BUYING AMMO IN CALIFORNIA IN 2019
Below are some questions and answers to help it make it easier for you to purchase ammo in California. If you have any other questions, feel free to head over to the contact page.
Q: It’s 2019, what are the current ammunition sales restrictions in CA?
A: Ammunition sales at stores and gun shows must be conducted in a face-to-face transaction by an FFL or licensed Ammunition Vendor and ammunition must be kept out of reach of the consumer and can only be assess with the assistance of said vendor.
Q: Are there purchase limits on ammo?
A: No. There are no purchase limits or caliber restrictions on ammunition before of after July 1, 2019.
Q: Do I need an “Ammunition Purchase Permit” or some special license to buy ammo in California?
A: NO. You do not need to have a permit or license to buy ammunition. You must be 21 years of age to buy handgun ammo, and at least 18 years of age to buy rifle and shotgun ammo which could change in California in the near future!). You will need to pass a background check (eligibility check) as of July 1, 2019 to purchase ammo in California.
Q: What happened on July 1, 2019? Is there an ammunition background check?
A: Phase 2 of Proposition 63 commenced on July 1st 2019 and applies to stores and gun shows. In a short, all ammunition purchases or transfers made in California will require a DOJ “point-of-sale” eligibility check at the cost of $1 (or $19 – more on that later) paid by the consumer to the DOJ. It’s will essentially cross-reference your information (name, current address, date of birth, Driver’s License or other form of Government ID) with the info you have on file with the DOJ’s Automated Firearms System (AFS) when you purchased or registered your firearm. It will also check if you have anything on your record that would prevent you from owning a firearm (felony, or a court order barring you from possessing a firearm. Those same restrictions apply to purchasing ammo) through California’s unique Prohibited Armed Persons File (PAPF). If your information matches up in APS and you are clear (no flags in PAPF). Then we can sell you ammo, if not, we cannot legally sell you ammunition. For our customers who do not pass the eligibility check, the DOJ has said they will provide a “BASIC eligibility check” at the cost of $19. This check could take up to 10 days to process.
Q: Why is it called an “Eligibility Check” and not a “Background Check”?
A: Because it is not really a background check. The CA DOJ does not have access to the Federal Nation Criminal Instant Background Check System for the purpose of vetting someone to purchase ammunition in California. Therefore, the only system the CA DOJ can use is their own unique database to verify if someone is prohibited from possessing a firearm and therefore ammunition. They will do this by cross-referencing the AFS with the PAPF. They want to make sure that since you’ve purchased, registered or reported a firearm, you haven’t gone completely crazy, and are now a felon or deemed by a court to be criminally insane.
Q: What is the difference between the STANDARD and BASIC eligibility check?
A: Okay, so…
STANDARD ELIGIBILITY CHECK
Cost is $1.00
Can be done with either verifying your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) or
A valid California Driver’s License or Federally Compliant ID: Real ID that DOES NOT state “Federal Limits Apply”
It takes place at the register before you are cleared to purchase ammunition
Estimated time for approval is 60-180 seconds
Approval occurs if you are in the AFS and your ID matches the AFS records
Denial occurs if you are flagged in PAPF and/or your info on your ID does not match AFS, or you do not have an AFS profile/record.
NO caliber restrictions *the type of ammunition you are buying DOES NOT have to match the caliber of firearm you have registered
NO quantity restrictions: you can buy pallets of ammunition if you choose
Take ammo home same day!
If your request is rejected, the ammunition vendor shall provide the purchaser or transferee with an Ammunition Transaction Number (ATN) that can be used to obtain the reason for the rejection through the Department’s CFARS website.
BASIC ELIGIBILITY CHECK
Cost is $19.00
Application occurs at register.
Ammunition vendor will collection ammunition purchaser’s or transferee’s name, date of birth, current address, gender, hair color, eye color, height, weight, and driver’s license or other government identification number, in the manner described in Penal Code section 28180, and telephone number, United States citizenship status, federal Alien Registration Number or I94 (if applicable), place of birth, alias name(s), race, and enter this information into the Dealer Entry System (DES) website.
You will be issued an Ammunition Transaction Number (ATN) to monitor the status of the Basic Ammunition Eligibility Check through the Department’s CFARS website.
Check (wait time) can take up to 10 days or more.
Once approved, you may use your ATN once in a 30-day period to purchase ammo at the location that performed your eligibility check
NO caliber restrictions
NO quantity restrictions
If the Basic Ammunition Eligibility Check is denied, the Department shall notify the purchaser of transferee of the reason for the denial via U.S. Mail.
Q: How do I know if I qualify for the STANDARD or BASIC eligibility check?
A: You will Qualify for the Standard Eligibility Check ($1) if you:
Have a COE or…
Have a CCW – by process of a CCW, you are required to keep your AFS records up-to-date, so you’re good! Or…
Have a valid CA DL or Real ID that does not state “Federal Limits Apply” AND…
Have purchased, registered or reported a handgun to your current ID information since 1996 or
Have purchased, registered or reported a long gun to your current ID information since 2014
You will qualify for the Basic Eligibility Check ($19) if you:
You do not meet the criteria of the Standard Eligibility Check listed above
Have a Real ID that states, “Federal Limited Apply”
Do not have ANY firearms registered to you (you’re one of those people who refuse to be “on the grid” and will never let the government know what guns you have
You have moved and/or changed your name, and there are no firearms that match your new address or name.
Q: How do I know if I am in the Automated Firearms System?
A: The "Automated Firearms System" is the name of the repository of firearm records maintained by the CA DOJ, as established by Penal Code section 11106. The AFS is populated by way of firearm purchases or transfers by a California licensed firearm dealer, registration of assault weapons by a California resident, a California resident's report of firearm ownership to the Department, California Concealed Weapons (CCW) Permit records, or records entered by California law enforcement agencies.
The CA DOJ began recording HANDGUNS in 1996 and LONG GUNS in 2014, so if you have lawfully purchased, registered or reported a firearm with your CURRENT Driver's License or Real ID since those dates, your information should be in the AFS and up-to-date, and you will qualify for the $1 STANDARD ELIGIBILITY CHECK. If you have not legally purchased, transferred or reported a handgun in the last 23 years, or a long gun in the last 5 years, and/or you have moved or changed your name, your AFS records may not match, and you may have to do the $19 BASIC ELIGIBILITY CHECK.
Q: Will there be limitations on how much ammo I can buy? What about restricting ammunition purchases to only the caliber I have registered?
A: Prop 63 does NOT restrict the amount or type of ammunition you can buy. There are restrictions on how much a person can SELL in a 30-day period without being a licensed vendor. As for the DOJ restricting your purchase to only calibers you have registered: this is a myth. #1: There is NOTHING in the law that stipulates this. #2: It’s not practical because no only are there many guns capable of cycling multiple calibers (i.e. different uppers), but a person buying ammunition may be buying ammo to shoot in a rental gun, a friend or family member’s firearm at the range.
Q: What if I don’t have any firearms registered to me (I’m a new gun owner) or my gun is registered to an old address?
A; If DOJ does not have anything on file with you in their Automated Firearms System (AFS) either because you are not yet a new gun owner, or you do not have any firearms registered, you will not pass the Standard Eligibility Check, and you will need to either 1) apply for the “one-time” $19 basic Eligibility Check or 2) you will need to register AT LEAST ONE FIREARM (or lower), if your firearm is registered, but the address on file down not match your Driver’s License address, you will not pass the Standard Eligibility Check, and you will need to either 1) apply for the “one-time” $19 Basic Eligibility, or 2) update your information with the DOJ. Information on how to update your AFS records can be found here.
Q: What if I have a Real ID that says, “Federal Limits Apply”, but I have a CCW ore I have recently legally purchased a firearm with said ID?
A: According top the CA DOJ (6/18/19 and confirmed again 6/28/29) If you have a Real ID that states, “Federal Limits Apply”, but you also have a CCW or you have recently legally purchased a firearm with a “federal limits apply” license, then there is a good chance you will be in AFS with an ID match, and you will pass the Standard Eligibility Check ($1). You will still need to bring us additional proof of residency in the form of a copy of a birth certificate or passport.
Q: Why can’t you sell ammunition to non-residents of California without a COE?
A: According to the DOJ (6/10/19): “The CA DOJ is not permitted to use the Federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for the purpose of ammunition eligibility checks, and there is no reasonable alternative method to affirm that a person from out of state is prohibited from purchasing or possessing ammunition.”
Q: What if I have a Real ID or CA Driver’s License that says, “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY”?
A: If your driver’s license or ID card has “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” on the front, you shall also submit proof of lawful presence in the United States in the form of one of the following documents:
Valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card.
Certified copy of U.S. birth certificate.
U.S. Certificate of Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen.
Valid, unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. immigrant via and approved Record of Arrival/Departure (I-94) form.
Certified copy of birth certificate from a U.S. Territory.
Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship.
Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card (CA. Code Regs. Tit. 11, § 4045.1)
If your name, as it appears on the “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” driver license or identification card, differs from the name on the document(s) above, you shall also submit one of the following certified documents:
An adoption document that contains your legal name as a result of the adoption.
A name change document that contains your legal name both before and, as a result of the name change.
A marriage certificates.
A dissolution of marriage document that contains your legal name as a result of the court action.
A certificate, declaration or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership.
A dissolution of domestic partnership document that contains your legal name as a result of the court action. (CA. Code. Regs. Tit 11, § 4045.1)
We are required to keep copies of any provided documents for five (5) years and provide said documents to CA DOJ upon request.
Q: What if I have a Real ID that says, “Federal Limits Apply”, but I have a CCW or I have recently legally purchased a firearm with said ID?
A: According to the CA DOJ (6/18/19): If you have a Real ID that states, “Federal Limits Apply”, but you also have a CCW or you have recently legally purchased a firearm with a “federal limits apply” license, then there is a good chance you will be in AFS with an ID match, and you will pass the Standard Eligibility Check ($1).
Q: Will the DOJ be providing an online system to update my AFS record or firearm registration information?
A: YES! And it is FREE! The system became available on July 1st 2019. Details about how to update your AFS profile can be found here.
Q; What are the details of the new regulations for ammo purchases in 2019?
A: According to Cal. Penal Code section 30370:
(a). Commencing July 1, 2019, the department shall electronically approve the purchase or transfer of ammunition through a vendor, as defined in Section 16151, except as otherwise specified. This approval shall occur at the time of purchase or transfer, prior to the purchaser or transferee taking possession of the ammunition. Pursuant to the authorization specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (2) of Section 30352, the following persons are authorized to purchase ammunition.
1) A purchaser or transferee whose information matches an entry in the Automated Firearms System (AFS) and who is eligible to possess ammunition as specified in subdivision (b). (2) A Purchaser or transferee who has a current certificate of eligibility issued by the department pursuant to Section 26710. (3) A Purchaser or transferee who is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing ammunition in a single ammunition transaction or purchase pursuant to the procedure developed pursuant to subdivision (c). (b) To determine if the purchaser or transferee is eligible to purchase or possess ammunition pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a), the department shall cross-reference the ammunition purchaser’s ore transferee’s name. date of birth, current address, and driver’s license or other government identification number, as described in section 28180, with the information maintained in the AFS. If the purchaser’s or transferee’s information does not match an AFS entry, the transaction shall be denied. If the purchaser’s or transferee’s information matches an AFS entry, the department shall determine if the purchaser or transferee falls within a class of persons who are prohibited from owning or possessing ammunition by cross-referencing with the Prohibited Armed Persons File. If the purchaser or transferee is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm, the transaction shall be denied.
(c). The Department shall develop a procedure who is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing ammunition may be approved for a single ammunition transaction or purchase. The department shall recover the cost of processing and regulatory and enforcement activities related to this section by charging the ammunition transaction or purchase applicant a fee not to exceed the fee charged for the department’s Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) process, as described in Section 28225 and not to exceed the department’s reasonable costs.
(d). A vendor is prohibited from providing a purchaser or transferee ammunition without department approval. If a vendor cannot electronically verify a person’s eligibility to purchase or possess ammunition via an internet connection, the department shall a telephone line to verify eligibility. This option is available to ammunition vendors who can demonstrate legitimate geographical and telecommunications limitations in submitting the information electronically and who are approved by the department to use the telephone line verifications.
(e). The department shall recover the reasonable cost of regulatory and enforcement activities related to this article by charging ammunition purchasers and transferees a per transaction fee not to exceed one dollar ($1), provided, however, that the fee may be increased at a rate not to exceed any increases in the California Consumer Price Index as compiled and reported by the Department of Industrial Relations, not to exceed the reasonable regulatory and enforcement costs.
(f). A fund to be known as the “Ammunition Safety and Enforcement Special Fund” is hereby created within the State Treasury. All fees received pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Ammunition Safety and Enforcement Special Fund, and not withstanding Section 13340 of the Government Code, are continuously appropriated for purpose of implementing, operating, and enforcing the ammunition authorization program provided for in this section and Section 30352 and for repaying the start-up loan provided for in Section 30371.
(g). The Department of Justice is authorized to adopt regulations to implement this section.
Q: How long will the eligibility checks take?
A: The Standard Eligibility Check ($1) will take two (2) minutes or less. The Basic Eligibility ($19) will be a manual check by the CA DOJ, and can take 10days or more.
Q: Why do I have to pay $1 for the Standard Eligibility Check? Do I have to pay for it each time?
A: The $1 fee is collected by the CA DOJ to fund Proposition 63. We have no control over this set fee. The fee is collected for each total purchase, so if you buy ammo on let’s say a Monday, come back in on Wednesday to buy more ammo, we have to run the check again and collect the fee. To be clear, the fee is per transaction, it’s not based on the quantity of ammo you buy. Ridiculous? Yep! If you think this is utterly stupid, then join the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), who is fighting in court to overturn this nonsense. And VOTE in your local and state elections!
Q: How do I know if my correct information is on file with the CA DOJ?
A: You’ll need to contact the DOJ to confirm your own records. Gun owners should make sure that their AFS records contain at least one entry with their true and correct name, date of birth, current address, and driver’s license or other government identification number to ensure that your ammunition purchase with us will not be denied. You can send CA DOJ this form (per its instructions) and they will mail you back a copy of their AFS records, if they have any. As stated earlier, the CA DOJ is also working on a portal through the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS) to allow anyone to create an account, view their AFS records and update as needed.
Q: What is the link to the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS) that I can access?
Q: What if the Dealer Entry System (DES) to conduct the eligibility check is down?
A: The CA DOJ is required to provide a phone number we can still call in case of such an event.
Q: OK, so let’s say I pass the Standard Eligibility Check in your store, then what?
A: You can buy as much ammo as you want. There will NOT be any quantity or caliber restrictions on the ammo you can buy. The purchase, no matter how big or small, will have to be electronically documented with the DOJ, which we will handle at the point of sale.
Q: My ammunition purchase will be recorded with the DOJ?
A: Sadly, yes. However, legally, they cannot keep this information for more than two (2) years, and our guess is the massive cost of storing millions of transactions a month will be VERY costly, and they will have to recycle the date to make room much sooner than that.
For more info: Cal. Penal Code section 30352 lays out some other things that the law will require for ammunition purchases beginning on July 1, 2019. (a) Commencing July 1, 2019, an ammunition vendor shall not sell or otherwise transfer ownership of any ammunition without, at the time of delivery, legibly recording the following information on a form to be prescribed by the Department of Justice.
(1) The date of the sale or other transfer.
(2) The purchaser and or transferee and driver’s license of other identification number and the state in which it was issued.
(3) The brand, type, and amount of ammunition sold or otherwise transferred.
(4) The purchaser and or transferee and full name and signature.
(5) The name of the salesperson who processed the sale or other transaction.
(6) The purchaser and or transferee and full residential.
(7) The purchaser and or transferee and date of birth.
(b) Commencing July 1, 2019, an ammunition vendor shall electronically submit to the department the information required by subdivision (a) for all sales and transfers of ownership of ammunition. The department shall retain this information in a database to be known as the Ammunition Purchase Records File. This information shall remain confidential and may be used by the department and those entities specified in, and pursuant to, subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 11105, through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, only for law enforcement purposes. The ammunition vendor shall not use, sell, disclose, or share information for any other purpose than the submission required by this subdivision without the express written consent of the purchaser or transferee. (c) Commencing on July 1, 2019, only those persons listed in this subdivision, or those persons or entities listed in subdivision €, shall be authorized to purchase ammunition, Prior to delivering any ammunition, and ammunition vendor shall require bona fide evidence of identity to verify that the person who is receiving delivery of the ammunition is a person or entity in subdivision (e) or one of the following:
(1) A person authorized to purchase ammunition pursuant to Section 30370.
(2) A Person who was approved by the department to receive a firearm from the ammunition vendor, pursuant to Section 28220, if that vendor is a licensed firearms dealer, and the ammunition delivered to the person in the same transaction as the firearm. (d) Commencing July 1, 2019, the ammunition vendor shall not verify with the department, in a manner prescribed by the department, that the person is authorized to purchase ammunition. If the person is not listed as an authorized ammunition purchaser, the vendor shall deny the sale or transfer.
Q: Who is exempt from the eligibility check to purchase ammunition in 2019?
A: According to Cal. Penal Code 30352: (e) Subdivisions (a) and (d) shall not apply to sales or other transfers of ownership of ammunition by ammunition vendor to any of the following, if properly identified:
(1) An ammunition vendor shall present a valid Ammunition Vendor issued pursuant to Penal Code section 30385.
(2) A person who is on the centralized list of exempted federal firearms licensees maintained by the Department shall present a Department-issued Listing Acknowledgement Letter indicating the individual is currently on the centralized list of exempted federal firearms licensees (FFL).
(3) A gunsmith shall present a valid Type 01 Federal Firearms License.
(4) A wholesaler shall present a valid Type 01 Federal Firearms License.
(5) A manufacturer of firearms shall present a valid Type 07 Federal Firearms License.
(6) An importer of firearms or ammunition shall present valid Type 08 Federal Firearms License.
(7) A manufacturer of ammunition shall present a valid Type 06 Federal Firearms License.
(8) An authorized law enforcement representative of a city, county, city, and country, or state of federal government shall present written authorization from the head of the agency authorizing the ammunition purchase or transfer, as described by Penal Code section 30352, subdivision (e)(7).
(9) A properly identified sworn peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, who is authorized to carry a firearm in the course and scope of the officer’s duties, shall present both:
(a) A sworn state, or local peace officer’s credential, and
(b) Verifiable written certification from the head of the agency, as described by Penal Code section 30352, subdivision (e)(8)(B)(i). The verifiable written certification from the head of the agency expires 30 days after issuance.
(b) For persons identified pursuant to subdivision (a)(9) and (10) of this section, the ammunition vendor shall keep a photocopy of the front and back of the credential and the identification document provided pursuant to subdivision (c) of this section, along with the original verifiable written certification from the head of the agency. The ammunition vendor shall make a copy of these records available to the Department upon request.
(1) If the law enforcement agency does not allow photocopies to be made of the credential, the ammunition vendor shall retain a business card from the sworn law enforcement officer after personally viewing the credential.
(c) At the time of delivery, the ammunition vendor COE holder, authorized associate, or salesperson shall require the purchaser or transferee to provide an identification document that meets the requirements of Penal Code section 16300, to verify that the person who is receiving delivery of the ammunition is the person exempted pursuant to Penal Code section 30352, subdivision (e).
(d)(c) Once the ammunition vendor has verified the individual is exempt from Department approval to purchase or transfer ammunition, the ammunition vendor may process an ammunition purchase or transfer without Department approval.
Q: Are CCW holders exempt from having to do the eligibility check and ammo registration?
A: NO. CCW holders are NOT exempt. You will however qualify for the Standard Eligibility Check ($1).
Q: So, the CA DOJ will keep records of what ammo I buy and how much?
A: Yep. But, so does your grocery store every time you input your “customer loyalty number.” They keep track of what you buy, how much, and when. The only difference is, they send you coupons. The DOJ won’t be sending you coupons for the ammo you like the buy (sorry). The good news is they can’t keep the info longer than 2 years, and they are aware that you are a vetted, law-abiding citizen purchasing a disposable commodity: you could literally shoot it all at the range before you even get home. Furthermore, there is nothing in the statute that gives CA DOJ the authority to monitor or scrutinize your ammunition purchases. The data would only be accessed by law enforcement if and when they had legal reason to do so.
Q: What will the CA DOJ do with all of this information?
A: Hard to say, and depends on who you ask. If you’re not a criminal and don’t plan to be, then really isn’t anything the CA DOJ can do with the data. Information on the amount and type of ammo you buy isn’t grounds for law enforcement to act against you. Plus, we have the 4th Amendment.
Q: What about reloading components?
A: There is nothing in the provisions of Prop. 63 that regulates reloading components (powders, primers, projectiles/bullets). Reloading components are not governed by the laws created by Prop 63, however with Gavin Newsom as California’s new Governor, it’s always possible he could pass new laws that cover reloading components at some point.
Q: This has me really upset. What can I do?
A: Trust us, you’re not the only one. The NRA, and the CRPA as well as Gun Owners of America, and Firearms Policy Coalition. They are fighting in court to overturn this nonsense. VOTE in your local and state elections. Prop. 63 happened because gun owners didn’t vote here in CA.