Reader Question: I live in a rural area of France with lots of vermin; can I legally import the double-barrel shotgun I own in Ireland?
If you wish to import a firearm into France from Ireland or any other EU member state, you must obtain authorisation, although the type needed varies depending on the type of gun.
Firearms and other weapons are classed in categories, with those in A1, B and C needing an accord préalable prior authorisation before they are imported, the Douanes (customs service) state.
Weapons included in category D – such as collector’s items and reproductions – are normally exempt from this.
Guns designed for hunting are usually in category C, so you will most probably need to obtain prior approval.
An Autorisation d'importation de matériels de guerre (AIMG) would apply, for example, to semi-automatic and automatic weapons, and the application form can be found here.
Further information on the different categories of firearm and other weapons can be accessed on the government website Service-public.fr.
You can apply for an accord préalable through this page or by downloading this form, filling it in and sending it – with two copies and any relevant supporting documents – back to:
11, rue des deux communes - Immeuble les Allées, 93558 Montreuil cedex.
Details on the supporting documents you may need to include can be found here (in French).
The accord should usually be sent to you within 15 days if approved (likely to depend on eg. your documents being all correct, and up to date).
You will then need what the French call a permis de transfert (transfer permit) from the national authority in charge of firearms in your country of origin. This will contain details of the gun being imported and may be something that the company handling the transportation can sort out.
If you have any questions about bringing a gun into France, you can email email@example.com.
Exporting from Ireland
The country you are exporting the firearm from will also have rules regarding the transportation of the weapon.
The Irish government states that you must complete the form on this website, including the category of the gun. These categories may differ from those in place in France.
You will also need to provide a valid firearm certificate for the gun to be exported.
These documents should be sent to the Firearms and Explosives Licencing Unit of the Department of Justice, at 51, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, D02 KH52.
Using the gun in France
In order to use the gun for hunting in France, you must also hold:
- A European firearms card (Carte européenne d’armes à feu) which references the weapon you are using. You can apply for one of these here if you do not already have one.
- A permis de chasser hunting permit if you are going to be using it for hunting animals.
In order to obtain a hunting a permit, you must follow a theoretical and practical training course; sessions are normally organised by departmental hunting associations. You must then sign up for the exam using this form and attaching supporting documents including ID and a medical certificate.
Sitting the exam costs €46 and contains both a written section and a practical element.
If you pass, you will be given a temporary hunting permit which lasts for two months. You should receive your full permit in that time. In some parts of France you will also be obliged to join a local hunting association.
Since February, hunters in France have also been asked to create an account on the Système d’information sur les armes (SIA). The government has said that it is “quick and easy” to sign up, and that you will need your permis de chasser, your ID and proof of address.
Rules for different kinds of guns have been coming in progressively but after July 1, 2023, you will not be able to possess a firearm in France without having registered on the platform.
Note that if you are planning to do any shooting of ‘vermin’ then you could still need a hunting permit, depending on the way in which you kill the animal. For example, if you trap a rodent and then shoot it while it is in the trap, this would not be considered as hunting, but going out nto nature and looking for such animals, targeting them and shooting them might be.
Killing a very limited list of designated species will be deemed ‘destruction of a harmful species’ rather than a sporting activity, but this is still strictly regulated.
So, unless you have a very large garden, for example, you cannot just shoot a rabbit that comes into it.
If you are using the gun for hunting, there are also rules as to what and when you can do so, with designated hunting periods, and these can vary from one part of France to another. If you join a local hunting association, other members should be able to help familiarise you with what is allowed.
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