This directive sets out certain minimum conditions for the circulation of civil firearms inside the European Union (EU) territory.
The directive establishes four categories of firearms * by order of their level of danger, defined in Annex I to the directive.
The directive does not apply to commercial transfers of weapons and ammunition of war nor to the acquisition or possession of weapons and ammunition * by:
- the armed forces, the police or the public authorities;
- collectors and bodies concerned with the cultural and historical aspects of weapons and recognised as such by the European Union (EU) countries in which they are established.
The directive is without prejudice to the application of national provisions concerning the carrying of weapons, hunting or target shooting.
A European firearms pass is issued by the authorities of an EU country to any person lawfully entering into possession of and using a firearm. The pass must always be in the possession of the person using the firearm or firearms listed on it.
For identification and tracing purposes, each firearm and elementary package of ammunition must be marked upon manufacturing. To this end, EU countries may apply the provisions of the Convention of 1 July 1969 on Reciprocal Recognition of Proofmarks on Small Arms. A computerised data-filing system into which these firearms are to be registered must be set up by EU countries no later than 31 December 2014. The register is to be accessed by authorised authorities only. In addition, EU countries may set up a system that will regulate the activities of brokers *. Dealers * must keep a register for firearms they receive or dispose of throughout their period of activity.
Measures for control of the sale, acquisition and possession of these weapons are the responsibility of EU countries; however, such measures must fall within the scope of the provisions of this directive. The arrangements for the acquisition and possession of ammunition shall be the same as those for the possession of the firearm for which they are intended.
The acquisition and possession of a firearm may be permitted when a person:
- has a good cause for the acquisition or possession;
- is at least 18 years of age, although an exception to this rule exists with regard to firearms for hunting and target shooting;
- does not present a danger to him-/herself or the public.
EU countries must, in particular, control the acquisition of firearms, parts of firearms and ammunition when it is done via distance communication, such as through the Internet.
A person that meets the requirements for the acquisition and possession of any firearm may be given a multiannual licence. In such cases, any movements of the firearm must be communicated to the competent authorities, regular verifications must be carried out to evaluate whether the person continues to meet the requirements and the maximum time limits specified by national law must be respected.
To control the movement of firearms within the EU, the directive lays down procedures for the:
- definitive transfers of weapons from one EU country to another;
- temporary transfers of weapons (journeys) through two or more EU countries.
These formalities apply to all firearms, excluding weapons of war.
The Commission will establish a contact group by 28 July 2009 for EU countries to regularly exchange information. They are to communicate the names of their national authorities responsible for the information exchanges to each other and the Commission.
The directive does not affect the right of EU countries to take measures to prevent illegal trade in weapons.
EU countries are to intensify controls on the possession of weapons at the external border of the Union.
The Commission will present a report on the application of this directive to the European Parliament and the Council by the end of July 2015.
Directive 91/477/EEC was adopted in the context of the completion of the Internal Market. The free circulation of some specific goods, such as firearms, had nevertheless to be accompanied by precautionary measures enshrined in the directive. The need to revise this directive partly arose from the international commitments of the Union, namely from the signing of the United Nations Protocol on the fight against illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, part of the Convention against transnational organised crime.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
OJ L 256 of 13.9.1991
|Amending act(s)||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
OJ L 179 of 8.7.2008
Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 91/477/EEC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.
- The European Commission Directorate-General Enterprise and Industry website on Directive 91/447/EEC