I’m on holiday in the US and I’m planning on going to shoot some guns at the gun range. As a souvenir, I would like to bring a single shot of ammo (maybe a 9mm or something small) with me to the UK, to put on my shelf.

Is this at all possible? Thanks.

  • 26
    You need a license to possess ammunition in the UK. Do you have a firearm certificate? If not, forget it. If yes, follow the answers. Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 8:43
  • 11
    Perhaps consider bringing back your target (hopefully with some good hits) as your souvenir... it's a bit harder to display, but it's also just a piece of paper so there shouldn't be any regulations around it. Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 11:18
  • 17
    As a reference of what's required for domestic US travel: My son is US Army and has all the proper permits to conceal carry in the US, so he travels with his weapon. It must be in a locked container in checked luggage. It must not be loaded. All ammo must be in an approved container (i.e. not in a cardboard box or a sock or loose) in checked luggage. He must declare it at check-in and a copy of the form goes in the checked bag and he has to carry a copy of the declaration with him. I realize this is tangential to the question and is provided as reference only.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 14:00
  • 42
    You're on holiday in the US, from the UK, now? I suppose they are both just as bad with coronavirus. People like you are the reason so many of us have been stuck at home for a year... Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 21:51
  • 13
    Last time I did jury service in the UK, we convicted a guy who attempted to "innocently" do something similar after a holiday in Florida. He should have known better, because he actually held a UK firearms license. Aside from a substantial fine, he won't ever have that license again, and all his (previously legally-held) firearms were confiscated, with no financial compensation.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 22:27

6 Answers 6


It is not permitted to bring ammunition into the UK without a permit. According to this brochure from the UK Border Force (p. 14–15):

There are certain goods you are not allowed to bring into the UK – this is to protect society, animal and public health and the environment.


The following are also banned but in certain cases may be brought into the UK if you have obtained the relevant licence or permit:

Firearms, explosives and ammunition

It is unlikely that it will be worth your while to obtain the proper permits simply to bring one round of ammunition into the UK.

A spent cartridge might be a better souvenir, though even then you should check with your airline to be sure there aren't any rules against it or special procedures that you'll have to follow.

  • 5
    If you would prefer something that looked like live ammo, you might ask about a round with the propellant removed. But absolutely definitely ask about that and be prepared to give it up. Commented Jan 14, 2021 at 21:27
  • 29
    In addition, ammunition must be transported in checked baggage only, and in a container designed to transport it. It also needs to be declared to the airline. Depending on the state and the license the range operates under it may also be illegal for you to even remove the ammunition from the range.
    – Doc
    Commented Jan 14, 2021 at 22:23
  • 5
    It ought to be possible to bring a cartridge with the primer and powder removed, which looks more like a proper round of ammunition than does a spent casing. You can buy these in Baščaršija in Sarajevo (often artfully decorated by the coppersmith). I have never been to a retail shooting range in the US, but I wouldn't be surprised if you could buy a similar souvenir there.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 3:24
  • 7
    @CSM, even spend ammo could trigger explosives detectors and cause a lengthy delay. Without knowing UK laws, the sanest course seems to be to bring unfired rounds and cases, separately, and without propellant and primer. At home, stick the round onto the case. Or fired rounds (if the range has a sand backstop), well washed to avoid false alarms.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 17:26
  • 5
    Is it worth getting a note on the database that says, in effect, "This guy is a gun nut, worth watching"? Guns are viewed very differently in the UK, and rightly so. Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 11:48

As an add on to existing answers consider your question

Can I bring a single shot of live ammo onto the plane from US to UK as a souvenir?

as being seen by security authorities as looking something like

Can I bring a single shot informal firearm onto an aircraft if I also carry the single live ammunition round with me but separately from the firearm ?

Seen in this light, without knowing the specific regulations it's obvious (or should be :-) ) that the answer is probably "NO!!!", or at very best "Only after very large amounts of questions and paperwork, probably not as carry on, probably not without significant pre-application period and, probably, no!"

If you have Facebook access then this page will be informative Bootleg Gunz - The Bazaar of Bizarre Guns will be informative re what can be achieved.

Genuine: 22 LR, Australia

enter image description here

A "bootleg" / 'slam-fire' / ... firearm can be implemented in many ways from equipment and material that does not resemble a conventional firearm. The common key component to any such weapon is a live round - if you have that the weapon proper is doable.

Bearing in mind also that if you are able to carry such a round onto an aircraft then Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all) also can and a number of you can then pass your ammunition to someone who has a/the weapon.


This is live. Made in 1916.
This would not be permitted on a flight :-)
(Not me - that's a friend who hadn't thought it through. We lived. )

enter image description here

  • [Austin Powers voice] Yeah but Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice were all about love baby. Not terrorism. Terrorism is such a downer.
    – Peter M
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 14:04
  • 9
    This answer seems to dramatically overstate the difficulty of transporting firearms or ammunition by air, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned. It's completely legal to do so, as long as it's in checked luggage, the airline allows it, and you follow all of the rules regarding keeping the weapon unloaded, ammunition in approved container, declaration of the arms and ammunition at check-in, etc. Though local laws at source at destination can complicate things. OP's main problem will be getting ammo legally into the UK at all, not so much the air transport part specifically.
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 17:23
  • @reirab Your points are noted - and in isolation have some merit. However, airlines tend to take the approach of disallowing actions which will cause adverse action on arrival. eg if you do not have valid entry or transit documentation they will usually not accept you as they are responsible for delivering illegal entrants at the other end and may bear the cost of taking you away again. The case of a single live (or apparently live) bullet in carryon is less clear but liable to cause issues without the actions I listed in my answer. Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 0:48

In addition to the UK import rules as described by Michael Seifert above, you will need to comply with TSA regulations for what you can and can't bring onto a plane.

And the news there isn't good for you: It is forbidden to carry-on (any) ammunition. It may be possible to check ammunition provided you pack it properly in special packaging, but you would have to contact your airline to see their rules around this for your specific flight, and it seems extremely unlikely to be worth the trouble for one shot being transported as a souvenir.

  • 2
    And temporarily, even ammo in checked baggage is currently forbidden to some flights into Washington DC. Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 21:10

You will have to check with your airline if you are allowed to bring any ammunition in your checked baggage.

I can tell you that TSA will not allow you to bring any ammunition in your carry-on bags, even if it is clearly a souvenir.

When I was at Alcatraz, I bought this souvenir bullet keychain:

enter image description here

I put it in my shoe at the security checkpoint, along with the receipt, to make it easy to access because I thought it would be detected by the X-ray scanner. Indeed it was, and the TSA agent told me it is forbidden. He said they confiscate hundreds of these souvenirs every day.

If you cannot put it in your checked baggage, then I recommend that you look into mailing it to the UK.

  • 10
    You may want ti make it extra clear that the souvenir was not live and it still wasn't allowed. The OP is asking about live ammunition.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 20:14
  • 3
    and putting ammo in a shoe does not seem suspicious at all... or hmm, do they make you take off your shoes at security in some places anyway? I don't recall that happening to me the last time, but times change.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 16:10
  • 1
    @ilkkachu Oh, that's only been the rule here for the past 19 years: tsa.gov/news/press/releases/2019/05/22/… Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 18:00
  • @pacoverflow, ok, it looks like it's a bit of a US vs. Europe thing, and I'd forgotten about it, sorry.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 19:56
  • 2
    @ilkkachu I read that as putting the souvenir and its receipt together in a shoe in the x-ray bin for easy examination.
    – arp
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 22:36

Aside from whether you can bring it onto the plane, and whether you can bring it into the UK, it is illegal to export any ammunition at all from the US without a license under ITAR rules.

Not to mention that fact that as a non-resident alien, you are not even supposed to be in possession of firearms or ammunition (there are some exceptions for sporting matches and such like).

This has been an issue with Canadians who can buy ammunition in the US without being asked for ID (they'd have to ask everyone), and if they have the appropriate Canadian license (PAL) it's perfectly okay with Canada Customs bringing it back with them in their car, but the US authorities have discouraged this- and the penalties could be draconian if they wanted to pursue them.

If you remove the primer and powder, it's no longer ammunition and I suspect it won't be a problem in checked baggage. They still might inspect it though as it will show up on an X-ray.



  • You may not carry live ammunition on to an aircraft in the US. (This is what you ask about - bringing onto, not checking in.)

  • You may not bring live ammunition into Britain unless you have a permit, and I strongly doubt that "wanting a souvenir" would be considered a legitimate reason for the grant of a permit.

  • In any case it is unlawful to possess live ammunition in Britain unless you have a British firearms certificate, so assuming you don't have one the question of whether you would be allowed to import doesn't even arise.

  • 1
    Given what has happen over recent years e.g. bombs in shoes, the UK authorities will be looking for this sort of thing and will default to small room were you will spend lots of your time assisting large with their enquiries. After they have finished with you, you may get a travel ban, or flagged on a security database as a terrorism risk, these lists go world wide, you will have 'trouble'every time you fly. If you most have such a souvenir, get a friend to mail it to your, ensure that its a spent cartridge and ensure its being standing in bleach for several weeks to remove an residues
    – Dave
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 8:49
  • 1
    You would definitely be recorded as a flight risk. At one British airport I saw a father of a young child get "taken aside" because he had a plastic toy gun in his baggage. Wave him through with a smile and a terrorist might be taking note. If you tried to import a live round without declaring it, you would also almost certainly be prosecuted and convicted. I can't see how they would let you off with a warning. Smuggling ammunition is a serious offence.
    – user116137
    Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 21:42

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