- Following the Royal Decree of May 8th 2013 some changes were made tot the royal Decree of September 20th 1991 concerning sale of historic, folkloric and decorative weapons (a.k.a. HFD weapons)
Therefore sales of HFD weapons is no more allowed.
- Stallholders are to abide by the current Belgian legislation concerning the display and sales of weapons and inert ammunition.
- All Belgian stallholders with a license as arms dealer or arms collectors have to provide their license number to the organization.
- The stallholders must be able to give their license as arms dealer or arms collector at the fair.
- Only the sale, exchange, display of “arms marked for free sale” is allowed and only by arms dealers or collectors holding a valid license to sell these.
- For the non Belgian stallholders, only the professional arms dealers are authorized to sell weapons.
- Also prohibited: ammunition in operating condition, casings and projectiles, unless they were made inapt for shooting.
- Weapons on free sale in Belgium:
— Weapons neutralized by the test institution of Luik
— Some old firearms, using exclusively cartridges with blasting powder and built-in starting who’s model or patent is former to 1890 and manufacture is former to 1945,
— Old weapons charged by the breech, exclusively with cartridges with blasting powder or cartridges with blasting powder with separated priming, some firearms of historical interest, using ammunition with gunpowder.
— All this, defined by the Royal decrees, as well the factitious weapons, alarm pistols (BEL stamp), flare pistols (if impossible of drawing a cartridge with gas or ball).
- Parts not subject to the Legal test in accordance with the Act of May 24, 1888 and its implementing decrees are on free sale (e.g. loaders, initiators, …)
- Parts that change the category or appearance of the weapon are not on free sale anymore (such as a barrel shorter than 60 cm, mechanisms that change a repeating firearm into a semi-automatic weapon, …)
- Weapon accessories such as chargers, ergonomic handles, compensators, telescopes, optics, lasers, fast chargers, etc are on free sale.
- Reload material is marked for free sale.
- All firearms for sale must be submitted to the test institution of Luik (Rue Fond-des-Tawes 45, 4000 Liège – tel. +32 4 227 14 55). Foreign traders and foreign private participants must submit their weapons there early enough.
- The sellers are required to record the weapons which they sell and to whom. After the show these lists must be returned to the organization. This is to check that private participants are not guilty to arms trade.
- Foreign arms dealers and foreign private participants must have the necessary import documents for all weapons.
- Foreign arms dealers must first apply for a temporary approval from the governor responsible for the location where the fair is held.
- Foreign buyers must have the necessary documents showing that they can have / import the weapons they bought in their country.
- It is also prohibited to sell, exchange or display any item that could lead to racial politics or xenophobia.
Import and export obligations
Permanent residence or registered office in Belgium
- All firearms offered for sale must have been physically presented to the Firearms Testing Institution (Rue Fond des Tawes 45 in Liège) at least three weeks before the date of the fair (www.bancdepreuves.be). Antique alarming weapons that have not been defined homologous by the Fire Test Institution may not be offered or sold at the fair. If you transfer such a weapon or essential part to a third party with an address, permanent residence or registered office outside the Benelux, you must register this in the record book, which you must have at Belgian arms fairs, in accordance with the Belgian federal regulations.
You should take record the following two elements:
1. On the left-hand side the data of the transferred weapon and / or the essential part (category, type, brand, model, caliber and serial number)
2. On the right-hand side the details of the acquirer and the destination country of the weapon
- After the fair, a copy of these pages, related to the fair, must be delivered to the fair organizer. This will be provided to the Strategic Goods Control Unit. You can also provide this copy yourself to the Strategic Goods Control service. Her address details can be found below:
Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs
Strategic Goods Control Service
Boudewijnlaan 30 – b80, 1000 Brussels
T: +32 (0) 2 553 61 71 – F: +32 (0) 2 553 60 37
- In addition to registering, you are also asked to point out to the recipients, of the weapons you have transferred, the possible obligations regarding the import of firearms in the country of destination.
Originating from abroad (no residence in Belgium)
Before the arms fair:
- When you import firearms or essential parts of them in Belgium, you should not only be in compliance with the Belgian import and export legislation, but also with those of the country of origin. As well as when importing for fair purposes. To check this, you must submit at least four weeks before the date of the arms fair, in the context of which you wish to import such goods, a copy of the export license for the (temporary) transfer of the weapons to the organizer of this fair in Belgium. The license is obtained from the export authority in the country of origin. If the authorities of the country of origin do not require a permit for such transfers, you must provide the organizer with an official document showing that such a permit is not required. If you cannot deliver the required document to the fair organizer in time, you may send it directly to the Strategic Goods Control Unit up to a week before the arms exchange, with its address details below:
Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs
Strategic Goods Control Service
Boudewijnlaan 30 – b80, 1000 Brussels
T: +32 (0) 2 553 61 71 – F: +32 (0) 2 553 60 37
- In order to be in line with the Belgian import and export legislation, you must also draw up a list of all weapons and essential parts that you wish to exhibit or trade on the base of the document you were given no later than four weeks before the start of the fair. and send this document in digital form to the fair organizer, stating the category, type, brand, model, caliber and serial number. The fair organizer will provide this to the Strategic Goods Control Service. You can also send this list by e-mail to the Strategic Goods Control Department yourself.
- Based on this list, the Strategic Goods Control Unit, in collaboration with the Fire Test Institution in Luik, assesses the correct nature of the weapon. Minimum one week before the date of the fair, you must physically submit the relevant firearms to the Firearms Testing Institute, located Rue Fond des Tawes 45 in Liège (www.bancdepreuves.be). Antique alarming weapons that have not been defined as homologous by the Fire Test Institute may not be offered on the fair.
- Subject to justification, non-substantial changes can be made to this list no later than one week before the arms fair.
- If you sell weapons on the exchange for a commercial purpose, you must also submit a copy, of the temporary recognition as an arms dealer, that you have obtained from the governor of a Belgian province.
- Based on the submission of the documents, you are permitted to temporarily transfer the listed firearms or essential parts to Belgium, within the context of the arms trade in question. The organizer of the arms exchange who acts as your representative for administrative processing obtains, from the functioning minister, a temporary import permit and re-export license. You will receive a document listing all the weapons for which the shipment is admitted and a letter in which you commit yourself to the registration obligation below. You are, of course, responsible for the weapons themselves and for the correctness of the information you provide.
- The firearms or essential parts for which you have not submitted an export license or other official document, which were not included in the list that you made available to the Strategic Goods Monitoring Service or which were not approved by the Fire Test Institute, will not be included in that document. This means that you are not allowed to import these weapons in Belgium and to exhibit, offer and trade them on the fair.
During the arms fair:
During the arms fair you must register every transfer to a buyer of a HFD weapon or an essential part of it in the record book, that you must have on the Belgian arms fair, according to the Belgian federal regulations.
You should take record the following two elements:
- On the left-hand side the data of the transferred weapon and / or the essential part (category, type, brand, model, caliber and serial number)
- On the right-hand side the details of the acquirer and the destination country of the weapon
After the arms fair:
- After the fair, a copy of these pages, related to the relevant fair, must be delivered to the fair organizer. This will be provided to the Strategic Goods Control Unit. You can also provide this copy yourself to the Strategic Goods Control service.
- In addition to the registration, you will also be asked to inform the recipients of the weapons you have transferred, who have their permanent residence or registered office outside the Benelux, about any obligations regarding the import of firearms in the country of destination.
These obligations are mandatory. Although the administrative handling will largely be done by the organizer of the arms fair, the responsibility for compliance with it falls to the traders and private individuals. You are therefore responsible for both the weapons themselves, for compliance with any export and re-import obligations in your country of origin and for the import and export obligations in Belgium, including the registration of the transactions mentioned.
What are freely available weapons
These are weapons that are designed to kill or injure through direct contact with the victim. If they are not expressly prohibited, they are freely available. This does not mean that they can be traded, used and worn unrestrained. This concerns, in the first place, all non-forbidden knives: kitchen knives, butcher knives, hobby knives, daggers (knives), folding knives, opinion knives, etc. The size and shape of all these knives therefore plays no role at all. By extension these are also swords, sabers, bayonets, lances, etc. In addition to the cutting and stabbing weapons, there are also the non-forbidden weapons, which are often of a historical nature or used in combat sports. Finally, in the absence of special regulations, special non-forbidden harnesses such as blowpipes and other traditional weapons can also be regarded as blank weapons.
Non-firearms are weapons that project projectiles in a different way than regular firearms. In particular, they do not use the burning of powder. Often it concerns the ancestors of the firearms (for example, sling weapons such as catapults, bows and crossbows) and their modern derivatives, and about less dangerous types of firearms that were designed with a recreational purpose (for example air guns, paintball markers, airsoft weapons, etc.). .) If they are not banned or licensed, they are freely available.
There is an explicit regulation for the following weapons:
- The fake weapons, the sling weapons (of the type of bows, crossbows, underwater rifles, etc.) and the (semi) -automatic or rehearse weapons on gas or air that can shoot projectiles (bore or plastic balls, which may or may not be colored) and which do not have to be licensed. (a contrario article 3 Royal Decree of 30/3/95 to classify some gas and air weapons)
- The toys that are specially designed for the entertainment of children under the age of 14 are not covered here. It concerns the long weapons of these types, the one-shot weapons on air or gas regardless of their length and strength, the short weapons that develop only a kinetic energy of maximum 7.5 joules, and the short weapons designed for shooting at all subsequent meet conditions:
1. The length of the muzzle line is more than 300 mm
2. The total weight is more than 1 kg
3. A directional mechanism is provided which at least consists of a laterally and height-adjustable visor
4. The caliber is 4.5 mm
5. The charger or the magazine has a maximum capacity of 5 shots
- Homologous alarm weapons (Article 1 Royal Decree 18/11/96 on the classification of some alarm weapons in the category of firearms subject to licensing). The homogenization is modeled per model by the Test Institute for Firearms, according to a legal procedure. To this end, the manufacturer or importer must provide a model to the Test Bench, which checks whether the alarm weapon is not suitable or can be made for the firing of solid, liquid or gaseous projectiles. A certificate of this is drawn up and the model is subsequently included in the list of homologous alarm weapons, published on the website of the Test Bank. The alarm weapons placed on the market must bear the homogenization number (BEL xxxx). Individuals may, however, still have older models that have never been defined homologous without formalities (but they are no longer allowed to be sold freely!)
- The signal pistols, slaughter items and sedation rifles designed exclusively to give emergency signs, slaughter animals and sedate animals, provided that the possessor can prove he needs them for such an activity (articles 1-2 KB of 1/3 / 98 on the classification into categories of certain signal pistols, some butchers, some stunning weapons).
Inert fake weapons:
A special category are the inert counterfeit weapons. These are true-to-life imitations of real (fire) weapons, which however can not shoot projectiles. Often real firearms have both inert imitations and imitations that can shoot small plastic projectiles using gas or spring pressure. The latter already fall under point 1 described above. The inert specimens must be considered weapons because they have been made very realistic and can thus be easily misused.
- The Royal Decree of 20/9/91 concerning the firearms with historical, folkloric or decorative value and the firearms rendered unusable before shooting provides a series of cases in which firearms are freely available because of their age, rarity or danger. These are the objectively freely available firearms. In addition, the Royal Decree also contains two cases of subjectively freely available weapons described below that are, in principle, subject to licensing, but are freely available for their owners who have to comply with special conditions.
1. Weapons that are only loaded with black powder or with cartridges with black powder and separate ignition, of which the model or certificate dates from before 1890 and the manufacture of before 1945. The black powder (gunpowder) is a chemical composition for the propulsion of projectiles, whichwas used until the 19th century. With this type of weapons the projectiles are loaded via the nozzle or via the front of the drum (for the revolvers and the drums) or sometimes via the breech. The ignition systems carry the generic name “platines”: with a fuse, with a flint, with percussion. As the time date criteria is used, it must be about authentic weapons. Recent replicas of guns with black powder from the 19th century are subject to licensing. The RD covers all weapons with black powder, regardless of their method of shooting and their type of projectiles and ammunition.
2. Weapons that only use cartridges with black powder and with inflammation, of which the model or license dates from before 1890 and the manufacture of before 1945. They are weapons that are normally loaded via the breech and which were mainly developed during the 19th century. They mainly have three methods for the inflammation of the pattern: peripheral percussion, central percussion and pen or needle percussion. The replicas of these weapons are also subject to licensing if they were manufactured after 1944. Some weapons that use cartridges with smoky gunpowder (this is the gunpowder that replaced black powder and is still used in the current ammunition).
- Attached to the Royal Decree is a list of the freely available weapons that were produced at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. This annex was extended twice (in 1999 and in 2007). A coordinated version of this is attached. It is important that a weapon meets all the criteria listed in the list in order to be considered freely available. In case of doubt, the Test Institute for firearms can give a definitive answer.
- Weapons that were manufactured before 1895 or for which (in general) no more suitable ammunition is manufactured. In the international texts that have been referenced by our country, 1897 is considered as a pivotal moment: it is the year of the invention of the smokeless gunpowder. Older weapons are considered to be no longer of great danger in view of their rarity, their lack of firepower, their accuracy, their resistance, etc. Moreover, their ammunition has also become rare or untraceable. If it is certain that no suitable (correct) ammunition is produced for a particular weapon, it is in any case freely available, regardless of its age. If there is any doubt about whether or not a firearm is freely available, the weapon can be submitted to the Firearms Test Institute, which will provide conclusive information. The Test Institute issues a certificate for this. The Federal Judicial Police have made a CD-ROM with a list of so-called HFD weapons from the Royal Decree of 20/9/91. This CD-ROM contains a search engine and a large technical file with illustrations for each weapon.
License classified as “freely available”
It should be clearly stated, in advance, that the weapons described below are subject to licensing for everyone. However, within the framework of some folkloric activities, these weapons are freely available within the limits listed below. The weapons are again subject to licensing if they are no longer used within the activities listed below. They are usually modern weapons that can be used in the context of shooting. However, they are also used in the context of historical reconstructions, folkloric and folk cultural manifestations and the like, which justify preferential treatment. The arms dealer who sells these weapons to someone for whom they are subject to a license, registers the transfer by simultaneously registering in the sections “IN” and “OFF”. In the “origin” box of the “IN” section, the statement “weapon article 1, 4 ° (or 6 °) RD 20/9/91” is then included. When transferring such a weapon to a person who may have the weapon without a permit, a document 9 must be drawn up because the weapons are principally licensed and therefore always have to be traceable. There are two types of weapons that are covered:
- Weapons with a historical, folkloristic or decorative value that are worn in folkloristic parades or historical reconstructions. These weapons must meet all of the following characteristics:
shoulder or handguns.
— Working with black powder.
— With one shot
— With a smooth loop
— With separate ignition by means of a flint or percussion which is charged via the nozzle.
This mainly concerns the pistols and thunder-buses from the period of the First and Second French empires, and their recent replicas. They are mainly used in historical marches in the area between Sambre and Meuse. They are always regarded as freely available weapons. However, persons who wish to acquire such weapons and who can not prove that their main purpose will be to wear them during folkloric parades or historical reconstructions are subject to licensing.
- Weapons with a historical, folkloric or decorative value owned by a recognized association that carries out activities of a historical, folkloric, traditional or educational nature, with the exclusion of any form of sport shooting as referred to in the relevant Community decrees, and which comply the following conditions:
— The shooting takes place in a recognized shooting range, under the supervision of a weapons or shoots man and under the responsibility of the association.
— The weapons are held and kept by the association.
— The weapons are only made available with a view to and during the activities described in the articles of association, to members of the association and occasional guests.
— The association announces in advance the date and date of its activities to the local police and to the governor.
It can be all kinds of weapons here, both modern and current as well as replicas and unique specimens that were made especially for the event in question. The best-known examples of the permitted use of these weapons are the traditional shooting festivities in Limburg and in the East Cantons.
The possession of these weapons by private individuals is therefore always subject to licensing. The buyer and the owner must always be able to prove that they have been mandated by the association. These weapons are always subject to licensing by authorized persons and regulators. They are only considered to be freely available while practicing the activity under the above conditions. In this way, all participants in the event can manipulate the weapon without the usual conditions apply for having weapons subject to licensing at a shooting range.
A final series of freely available firearms is formed by the neutralized weapons. Although they are neutralized and therefore unusable, they are still considered weapons because they retain their appearance and there can easily be a confusion with usable weapons. Neutralization (also called demilitarization, although not the same) must be done according to the rules set out in the second appendix to the Royal Decree of 20/9/91. These mean that the weapon is rendered unsuitable for the firing of any ammunition. The treatment differs according to the type of weapon. Sometimes it is simple and discrete, but sometimes major adjustments are necessary. Neutralization always takes place at the expense of the owner of the weapon. The Test Institute for firearms has a monopoly on the neutralization of firearms. Interventions performed by the owner of the weapon or by an authorized person are not accepted. Interventions carried out by foreign test institutes are also not automatically accepted because the rules for neutralization remain national (a common method only exists for the quality tests). Foreign-neutralized weapons must be submitted to the Belgian test bank, which will check whether everything has been carried out according to our rules. The prescribed neutralization method only applies to portable weapons. Sometimes people are confronted with heavy military equipment that must be neutralized or claimed to have happened. In that case, a certificate may be accepted from the military authority responsible for the use or maintenance of the weapon, which states that it was made completely unsuitable for the shooting of ammunition.
Forbidden and Allowed Actions
- The purchase or acquisition of freely available firearms is reserved for adults. This means that the salesman must check the identity card of the buyer. The trading of these weapons is reserved for authorized arms dealers (if they are firearms or equivalent weapons).
- Freely available weapons may not be sold or offered for sale remotely (mail order, internet, etc.). The common use that some freely available weapons (especially fake weapons) sell or are offered as a prize at fairs is also completely illegal. They may not sell toy stores unless they are recognized as arms dealers and comply with all related legal obligations, including the control of the buyer’s age of consent.
- The wearing and use of freely available weapons is subject to a legitimate reason. This is not described in law, contrary to what is the case with the weapons subject to licensing. As a last resort, it is up to the judge to judge the validity of the reason invoked by the wearer. It goes without saying that the acceptability of this reason will be strongly related to the suitability of the weapon for the activity practiced by the wearer, and the responsible or otherwise responsible manner in which that activity is practiced.
- Participants in historical reconstructions (re-enactments) must be well aware that the weapons they use can fall under different rules. Their weapons can be freely available (for example neutralized weapons, authentic weapons on black powder), they can be freely available under certain conditions (e.g. weapons belonging to an association) and they can be subject to licensing (for example modern weapons and their shooting replicas). The fact that only blank patterns are shot does not change the status of the weapon.
Weapons vs tools and toys
The field of application of the law does not extend to objects other than weapons, with the exception of objects and substances that are apparently intended to be used as weapons by the user, who violates or threatens to commit violence. Some objects could be regarded as a weapon, or look like it, without actually talking about proper weapons. In case of doubt, the following indicative definition of a weapon can be used:
- A weapon is an object that was designed or manufactured for the purpose of threatening, injuring or killing people or animals (please note: some objects that do not comply with this definition are expressly referred to by law as a weapon, such as the signal pistols) . On this basis it can be stated, for example, that a nail gun, a saw and an axe (unless it were a primitive battle ax) are not weapons, but tools. An ordinary kitchen knife is not a weapon in this sense, but many other knives are explicitly regarded as weapons in the regulations because of the inherent danger that comes with it.
- An important issue is the determination of the boundary between what a (counterfeit) weapon is and what innocent toys are. After all, there is a large supply of all kinds of equipment that are all presented as toys, but that often are not. The Royal Decree of 30/3/95 on the classification of some gas and air weapons provides the criterion that toys must apparently have been designed for the entertainment of children under the age of 14 years. You can consult technical documentation for this, but often the case is not sufficiently clear. Toys must have a CE mark that contains the appropriate age, and this can be an indication.
- However, it is clear that brightly colored, transparent or poorly resembling plastic weapons that can not shoot projectiles or water guns are toys and thus fall outside the regulations. However, it becomes more difficult to draw the line in similar imitations and in craft that can shoot projectiles. For imitations it can be stated that in order to be regarded as a (counterfeit) weapon, it must be a rig that could reasonably be used to threaten someone. For unrealistic models that can shoot projectiles, one must look at the possibility of causing injuries.
- Illegal weapons are not a separate legal category. This is about an actual situation in which weapons from any category can end up. In the daily language, and unfortunately certainly by the media, the notions of banned and illegal weapons are often used interchangeably. However, they are not synonyms. A forbidden weapon is forbidden on its own and, subject to the exceptions discussed in this circular, any action is prohibited and therefore illegal. But license-exempt and freely-obtainable weapons can also be illegal, when illegal actions are taken, and sometimes by themselves. Those who have a weapon, subject to a license, without a license (and without belonging to the categories of persons who do not need a license), have that weapon illegally available. Every act he makes with it will also be illegal. The weapon must therefore be confiscated. It may not be sold, even to an arms dealer. Anyone who is obliged to use a license or a freely available weapon without a legitimate reason, illegally carries that weapon. Those who have a firearm that requires a license without the necessary license or whose number has been erased or manipulated, has an illegal weapon and cannot legally perform any acts with it.
- Although the law does not expressly state it, it is obvious that who has a weapon illegally available, for example by not having the necessary license for it, by having acquired it illegally or because the weapon is illegal by itself, that weapon can never be used in a legal way. Nor is it legitimate to sell or transfer an illegal weapon, as this would amount to laundering that weapon. Moreover, the traceability of the weapons would be jeopardized, because both the buyer and the seller must be aware of every transfer. Failure to fill in all applicable sections on model 4 or model 9 are infringements where penalties apply, both for the buyer and for the seller