How to Get an Airsoft Gun License in the UK?

For those who are enthusiastic about airsoft and want to engage in this thrilling recreational activity in the UK, understanding the legalities and requirements for owning an airsoft gun is essential. While the term “license” might be commonly associated with firearm ownership, the process for obtaining an airsoft gun in the UK is slightly different. Let’s delve into the intricacies of acquiring an airsoft gun and the significance of the UKARA membership.

Is a license required to buy an airsoft gun in the UK?

The straightforward answer is no, you don’t require a traditional license to purchase an airsoft gun in the UK. However, there’s a crucial stipulation: you need a valid reason to buy one, often referred to as an “airsoft defense.” Additionally, buyers must be at least 18 years old to be eligible to purchase an airsoft replica.

It’s important to note that having an airsoft defense does not equate to a physical document like a license. Instead, it’s a justification that demonstrates your legitimate interest in acquiring an airsoft gun.

The Concept of Two-Tone Painting

If you lack a valid airsoft defense, the airsoft gun you wish to purchase must undergo a process known as two-tone painting. This entails painting over 51% of the replica in a bright, non-military color such as red, green, or blue. This measure is aimed at making the airsoft gun distinctly different from actual firearms and ensuring easy identification.

At reputable retailers, the two-tone process is meticulous. The gun is disassembled, relevant parts are spray-painted, and then the gun is reassembled and tested to maintain its functionality.

The Significance of UKARA Membership

For many airsoft enthusiasts, the UKARA (United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association) defense is a common and widely recognized way of obtaining an airsoft gun. UKARA operates as a comprehensive database that encompasses registered airsoft players across the UK.

The UKARA defense is a testament to your commitment to the airsoft community. To become eligible for UKARA membership, you need to participate in airsoft games at a UKARA-registered site a minimum of 3 times within a span of 2 months. Once this requirement is fulfilled, the site owner endorses your UKARA membership application, granting you the privilege of purchasing realistic airsoft replicas.

Benefits of UKARA membership

Membership in UKARA comes with considerable advantages.

  • One of the key benefits is the ability to purchase airsoft guns in their realistic form without any bright colors indicating they are toys. This is a stark contrast to those without UKARA membership, who are required to have their airsoft guns partially painted in two-tone colors.
  • The significance of UKARA lies in its role as a regulatory mechanism. By maintaining a record of legitimate airsoft players, UKARA ensures that airsoft guns are only accessible to responsible and experienced individuals, enhancing safety within the sport.

Complying with UK Airsoft Laws and Regulations

Airsoft guns in the UK are classified as realistic imitation firearms (RIFs) and are subject to strict regulations. According to the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, it’s illegal to manufacture, import, or sell RIFs without a valid defense. The most common defense is membership in a registered airsoft site or active participation in airsoft activities.

To further distinguish airsoft guns from real firearms and prevent any confusion, a regulation mandates that at least 51% of an airsoft gun must be brightly colored. This color requirement serves as a visual indicator that the item is not a genuine firearm, reducing the risk of misunderstandings and accidents.

Transporting Airsoft Guns Safely and Legally

When it comes to transporting airsoft guns in the UK, adhering to regulations is paramount. To ensure both legal compliance and safety, airsoft guns must be securely stored and out of public view during transportation. Utilizing a designated bag or case designed for this purpose is essential, as it helps prevent theft and mitigates the possibility of alarming others who might mistake the replica for a real firearm.

Carrying an airsoft gun in public without a valid defense is against the law and can lead to serious legal consequences. It’s crucial to understand that even though airsoft guns are replicas, they can still create panic and confusion if mistaken for real firearms. If you have a legitimate reason for carrying an airsoft gun, ensure you have the necessary documentation to avoid any legal issues.


1. Do I need a license to buy an airsoft gun in the UK?

No, you don’t need a license, but you need a valid airsoft defense and be over 18.

2. Can you legally own an airsoft gun UK? 

To purchase an airsoft gun in the UK, you must have a valid defense, such as membership in a registered airsoft site or participating in airsoft activities. Additionally, you must be 18 years or older to purchase an airsoft gun.

3. Why are airsoft guns brightly colored?

To distinguish them from real firearms and prevent confusion.


The journey to obtaining an airsoft gun in the UK involves navigating through a set of regulations and requirements designed to ensure the safety and responsible participation of airsoft enthusiasts. The absence of a traditional “license” doesn’t diminish the importance of valid airsoft defenses and adhering to established rules. The UKARA membership stands as a testament to one’s commitment to the sport, granting access to realistic airsoft replicas and contributing to the overall well-being of the airsoft community.

Harrison Baxter
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