How To Send Your Gun Through The Mail

How To Send Your Gun Through The Mail

How To Send Your Gun Through The Mail


Sometimes it’s just more convenient to mail your firearms and ammunition than it is to try to bring them across state lines.  The great thing about mailing your firearms through the USPS is knowing they’ll be at your final destination when you need them.

Your point of departure and arrival will all need one thing in common: A Federal Firearms License.  You can purchase one if you qualify.  The requirements for a Federal Firearms License are on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms website.  We’ve enclosed a link to the FFL application for your convenience.



Unlicensed Mailing Of Firearms

The BATF specifically prohibits mailing of firearms without a license unless you meet the following criteria:

  • You’re mailing an unloaded shotgun or rifle to another resident in your own state.
  • You’re mailing an unloaded shotgun or rifle to another person with an FFL license.

When it comes to pistols and other firearms, there’s no dice.  Unfortunately, the average legal gun owner cannot send his pistol through the mail via either disassembly or in whole.  That’s restricted to a very small crowd of authorized individuals.

Who’s Authorized To Mail Firearms?

According to the USPS list of rules and regulations governing the shipment of pistols, parts like receivers, handgun frames, and other parts are not mailable by an unauthorized person.

People authorized to ship unloaded pistols through the mail include:

  1. Licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer of firearms (FFL)
  2. Officers of any branch of the military – including the National Guard
  3. Officers who are serving warrants of either arrest or commitment
  4. Officers of law enforcement agencies
  5. Authorized members of the USPS
  6. Purchasing agents or designated members of a very select group explicitly laid out in 432.21c through e.

If you don’t fall into one of those categories, chances are good you’re not an authorized person.

The Easiest Way To Mail Pistols

If you don’t want to go through the wait, the hassle, or the expense of procuring an FFL, you can always find a business that already has one.  There are specific procedures businesses with an FFL have to go through in order to mail a firearm through the mail.

There needs to be a certificate that the sender has an FFL and the destination has one, too.  This is PS Form 1508, Statement by Shipper.  It basically states that the sender has an FFL and is licensed to ship parts or whole pistols and to the best of his knowledge, the receiver does, too.

The pistol also needs to be completely unloaded.

Most FFL shippers know this procedure really well but ultimately, the responsibility rests with you to ensure that the receiver has a valid FFL.  If the receiver of the pistol or firearms doesn’t have an FFL, the post master will not deliver it to him or her.

How To Find An FFL Sender And Receiver

Your best bet is to contact reputable gun stores and gun brokers (See the our Directory of Gun Stores).  The basic criteria needed to mail a pistol is an FFL license on either end.  So long as the sender and receiver both agree, you should be good to go.  Some businesses will attempt to levy a charge in addition to the shipping costs on account of their license.  Fees can range anywhere from $25 to $125 (or more) depending on that business’ desire for your business.

All firearms will be sent registered mail, so you’ll be able to track them up until they arrive at their final destination.

The last bit that you should keep in mind is the legality and reciprocity of the state you’re sending that firearm to.  Some states have magazine restrictions or don’t accept your right to carry a pistol – concealed or otherwise.  It’s your responsibility to research  those states’ laws and ensure you’re in proper due form.

I would like to cite previous article “5 Things You Need To Know About CCW Across State Lines” at this point.

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  • Dave

    I recently traveled from IL to Maine on the road with the family. I carry in IL but don’t have a CCL in the new England states. I tried what you recommend but the FFL in Maine said he could not receive a handgun from a non-resident. So not sure this is always true for every state. I relied on FOPA to transfer my gun by vehicle. The only state that would not give me clear information was Connecticut. Many other states allow uninterrupted passage. As screwed up as IL is it’s much more gun friendly than the north east. Although Maine itself is fairly fair.

    • Keykutter

      I was told by NAA to send my mini revolver directly to them. I own the gun, they will repair it and send it directly back to me. I don’t hold an FFl. They said a gun sent back to the Manufacturer for repair does not need to go through FFL.

      • nicholsda

        They are correct. Just it cannot go from or to you by USPS. UPS and FedEx are fine and you may have to go to one of their centers to send it.

    • Bob Floyd

      The problem with interstate transport of firearms is not so much with the firearm itself, as protected by US Law, it is the issue of not being protected with regard to magazine capacity and ammunition type as vary from some states,

  • Green Hornet

    when in Florida for work I had a issue with my carry gun, called S&W they said ship it to them
    I could not find any gun shop or UPS or anyone to touch it, I thought one women at UPS was going to call the cops just for asking, maybe they would have known the answer!
    Finally got a outdoors-r-us to say they would look at it and send to S&W only if in-house gunsmith could not fix, after asking 100 questions and checking my out-of-state drivers license and calling the manager
    It took weeks and when I got it back they told me parts were broken that had nothing to do with problem,
    before picking up I asked if they had checked the specific issue and they did not! Called S&W back fixed it myself!
    Still Not sure how the mailing thing works!!

  • tony

    I live in IA and was sending my .45 off to be polished. My local dealer told me I since I owned my gun already and was not selling it I could send it usps to the shop I was dealing with. I did it, they polished it and sent it back. I have since sent another pistol to the same shop thru fed-ex with no issue. The shop on the other end does have an FFL, but in both cases they sent my pistol to my residence. with no issue.

    • nicholsda

      Bad advise from your local shop. Violated USPS rules as you do not meet the requirement for any of the exemptions. Your firearm could have been seized and you fined and/or jailed.

      Shipping by FedEx or UPS are your only options unless you meet the exemption requirements. Simply owning the handgun is not one of the exemptions. A firearm being returned to its owner can be sent back from repair directly to your residence. It will not come back by USPS legally.

  • Andrew

    Do you have more info such as a reference that outlines how military folks can send through USPS?

  • Mark

    I don’t think anyone in the business can keep this stuff straight. My son-in-law is a commissioned officer in the Army. When he tried to mail his personal handgun to his new residence in another state the USPS office had a fit and told him no. When I had to send a gun back to Taurus the USPS sent me to UPS. The UPS package store told me that I couldn’t send it through them that I had to take it to the UPS distribution center. UPS-DC wanted $70.00 to ship it. I went to a local FFL that I do business with and they took care of shipping and receiving the gun and only charged me $30.00.

  • nicholsda

    Be advised that the fact that you are applying to be a Type 001 FFL ( Dealer ) also requires that you are doing so to be in business. That includes the requirements to meet local licensing and zoning laws. Many locales will not allow a Type 001 to be in a residence. Also if you do get one, you are opening yourself up to inspection once a year. That inspection can take from days to weeks of your time. And your records will be gone over with an extra fine tooth comb. Burglar alarm and safe will have to meet their requirements and you do not want to store your personal firearms in the same safe. Local BATFE says you may store them if they are tagged as personal but if they find one without a tag and isn’t in your A&D books, oops. You can be fined for it. Or worse.

    A Type 003 ( C&R ) FFL requires you to keep an A&D book for the guns you acquire with it and that BATFE also has a right to inspect your records and/or firearms in it. Even with a Type 003 FFL, you cannot ship a handgun thru the mail unless it is an Antique under the Federal Laws. C&R handguns are not legal for a C&R FFL to ship by mail.

    Having to go thru all the hoops is why FFL Dealers charge for their services.

    • maria.munn
  • Earl

    I’m a bit tardy here but Mr. McCoy, of all people, should know that ammunition CANNOT be shipped through USPS! Read the big poster in the post office next time you’re there. This applies to Luke McCoy, too.

  • Ron Marshall

    The exception to this is BLACK POWDER RIFLES AND PISTOLS……. they are NOT considered “firearms” by the BATF&E —– I’ve purchased 5 BP revolvers and 2 Black powder rifles from Cabela’s and they were shipped directly to my door via UPS. – Don’t believe me ? __ Then get a Cabela’s catalog and order one yourself. — Bass Pro & Gander Mountain does the same thing.

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  • You can ship long guns through the USPS. Only handguns are prohibited.