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Old August 29, 2014, 12:35 PM   #1
Lee Enfield
Join Date: August 14, 2014
Posts: 58
Rifle Import Question

Hi all,

This is a multifaceted question on importing a lightly customized Lee Enfield rifle internationally from NZ to US (IL). The breakdown is as follows, and as always, thanks in advance.

1. Will I be able to import a Lee Enfield directly to me with a 03 FFL (C&R)?

According to the ATF, the rifle must be original and worn parts can be replaced to match the original cosmetic design. The rifle would be customized, but if the customized part (forestock has vent holes) was separated during delivery, would it still qualify as original? Can it be in the same package, or does it have to be sent in two different packages to qualify as C&R eligible?

What if it is a No.4 action which looks like a No.5 Jungle Carbine, would it still be C&R eligibile?

2. What is the import duty on this specific rifle?

I took a look at the Harmonized Tariff Schedule from 2010 (link below; I believe it's the most recent schedule, but I could be wrong), and there are a few different lines for rifles. Can someone please point out which one? There will not be a scope on this rifle, and just the original period micrometer.

I also see that I have to fill out the ATF's Form 6 prior to having the rifle imported for approval.
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Old August 29, 2014, 11:05 PM   #2
Lee Enfield
Join Date: August 14, 2014
Posts: 58
Anyone? These are some complex import laws.

Someone please help and thanks in advance.
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Old August 29, 2014, 11:36 PM   #3
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 8,810
Originally Posted by Lee Enfield
Anyone? These are some complex import laws.
Yes these are complex laws and a complex situation -- importing a rifle from a foreign country. And not long ago we had this discussion about importing a rifle from France.

It's quite possible that no one has a good answer for you. It does appear that you may not be able to personally import the rifle yourself on an 03 FFL and would need to find a licensed dealer (01 FFL) to do it for you. According to the ATF (emphasis added):
May a licensed dealer who does not have an importer's license make an occasional importation?

Yes. A licensed dealer may make an occasional importation of a firearm for a non-licensee or for the licensee’s personal use (not for resale). The licensee must first submit an ATF Form 6, Part I to ATF for approval. The licensee may then present the approved Form 6 and completed ATF Form 6A to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Contact the Bureau of ATF, Firearms and Explosives Imports Branch for forms at (304) 616-4550, or download them from the ATF Web page at
But an 03 FFL is generally not considered a "dealer" license. It is rather a collector license. See 27 CFR 478.41(d):
(d) The collector license provided by this part shall apply only to transactions related to a collector's activity in acquiring, holding or disposing of curios and relics. A collector's license does not authorize the collector to engage in a business required to be licensed under the Act or this part. Therefore, if the acquisitions and dispositions of curios and relics by a collector bring the collector within the definition of a manufacturer, importer, or dealer under this part, he shall qualify as such. (See also § 478.93 of this part.)
Probably your best bet would be to seek guidance directly from ATF.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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Old August 30, 2014, 12:28 AM   #4
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You definitely want to seek guidance from ATFE. No one wants to say something wrong and then have you end up in trouble because of it.
I believe that if a rifle has not been "permanently altered" and can be easily returned to original condition, it is still C&R. It seems quite grey, but I believe stock alterations are generally OK as original stocks are quite available for the major surplus rifles.
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Old August 30, 2014, 10:41 AM   #5
Lee Enfield
Join Date: August 14, 2014
Posts: 58
Thanks, I'll ask ATF about it and hopefully they won't get annoyed by the questions. The point about the "reversible" customization is good. If it is reversible, then I can ask whether I can ship it as a single reversible piece, or in parts with the custom pieces separated.
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Old August 30, 2014, 12:54 PM   #6
Aguila Blanca
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Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 9,779
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
It's quite possible that no one has a good answer for you. It does appear that you may not be able to personally import the rifle yourself on an 03 FFL and would need to find a licensed dealer (01 FFL) to do it for you.
You may need to find a licensed importer anyway, irrespective of what the law says. Remember, we live in a nation of laws, and each law has two faces: the face on the books, and the face the authorities enforce.

Several years ago I attempted to import a somewhat unique 1911 varient from another country. I went through the BATFE points list with my friendly local FFL and we determined that it passed with points to spare -- and the BATFE agreed. My FFL agreed to handle the transfer and importation.

Once the paperwork was submitted, the BATFE sat on it for the full 90 days allowed by law, and then rejected it. The agent said the importation would have to be handled by a licensed importer.

For me, that killed the deal. The seller had been patient enough to wait three months for the approval process, but he wasn't willing to wait another three months to see if the BATFE might deign to approve it the second time around.

There are importers who will handle individual firearms. Avoid the headaches and heartaches, and just find one from the git-go.
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