As you may have heard(!), the UK has voted to leave the EU. What will this mean for airsoft?
First of all, let us look at the EU firearms directive and proposal to amend the directive 2015/0269-
The first draft of proposal 2015/0269 seeks the reclassification of all replicas as firearms, which would result in a nigh on a blanket ban of airsoft in the EU. Due to this unprecedented Brexit situation, we don’t know if EU directives enacted during our succession from the EU will legally have to be enacted into UK law, and it’s certain that the amended firearms directive will come into force before we become independent. We’ve consulted with the Home Office and UK MEPs and even they don’t know for sure. Depending on what arrangements Westminster comes to with Brussels, we could even be subject to the EU firearms directive post-Brexit like Switzerland is. I hope not, for the sake of our comrades in the live shooting, but who knows. Live shooters and de-act owners are facing some devastating restrictions unless the proposal is changed drastically. Thanks to the protests and lobbying done by the administration and members of the EAA (including UKAPU), not to mention the airsoft industry and many thousands of players Europe-wide (with the support of superb MEPs such as Daniel Dalton and Vicky Ford), the status quo is set to be retained, airsoft replicas are on course to remain outside the scope of the directive. UK players should be proud of the part that they have played so far in reversing this situation. We really halted the airsoft apocalypse, which I’ve no doubt would have bled over to other continents before long.
So anyway, UKAPU and anyone involved in UK airsoft can’t suddenly just ignore what’s going on with the changes to the EU firearms directive, but assuming that next months’ vote goes well and our amendments are approved, airsoft will carry on as normal even if the new directive is applied in the UK.
Policing and Crime Bill 2015/16-
Not much change here, except that with the apparent implosion of both the UK’s main political parties it may become more tricky to bring attention to our, comparatively, fringe issues (update- true enough, the next PCB reading has been postponed to accommodate a debate on Europe). No additional changes to airsoft laws in Scotland or Northern Ireland either.
Travelling Abroad for Games-
As airsoft and replicas are regulated by national laws, and most of those laws are different in each state, there won’t be any change to the way you transport replicas in and out of European countries. It seems likely that we will reach a reciprocal arrangement with Brussels and UK citizens will not require a visa to visit the EU.
Importing Airsoft Goods (updated based on advice from UKARA)-
Within the EU, if you order goods from airsoft shops in other EU countries,you simply pay local VAT of the country you ordered from (which may be less or more than UK VAT).
If the UK is outside of the EU with no trade agreement, if you order from an EU country you will not pay the local VAT but UK customs will add (currently) 20% UK VAT and approximately 3.5% duty.
Potentially if the UK is outside of the EU with a trade agreement, if you order from an EU country you will likely not pay the local VAT but UK customs will add (currently) 20% UK VAT and possibly you won’t need to pay 3.5% duty.
Another effect of the leave vote is the weakening of the Pound, so goods sold in foreign currency will cost more in GBP than the did pre referendum. Fingers crossed, this is a short term effect.
Buying from UK Airsoft Retailers (updated)-
UK retailers barely sell any UK manufactured airsoft items, nearly everything they sell is imported, so the weak pound has increased the cost of wholesale goods coming to the UK. Almost certainly the retailers will need to pass those increased costs on to the customer, but again, hopefully the weak pound is a short term problem.
European Airsoft Association-
The UKAPU committee has decided that UKAPU is 100% committed to remaining as members of the EAA. The primary reason we created the EAA was to counteract anti-airsoft EU legislation, which might not be a problem for the UK in the future. However, there’re many other good reasons to work closely with our cousins in other European associations, so this relationship is something we want to maintain. EAA membership is in fact available to all countries geographically in Europe, not just EU countries. After all, even though we’ve decided to leave the EU political block, us Brits are still Europeans culturally and geographically. Airsoft players are airsoft players, it’s a condition which transcends politics and borders.
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Chair UK Airsoft Players Union- UKAPU