Buying Ammo and Guns in Puerto Rico

This piece explains the basics of the firearms and ammunition laws that apply in Puerto Rico. To do so, we begin with the ammo laws of the territory, examining the requirements to buy ammo in Puerto Rico. From there, the piece goes through the gun laws in terms of purchasing, owning, and carrying firearms. To wrap up, the piece offers some resources that you will find interesting if you want to legally buy, possess, and carry guns and ammo in Puerto Rico.

We do not intend this piece as legal advice. Instead, it is our hope that you can find the information here useful in doing your own research.

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. This puts it in a legally interesting position: the Constitution applies in Puerto Rico, but the territory does not vote for the US House, Senate, or Presidency. Thus, federal law applies in PR, but so do the laws made by the local legislature.

Puerto Rico’s gun laws are highly restrictive, though they are actually much less so than they have been in future years: Puerto Ricans can now generally own and carry firearms, though the process for buying ammo and guns in the island is onerous both legally and in terms of cost. These sometimes difficult processes make Puerto Rico, practically, restrictive in terms of the actual ability of ordinary people to exercise their Second Amendment rights. 

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is highly restrictive in terms of its ammo laws.

The ATF imposes two sets of regulations for ammunition purchases. The first is an age requirement: people buying ammunition for long guns (rifles and shotguns) have to be at least eighteen years old, and those buying handgun ammo have to be at least twenty-one. Additionally, ammo buyers cannot be prohibited persons, which the ATF defines as those who have been convicted of a felony or domestic violence, people who have been found mentally unfit in court, and people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution for inpatient treatment. 

Puerto Rican law forbids armor-piercing ammo. It also only allows people to buy ammunition for the firearms that are registered to them. Because this requires an electronic registry, online ammo sales are difficult in the state.

Because Puerto Rico is a territory rather than a state, every law that applies in the United States may, or may not, apply in Puerto Rico. In the past, this legal grey area has been the subject of legal debates that go back a century, in terms of voting and citizenship rights.  Not many retailers are willing to wade into a century-old legal debate to sell firearms, ammunition, and accessories. Thus, while it is not necessarily illegal to do so, it is practically impossible to ship ammo to Puerto Rico and buyers that meet federal requirements will have to do their purchasing online or make some kind of special arrangement with a knowledgeable FFL (and likely a local attorney) in the US proper to get ammo shipped.

Since the laws in PR are in a constant gray area, it’s very much worthwhile to look through the ATF’s published guide to the gun laws in the territory. It says little about ammunition but is useful to get a general sense of what is going on.

Because Puerto Ricans can only buy ammo for guns that are registered to them, online retailers are not willing to ship to the state due to the penalties for breaking territorial law. This makes the territory highly restrictive in terms of both buying and possessing ammunition. 

Firearms Laws in Puerto Rico

The firearms laws in Puerto Rico are some of the most restrictive under the US Constitution. First, the good news: there are no bans on magazine capacity. As the above-cited ATF guide notes, however, NFA items such as machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles, and shotguns are not allowed in Puerto Rico. There is also an assault weapons ban in the territory, which bans firearms both by name as well as by a list of features: any weapon that has two of the listed features is an assault weapon. Thus, it might be possible to own some semi-automatic weapons, but only if they meet very specific requirements.

Puerto Rico does not require a permit to purchase firearms. The permit, as well as bans and ammo regulations in the territory, are set by a recent 2020 law. The territory does, however, require a permit to possess firearms, and that permit for possession does also register the firearm with the territorial government. This trend, of laws that are both restrictive and somewhat confusing, is one that continues through Puerto Rican gun law.

While there are no waiting periods to buy a gun in Puerto Rico, the process to get the license to possess firearms can take up to 45 days, requires a class before the 45-day application period, and costs $200, which is non-refundable. This means that for first-time buyers, there is an effective waiting period of somewhere around a month. For subsequent sales, there should be no waiting period.

In Puerto Rico, gun buyers should bring their gun possession license, a valid ID, and payment to the local gun store. There, the FFL will have the buyer fill out ATF Form 4473 and pay for the firearm. Assuming that the background check clears along with the payment, buyers can leave the same day, and the FFL will register that gun to the owner through the territory’s government. Private sales are all but impossible since the same registration requirement applies.

Open carry is not allowed anywhere in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico allows for the concealed carriage of firearms: in fact, the same license for possession of firearms in the territory also allows the holders of that license to carry their registered handguns on their person while loaded.  So, while Puerto Rico does have a de facto gun registration and purchase license, it is paradoxically easier in Puerto Rico to carry a concealed gun than it is in many states, given that the process that allows for concealed carry happens before the firearms purchase. This permit is also somewhat widely recognized in the continental US as a valid concealed carry permit.

Unusually, Puerto Rico does not publish a list of places where firearms are prohibited. Thus, be on the lookout for posted signs that might well have the force of local law. It is always illegal to carry a firearm on federal property such as military installations and post offices.

There are no major firearms manufacturers in Puerto Rico. This is likely due to both the geographic isolation of the territory, as well as its highly strict firearms laws. Keeping up with the territory’s firearms laws is somewhat tricky and changing over time. The ATF guide is a great place to start.

Because it requires a permit to possess firearms, mandates a registration, and only allows people to buy ammo for the guns that they legally own, Puerto Rico’s gun laws are highly restrictive even when compared to the most restrictive states.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in Puerto Rico

The effective sales tax in Puerto Rico is 7%. While the territory does not add additional taxes to firearms and ammo, the permitting fees on licensing, along with necessary classes, can often add up to $400

More Resources:

  • is a great tool for finding ranges that are convenient for you. Use the mileage, city, and zip code features to find a range that suits your needs.

  • The ATF keeps a list of every FFL in the country down to the state level, which you can use to find gun stores. Gun stores are typically Type One or Two FFLS.

  • There are some gun stores in the territory: based on the reviews, they are not, frankly, the most-loved institutions on the island. 

  • Since many Americans will move to Puerto Rico as military members, we cannot recommend enough that you contact any relevant personnel who are assisting with the move for local knowledge on firearm law compliance.

Puerto Rico Gun Laws FAQ:

No: there are permits required to even possess firearms, heavy ammo restrictions, and several gun bans. Sadly, this state of affairs is still a massive improvement on how it used to be in the territory, where legal gun ownership was effectively nonexistent.

Nope: the territory mandates that people only buy ammo for their registered guns, and online retailers do not want to deal with that level of legal responsibility.

There is a highly restrictive ban in the state, though, oddly, no specific magazine ban.

To carry a gun legally in PR, the carrier has to own the gun legally in the territory, which requires a lengthy training and application process.

Nope: open carry is strictly forbidden in the territory as a whole.