly pack them to ensure the box’s contents do not move inside. Using bubble wrap and padding are essential to keeping the firearm in place when shifting the box. According to FedEx’s policy, they will not ship a firearm unless properly packed. 

The box itself should also be strong as not to bend under slight pressure. The box will also further go into a case, which ensures that the box will not bend or fold. Furthermore, you should not be adding any identifying markers to your box. You can find packaging material at your local FedEx office. 

Ship to a FedEx Office 

When you have packed your firearm, you can now send it to your local FedEx for shipping. Of course, the FedEx team does not pack the guns, nor do they add the firearm shipment labels. You will have to add both yourself, after which they will handle transportation to the other location.

Shipping with an FFL 

When you are shipping with an FFL, you will need to provide proper authentication and decide where you are shipping. Consider the local laws and if your firearm does not break any. 

Be sure to check if you are sending the package to an FFL holder or a non-FFL holder. While non-licensed individuals will follow the same rules, you will have to consider the type of individual you are sending to. Make sure they are not a felon, convicted assaulter, mentally unstable, or a dishonorably discharged veteran. 

As for who you ship it with, you can easily ship your guns with USPS, FedEx, or UPS. You will have to file form PS 1508 when shipping with USPS and where you are sending it from (branch). You can also request an authorized dealer to send the firearm for you. 

Other Considerations 

Mention the Contents of the Box Openly

Remember that it is completely legal to ship a licensed firearm with or without an FFL license. Therefore, there is no reason for you to be afraid when you mention the content of your package. Be sure to tell them the type of gun you are transporting and where it is going.

Add a Copy of Your Driver’s License 

It is also good practice to add a copy of your driver’s license or firearm’s license to the box. The receiver will need evidence about the individual who sent it to them. Adding the right information is also very convenient for you, as you will show proof of the documents you sent to the individual. 

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