Importing airsoft guns
February 23, 2007 7:38 PM   Subscribe

Is it legal for an individual to bring an airsoft gun with them from China to the USA provided that it meets all safety regulations (orange tip) and complies with local laws?

I'm currently in China and I have an airsoft gun that I want to bring with me to the USA. Is it legal to put the gun in my checked luggage? I've searched the web, but the only information that I have found is that it is considered smuggling to import a gun to Canada but I haven't found any info about importing one to the USA.
Anyone had any experiences bringing an airsoft gun into the USA from another country?
posted by killa62 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
I think it would be okay as long as it had the orange tip and it was empty and there were no pellets with it. It's not really a "gun" in the strictest sense; I believe airsoft equipment is legally considered a toy. Most weapons / martial arts equipment are allowed in checked luggage anyway. (see here)
posted by fvox13 at 9:53 PM on February 23, 2007

Just don't tell them your user name!
posted by crabintheocean at 10:12 PM on February 23, 2007

Note that the link fvox13 posted is for travel within the US. International travel regulations are often stricter---for one thing, you may have Chinese law to comply with as well as US, and you'll likely also have American import restrictions to deal with. ( and may be useful for the latter; no clue about the former.)

Finally, if you'll make any stops along the way, you may well have the restrictions of those countries to deal with.
posted by librarycat at 8:12 AM on February 24, 2007

The Customs and Border Patrol Help Page provides this answer:


Can I bring back or import a paintball gun for my personal use?


Yes, you may - as long as they are not converted from firearms that incorporate the frame or receiver of a firearm, (i.e. a converted AK 47). Make sure the vendor clearly states it is an airsoft, paintball, etc. gun. on the shipping documents to avoid confusion over whether or not an ATF import permit is required from Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). CBP does not consider paintball and similiar guns toys, and duty rates for these guns are provided for in Chapter 93 in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.Airsoft, paintball, bb guns, and other guns that use a gas or air pellet to fire a non-metallic projectile are not subject to Dept. of Commerce regulations for toy or imitation firearms that require bright orange plugs or other markers to be affixed to the end of the barrell. 15 CFR 1150

There are some links in the original that I haven't copied here.

Also, I was in China just a couple of months ago, and I had the same thought you did (bring back an airsoft), but didn't have time to get things sorted out, and I didn't want to mess with bringing it through Hong Kong. I don't know what the export restrictions might be out of mainland China, either.

I will also suggest that you be upfront with the customs people when you return; we brought back a great deal of various things, and had extensive conversations with several customs officers (all of whom were very polite and professional) about what we had, and what of that was not permitted. The short version is that they seem to be on the prowl for avian flu, so anything (anything!) that is remotely related to fowl is not going to pass. We had some dried duck and a box of wife cakes (lao po bing; 老婆餅) that had bits of thousand year old egg inside; they took both.

Anything you think might be iffy you should pack separately (ideally in an individual ziplock bag), since they took our whole cookie box, not just the wife cakes. A couple returning from Thailand had some cushions taken because part of the stuffing was straw, for example.
posted by doorsnake at 9:43 AM on February 24, 2007

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