Seven out of 10 UK gun trade businesses have reported difficulties trading since Brexit, according to an exclusive Gun Trade News survey carried out in association with the Gun Trade Association.

A remarkable seven out of ten businesses surveyed at the end of February 2021 have reported having difficulties trading abroad since Brexit, with four in ten calling trading conditions ‘very difficult’, according to an exclusive Gun Trade News survey.

The survey, which includes responses from major manufacturers, distributors and retailers within the UK gun trade and appears in this month’s issue of Gun Trade News, confirms the fears of many about the chaotic trading landscape post-Brexit.

Problems with carriers, inability to get proper licences and major delays are the most frequently reported issues. “There are huge delays on all goods movement and incorrect duties are being applied,” one large retailer complained.

“Firearms and ammunition are hard to get hold off,” a major UK distributor tod us, and one ammunition manufacturer described the overall picture as: “Shipments delayed, reduced availability of transport, much more expensive [transport] and it now takes, on average, 40 days to obtain a permit from the Spanish authorities to ship goods to the UK.”

One custom rifle builder told us they were going to give up trading with the EU and semi-retire: “We have had massive problems exporting to the EU. We have used correct customs declaration codes, but still every parcel is held up for weeks. As a result we are planning a three-day week and semi-retirement.”

When asked if he had a message for the UK government one well-known trader of vintage firearms told GTN: “These problems were well sign-posted, yet nothing was done to mitigate them. You acted with blind political zeal rather than economic pragmatism to protect key areas of the economy. Now, predictably, we are suffering as a result.”

And alarmingly the issues seem to have spread beyond trade with the EU, with one well-respected British gun manufacturer telling us that they were suffering really bad delays exporting small parts to the USA.

Closer to home, issues dealing with Northern Ireland have also surfaced with one high street retailer describing the movement of firearms to and from the region as “almost impossible”.

“Sending from Northern Ireland to the mainland now requires an export license, even though the firearm doesn’t leave the UK,” they explained. “This is within our own country, how can it be an export?” they demanded to know.

Simon West of the Gun Trade Association told GTN: “the situation is very untidy, but we do believe it is improving and that some of these issues are just teething problems.”

He went on to point out that the GTA has been working across the industry to help resolve issues with some success already, and encouraged anyone continuing to have issues to get in touch with the GTA straightaway.

Jonathan Djanogly MP, Chairman of the British Shooting Sports Council, commented: “I am well aware of the concerns of the gun trade over the impact of Brexit on both import and export transactions. In particular, the inability of importers to get necessary paperwork approved by the UK authorities was raised at our most recent Council meeting, and I have contacted the Department for International Trade over this.”

The Department for International Trade was approached for comment but did not respond.


  • Gun Trade News is a controlled circulation magazine distributed free to active members of the UK fieldsports industry.
  • Editor Steve Faragher can be contacted on
  • The Gun Trade Association’s mission is to promote, protect and represent the UK gun trade.
  • It carries out this remit at all levels, from representation at Government to day-to-day queries with Firearms Licensing Officers and local authorities.

Some of the other anonymised comments made:

What kind of business are you?If you have had difficulties, what happened?What message would you have for the government on Brexit?
DistributorBasically stock being either held in the UK due to massive amounts of extra paperwork needed or goods being held up when arriving into destination countries due to all the paperwork needed. The other difficulty we are facing is double duty especially on clothing. When we import clothing, we pay duty of 12% into the UK. This is understandbale, however if we then export those garments to another country in the EU, the customer is having to pay this Duty again on their buy price. So the garment is costing a lot more.Sort out the paperwork process and also the Duty Issues. We should be able to reclaim back any duty paid on goods that have been imported in – ie Duty Draw Back. That way when we export goods that have been purchased from overseas, we can then claim back the duty that we have been charged at point of entry
DistributorBoth from EU and outside hold up at customs – not paperwork relatedmore investment in customs infrastructure
Distributor and Substantial exporter of firearmsDealer to dealer EU transfer of firearms now finished and export licence required for all shipments of rifles and licensed parts. there is no fast track system in place and UK Export licensing not in the least helpful, still requiring up to 40 working days for licence decisions .We were not told the truth about leaving the EU and the extra costs that are being incurred.
Retailer webDelayed deliveries. Demands of payment from delivery drivers for Duty&Handling Charges despite having accounts set up (on direct debit) with couriers and freight forwarders! Endless copies of paperwork – certainly not environmentally friendly!
Retailer high streetDelayed delivery of goodsSort out any issues that are causing delays.
web , retail and distributorDelays due to volumesGlad it is done and now for su to leanr and get on with “the new norm”.
Retailer high streetDelays in deliveryIt went OK
Retailer web, Retailer high street, DistributorDelays in getting product. Unexpected admin fees from delivery companies (DHL)Please sort out the little bits of legislations as soon as you can
Retailer webDelays to deliveries and additional chargesFree trade is clearly not free. We would like to see a system that is quicker and lower cost.
ManufacturerDelays with tooling from EU and really bad delays with export of small parts to USA via UPS
DistributorDifficulty finding a freight forwarderIt was madness.
Retailer webEU Suppliers unable to supply us anymore – no reason givenHelp UK Importers and Exporters to the EU
Retailer webEU wholesalers now not willing to trade with the UK due to admin complexity. Some EU wholesalers are willing to send goods to us however they are not sure and import duties. Our lead-times used to be about 2wks, now they appear to be nearer 6wksMake procedures clearer for all stakeholders, improve customs clearance times.
DistributorFirearms and Amunition are hard to get hold of.
Retailer webGoods taking six weeks to be deliveredNothing you could usefully relay to them.
Importerhaving difficulty finding a carrier to bring product to the UK as not bulk shipmentsas a small business we are finding it very difficult to import from germany, the manufacturer in germany seems to be having the same problems
ManufacturerHeld at customers until VAT & Duty paid.Rules of origin have made a nonsense of the so called tariff free deal. In reality very few UK goods qualify as wholly manufactured in the UK therefore they are NOT tariff free. This was poorly negotiated by the government.
Retailer web, Retailer high street, DistributorHuge delays on all goods movement, and incorrect duties being applied by UPSGet the delays on goods movement sorted – FAST
Retailer webImporting airgun pellets which don’t require an import licence, were delayed as they apparently have the same commodity code as rifle ammunition. Was told to apply to a government department to clarify to HMRC that air rifle pellets are exempt from needing an import licence. The department in question didn’t respond, situation now resolved as another importer had managed to obtain such assurance.Government kept telling business to ‘prepare for Brexit’, but failed to prepare themselves, by not updating their software. What a surprise.
AgencyImpossible to get export certificates for trophy exports.
Retailer high streetInter UK transfers of firearms from GB to NI almost impossible 3 different forms required. Sending form NI to GB now requires an Export licence although the firearm doesn’t leave the UK (our own country, how can this be an Export?)Inter UK transfers requires a huge simplification of paperwork or some financial assistance to help with the additional staff required to complete all the red tape.
Distributorlong delays at ports and airports on the back of massive transport increases. So paying more for a worse servicecustoms was no where near prepared and there should of been a 6 months import/export transition period. To have digital compatibility between customs should of been a given as it turns out this was far from the reality.
ManufacturerNoneDon’t give in to Europe
IMPORTERNot all the correct form were included which caused delaysBrexit has been a disaster for business and should not have been allowed to happen. We have chosen to make ourselves poorer.
All of the above!On our clothing side there were issues with goods arriving and spurious last minute taxes being added by individual EU states which varied greatly.Complete clarity on these additional charges being added when shipping into Europe despite the celebration that they had achieved a “no tariff” deal.
Retailer webOutbound export licenses required from individual EU states. Lengthy holdups.Get us back in the customs union. Or won’t be voting Conservative again. Ever.
DistributorPaperwork difficulties from Italy
ManufacturerPosting rifle stocks to the UK, delivery times went from 3 days to over three weeks. 90% have not arrived yet.Simplify the red tape. Get it sorted quick, it is not doing anyone any good. Change, adapt so that it works again.
Retailer high streetPrice increase & delay in stock to our wholesalerBe more forceful with our demands, we feel that we are being bullied by the EU
DistributorProblems with Customs and UPS. Goods sitting in customs for 3-4 weeksBrexit is good in the long term, some areas are still too bureaucratic and needs to be sorted
ManufacturerProducts that were normally avail, now require export licence! Including rubber But Pads!The Deal is non existant, we would have been better off with WTO rules!
ManufacturerResin held up in Rotterdam for 10 days due to one box on the paperwork filled in in error.Find a way to make exporting easier into Europe. Make sure that customs in the UK treat incoming goods the same way the Europeans treat incoming goods.
ManufacturerShipments delayed, reduced availability of transport, much more expensive because haulage companies include additional costs to compensate for expected delays, extra paperwork and it now takes, on average, 40 days to obtain a permit from the Spanish authorities to ship goods to the UK.Avoid additional delays at ports, quickly agree streamlined electronic licensing and monitoring systems with E.U. countries.
Classic Firearms – Sales Service & RepairStruggling to find hauliers or other importers that will ship firearms
Retailer high streetTime delays on imported goodsSimplifie exporting from this country
Retailer webTNT refuses to ship gun parts and magazines. No other courier is willing to help. Export licesne for guns takes upto 90 days to get in EU to ship to UK. UK border force seize everything because we have to declare all goodsBad idea or re-negotiate conditions. Tariff free trade is bullshit !
Retailer webTransport costs increased, road freight not wanting to take firearms due to uncertainty over status and paperwork.These problems were well sign-posted, yet nothing was done to mitigate them. You acted with blind political zeal rather than economic pragmatism to protect key areas of the economy. Now, we are suffering as a result, predictably.
ManufacturerTransport permits for travelling through France.Should have had six months transit period in all countries whilst adapting to new rules.
DistributorUPS Back log predominantly, suppliers have now to apply for an export licence from their country and that has held up deliveries but I believe once they get into a routine it will be fineTo make sending items to Northern Ireland easier, I now have to use TSS which will undoubtedly be challenging

Shooting school
Well done!
You need to start working hard and fast on other international trade deals and a workable solution to replace the European Firearms Pass
Carry on as notmal.
Well done.
Retailer web


Retailer high street


Make it clearer on the requirements to send to NI
EU Customers are not ordering because of the extra duties payable on items from the UK


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