Can American Expats in Mexico Own or Purchase Firearms?

How to get your guns across the border into Mexico legally

Can American Expats in Mexico Own or Purchase Firearms?

Many American expats believe that it is illegal for citizens in Mexico to own firearms, however that is not the case. It is true that Mexican gun laws are far stricter than American gun laws, yet that does not mean that they are prohibited—neither for citizens, nor for residents. La Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos—or the federal law that describes the restrictions, rights, and specific conditions of private gun ownership in Mexico—finds its basis in Artículo 10 of the Mexican constitution.

There are temporary import permits that are issued by the Mexican government for an American tourist, however the requirements are specific to sporting. For example, one requirement to get this permit is that an American expat must provide a copy of a personal invitation from a hunting or shooting club based in Mexico. All temporary or permanent registrations are conducted by La Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional—often referred to only as “la Sedena”.

American expats are allowed to purchase a firearm in Mexico as long as they can prove that they are a legal resident via Artículo 27 with a permanent residence visa—formerly known as an FM2. In addition, they must be approved by la Sedena on the following requirements:

  • Photocopy of your Clave Única de Registro de Población or CURP (in English it is your Unique Population Registry Code, or basically your Personal ID Code Number)

  • Photocopy of a photo ID

  • Proof of address—an electric bill will suffice

  • If you are employed, you must provide a work letter on work letterhead that specifies your job position, salary, and time in grade

  • Certified copy of your birth certificate

  • For foreigners, you must provide proof of legal permanent residency

  • If you wish to buy a long gun, you must have proof of an active membership in a shooting or hunting club with valid expiration of said club membership

There is only one place where a citizen or resident can purchase a firearm: la Dirección de Comercialización de Armamento y Municiones (DCAM). You must be approved by all the criterion above before you can visit DCAM, and be warned that it is not well-marked or commercially advertised. (See their webpage in the related links)

There are three basic permits that are available for citizens and residents:

  • The first permit—protected by Artículo 9—is for Home Protection. This license only allows one gun (however there is some leeway for people living outside of a residential area). This permit allows pistols up to a .380 caliber. However, it does not allow .38 commando, .38 super, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Mausser, 9mm Commando—and similar models of this type. This permit will also allow revolvers, but it will not permit a .357 magnum.

  • The second permit—protected by Artículo 10—is for Hunting or Target Shooting. This license allows up to ten firearms (nine long guns and one .22 caliber handgun). This permit allows .22 caliber revolvers, pistols, and rifles. Shotguns with no less than a 25-inch barrel and no greater than a 12 gauge. The permit also allows .38 pistols for competition shooting. Many rifles are permitted, however the following are specifically prohibited: .222, .30, 7mm, 7.62mm. (There are more federal restrictions and a look at the specific law in the related links below is recommended).

  • The third permit—protected by Artículo 21, 22—is for Collectors. This permit has no limit how many guns one can purchase, however it is a special license that is difficult to obtain. There are almost no restrictions on what a collector is allowed to purchase, even those that are not allowed by federal law.

Furthermore, the only place your firearm is permitted is in your primary residence. To have it at another residence, or to transport it anywhere—even to go hunting or target shooting—you must have another permit, including proof that you are an active member of a shooting or hunting club.

To obtain permits to carry a firearm for self-defense purposes, there are many requirements—among them being: a psychological exam, a medical exam, and a drug test. Furthermore, these permits are extremely rare. La Sedena has only issued roughly 3,000 of these permits in a country of over 120,000,000 residents. This number includes those who carry their firearms for work such as private security and police officers.

You may feel that Mexican laws are sensible and pragmatic, or you may find these restrictions overbearing compared to the United States’ laws, however this article was not meant to spark a debate, only to inform American expats in Mexico about current gun laws and the requirements for permits.

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