How to import and own a sword in Victoria, Australia

This article is an update of
http://www.stephenhucker.com/2006/04/09/sword-ownership-in-australia/

Summary

To import and legally own a sword in Victoria Australia the cheapest and easiest way is:

1. Join the AUSTRALASIAN KNIFE COLLECTORS (AKC)
2. When importing the sword into Australia tell Customs you are a member of the Australasian Knife Collectors club. Customs will let the sword through as long as you have an exemption with the Victorian Police. Being a member of the club is a valid exemption.
3. Check out the storage requirements for swords. Make sure you comply with them.
4. Thank the Victorian government for protecting the public from the likes of you

The Victorian Department of Justice defines a prohibited weapon as

Prohibited weapons are weapons that are considered totally inappropriate for general possession or use because they are exclusively offensive in nature. Such weapons cannot be imported, manufactured, sold, possessed or carried.
A person may have access to a prohibited weapon only if she or he has obtained an Approval from the Chief Commissioner of Police, or falls within an Exemption made by the Governor in Council.

The following items are prohibited weapons:

1. “Sword”, being a thrusting, striking or cutting weapon with a long blade having 1 or 2 edges and a hilt or handle.

The penalties for breaching the Control of Weapons (Amendment) Act 2000 include a fine of up to $12,000 or six months imprisonment.

Australian Customs say it is OK to import a sword as long as you have permission of the police in the state that you live.

The following items are not controlled under the Regulations at present. However, you should contact the Firearms/Weapons Registry of your State/Territory Police Service to determine any requirements they might have on the possession of an item.

* swords

HOW TO GET AN EXEMPTION or how not to get your arse kicked by the police

The easiest way to get an exemption from the sword legislation is to become a member of a knife/sword club. The AKC(Australasian Knife Collectors) costs $25 per year which will allow you to buy as many swords as you wish in Victoria. It is a lot easier and much cheaper than a prohibited weapons permit from police licensing.

As you are probably aware, in 2004 the Victorian Department of Justice called for submissions to the Regulatory Impact Statement on the control of Weapons (Act) and the proposed elevation of swords to the status of prohibited weapons under the Control of Weapons Regulations 2000. Australasian Knife Collectors (AKC) responded, arguing that swords should not be included in the schedule of prohibited weapons.
The new regulations that elevated swords to the status of prohibited weapons in Victoria came into effect on 1 July 2004. However, the Act does not provide a complete ban on prohibited weapons and the Government recognised a range of circumstances for a person to possess and use a prohibited weapon. While individuals need to apply for approval to possess a sword, by completing necessary forms (and paying the required $125 fee for a 3 year period), a number of exemptions for certain classes of people have been granted. The AKC is one of those exempted groups.

Financial members of Australasian Knife Collectors (AKC) – annual fee $25 – who are not prohibited persons, and who comply with the conditions in the modified Act are not required to apply for an exemption. Financial members are covered under the general exemption granted to the AKC.

What does this mean for Victorian AKC members?
* AKC members do not need to apply for an exemption for sword ownership.
* AKC members do not need to send in a $120 application fee to Licensing Services.
* AKC members are covered for sword ownership in Victoria under Section 8B for “collectors to possess swords provided they are not a prohibited person, and comply with the conditions of the Act.”

Extent of Exemption: The exemption allows members to:

# bring swords into Victoria; cause swords to be brought or sent into Victoria; sell or purchase swords; display or advertise swords for sale; and possess, use or carry swords for the purpose of studying and collecting swords with an historical or cultural significance.
# When not being used in accordance with the purpose outlined above, swords must be stored safely and securely; and a member of the Police force must be permitted to inspect storage arrangements at any reasonable time.

To be stored safely and securely means stored in a manner to ensure the sword:
(a) is not readily accessible to a person other than the person relying on the exemption and is not available for possession, carriage or use by a person who is not an exempt person; and
(b) when being transported between the usual place of storage of the sword and places where it is legitimately being used (see extent of exemption), is stored in a manner to ensure that the sword is not readily accessible to another person, and that the sword is concealed from plain sight during transportation.

Storage Requirements for Prohibited Weapons:
You should also be aware that prohibited weapons are already subject to specific storage requirements.
As such, it is expected that swords will also be required to satisfy the following storage conditions:

Weapons should be stored in a locked cupboard, cabinet or safe of sturdy construction, and if glass fronted, the glass will be a minimum of 5mm. It the mass weight is less than 150kg it shall be fixed to either the frame of the floor or wall (where applicable) so as to prevent easy removal. Wood screws are not acceptable but ramset/dynabolts are sufficient. The locks fitted to these receptacles shall be of study construction. Padlocks shall have shanks of hardened steel.

Sales of Swords:
There is also a requirement for all sales to be recorded – the name, address, telephone number and date of birth of the purchaser, and the date of sale. The purchaser must also prove their identity and the basis of their exemption. Records must be kept by the seller.

Should you have further specific inquires in relation to storage requirements of prohibited weapons, you should contact the Licensing Services Branch of Victoria Police 92473227 or 1300 651 645.

If you have questions relating to the Act itself, you should contact the Department of Justice, Melbourne, on 03 9651 6988.
[It is not a requirement under the Weapons Act that the AKC provide a list of its members.

Comments
The Australian Knife Club article was written back in 2004 before the legistlation came into force. As such it is possible that points like the storage requirements for swords are wrong, but probably not likely

15 Replies to “How to import and own a sword in Victoria, Australia”

  1. Thanks Stephen – great info. I recently joined the AKC as I have two swords in the U.K. that I have been wanting to bring over here for years but never got around to it as I thought import costs would be astronomical, or worse still, the swords would be impounded and melted down! Since one of them is over 300 years old, there’s no way I’d let that happen – I’d rather they stayed in my dad’s shotgun box in England instead.

    Looks like I’ll be able to bring them over now; rather than trying to do an impression of The Bride and walk straight through customs with them. As if.

    Thanks again. 😀

  2. We have a 100 year old handmade sword given to us by an Emir in a remote Saudi village. More sentimental than valuable. We would really like to bring it back to Australia.

    The AKC website says that they’ve asked to have their exemption that allows members to own swords removed.

    Any suggestions on what the best option is now?

  3. Hi Stephen
    I have tried to get into AKC site but it is blocked. Are they still around?
    Regards
    Alan

  4. I am interested in purchasing a sword for bellydancing and see that the Aust Knife club is not allowing swords to be covered by them from Sept 2010. Do you know of another way?

  5. I REALLY REQUIRE AN AUSTALIAN KNIFE LICENCE AS I AM A LEATHER WORKER AND NEED TO CARRY MY TOOLS FROM HERE AND EVERYWHERE TO WORK! AS THE A VERY OLD TOOLS AND KNIVES AND HAVE BEEN IN MY FAMILY FOR 150 YEARS!!!!!!!!! AND I DONT WISH THEW POLICE TO TAKE THEM OF ME LIKE THE DID WITH SOME OF THEM BEFORE ENQUIRING ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION.BE A SHOE MAKER AND SADDLE MAKER I NEED MY TOOLS
    PHONE NUMBER 0400 696 693 PLEASE INFORM ME OR SEND THE APLLICATION TO 3 MACRINA ST EAST OAKLEIGH VICTORIA 3166 AUSTRALIA.

  6. AKC as of Sept 30, 2010 no longer have an exemption for swords. There are other clubs usually associated with guns that have blanket exemption or you can apply direct to Victoria Police – Licensing Services Division and you will need to satisfy ‘reason to own’.
    Victoria is the only state with such laws. In SA & Qld, swords are no different than baseball bats, so not a weapon if not used in an offensive manner.

    1. The latter thing you mentioned, is that true? I have (for a long time) been willing to start a small collection of arms (knives/daggers/short swords). I live in Queensland and have no idea of the law requirements.

  7. I am looking to collect and sell swords/daggers/armour/shields etc in Victoria and I am hoping someone can tell me the best way to go about achieving the (cheapest) legal requirements/paperwork necessary. Do I need to join a club? I see the AKA no longer support Victorians like me who are trying to start a legitamate business and I hope someone knows how to help. I would greatly appreciate any advice on this matter. Thank you. Dan

  8. The Club is closed! The Australasian Knife Collectors Club (for knife collectors, makers, customizers, historians, knife embellishers and users). Cycle of existence 21 years: April 1990 – April 2011.

  9. if the AKC is closed are there other knife clubs in Victoria or Australia that are taking members?

  10. Useful, but not as specific as I’d hoped, I only wanted to purchase a MODEL sword from Queensland and I am still not sure if I need a licence to do that.

  11. i just want to purchase a wooden model sword from Queensland, but I live in Victoria, so i’m not sure if it will be allowed through. I know that I could just drive up there and get it but I was hoping there was a simpler solution. Is there?

  12. Some years ago, there was a disagreement between the Victorian Department of Justice and the AKC. In short, the current Regulations do not allow for membership to organizations outside Victoria, to be a reason to own a sword in Victoria. Go to ballaratarms.com.au/ Society pages/Swords and other matters.

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