Contrary to Popular Belief, It Is Legal to Buy and Possess Firearms in Mexico

Source: istockphoto

Over the past few months, I have received a steady stream of emails from readers asking me about the gun laws in Mexico. Since it’s been raining here lately, I decided to go ahead and knock this one out.

I have always preferred to answer legal questions using a Q&A format. That makes it a little easier for people to go back and find specific information later.

You will notice that I have put a lot of hyperlinks in today’s post. For the non-technical people, that means if you see a word in blue, you can click on it to go to the source in order to learn more.

Just keep in mind that the sites are all in Spanish, so you may have to use Google translator.

Is it legal for civilians to possess firearms in Mexico?

It is a common belief among Americans that Mexico does not allow any private ownership of firearms. Although Mexico’s gun laws are very strict in comparison with those of the United States, the right to bear arms — at least in one’s home — is rooted in Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution.

The federal law that enumerates the rights, conditions, and restrictions related to firearms is called Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos. All of the legal citations from this point forward will be referring to specific sections of this law.

Are foreigners allowed to purchase and/or possess firearms?

This is the million dollar question that current and prospective expats constantly ask me. The answer is yes — provided that you are a lawful permanent resident of the country (Artículo 27). That means that you will need to have a permanent resident visa, formerly known as the FM2.

Of course, you will still have to comply with all of the other requirements — and there are a lot of them. I will touch on those in the next sections.

The government does issue permits that allow tourists to temporarily import and transport a firearm for sport purposes. One of the requirements is that the individual provide the government with a copy of an invitation from a registered shooting or hunting club in Mexico.

Which government agency handles licensing and gun registration?

La Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, commonly referred to as la Sedena. All firearms must be registered in Mexico.

What are the requirements to buy a firearm?

In order to purchase a firearm or ammunition, you will have to complete a request with Sedena and get their approval. The following are a list of the requirements:

  • Certified copy of a birth certificate
  • In the case of foreigners, documentation that proves you have legal status (specifically a permanent resident visa)
  • A work letter on letterhead that specifies job title, time in grade and salary (if applicable)
  • Proof of address (electric bill)
  • Photocopy of identification with photo
  • If you want to buy a long gun, you will have to include proof of an active membership in a hunting or shooting club. The proof must have the expiration date of the membership.
  • Photocopy of your CURP

Where can I buy a firearm?

There is only one gun store in Mexico and it is government owned and operated. The store is located in Mexico City and it is called la Dirección de Comercialización de Armamento y Municiones (DCAM).

You will never see an advertisement for it and it is not well marked. Before going there, you are going to have to complete all of the requirements in the preceding section and be approved.

You can see what they have in stock along with the corresponding prices by going to their web page: DCAM. Scroll down and click on Existencias de Armas.

How many guns am I permitted to own?

Home protection (Artículo 9):

Number of firearms: 1

Permitted calibers and types:

  • Pistols up to .380.  The following are prohibited: .38 super, .38 commando, 9mm Mausser, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Commando, and similar models from other brands.
  • Revolvers up to .38 caliber, with the exception of .357 magnum.

Note: There are some additional allowances for people living outside of urban areas

Hunting or target shooting (Artículo 10):

* This requires an active membership in a registered hunting or sport shooting club

Number of firearms: 10 (nine long guns and one .22 cal handgun)

Permitted calibers and types:

  • .22 caliber pistols, revolvers, and rifles
  • .38 caliber for competition shooting
  • Shotguns no greater than 12 gauge and with no less than a 25 inch barrel
  • Many rifles are permitted; however, the following are specifically prohibited: .30, .223, 7 & 7.62 mm

Note: The list of caliber restrictions is not a complete list. Refer to the federal law for additional restrictions and exceptions.

Collectors (Artículos 21, 22):

Number of Firearms: no limit (requires special license)

Permitted calibers and types:

The law permits a collector or museum to possess firearms otherwise prohibited by law.

Do I need an additional permit to transport the gun?

Yes, the only place you are permitted to have your gun — unless you get an additional permit — is at your primary residence.

You even have to have a special permit to transport it for the purpose of hunting or target practice. The requirements are quite stringent and one of them is that you are an active member of a shooting or hunting club.

What are the requirements to get a permit to carry the firearm?

If you want to be able to transport your firearm with you on a regular basis for self defense purposes, you will need a permit. There are numerous requirements, including:

  • Medical exam
  • Psychological exam
  • Drug test

These permits are quite rare in Mexico. There are over 123 million people in Mexico, but la Sedena has only issued around 3,000 permits for private individuals to carry firearms. This number does include those who carry firearms as part of their employment, such as police and private security officers.

Let’s Wrap This Up

The purpose of today’s post was only to educate people about the gun laws in Mexico. The post was not intended to spark a debate about gun control, hunting, or whether or not you agree or disagree with the law. I want to keep the site as free from politics as possible.

If you have any questions related to registering, buying, importing, exporting, selling, and/or using firearms, you should direct them to La Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

24 Comments on "Contrary to Popular Belief, It Is Legal to Buy and Possess Firearms in Mexico"

  1. Cory Cepelak | August 18, 2016 at 11:32 am |

    Thanks Paul! I found some of these after we emailed back and forth. You are a blog-researching machine!

  2. As always, interesting information!
    Thank you Paul

  3. I’m not much into guns, but I found this to be pretty intersesting.
    Thanks for the post.

    • Although I carried several for work for 25 years, I’m not into them either. Actually, I have never even felt the need to carry one in this part of Mexico. I feel safer here than I did back in Central Florida.

  4. Paul, I am one of those that thought guns were illegal in Mexico, so good to know. I own one here but I think I’ll be OK selling it when we move there.:) BTW thank you for all your years of service on the Police Force. It one of the toughest jobs out there and under-appreciated by a lot of people. I’d think you are glad to not be on the force right now–tough times for the men and women in blue. Hope it turns around. Have another margarita and enjoy some some!

    • Thanks for your kind words. I hope it turns around for those still doing the job too. 🙂

  5. Thanks for the info. We never bothered to go the hoops (25 years in Mexico on a boat) to get an FM-anything, since we were seasonal, but felt a shotgun on a boat might come in handy:-) However, never needed one I’m happy to say.

  6. GlobalTrvlr | August 19, 2016 at 6:25 am |

    Thanks Paul, I am asked this constantly by friends & family. I knew it was legal, and that there was only one gun store, and suspected the hoops were many to get a permit.

  7. Thanks Paul. Great information! I plan on relocating in about 4 years or so. It’s nice to hear you feel safer there than here. I too would like to thank you for your years of service. It is a sad time in this country right now. All we can do is get out and vote and hope the best man wins. If I could leave now I would, but just a few more years.
    Enjoy paradise

    • Thanks, Tee. It is a bad time for law enforcement officers back in the U.S. right now. Their job has gotten much more difficult and dangerous in the last couple of years.

      Good luck on your future move down to Mexico and thanks for reading the blog. 🙂

  8. Joel Sanchez | August 28, 2016 at 9:23 am |

    Just a small correction: it should be “preceding section,” not “proceeding section.” 🙂

  9. martin magner | June 29, 2017 at 7:08 pm |

    thanks for the info. I have a lot of guns and this scares me away. Sad, because I want to retire to another country but don’t’ want to give up make guns.

  10. So there is no legal ownership of a .45 1911?

  11. Hey Paul, very informative articles as always. It’s amazing how much we take our liberties for granted in our country. It can be a bit of a shock to learn how other countries govern for a new expat. Did you experience culture shock when you first moved to Mexico?

    • It was an adjustment when we first moved down but it helped me that I worked in primarily Mexican communities in the U.S. for 25 years. That’s where I learned the language and the culture. I actually think it was an easier transition for me than it was for my wife. It took her a little longer to “love it”.

  12. As one of those who has e-mailed you about this subject, I commend your response. Lots of excellent information. You certainly must have tons of time on your hands, but that’s what living in Mexico is all about, yes?

    • The blog gives me something to do in the mornings before my wife wakes up and on rainy days. It doesn’t rain that often but I do get up VERY early…lol.

  13. How about pepper spray, tasers/stun guns, expandable batons and other types of non lethal self defense items. Any idea of what’s permitted and what’s not in Mexico??

Comments are closed.