The importation of category D and prohibited firearms is controlled under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (the Regulations). Importers must obtain permission to bring firearms into Australia.
Category D firearms
Category D firearms include:
- semi-automatic centre fire rifles
- semi-automatic rimfire rifles fitted with a firearm magazine with a capacity greater than ten rounds
- semi-automatic shotguns fitted with a firearm magazine with a capacity greater than five rounds
- pump-action repeating shotguns fitted with a firearm magazine with a capacity greater than five rounds.
Prohibited firearms include:
- 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
- any of the following that are substantially the same in appearance as a fully automatic firearm - handguns, category A and B firearms, soft air (BB) firearms and paintball markers.
Obtaining permission to import
Permission to import category D or prohibited firearms can be provided by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department where the importation of these firearms is for purposes, including, but not limited to:
- for supply to the government of the Commonwealth, a state or a territory
- repairs, modification, testing and training
- 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
- for use in the production of a film.
Dealers can obtain permission to import category D firearms from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department if the Attorney-General is satisfied the importer is licenced to deal in category D firearms. Limitations apply to who the dealer can sell category D firearms to, such as:
- a certified buyer
- the government of the Commonwealth, a state or a territory.
Professional rural pest controllers
Permission to import category D firearms can be obtained from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department for importers whose occupation is party or wholly the business of controlling vertebrate pest animals. This is subject to the importer having the necessary state or territory licence or authorisation to possess the firearms for the purpose of carrying out that occupation.
The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department permission to import document must be presented to the Australian Border Force (ABF) at the time of importation. To obtain permission to import from the Commonwealth 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.
Ammunition for use with category D and prohibited 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.
Importing ammunition, magazines and magazine extension devices for further information.
Firearms are also subject to safety testing and unique serial number requirements.
The ABF will undertake safety testing of imported firearms unless exemptions apply.
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.
The maximum penalty for importing these goods without the relevant import permission is a penalty not exceeding Australian dollar 450,000, imprisonment for 10 years, or both.
For information about exporting firearms, see Defence Export Controls on the Department of Defence website.