Importing Inert Artillery Shells into the U.S.A


Without regard to the cost due to their weight, are there any legal limitations to importing into the U.S. from Europe, EMPTY artillery shells? How about INERT artillery rounds? How about INERT projectiles. Are these items considered Destructive Devices, even if empty or inert? Can they be mailed to the U.S.? Can they be brought over on a plane as part of your checked baggage?


If the new, UN & US inspired “Inert Artillery & ordnance rules” applicable in Australia (Customs Service) are anything to go by, all these Items have to be “Quartered” (ie, Fuses have to be Cut away so that 1/4 of the body is Open to view;) Shell Bodies have likewise to be Cut open, and Shell cases have either the primer tube removed, or a large Hole drilled into the Body of the case near the head. Some even require drilling thru the head from the bottom.

Other ordnance devices have to be Likewise “sectioned”. That includes Hand Grenade, Mortar shells, etc Bodies.
Of course ALL traces of explosive content has to be removed (not easy sometimes); and all primers have to be struck to prove inertness.

Transport: leave aside any idea of “Personal Baggage”…the quickest way to Club Fed and wholesale Chaos at any airport.

Send by freight, with all the appropriate Import Permits from US Customs etc…
Not all the Couriers will carry "ordnance "items, even if Certified “Deactivated”…you will have to shop around.

Good Luck,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


My experiences differ from DocAV’s testimony. Nary a problem going to and fro from here to the EU. UK should be avoided. Belgium is the best if you can find a contact there. Norway’s good, as well. A big ixnay to the Netherlands and France. Germany’s pretty cool. An included explanation of the contents has allowed every shipment through without incident. A close estimate includes upwards of 15 shipments of assorted ordnance without issue. Obvious inertness is the key. Complete disassembly in the case of fuzed items when possible helps ensure FFE/Inert status to the less enlightened.
For external customs form content description, just the word shell will suffice for what you describe. I will admit to being “creative”, to avoid a fright.
Downest side to it all, plan on shelling out at least $50 for shipping.


All I can say is that as recently as a year ago, there were no problems shipping 3 cases, 1 projo, 1 PD fuse and 2 primers from Belgium to the US via the postal system. The above was shipped in 2 packages (due to size and weight). Neither package showed any sign of “internal inspection” and the contents were declared (as best my foggy mind can remember) as “inert ordinance for research and historical purposes”

Now, my mail lady probably wasn’t real happy, as she not only had to wrestle the packages in and out of her vehicle (rural routes are delivered in the carriers personal vehicle) she had to bring them up to the door as they wouldn’t fit in my mail box. On the flip side, she is a hunter/shooter and finds my collection interesting to view.


Is Canada part of Europe?? Only kidding. Eh!

Don’t try any of this to and/or from Canada. AFAIK the “problems” with shipping any cartridges or components, inerted or not, between the US and Canada have never been resolved.

Also, as so shipments between the US and Europe, the control and regulation of such are still under the U.S. State Department, and even though they seldom get involved in things like this, I believe it is, technically, illegal.

I’m hoping someone, anyone, will chime in and tell me I’m wrong on this.



Considering half the packages I’ve shipped and received have been opened by the “authorities”, I’d venture it is NOT illegal. Labeling and proof of inertness is the best way to insure compliance with any of the numerous regulations. As for Canada, I have used the services of a sometimes forum poster that has a PO Box in the U.S. and is gracious enough to facilitate transfer. Knowing many others in the “trade” and relating experiences has proven all these discussions prove to be much ado about nothing.



Your packages were most likely opened and inspected by Customs or the Post Office. The regulations I’m referring to are U.S. State Department. It may be that other agencies simply are not aware of the regulations, or they are routinely ignored. Probably the latter. They (regulations) fall into that broad category of “they are intended to catch the really bad guys but we won’t use them against the good guys”. Sounds nice until someone decides that it’s time to enforce them against everyone.

Much ado about nothing is the kind of police power that bureaucrats love. Wo betide the honest citizen who is the first to be nabbed. There are many, many examples of those unenforced laws just waiting for the moment. Remember, Al Capone didn’t die in prison because of murder.




Thanks to everybody for the comments. Please note that I am talking about ARTILLERY cases and projectiles, not Small Arms Ammunition. I have sent and received numerous inert SAA to England and Spain with NO problems. Somewhere I thought or read, but am not sure, that any components over .50 cal. (even empty cases) were classified as Destructive Devices for import purposes and were not allowed.



Just promise me you’ll send a “special” cake to me while I’m “away”.
My suspicion is these State Department regulations are for prohibiting boatloads of items vs collector pieces. But yea, someday somebody will get all real about it and the fun will be over.
I think an 18TPI “cake” will suffice, by the way. When I’m done, I can use it as a shiv. Just practicin’ up on my lingo. I suppose I should go get a tat to show I’ve got some cred on the inside.



=> QUESTION: When an American soldier now comes back home from Irak or Afganistan, can he/she bring any caliber fired (inert) artillery shell case(s) ??? Liviu 06/04/10



The short answer to your question is, NO. BUT, a recent acquisition included this paperwork inside the hull, which authorizes specific items to be brought back. They must be certified inert by qualified(EOD) folks and then some other rules apply as to transport and such. Hopefully the letter can be zoomed in on. Back when my son returned from there, he showed me the 3 page, single spaced list of contraband items. Pretty much can’t bring back anything you didn’t take over there.

  • @ SlickRick: Many thanks for your answer. Too bad some of those big caliber fired (inert) shell cases from Irak and Afganistan are not sold today with certified papars back in USA. I’m pretty sure a lot of people would like to have a souvenir like that, a real piece of history. The money resulted from the sale should be donated to the US soldiers wounded in Irak and Afganistan. Liviu 06/05/10