US Shipping Laws


Are there any laws prohibiting shipping of inert ordnance to international destinations? Or is it just that people do not want to bother?



I am not an expert on the subject matter, but the Arms Export Control Act does regulate the export of weapons and munitions. I don’t know how it affects inert munitions. U.S. State Dept. is the executive agent for the AECA. Their website:


Thanks Cristopher, but I could not find any info regarding INERT munitions, bombs, fuzes, etc, either on that link or in the MTCR Annex, that would apply.
Anyone has first hand experience?


Everyone NEEDS to read the information on the IAA website concerning shipping ammunition.
Failure to comply with the various laws and regulations is a quick way to get in trouble these days. Note that the distinction between “inert- harmless as a rock” and “live- go BOOM! and blow up the neighborhood” is hard for many petty bureaucrats to understand.
Likewise, the U.S. Postal Service prohibits shipment of “ammunition” but who knows what their definition is and if it applies to inert items.
Most of us probably do NOT want to invest in the services of a lawyer to debate the matter in court.


Hello, Fernando…I have shipped small quantities of cartridges from the US to several other countries overseas and have had no problems as long as the cartridges are completely inert and customs agents can see that they definitely are inert, i.e…bullet and case separated, or a hole in the case wall. I include a note in the package stating that the cartridges are inert. Hope this helps…Randy


John, yes, it is important for everybody to know the regulations of loaded ammo but I am aiming at another scenario.
Randy, I understand as long as it is fool proof to see that it is inert, there should be no problem.
What I mean is, are there any formal restrictions? Like in in the for sale section he has TOW tubes. And he states, they can’t be sold to non US citizens or exported. Are they considered guns?


Hi, Fernando…I don’t know anything about shipping stuff bigger and badder than SAA (small arms ammo), and stuff like this would most certainly have more restrictions…but I have never had any problems shipping small quantities of SAA, especially all different, where it is obvious they are for collecting and study…I always include a note to that effect…I have shipped to UK, NZ, Italy, Poland, France and Israel…but…always best to thoroughly research the import laws of the country to which you intend to ship !!! Randy


I’ve shipped quite a bit of inert small arms ammo to other nations over the past few years. I’ve not put any notes IN the packages (a good idea I will not hesitate to copy!) before, but do detail the inert function on the customs declaration: “All active components removed or rendered inert chemically.” I’ve had a few shipments opened for inspection somewhere in the process, but no seizures or complaints.

The key is for the person in the receiving nation to know their own laws. A party seeking to receive this material in the US would be best advised to contact BATFE: . . . . TMK, there is no problem with entirely inert SAA, but different standards could well apply to material .50 and above, if only because the inert character of such material is not so easily discernible by a non-specialist, which describes the average customs agent (anywhere). There ARE more restrictive localized factors - e.g., the stupid NJ prohibition of civilian ownership of hollow point ammo - which may also apply, even if the item(s) are inert. The laws in such leftist-dominated areas are - quite naturally - even less rational than most government legal matters. IIRC, there are size restrictions on even inert material in some jurisdictions.

Fernando, on export of anything other than SAA FROM the US, you will have to contact the US Departments of State and / or Commerce. The regulations are complex (often unnecessarily so!) and detailed. Something like a TOW tube, while entirely legal in many US jurisdictions, could easily fall afoul of export regulations, even if the bloody thing was cut in half. It may well be perfectly legal, though. Most people / commercial entities will not ship anything associated with firearms internationally because of the morass of paperwork required to prove the item(s) don’t violate the regulations. This can include items like firing pins for sporting arms. The costs and headaches simply outweigh any benefit of international sales.

If you can obtain a clearance from the authorities, the easiest way for you to have this shipped out of the country would be to locate an individual here willing to transship it for you, have it shipped to them originally and include copies of the communications from the various government entities confirming the legality of the shipment when it is sent out of the country. With such paperwork, I’ve shipped a few small parts for friends, but never anything such as a TOW tube. Post 9-11, there are a lot of restrictions and, justifiably, the authorities are very cautious.



Canada Post now prohibits the mailing of anything that even LOOKS like it may have been live at one time; they’ve had more than one occurence of “This looks like a hand grenade/artillery shell, we need to clear every building for 6 blocks in every direction”.


Teak, I know what you mean, regulations can be very discouraging.
I will try to contact a US department and check.
Just for info, for us in Argentina, SAA is constituted by four components, a case, propellant, primer, projectile. If one of them is not present, the object is not ammo. So inert, no powder, no primer, is not even considered by our law.
Guns and parts are another issue though.
Sad to read that about Canada.


Does Argentine law consider caseless ammunition? I would not test that, but it is something to think about.


Jon, at least in the definitions no. Since the law mentions the case as being the cohesive element for all the others.
I wouldn’t put the law at proof though. Unluckily they still contain powder and priming…


Since reloading components require an export permit, I assume inert “ammo” does as well. It is the Dept of State that regulates export, the ATF has nothing to do with it.