Firearm shipping restrictions guidance
Federal law does not generally prohibit "nonlicensees" (non-FFLs) from shipping guns, as long as they are shipping to an FFL. However, carrier policy generally does prohibit nonlicensees from shipping guns. On top of that, some FFLS refuse to accept shipments from nonlicensees. GunTab provides this guidance with the warning that it may be incomplete or out of date. It is your responsibility to know and follow laws and policies that apply in your jurisdiction.
If you are ever in doubt about the legalities of shipping, you should take your package to a local FFL to ship it on your behalf.
Some receiving FFLs refuse to accept shipments coming from individuals. They require all shipments come to them from another FFL. It is always advisable to contact a receiving FFL before shipping something to them for transfer.
All the private carriers prohibit firearm shipments by nonlicensees. USPS only allows rifle and shotgun shipments by nonlicensees. Please see our comprehensive list of shipping carrier rules on guns and ammo.
Federal law is slightly different for common carriers versus USPS:
- Shipping by common carrier (like FedEx and UPS): "A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by a common or contract carrier to a resident of his or her or her own state or to a licensee in any state. In addition, federal law requires that the carrier be notified that the shipment contains a firearm or ammunition, prohibits common or contract carriers from requiring or causing any label to be placed on any package indicating that it contains a firearm and requires obtaining written acknowledgement of receipt."
- Shipping by USPS: "A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of their own state or to a licensee in any state. The U.S. Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms. Handguns are not mailable."
SOURCE: "Firearms - Frequently Asked Questions - Unlicensed Persons" Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). Retrieved 6 Sept 2022. https://www.atf.gov/qa-category/unlicensed-persons