EUROPEAN UNION FIREARMS LEGISLATION
Practical Guide for Hunters and Target Shooters
The DIRECTIVE 91/477 (18 June 1991) also called "Firearms Directive" rules the acquisition, possession, transfer and circulation of firearms by a private person inside the Community. These rules are minimum requirements into which national legislation must fit. Member States may maintain or adopt more stringent provisions.
DIRECTIVES 79/409 (2 April 1979) and 92/43 (21 May 1992) rules game shooting inside the Community.
If you are intended to visit one or several member States of the European Union, please refer to those countries for detailed information.
EU Licensing requirements
Licensing depends on the category of the firearms and national legislation (see member State)
EU CATEGORIES OF FIREARMS
A - Prohibited firearms/ammunition
* Explosive military missile and launchers
* Automatic firearms
* Firearms disguised as other objects
* Ammunition with penetrating, explosive or incendiary projectiles, and the projectiles for such ammunition
* Pistol and revolver ammunition with expanding projectiles and the projectiles for such ammunition, except in the case of weapons for hunting or for target shooting, for persons entitled to use them
* Automatic firearms
* are full automatic assault rifles or pistols, submachine guns and machine guns. No license is delivered for these types of firearms/ammunition except in some member States for specific reasons (see member States)
B Firearms subject to authorisation
* Semi-automatic or repeating short firearms
* Single-shot short firearms with center-fire percussion
* Single-shot short firearms with rimfire percussion whose overall length is less than 28 cm.
* Semi-automatic long firearms whose magazine and chamber can together hold more than three rounds
* Semi-automatic long firearms whose magazine and chamber cannot together hold more than three rounds, where the loading device is removable or where it is not certain that the weapon cannot be converted, with ordinary tools, into a weapon whose magazine and chamber can together hold more than three rounds
* Repeating and semi-automatic long firearms with smooth-bore barrels not exceeding 60 cm in length
* Semi-automatic firearms for civilian use which resemble weapons with automatic mechanism
For these types of firearms a license is always requested. It concerns handguns, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns with a detachable magazine, shotguns with a short barrel.
Refer to member State for conditions of delivery of a license. Private transfer between member States is ruled by the Directive; export/import follows national legislation.
C - Firearms subject to declaration
* Repeating long firearms other than those listed in category B, point 6
* Long firearms with single-shot rifled barrels
* Semi-automatic long firearms other than those in category B, point 4 to 7
* Single-shot short firearms with rimfire percussion whose overall length is not less than 28 cm
* Are concerned all rifles (semi-automatic 3 rounds not detachable magazine, bolt-, pump-, lever action, revolving, single-shot), shotguns semi-automatic 3 rounds not detachable magazine and pump action with a barrel exceeding 60 cm in length.
Only Austria, Belgium, France and Greece have firearms under declaration. In all other member States, these types of firearms require a license (see member States). Private transfer between member States is ruled by the Directive; export/import follows national legislation.
D - Other Firearms
* Single-shot long firearms with smooth-bore barrels Concerns shotguns only : single-shot, superposed, side-by-side.
Only France and Austria have firearms under this category (see member States)
Private transfer between member States is ruled by the Directive; export/import follows national legislation.
Note (Point III of the Annexe I ) : following weapons although they correspond to the definition of a firearm are not submitted to the Directive:
* firearms which have been rendered permanently unfit for use by the application of technical procedures which are guaranteed by an official body or recognized by such a body ;
* firearms designed for alarm, signalling, life-saving, animal slaughter or harpoon fishing or for industrial or technical purposes provided they can be used for the stated purpose only ;
* firearms regarded as antique weapons or reproductions of such where these have not been included in the previous categories and are subject to national laws.
National rules are applicable to these weapons (see member States).
Airguns are not concerned by the Directive (see member States).
The DIRECTIVE 91/477 doesn’t provide for storage/transportation requirements (see member States).
The DIRECTIVE 79/409 also called "Directive Birds" enumerates species of birds for which hunting is permitted.
The DIRECTIVE 92/43 also called "Directive Flora, Wildlife and Environment" enumerates species of wild animals for which hunting is permitted.
These may vary from member States to member States. Consult your travel agency or the national Hunters’ association (see member States).
These Directives also give a list of prohibited means of destruction. Automatic and semi-automatic firearms of which the magazine may contain more than 2 cartridges are prohibited.
License for hunting, method of hunting and calibres depend on national legislation (see member States).
No Directive rules Target shooting. Target shooting is ruled by ISSF (former UIT) and national provisions (see member States).
Moving Between Member States or Coming from Abroad
Moving between member States
The DIRECTIVE 91/477 provides for rules for private circulation/transit with firearms between member States.
Private circulation needs a EFP (European Firearms Pass) which is delivered by the Police. The traveller must have a written invitation. In case the transported firearm is under permit in the visited/transited member State, a prior consent valid one year is necessary (see member States)
Coming from abroad
See member States
Disclaimer: Posting of an article on the WFSA website does not constitute an endorsement by the WFSA of any view, policy position, statement or averred fact contained within the article. Articles are made available for informational purposes only.