Importing handguns

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

Below information is intended for private importers. Firearm dealers should refer to the fact sheet Firearms Dealers Guide for Category H Articles.

Importing handguns

To import handguns into Australia, importers must first obtain written certification from the police firearms or weapons registry in their State or Territory or written permission from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department prior to importation.

Police certification

The police certification will be in the form of a B709D Category H – Police Confirmation and Certification Form B709D Form.

Firearms dealers can also use a B709DA Form – Ongoing Importation by Firearms Dealer Police Confirmation and details of the goods to clear the consignment.

Handguns include single shot handguns, semi-automatic handguns, black powder handguns, air handguns and revolvers.

Special restrictions apply to sports shooters importing handguns on a B709D Form. See the section on sports shooters for detailed information.

Note: Police certification does not apply to handguns with the following characteristics:

  • has fully automatic firing capability
  • that is substantially the same in appearance as a fully automatic firearm
  • a handgun to which a firearm accessory is attached or integral.

To import these types of firearms written permission to import must be obtained from the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department prior to importation. 

Permission to import may only be granted where the firearms are for specific purposes.

Attorney-General's Department permission to import

Written permission to import must be obtained from the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department where the importation of handguns 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 use by professional rural pest controllers (specified person)
  • 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).

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.

Firearms Dealers may instead present a copy of their B709DA as well as make, model and serial number information at the time of importation.

You must also fulfil the additional requirements listed below.

Ammunition

Ammunition for use with handguns 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

Handguns are also subject to sports shooter restrictions, safety testing and unique serial number requirements.

Sports shooter

Additional restrictions apply to handguns imported by sports shooters, including visiting international sports shooters. Handguns imported by sports shooters must comply with all the following characteristics:

  • a calibre no greater than .38” calibre, however handguns of up to .45” calibre may be authorised provided they are being imported for use in specially accredited sporting events
  • a shot capacity of not more than ten rounds for handguns fitted with a magazine or cylinder
  • a barrel length no less than 120 millimetre for semi-automatic handguns and 100 millimetre for revolvers and single-shot handguns.

The barrel restrictions do not apply to handguns that are designed or adapted for competition target shooting. These typically have features such as specially calibrated trigger mechanisms, custom or ergonomically designed handgrips, special optical sights and mounts as well as compensators or weighted barrels.

These restrictions do not apply to black powder and muzzle-loading pistols and cap-and-ball percussion-fired revolvers.

Note: these restrictions do apply to handgun parts such as barrels and magazines. See Importing Firearm Parts and Accessories for further information.

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 in the form of a B709D and B709DA Form you will need to contact your State or Territory Police firearms and weapons registry.

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

Contact details of the police firearms and weapon registries and 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.