Importing category D and prohibited firearms

The importation of firearms is controlled under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (the Regulations). Importers must obtain permission to bring firearms into Australia.

Importing category D firearms

To import category D firearms into Australia, importers must first obtain the written permission of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department prior to importation.

Category D firearms (other than those firearms to which a firearm accessory is attached or integral) include:

  • semi-automatic centrefire rifles
  • semi-automatic rimfire rifles fitted with a firearm magazine with a capacity greater than ten (10) rounds
  • semi-automatic shotgun fitted with a firearm magazine with a capacity greater than five (5) rounds
  • pump-action repeating shotgun fitted with a firearm magazine with a capacity greater than five (5) rounds.

Importing fully automatic and other prohibited firearms

To import the following types of firearms into Australia, importers must first obtain the written permission of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department:

  • all fully-automatic firearms (such as machine pistols, machine guns, sub-machine guns and assault rifles)
  • all firearms to which a firearm accessory is attached or integral
  • handguns, category A and B firearms, soft air (BB) firearms, and paintball markers that are substantially the same in appearance as a fully automatic firearm.

Attorney-General’s Department permission to import

These ownership and possession of fully automatic and other prohibited firearms is very limited in Australia.

Written permission to import must be obtained from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department where the importation of these firearms is for one of the following purposes:

  • for the purposes of the government of the Commonwealth, or the government of a State or Territory or foreign government (official purposes)
  • for repairs, modification, testing and training (specified purposes)
  • for the purposes of a government contract, certain project or tender (specified purposes)
  • for use in the production of a film (specified purposes)
  • for the purposes of a sanctioned activity (specified purposes)
  • for the purposes of research or development by a known research or development importer for firearms or related defence and law enforcement products and the article is being imported is for the completion of a project or tender (specified purposes)
  • for goods to be exported, or that have already been exported, and are returning to Australia (returned goods)
  • in exceptional circumstances (public and national interest tests).

Additional to the purposes outlined above, written permission must be obtained from the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department where the importation of category D firearms is for one of the following purposes:

  • for use by professional rural pest controllers (specified person)
  • for stock purposes (dealer test).

Note: The requirements for category D firearms imported under the dealer test are detailed in this fact sheet.

The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department permission to import document must be presented to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection at the time of importation.

You must also fulfil the additional requirements listed below.

Ammunition

Ammunition for use with category D firearms also requires police certification or Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department permission to be imported.

When ammunition is being imported with the firearms, the ammunition can be listed on the same import document as the firearms.

See Importing ammunition, magazines and magazine extension devices for further information.

Additional requirements

Firearms are also subject to safety testing and unique serial number requirements.

Safety  testing

All firearms being imported into Australia must undergo safety testing. Safety testing is performed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Safety testing requirements do not apply to a firearm that:

  • was manufactured before 1 January 1900
  • is designed or adapted for competition target shooting
  • was previously exported from Australia and the importer can produce the export permit
  • is being imported temporarily for a lawful competition or hunting activity
  • is being imported for official or specified purposes
  • has been deactivated.

Unique serial number

All firearms being imported into Australia must have a unique serial number unless they were manufactured before 1 January 1900.

Obtaining permission to import

To obtain permission to import from the Attorney-General’s Department, you will need to contact them directly.

Contact details of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department are available at Firearms and weapons.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for importing these goods without the relevant import permission is a penalty not exceeding $450, 000, imprisonment for 10 years, or both.

Exporting firearms

To export firearms see the information available on the Defence Export Control Office website.