In this article we talk about “how to ship guns to Alaska” but these guidelines apply whether you are shipping your gun to Alaska, or to and from any other state.
Alaska is a state with many opportunities. Many people come in and out of the state every day for job opportunities or outdoor adventure. Many of those people own guns, which can be difficult to transport across borders, both state and country. Luckily, the experts are here to help with this dilemma. We at Wolfhawk have been in the firearms shipping business since 2010, we know the law, and we will help you ship your own guns.
Can I take my gun to Alaska?
There is a ton of misinformation going around about gun shipping. A surprising number of licensed gun dealers will erroneously tell you that private citizens cannot ship guns. This is not true. As a research nut with three college degrees from accredited universities and thus well-versed in such activities, I undertook the task of digging up the regulations in order to read them for myself. I was not disappointed.
There are two main ways of getting firearms to and from Alaska; by air or by road.
By air: It is possible to fly with your gun on an airline that doesn’t stop in Canada. If you’re flying in a small general aviation aircraft and need to transport hunting rifles or shotguns, you can do so with stops in Canada by filling out the proper forms. However, please note that handguns, assault rifles, and semi-automatic rifles with removable magazines or capacities greater than five rounds cannot be transported in this way. For more information on flying with firearms, check out Alaska Airlines article on their regulations.
By Road: It is possible to drive with your long gun through Canada. However, it is considered “restricted goods” and you must fill out a customs declaration form and pay a small fee. For more information on driving through Canada with your gun, go to https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/import/iefw-iefa-eng.html
Another very common method of moving guns to and from Alaska is by shipping them. There are a few different ways to do this.
Mailing a Long Gun
A long gun is a gun that has a rifled barrel that is 16 inches or longer, and has a stock. Shotguns are often considered long guns, but must have a barrel that is 18 inches or longer, or an overall length of 26 inches or longer, with or without a stock.
Shipping or mailing a long gun does not require a gun dealer, however, the gun must be shipped from the owner to the gun owner, care of a state resident and address of a resident of the destination state. For people with friends and family residing in the destination state, this is achievable by simply mailing their gun to that person as a ‘care of’ for safekeeping. USPS outlines their shipping requirements for guns here: https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_009.htm
For those who do not have a state resident to receive the package, or who want to ship handguns, they will have to use a licensed gun dealer and the following methods.
Mailing a Handgun
Many gun dealers will tell you you must use a transfer to ship your guns to and from Alaska.
In reference to people and property, the Oxford English Dictionary defines “Transfer” as follows: Make over the possession of (property, a right, or a responsibility) to another. For example: To give up your property, as in a gift or in terms of a sale, to another.
In the case of gun handling and shipping, a transfer is a method of shipping guns to and from an FFL (Federal Firearms Licence) gun dealer. In other words, from a gun owner, to a gun dealer, to another gun dealer, and then to the gun owner or another citizen.
There are some problems with this method. It can be incredibly expensive, requires a form 4473 (background check), and the receiving gun dealer cannot release the handgun to an individual who is not a resident of that state. Once again, this is problematic for people who themselves do not have residency in that state, or do not have friends or family to whom they can transfer the firearm as a gift or sale. A person receiving a firearm transfer must swear on a federal document they are buying or receiving the firearm for themself and not for another person. To perform a transfer for someone else is considered a ‘straw purchase,’ which violates federal law.
I’m not a resident of the state yet, what do I do?
Most people moving to and from Alaska will not already be a state resident when they move, posing obvious problems for getting their gun back. For this reason Wolfhawk Shipping provides a third option. This method has you ship your gun to and from you, C/O (Care-Of) Wolfhawk’s pre-approved FFL addresses. I.E. from the gun owner C/O the licensed gun dealer, to the gun owner C/O Wolfhawk Shipping and reciprocally back to the preferred dealer address. In this way, the gun is not “acquired” by the dealer, and does not require a background check or state residency. The gun dealer cannot legally open the correctly labeled package addressed to the gun owner.
This method is not a transfer because when you ship your gun, it is still your gun and you are not transferring it to anyone else, but merely shipping it from yourself, to yourself. Transferring your gun to yourself makes no sense and it defies the definition.
To do this, Wolfhawk Shipping partners with their preferred licensed gun dealers (https://alaskagunshipping.com/our-preferred-stateside-ffls/) to get your gun to you. We partner with these dealers because they have read and understood these special shipping arrangements, but have traded licenses with Wolfhawk Shipping to verify they are a trustworthy and federally-licensed establishment.
We often encourage licensed gun dealers to contact the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) Field Office in Anchorage (907-271-5701) so they can hear it directly from the experts.
I’m ready to ship my gun, what do I do next?
If you’ve decided the care-of shipping option is best for you, just follow the steps below:
1. Package your Gun
Package your gun in a USPS flat rate box. This box can hold up to 70lbs, so you may put more than one gun inside, but those guns must also fit inside the box with the flaps folded properly, and each one must be accounted for when picked up. Do not seal the box until it has been checked by the FFL dealer shipping the package. You can also let one of our preferred dealers package and label your firearm, but this isn’t recommended if using a dealer not on Wolfhawk’s preferred dealer list.
2. Label your Box
Label your package from You C/O the FFL Dealer and their licensed address, to You, either C/O Wolfhawk or one of our preferred FFL partners. While it is not always legally required, we also recommend including an adult’s signature to verify the identity of the person picking up the package. Send a picture of your label to the dealer to confirm everything looks correct. For an example of a properly written label, go here: (https://alaskagunshipping.com/example-label/)
3. Choose your shipping method
Firearms shipping laws are basically simple until they are combined with USPS regulations, and then compounded with the policies of private carriers. The confusion grows exponentially with the varied unsubstantiated misinformation repeated from circulating opinions and speculations rather than from verified facts.
Around 95% of all gun shipments that Wolfhawk Shipping handles are through the United States Postal Service, but there are of course, other options. When working with FedEx and UPS, we require that we receive guns via UPS (inbound) and send using UPS or FedEx (outbound). This is due to the particular ways that these companies operate in our area and inconveniences on our part that make it difficult to conduct business. Wolfhawk Shipping will not receive FedEx. All incoming FedEx packages will be refused.
4. Insure your gun.
To this date, Wolfhawk Shipping has never lost a gun they were handling via USPS or UPS. However, we still advise everyone shipping guns to get insurance on their package. Small mistakes by shipping companies can result in expensive and time-consuming problems. For information on insurance, contact your chosen shipping company.
5. Make arrangements
Shipping your gun through most companies takes about four business days, which is usually about how long it takes to drive across Canada between the continental U.S. to Alaska. Call the dealers you are working with and schedule when you will drop off your gun, your estimated travel time, and when you will pick up. Some people opt to send USPS Express, which takes three business days. UPS requires handguns to ship Next Day delivery, which also takes three business days.
6. Pick up your package
Once you have arrived at your destination, contact the dealer to pick up your gun. You must be present at the gun dealer’s location and open the package in view of a licensed gun dealer employee. The dealer will then record the make, model, and serial number of the gun and create a receipt.
If you are unable to pick up your package on time, you have two options. Wolfhawk Shipping Is able to send your gun to the address of a state resident, requiring a letter of permission to open the package, the owner’s drivers license, and further shipping costs. Alternatively, You may choose to store your gun at the dealer for a time, however, storage fees can quickly add up to large amounts. It is much better to simply plan ahead to get your gun on time.
Guns usually come with bullets, of course, and there are fewer, but just as important rules to follow when transporting ammunition across state lines.
Ammunition must come to Alaska by ship or transit by ground, not air, and can be transported through Canada If the amount of primers in the ammunition is less than 5,000 rounds. Ammunition is considered HAZMAT and unable to be transported by air.
You can bring up to 5,000 rounds of ammunition with you through Canada without a permit—handgun ammo included. However, it is still up to the Canadian border official to honor their regulations. In ten years of doing this, we have heard only three cases of misrepresentation that resulted in the confiscation of a few boxes of ammunition. This said, we only heard one side of each story and cannot confirm the circumstances of these events.
If you need to transport more than 5,000 rounds at a time, you can apply for a Canadian Ammunition Transit permit, which is good for one year and allows the transport of roughly 12,000 primers.
Our advice is to bring a box or two of ammo with you when crossing the border and have your proof of gun shipment handy should they ask. On the extremely rare chance that they take your ammo, it is not too great a loss. You can buy ammo in Alaska. Most communities and every Alaskan town has it in abundance, but prices tend to increase with latitude and distance.
An important note for Manufacturers or DIY bullet makers: Canadian customs counts the primers and not the other components of the cartridge as “rounds” of ammunition.
We understand how valuable your gun is to you and we want the very best in shipping and handling. When it comes to information backed by the ATF, solid research, and documented regulations, we have the resources you need to make informed decisions on how to ship your firearms easily and safely. Call us at 907-883-4295 or inquire by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to working with you!