Moving to the United Kingdom with Airsoft Replicas

As it stands, there is no currently published guidance issued by the Government for importing realistic imitation firearms into the United Kingdom for the purposes of playing Airsoft after migrating, thus, any content on the page consists of what the author would do, if they were faced with the situation of moving to the UK with realistic imitation firearms/airsoft replicas, based on the legislation that affects UK airsoft.

The author would like to hear from those who have successfully moved into the UK with their airsoft replicas in order to improve this resource.

Appearance rules

If the replicas you are importing do not comply with the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 with regards to colour and size (thus they would be defined as ‘realistic imitation firearms’) you would need to provide proof that you are eligible to import RIFs. As the law stands, one would necessarily appear not be able to import your RIF into the country:

  1. Manufacture, import and sale of realistic imitation firearms
    1. A person is guilty of an offence if—
      1. he manufactures a realistic imitation firearm;
      2. he modifies an imitation firearm so that it becomes a realistic imitation firearm;
      3. he sells a realistic imitation firearm; or
      4. he brings a realistic imitation firearm into Great Britain or causes one to be brought into Great Britain.

Thankfully we have some defences that us airsoft skirmishers can rely on:

  1. In these regulations—
    • the “2006 Act” means the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006;
    • “permitted event” means a commercial event at which firearms or realistic imitation firearms (or both) are offered for sale or displayed;
    • “insurance” means a contract of insurance or other arrangement made for the purpose of indemnifying a person or persons named in the contract or under the arrangement;
    • “permitted activities” means the acting out of military or law enforcement scenarios for the purposes of recreation; and
    • “third parties” includes participants in, and spectators of, permitted activities and historical re-enactments (as the case may be) and members of the public.
    1. It shall be a defence in proceedings for an offence under section 36 of the 2006 Act or under paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 to that Act for the person charged with the offence to show that his conduct was for the purpose only of making the imitation firearm in question available for one or more of the purposes specified in paragraph (2).
    2. Those purposes are—
      1. the organisation and holding of permitted activities for which public liability insurance is held in relation to liabilities to third parties arising from or in connection with the organisation and holding of those activities;
      2. the purposes of display at a permitted event.

If you haven’t played in the UK before, you would not be expected to qualify for registration with an organisation such as UKARA (a defence scheme), but, there’s nothing necessarily that would disbar you from using your past skirmishing history in other countries as proof of wanting to continue skirmishing in the UK.

Since there is no central government organisation that deals with “licensing” airsoft replicas (thankfully!) you will have to deal with this by yourself. The author would like to recommend that when you’re bringing these RIFs into the country, you keep on you at all times as much of the following as possible:

  • Any copies of any memberships to Airsoft associations, clubs and/or sites, either in the UK or any other countries
  • Any copies of bookings & dates for legitimate and insured skirmishes that you have taken part in during the last 12 months
  • Any copies of receipts/invoices from when the RIF was purchased, if kept

If you wish to make sure all your bases are covered, there are two additional different routes which you may choose to do:

  1. Become registered with UKARA (or other legitimate defence scheme) and use this membership as your form of defence. This method will require you to complete the requirements of registration with your chosen form of defence, ostensibly 3 games in no less than 2 months at one site. This is our recommended option.
  2. Book a day for a skirmish at a legitimate, insured site in the UK, for when you’re in the UK – and keep a copy of this booking with you as well.

These ways it cannot be denied that you are importing RIFs into the country for the purposes of skirmishing.

Power/FPS rules

Additionally, one would need to consider is muzzle kinetic energy limits. Your IFs/RIFs would need to be below these limits in order for this to be a legal import.

Locality Max FPS for auto Max FPS for semi
England, Wales 1.3J 374fps ﹫ 0.20g 2.5J 518fps ﹫ 0.20g
Scotland 1.3J 374fps ﹫ 0.20g 2.5J 518fps ﹫ 0.20g
Northern Ireland 1.0J 328fps ﹫ 0.20g 1.0J 328fps ﹫ 0.20g

These limits are absolute maximums – if any fully-automatic capable airsoft replicas are found by the authorities to be above these limits, these replicas would be considered as prohibited air weapons and severe punishments may be handed out as a consequence.

Carrier rules

Under almost all circumstances you will need to inform your carrier that you will be bringing imitation firearms or realistic imitation firearms on board – please contact your carrier well in advance of your intention. This may result in special procedures applying to you, having to check in early or using specific protective cases is not unheard of.

Additionally, there are some carriers who will not accept carriage of RIFs.