Import and export control on weapons

The importation of certain weapons is controlled under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (the Regulations).

Import criteria

There are strict requirements detailed in Schedule 13 of the Regulations that define the circumstances under which import permission may be authorised. These circumstances are commonly referred to as 'tests'.

Applications for permission to import will only be considered when the weapons being imported comply with a legislated test as specified in Schedule 13 of the Regulations.

All weapons are subject to one or more of these tests. An overview of the tests applicable to importing of weapons is available at Firearms and weapons.

For a full description of each weapon controlled on import, see Schedule 13 of the Regulations. Some of these items might also be subject to the public or national interest test which is applicable in very limited circumstances.

How to import the weapons

Import permission must be approved in writing by the Minister, or an authorised person, before the importation of the goods. The documents required vary depending on the type of weapon and the applicable tests.

Applications for permission to import can be made by governments, individuals and private companies.

For items that are subject to the police certification test, import permission can be approved by your local police weapons registry.

Validity of the documents

Permission documents apply to one importation only and are usually valid for six (6) months to twelve (12) months dependant on end user requirements.

Ongoing permissions are considered if certain application conditions are met that is supply, under contract, to the government of the Commonwealth, State or Territory.

How to apply

All applications must be made in writing using a B710 Form — Application for Permission to Import Schedule 13 Weapons (443KB PDF). Standard permits are valid for six (6) months from the date of signature and for one (1) importation only.

Applications must be made prior to the importation of the goods. The assessment process takes approximately four (4) weeks from receipt by the processing office and might be extended if additional information is required or the application is considered incomplete.

In addition to the B710 Form, supporting documents must accompany an application to demonstrate that the importation satisfies the relevant test.

Lodgement of an application does not guarantee permission to import will be granted and goods should not be forwarded to Australia until notified of the approval in writing. Goods that are imported without a valid permit might be subject to seizure, disposal and/or prosecution.

Required supporting documents

You must provide the following supporting documents with your application:

  • a copy of a licence or authorisation that demonstrates the importer is authorised to possess, use and/or deal in the goods for the importer's intended use in accordance with the law of the State or Territory in which the goods are to be used, if required
  • B711 Form - Evidence of Government Use for the Import of Schedule 13 Weapons (576KB PDF), if required
  • a copy of purchase order, supporting letter, contract, if ordering for a third party for example government
  • any other documents specific to the type of test you are applying under.

Exporting weapons

Certain weapons are controlled on export out of Australia under Regulation 13E of the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 and might be subject to export permit requirements and conditions.

Export requirements apply to firearms, military goods, stun guns, body armour, anti-personnel goods and military-grade lasers.

Certain countries are subject to sanctions when exporting. These can be confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

For information on obtaining export permission, or to determine if an item requires export permission, see Defence Export Control Office (DECO) website.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for both importing and exporting restricted weapons without import permission is a fine not exceeding AUD450,000 (2500 penalty units) or 10 years imprisonment, or both, for each offence.