A Look at Mexico’s Gun Laws

Photo: iStockphoto

I get a lot of questions from readers about firearms laws in Mexico. So many, in fact, that I decided to dedicate an entire post to answering the most common ones.

Is it legal for civilians to possess firearms in Mexico? Yes

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.

Are foreigners allowed to purchase and/or possess firearms? Yes

Provided that the foreigner is a permanent legal resident (permanent resident card required) or has obtained their Mexican citizenship.

Tourists can obtain a permit to temporarily import a firearm into Mexico for sport purposes but only after receiving 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’re 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 can I own and what types?

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 a permit to carry the gun in my car or on my person? Yes

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

You even need a permit to transport a gun for the purpose of hunting or target practice.

What are the requirements to get a permit?

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.

That number does include those who carry firearms as part of their employment, such as police and private security officers.

Let’s Wrap This Up

This post ran a little long for my liking, but hopefully it will clear up some common misconceptions that many people have about gun laws in Mexico.

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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. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

17 Comments on "A Look at Mexico’s Gun Laws"

  1. What about stun guns or takers?

  2. Certainly looks like one can go to a concert or local tavern without feeling you may not make it home because someone with an automatic and bumpstockj is going to cause mayhem and murder.

  3. I am already a permanent resident. If I go through the permitting requirements, is there a provision for importing a legal-caliber handgun I already own in the US to keep for home protection at my primary residence in Mexico?

    • I’ve never met anyone who successfully permanently imported a firearm from the States. In theory, it would have to comply with the types and calibers listed in the law and you would have to apply for a “permiso extraordinario para la importación de armamento.”

      My advice would be to contact a customs broker (called an agente aduanal) to get additional information and have them assist you.

  4. I believe Lana was asking about tazers, not takers, and I was going to ask about air guns. But I would really welcome an article on the Mexican laws regarding self defense more generally.

  5. I moved to Mexico to leave behind the violence caused by guns and hope with all my heart that anyone else who enters this country will desire the level of tranquility and peace that Mexico offers, because it does not promote the ownership and use of guns. I’m thankful that the laws on guns and usage are serious and limiting. Namaste.

  6. Why can’t the U.S. be as protective of innocent people? No one needs an AR15 for self defense or to kill a deer.

  7. Hi Paul, by chance do you regulations pertaining to swords, I have a small collection of replicas, I’ve asked a couple of brokers with different opinions, and can’t find anything on the government website about it
    We’re moving permanently to Akumal in February, and help you could offer would be great
    Thanks

  8. Air guns are legal in Mexico and you can even buy a pellet rifle at Chedraui, though they are overpriced by USA standards. However, when I imported all my household goods as a PR, my Crossman was confiscated. So were my unopened bottles of vitamins. Stun guns, the type where the electrodes are applied directly to the aggressor’s body are illegal, but they are sold without restriction on Mercado Libre. I have read in a reliable source that there is a fully legal market for used guns in Mexico which was not mentioned here. but I don’t know the details. Finally, I am amazed at some of the comments here about Mexico being a non-violent country due to severe gun restriction. One need only look at the number of unfortunate political candidates gunned down in the weeks before the recent election or the status of Estado Guerrero to see how bizarre this mindset is. All criminals possess guns in Mexico, often automatic weapons, and many of them outgun the police. The former AG of the USA, Eric Holder, sold a large number of advanced weapons to a drug cartel under the “Fast and Furious” program. One of these guns was later found to have killed a US customs official.

  9. linda nordmarken | November 10, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Reply

    I am so glad to hear gun laws are so strict. I am Canadian, and frankly, travelling to or through the US makes me nervous. I don’t want to think that anywhere my family goes, there may be many individuals packing around firearms. The fewer people with guns, the fewer gun deaths!

    • The most dangerous places in the USA are the same places with the strictest gun laws. Chicago is the best example.

      • Sheila Sullivan | November 17, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Reply

        As much as I hate to agree, Chuck is absolutely correct…and that never ceases to amaze and disappoint me…(not that Chuck is correct, but that the gun laws don’t work !).

  10. frank lawrence | November 10, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Reply

    I bought a small BB pistol that looks like a real pistol, and keep it at home in case of trouble. I told my wife, that if anyone suspicious threatens, to pull out the pistol, and ask, “what’s the problem?” I only had to use it once in the 30 years we have lived here…I did not really “use” it, just stuck it in my belt and asked some strangers near our house, “Is there some problem here?” In PA, USA we were robbed 4 times in 5 years…which is one of the reasons I left the USA.!!

  11. Can a retired police officer from the US get a permit in Mexico ?

  12. Hi Paul, Thank you for posting this article. I believe an additional requirement to purchase a firearm is to obtain your Antecedentes No Penales (Background Check) from the Municipality where you reside.

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