ATF Form 6 - Ammunition Imports


Do any of you have any information on ATF Form 6? I realize that I must go directly to the source (ATF) for final answers, but I’d like to have some information before I actually call them.

A forum member responded to my want ad for ammo, but he is in Europe and I would need an import license in order to acquire ammo from him.

Is there a fee for the license? Is there an official SLICS invite form (which I will apparently need)? What other pertinent info should I know/ask for?



You actually don’t need an import license and if you call the ATF and ask you will get a cluster of bizarre answers to the question so don’t bother. It boils down to the federal definition of “importation”, which as stated in 18 U.S.C. chapter 44 §921 definitions section 21, part(F):
“as applied to an importer of ammunition, a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to importing ammunition as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of the ammunition imported.”

So unless you are planning on acting like a distributor or wholesaler and earning a profit for your livelihood with this ammo, then you don’t need an importation license. On the other end of the pond though, I have no idea what the person in Europe would need to export if anything, I assume most of the Euro countries have some sort of license requirement.


How would the ammo be shipped?



Well, I am definitely not running any kind of business. I am a collector. And that is exactly why I didn;t call ATF right off the bat: it can make things more complex than necessary sometimes!

As for shipping, Ray, I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m new to this; what are my options and does it make a difference?

For the record, I am excited about a source who says that he has ‘lots’ of .38 ammo for me, and given his locale, it might be items that are hard for me to get otherwise.


As far as getting ammo over here, the collectors who come to SLICS from Europe for instance, do acquire a special form from the ATF which is easy to get for them. As far as ammo coming from their countries the laws vary as to what they need. One reason we have no Chinese or Japanese collectors who have tables is that ammo possession is essentially illegal in these countries so those are difficult countries as an example. But other countries are more reasonable. It usually has to be brought in person as opposed to being shipped, but I think FedEX will do shipping (airmail) as long as the sender has no legal issues. Certain meetings such as ECRA things happening in the Czech Republic make it very easy since the Czechs have ammo & gun laws very similar to our own, making things easy. I have used SLICS as an easy meeting point since many Europeans go to it and can possibly arrange ammo transport from outside the U.S.


I haven’t looked at the ATF regulations in a few years, but the requirement in the regulations is that a Form 6 is required to import any loaded ammunition. A start is the material on shipping ammunition on the IAA Website.

I have been bringing in ammo since the 1960s. Over the years the requirements have gotten much more complex and difficult. Originally I had ammo shipped from overseas, but for the past 15 years I have not been able to figure out how to do it. This has almost nothing to do with the ATF, but the way things are shipped. You can buy a container load of ammo and have it shipped, but a small package is very tough. That traffic all comes by air now and I have not been able to find an airline or an aircargo company that will ship ammo. Most European countries now require the shipper to have an export license.

The only way I have found to move ammo from Europe is in my checked baggage when I travel, and that is limited ot 5kg per traveller. A very expensive way to move ammo.

The permit process through the ATF is pretty easy. Send me an email and I can help. Your big problem will be finding a way to ship it. If you break that code, please let me know.

Good luck.




Lew is right of course, and to clarify what I said - If you are staying here in the U.S. and are accepting ammo from abroad from an outside sender, or if you are purchasing ammo from somebody else who brought it into the country, and if it’s not a commercial transaction, then you need no permit to purchase and/or possess. It’s just the person bringing it in who needs any permit.


DK, you are right that once the ammo is in the States, you can buy it without a Form 6 or any kind of Permit.

The person who RECEIVES the ammo in the US must have either a Form 6 for private import or be an commercial importer with all the required for that. The Form 6, and the permits for commercial import are required for either guns or ammo and that is how the regulations are written. A few years ago, there was a cartridge collector/dealer who had an commercial import permit and use to bring in both guns and ammo, but mostly from Canada because that was much easier than bringing things directly from Europe. There are restrictions based on “prohibited countries” so ammo from Albania and North Korea cannot be imported.

If a package of ammunition is shipped from overseas, and properly marked as live ammunition, Customs will hold it and will not release it to you until you present an import permit. Then there is a green form that is signed by Customs that shows what you actually imported and you have to send that back to the ATF.

The option is not to mark the package as live ammunition, which will work, but is not legal and with the way material is screened these days is a very high risk, and a very very bad idea in my opinion.

The only exception to this I know of is for very old ammo in some long obsolute calibers. One IAA member who regularly goes to the ECRA meeting sent in his Form 6 application and got back a letter telling him that no permit was required for these old and obsolute calibers (all very old rimfires I believe).

Hope this helps.




Edit- I got the answer I was looking for