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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Can I Ship My Firearms to another Lawful State for Use?

A common question and need of a lawful possessor of a firearm is how to ship it to another place for shooting sports activities. This may be somewhat familiar to you if you have purchased a firearm (handgun) in another state from an FFL.

This is lawful and accomplished by paying for the firearm in the state where you are non-resident and taking delivery through an FFL and completing the ATF 4473 form and NICS check in your home state. In fact, it is possible in some cases to purchase long guns in other state and complete the ATF 4473 and NICS check there.

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In other words, and by comparison, there must be a way to lawfully ship firearms?

Where you already own the firearm and need to ship it for use and cannot travel with the firearm by private transportation or by checked luggage in certain commercial carriers, how can this be accomplished? Can it be accomplished?

Yes, but this gets tricky. You can ship the firearm through commercial shipper, such as UPS or FedEx by following their procedures and shipping it in care of another person in the state where you intend to use it to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity, which may range from a shooting competition to any of the other myriad of activities in which firearms are (lawfully) used.

To do so, the firearms may be ship addressed to the owner in the care of the out-of-state resident. When the firearm arrives at its destination, the out-of-state-resident who receives the package cannot open the package or otherwise take possession of the firearm.

However, there are a number of state or federal laws this seemingly simple and innocent transaction may run afoul of. For instance, and using hunting as an example, if the state has an assault weapons ban (such as California), despite the fact rifle hunting may be otherwise lawful, an AR-15 would be a violation of the state’s law and thus a crime to possess. Under state or federal law, if the out-of-state recipient is a felon or under a civil protective order and Brady-disqualified, this may also be a criminal act.

Due care and consideration and research is necessary and advised. This may require consulting with law enforcement or a lawyer in the foreign state.

Alternatively, a person may ship firearms directly to an FFL holder in any state. In other words, an FFL is not required in both states to effectuate this shipping, although this may be advised as a way to mitigate unnecessary risk.

A final point to always remember is that handguns are non-mailable items and cannot be shipped through the United States Post Office1. A common or commercial carrier has to ship handguns. In addition, this shipping would have to be permissible under a consideration of all other local, state and federal laws. And the carrier’s rules must be followed.

If you are more familiar with the process of shipping firearms lawfully possessed, then this blog post has met its educational goals. Again, however, any shipping of firearms must comply with all local, state and federal requirements. This blog post was written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana. It is not a solicitation for legal services or an indication any member of the firm practices outside of jurisdictions where licensed.

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 1715.


  1. I have a Harpers Ferry civil war gun I want to mail from Alaska to my new home in New Mexico. Do I have to use a gun or sporting goods store to mail the gun to? Do I have to have a specific type of box to do so?

    Comment by Korri Ragan on November 9, 2017 at 7:49 pm

  2. Unless state law prohibits it, you can ship guns to yourself in another state. Also, muzzleloaders are not usually considered firearms under the GCA 68.

    So feel free to mail your gun, just pack it securely.

    Comment by GP Willoughby on January 9, 2018 at 11:57 am

  3. My mom would like to give an air pump bb gun rifle and a 22 bolt action rifle to my son, that belonged to my dad. It would be shipped from california to idaho. Is she going to be able to do that? I read on one site you have to be a licensed dealer or collector? That cant be?? Any replies appreciated. cg

    Comment by Craig Gilly on February 27, 2018 at 3:20 pm

  4. can I ship ar-15 from Alaska to my home in indiana

    Comment by tony on February 27, 2018 at 11:18 pm

  5. I would like to ship my rifles and handguns from my home state of Missouri to Florida, where I have moved permanently. Do I need to go through dealers on either end?

    Comment by Jason S Ingle on August 20, 2018 at 7:47 pm

  6. I sold a long gun to a friend. Can mail it myself Fedex from Nevada to a gun shop in Miami? He can pick it up there under his name, yes?

    Thanks for your time….

    Comment by eric on December 13, 2018 at 4:17 am

  7. My son recently moved from south dakota to Alaska and left his shotguns and rifles in my home, now he would like me to send them to him, how do I do this. He also has several handguns

    Comment by Juliana Goens on June 15, 2019 at 7:37 pm

  8. Can I ship a firearm from VT to TX without going through a FFL?

    Comment by Raymond Conner on July 31, 2019 at 2:27 pm

  9. I am a Florida resident working in Virginia. Can I make a legal purchase of a handgun in Florida while in VA and ship it myself/FFL in Virginia? I have a FL CCW.

    Comment by Milan on October 4, 2019 at 7:46 am

  10. I sold a gun and I’m shipping it from California to Oregon to a FFL for the transfer. Do I have to have an FFL ship from CA or can I ship directly to the Oregon FFL from myself?

    Comment by Stephen on November 1, 2019 at 5:47 pm

  11. I am a licensed gun owner here in upstate new York……and I am selling guns to a FFL Dealer out of state.I was told by the ATF that I can bypass getting a FFL dealer on my end and ship them myself…Right or Wrong?…thanks in advance

    Comment by Stanley Smith on July 9, 2020 at 8:57 pm

  12. I am currently a student in the state of Florida, and am From Ohio. Since I am not technically a resident of Florida (don’t have Florida ID or license) can I purchase a long gun in Ohio and ship it to Florida? How would I go about that?


    Comment by Michael B on August 11, 2020 at 1:16 am

  13. I want to ship 2 guns and 2 long guns from Florida to Utah
    How do i do it

    Comment by Harvey goodman on August 19, 2020 at 2:36 pm

  14. I would like to ship my Dad’s shotgun that passed away to my brother in another state as a keepsake. It is over 30 years old and I am not aware if it is registered. Can I ship directly to him, or do I have to go to a FFL dealer as I have read?


    Comment by Raina Turner on September 6, 2020 at 2:07 pm

  15. Hi, I am an legal owner of a handgun in NYC. I want to ship it to my new address in FL. Do I have to go through a FFL from NYC to FL or can I just ship it on my end to an FFL to FL. Thanks again.

    Comment by Deonarine mangroo on October 10, 2020 at 4:18 am

  16. I want to give my nephew who lives in wisconson, my Winchester rifle. It’s a family gun going back 3 generations. What’s the safest way to send it. I live in Washington state.

    Comment by John akina on October 31, 2020 at 1:48 pm

  17. I live in ohio and have to mail a gun to georgia to the manufacturer for repairs, and was unsure of the laws in ohio to do so. do i need to go through an ffl dealer?

    Comment by Bretton DAVIS on November 9, 2020 at 5:37 pm

  18. Can I ship shotgun from Arizona to my home in Delaware

    Comment by Bill Gager on November 20, 2020 at 1:26 am

  19. my guns both hunting and sport rifles and a couple of hand guns are in fla. at my daughters home. Can she ship them through a gun dealer to me the owner in Pa.?

    Comment by Robert M Smith on December 25, 2020 at 11:03 pm

  20. I am buying several pistols from my father who has alzheimer’s and who suffers from memory loss. I want to bring them or have them shipped from New York State (where he resides) to Connecticut (where I reside).
    What are my options?

    Comment by Michael Reynolds on December 27, 2020 at 7:04 pm

  21. I am a Florida resident visiting NJ for a few months.. Can I make a legal purchase of a handgun in Florida while in NJ and have it shipped to a FFlL shop in NJ? I have a FL CCW.

    Comment by Cvega21 on January 27, 2021 at 6:01 pm

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Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More