Mexico

Can I bring my gun to Mexico?

The answer to the question if you can bring your gun to Mexico is simple. It is up to you. I guess people can do anything, or so they think. Why am I so blunt? Well,  the arrests of people with a gun, especially coming from the United States at Cancun Airport are increasing.

So I guess people think they can carry guns on planes. And the last time I checked that was highly forbidden. But that aside, the thing that surprises me more is that people do not seem to investigate about local laws before they travel to a country. And they simply do. And get into a lot of trouble.

When crossing the landborders with Mexico, you see huge signs stating that crossing the border with firearms, explosives or chemicals is prohibited by law and punishable with jail sentence. And for your information, all people arrested in Cancun airport carrying guns were sent to prison. No questions asked. (read also: American police officer charged with gun offense after arrest inside Cancun International Airport)

Mexico’s gun laws are very strict. And that might surprise people since violence seems to be part of everyday life in Mexico when you must believe the news.

But in stark contrast to the laws of the United States, whose constitution allows citizens to generally own and carry firearms on their person, Mexico does not allow people to have a gun or a weapon of any sort. As a matter of fact there is a list of forbidden goods here that fall into the army supply and weapons category published by the SAT  (the tax and customs authority) and SEDENA, the National Defense Secretary Department of Mexico.

Mexican laws on importation and possession of firearms and/or ammunition and other forbidden goods that are on that list, are strictly enforced at border crossings and during checks. And with checks I do not only mean checkpoints and road blocks, I mean checks, routine checks where the K9 brigade or a random officer of a civil protection or army services can ask you to open your bags. They search forbidden goods, like drugs, weapons, night vision cameras and even large cash stashes. (See also: Checkpoints in Mexico)

The Mexican constitution allows the legal possession of one small-caliber firearm only if

  • the owner is a Mexican citizen
  • or a foreigner with a legal permanent residency status
  • the firearm is of small caliber as specified in the regulations
  • the firearm  is registered with the army

And when you match all of the above, you cannot carry your firearm in the street. The purpose of the law is to provide for self-defense within the boundaries of your own home only.

But I am a hunter and I want to bring my hunting rifle to Mexico

When you wish to visit Mexico for a hunting trip and bring your own hunting rifle you must apply for a special import permit and carry-license from a Mexican Consulate before traveling to Mexico.

It is much easier to go on hunting trips in Mexico organized by legal local hunters that apply for temporary rifle permits on behalf of their registered participants. Applying for a permit yourself can be very time consuming with no guaranteed outcome.

What is the penalty when I get caught bringing my gun into Mexico

According to the SEDENA and SAT list, bringing weapons, ammunition, cartridges, explosives and chemical substances related to them into Mexico is a criminal activity sanctioned by the Federal Firearms and Explosives Law. It is punished, depending the type of weapon you carry

  • with five to thirty years in prison and a twenty to five hundred day fine (A day fine is the minimum wage per day in the State where you are held,  multiplied by the amount of days the judge sees fit) for weapons, ammunition, cartridges, explosives and materials for the exclusive use of the Army, Navy and Air Force
  • with three to ten years in prison for whoever clandestinely introduces into the national territory firearms not reserved for the use of the Army, Navy and Air Force

Just a quick list:

Import permits are required for:

  • gas propelled rifles and pistols
  • all parts and accessories for guns and rifles
  • any equipment related to firearms (ammunition (regardless of caliber), constituent parts, accessories etc.)
  • Night vision sight equipment
  • pepper spray
  • tasser guns

But just check the fore-mentioned and linked list from SAT and SEDENA before you plan on traveling to Mexico and bring any kind of weapon, any army goods  or self defense type of thing

 

A tip for women that want to protect themselves in the streets: A cheap strong smelling flowery deodorant might also do the trick. Aim for the eyes, it will hurt as hell and your perpetrator has a lot to explain to his tribe or family when he comes back.

 

Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher, and iPhone photographer. Always horizon bound preferably on a motorcycle. Currently, she lives in a desert village in Baja California Sur in Mexico. She is an emigration coach and works online.