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New regulations for exporting firearms, parts, accessories and optics from the United States take effect on 9 March 2020.
In this post, we look at 5 ways the new regulations will make it easier for you to buy U.S. firearm products and 5 ways they won’t. We also mention one temporary challenge you will face as an international purchaser of American firearm products.
- No license required for shipments up to USD 500.
The value of most firearm parts that can be shipped to most countries without a license has increased from USD 100 to USD 500. This is not a change for exports to Canada, to which a USD 500 limit already applies. There is a USD 6,000 maximum limit each calendar year.
- No USD 250 fee per license.
Exporters will no longer pay a fee to the U.S. Government for export licenses. Many exporters have passed that fee to their international customers.
- Less paperwork required for export licenses.
Export licenses require less paperwork. The U.S. Government no longer needs to see a purchase order, import permit and end-user certificate in order to process an export license. Exporters may ask for this information but the Government no longer requires it.
- Export licenses can authorize future purchase orders.
It is now possible to obtain licenses that apply to future purchase orders. If you conduct repeat business with American sellers, you can apply for licenses in advance that authorize multiple years of exports.
- There is no requirement in the new regulations to notify the U.S. Congress of large orders.
Previously, the U.S. State Department was required to notify the U.S. Congress of every license that authorized the export of more than USD 1 million. That requirement added months to the time for approval of export licenses for large orders. There is no counterpart to “Congressional Notification” in the new regulations.
5 Things That Have Not Changed
- Exports of firearms continue to require an export license.
Exports of firearms to any country outside the United States continue to require an export license from the United States Government. In the past, export licenses were processed by the U.S. State Department. Now they will be processed by the U.S. Commerce Department.
- U.S. export regulations continue to be very complex.
Exports of firearms, parts, optics and many accessories from the United States will continue to be controlled under complex regulations and U.S. exporters continue to face significant penalties if they do not comply with the regulations.
- Import regulations are not affected.
Changes in U.S. export regulations haven’t affected requirements for import permits in any country. If in the past, your country has required an import permit for you to import a firearm, part, optic or accessory, an import permit is still required today. It is best not to expect U.S. exporters to be familiar with your country’s import regulations. If you are new to purchasing U.S. firearm products, be certain to investigate whether you will need an import permit. Also, to avoid surprises, check your country’s regulations to learn what import duties and taxes will apply to your purchase from an American exporter.
- Shipment options for small orders remain limited.
The major courier services – FedEx, UPS and DHL, among others – currently state that they have policies not to transport most firearms products internationally. The United States Postal Service will carry shipments of firearm products to many countries, but not all.
- E-commerce continues to be a challenge.
The regulatory challenges that have prevented most international e-commerce in firearm products from occurring in the past are unchanged. It continues to be difficult and risky for online merchants in the U.S. to process small export orders.
Big Change, Be Patient, Plan Ahead
For the American firearms industry that must obey the law, the new regulations are a massive change in the way the U.S. Government controls exports of firearms, parts, optics and many accessories. Everyone involved in exporting firearm products from the United States – including the U.S. government officials at the Commerce Department who now process export licenses – is learning how to work with a new set of regulations. It will take some time for everyone to adjust, so it is best to be patient during 2020 and to plan ahead.
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