To and From Canada


Canadian collectors,

The subject of mailing inert cases between the USA and Canada has come up on a shooting forum that I visit. And this is not the first time.

So, what is the real story? Can I send an inert case and bullet thru the USPS to Canada? Can a Canadian collector do the same in return?

I know shooters in Canada who would like to get a couple of shooting type cases from me in trade for some that I want. But, on both sides of the line we’re afraid that we would be breaking the law in light of Canada Post’s recent ruling regarding inert munitions. Questions to both the USPS and Canada Post go unanswered. At best we’re told, “I’m not sure” or “I think it’s OK but I’m not positive.”




Not a direct answer, but here’s a suggestion that has worked for me when shipping “questionable” items to the Great White Up. Got a guy that lives close enough to border to have a PO Box in the U.S. Send it there. He picks it up. Crosses the border, claiming same. They look at it. Go OK. He ships internally. Everybody’s happy. 3 times. No problems. Always threw in a little THANKEE sorta item, just 'cause.


Agree with SlickRick…same for me…works well…so far



BUT and I quote ( from Canada Post page info):

[i][b]4.1 Replica or Inert Munitions

Replica or inert munitions are non-mailable, as well as other devices that simulate explosive devices or munitions, including replica or inert grenades or other simulated military munitions, whether or not such items are for display purposes. These products are not permitted in the mail under any circumstances[/b][/i]

Nothing in there specific to spent SAA, but betting THEY would define it as falling under Section 4.1.


[color=#0040FF]mu⋅ni⋅tion /myuˈnɪʃən/ [myoo-nish-uhn]

–noun 1. Usually, munitions. materials used in war, esp. weapons and ammunition[/color].


Rick & Randy

Thanks for the suggestions. That’s a great way to run a country. :(

I think the definition is a big part of the problem. Unless things have changed in the last year or so there is no further definition of munitions. It can mean whatever they say it means at the time. Word on the street is that the definition is purposely vague in order to trap the bad guys who try to skirt the law. Of course, the bad guys don’t really give a rats a$$ when it comes to skirting laws so it’s everyone else who pays.

Some people have argued that the US State Department restrictions on this side of the line are the real impediments. I don’t know about that. I routinely mail inert cartridges all around the world and receive same in return. The Customs Declarations clearly state what the package contains so USPS and Homeland Security apparantly have no problems with a few empty 30-06 cases between friends.

So, where is the real problem? I dunno.



Ray–The problem is when some over-zealous customs inspector or postal worker (either Canadian or U.S.) wants to make a point and insists on applying the laws, which technically would include small arms ammunition, to a situation that the law wasn’t REALLY meant to include. Clearly, the Canadian law quoted above was intended to stop the mailing of simulated BOMBS. Similarly, the U.S. State Department rules against any USABLE component is meant to apply to LARGE quantities, not a few individual collector cartridges, but, if a case was ever taken to court (either Canadian or U.S.) you would lose based on a strict interpretation of the laws.



I’m still not convinced that the US State Department regulations are intended to stop the shipment of any usable component but rather to regulate the import/export of munitions, firearms, and firearms parts, no matter the quantity. When I send or receive inert cartridges from all over the world there is a Customs Declaration that is attached to the package clearly identifying the contents as inert cartridges. I cannot believe that both the USPS and Homeland Security would cavalierly allow such packages to proceed if they were in violation of the State Department rules. Of course, I’m a simple farm boy and possibly too naive for my own good.



Ray–I agree with you that they seem to be allowing the import/export of small quantities of inert SAA, but it is ONLY because the vast majority of the customs and postal workers are taking a LOGICAL interpretation of the law. However, don’t think that it is because it isn’t worth it to prosecute you for a few rounds. Remember, the government
lawyers are on salary. How much it would cost to take you to court doesn’t matter to the government. It costs the same wither they are in court on on the gulf course. But, it will cost YOU big time to defend yourself. Remember, it is not the intent of the law, but how it is worded that matters once it gets into court.

BTW, I too, routinely send pulled down inerted rounds to Europe. I use the Flat Rate Envelopes and boxes and mark the customs slip as INERTED CARTRIDGES for Study & Display. So, like you, I am not hiding what is in the package. At least, if ever questioned by customs, I have not lied on a government form. Out of perhaps 50 or 60 shipments over 3 years, my recipients have ALWAYS reported that the package was received unopened by customs. I may be wrong, but I wonder if most of the Postal Inspectors and Customs Agents on the line are even aware of the State Departments rulings.



You’ve got to be near bankrupt after sending that many packages overseas! My dozen or so experiences with int’l shipping charges have left me rocking back and forth in a corner. Ridiculous expense on some occasions. Size DOES matter. SAA isn’t TOO bad, but still, the shipping costs have killed a couple of deals. UK seems higher than EU, but haven’t had a real apples-to-apples comparison.
Also, I include an “adjustably worded” letter explaining, in both English and destination country’s lingo, as a notice to P.O. and Customs officials. Explaining inerting processes and such. References and pics included when available. To date, no package has been opened for inspection. Either way. Had a couple Xrayed, but that’s it. Admittedly, the majority of contents had been of more “energetic” devices than SAA, but same-o same-o re: munitions.


. . . . Of course, I’m a simple farm boy and possibly too naive for my own good.


LOLd. Sounded like the Caveman Lawyer from SNL



What you described may very well be true. I would hope not because it scares the heck out of me to think that our government would allow its citizens to openly break laws until such time that it’s convenient for them enforce them


I quit watching SNL years ago. I was spoiled by the original. When Roseanne Roseannadanna died and Alec Baldwin became a regular guest I lost all interest. And then there was “Pat”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.



SlickRick–Tain’t me the is bankrupt. I always ask the recipient to pay for shipping. And if they send me something, which is seldom, I pay the shipping. Most Europeans do not mind paying the shipping, usually a $12.95 Flat Rate Envelope (up to 4 lbs.), because the cartridges I’m sending are either unavailable in Europe or a lot cheaper here, even with the shipping cost. Plus, I charge $1.00 per cartridge to inert it. I ONLY do pull-downs, no drilling. I can get about 15 SAA in the Flat Rate envelope. Like you, I also put a letter inside with details of how the cartridges were inerted.


Ray–Enforcement agencies, especially Police Officers, pick and choose what laws and when to enforce them all the time. When was the last time you saw someone ticketed for throwing a cigarette butt on the ground. That’s littering and is illegal almost everyplace. How about swearing in public? Most police will let you speed up to 7-9 MPR. It’s illegal. When was the last time you jaywalked? Did you get arrested? Doubtful, even if a cop sees you, unless you cause a traffic hazard. These are all small offenses, but still illegal. I am sure there are lots of bigger ones that never get enforced for the “Convenience of the Government”.


The flat rate box is the same price as the envelope, and the 4 pound limit allows quite a few cartridges.

I have shipped a lot of inerted cartridges overseas in the last ten or so years, all described on the customs form as ‘Inert cartridges for research and display’. I never had a problem until several months ago, when a package shipped to Russia was held up by their customs and returned to me. I was advised by the person I had sent it to that he had a package from England also held up. Apparently, they are cracking down more on what comes in to their country.



One big difference that I see is that none of the offenses you mentioned are crimes.

As far as overseas shipments, I’ve noticed that envelopes will sail thru Customs like buttered snot. Boxes, OTOH, are always suspect, especially if they rattle.



Is there any way to ship live cartridges to Europe? I’m pretty sure the answer is “NO”, but I am trying to complete a transaction with a collector overseas who is certain that there is a way. He says it is possible to ship surface freight on a ship… Hardly seems plausible for a few dozen cartridges.

Does anyone offer a courrier service to bring cartridges to Europe by the traditional air travel route?

Seems odd that you can carry live ammunitino on a plane, but not ship the same amount as a parcel…



When you carry ammunition on a plane outside of the country, you are allowed to carry 5 Kilos for personal use. Shipping to a foreign country becomes a formal export to someone else, and requires a U.S. State Department license. To get one of those, you have to get an end user certificate from the country that it is being shipped to. I dare say that few individual collectors abroad could get their governments to issue one to them.

It is odd that BATF, much easier to deal with than the State Department, handles everything to do with the importation and interstate sale (and possession laws at a Federal level) for arms and ammuntiion except exportation, which is the responsiblity of the State Department. I once sent 25 dollars worth of ammunition to another country for their national police, as an individual, regarding a criminal investigation. After a year of wrangling over paper work, where it had to be stored between locations, delays in shipping due to airline refusals to carry, etc., I got a bill for almost 500 US dollars from the Shipping Agent who handled it!

Other than carrying yourself on a plane and hand delivering it, I don’t know of any practical way to send small arms cartridges to a foreign country, unless the laws have changed since I left the firearms industry some nine or ten years ago.

John Moss


The easy way to ship cartridges from the US to Europe and Europe-US is to buy a airplain ticket and ask a ATF form 6.
And you are allowed to bring over 5kg of live ammo, thats how we doing it.
We doing this for 20 years and never had big problems…



Gyrojet is right. The form 6, though, is an import permit, to bring stuff INTO the U.S., not an export permit. Since you are carrying ammunition out of the country “for your own use” a legal U.S. Resident doesn’t need an export permit to take 5 Kilos of ammo out of the U.S. (It used to be up to a thousand rounds, but A thousand rounds of ammunition properly packed, in most calibers, is more than 5 kilos). That is how hunters can take ammo with them on safari, etc. (you could, when I was up on the law, also take three guns with you without an export license - I don’t know if that has changed or not - the guns you have to bring back; the ammo you don’t, since it is an expendable - however you may, without import license, if it is the same ammo you took with you and was properly declared along with your foreign-made camera, wristwatch, etc on the form that lets you bring in items previously owned by you returning with you, without paying duty on it).

You should always, though, check the current laws. I don’t really know what has happened since I left the gun business, and I haven’t been abroad since 1985.

John Moss