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You are here: Home > New Laws: The VCRA


The New Laws: The VCRA (Violent Crime Reduction Act)


What are these new laws? / What is the VCRA?

The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 or VCRA as it is often shortened is a new piece of legislation created by the Government to help combat crime. Unfortunately it threatens Airsoft by banning the sale, importation and manufacturer of Realistic Imitation Firearms (RIFs) in the UK. All true Airsoft replicas fall under this RIF definition. The laws that affect Airsoft replicas came in to effect on the 1st of October 2007.

Who does it affect?

All UK based customers who wish to purchase Airsoft replicas. Customers not located in the UK, such as those in the Republic of Ireland are completely unaffected. It also doesnt affect customers making non-replica purchases, so the sale of everything else, parts, accessories, magazines, consumables will continue as normal.

Does it affect ownership?

No, the VCRA only bans the sale, importation and manufacturer of Realistic Imitation Firearms (RIFs) in the UK. Therefore all Airsoft replicas you currently own are as legal to keep as before.

But Airsoft has an exemption?

Yes, the UKARA (United Kingdom Retailers Association) of which Airsoft Direct is a member, along with other groups such as the ABA (Association of British Airsoft) have fought successfully for an exemption. This exemption protects the sport of Airsoft by giving players a workable defence, allowing them to continue to purchase RIFs if they meet certain requirements.

What are these requirements?

In order for any retailer to sell a UK customer an RIF under the exemption that Airsoft as a sport has been granted, the customer must be 18 years old or over and be an Airsoft Skirmisher. To qualify as an Airsoft Skirmisher you must be a regular player at that skirmish site that has 3rd party insurance and having attended no less than 3 times in 2 months.

How does the UKARA players scheme work?

The scheme we currently use to establish that customers purchasing Airsoft replicas are 18 years old or over and are Airsoft skirmishers has been setup by the UKARA. The scheme is fairly simple, as it is the sellers responsibility to prove that the customer meets these requirements it was necessary to setup a database that allows the retailer to quickly and easily check that a customer has the right to purchase Airsoft replicas. This UKARA players database is accessible by UKARA retailers allowing them to check that a customer is legally entitled to purchase.

The UKARA has approved lots of Airsoft skirmish sites located in the UK, ensuring that they have the required 3rd party insurance and then issuing them with a validating stamp. Players are then validated by these sites, they check each of them to make sure they are registered skirmishers, therefore having attended no less than 3 times in 2 months and making sure they are 18 years old or over. This is done through a players membership form, which the player fills out and then gives to the site along with the required forms of ID. The site checks and stamps this form, issuing the player with a membership number, the player is then required to posts it off to a UKARA retailer who uploads the players details onto the database. Once this has been done all the player needs to do is quote this membership number when they place an order with a UKARA retailer for Airsoft replicas. The retailer checks the order details and membership number against what is held on the database and if they match the order is processed and shipped.

Where can I see a list of UKARA Registered Gaming Sites?

On the UKARA website there is a page with a list of UKARA Registered Game Sites. This list is being updated all of the time as sites register with the UKARA.

Where do I enter my membership number when ordering from Airsoft Direct?

Once you have your membership number and your details have been uploaded to the players database by a retailer, you can then place an order for Airsoft replicas with Airsoft Direct. Once youve decided what you want and have added it all to the cart simply click the Purchase button, you will be asked to register or log in if you have previously registered. Once done you will reach the Checkout section and it is on this page at the bottom where you enter your membership number. Please remember that all orders containing Airsoft replicas are manually checked before being processed, so without a valid membership number your order will be flagged and you will be contacted.

Are there any requirements once Im on the database?

Yes, in the first 12 months after you are registered you must make one purchase of an Airsoft replica, otherwise your entry will be removed. After this you must place one order every 12 months in order to stay on the database.

Can I have my Airsoft Replicas sent to a different address?

No, your order details including your name and postal address must be the same information you supplied on your players application form, so that it matches what is held on the database.

Are mail order and other distance selling like online purchases still allowed?

Yes, because of the way that the UKARA scheme works all mail order and online purchases will continue as normal as long as the customer can provide proof that they meet the requirements. This is done by supplying a valid player membership number, a membership number which is currently on the players database.

What about Collectors and Target Shooters?

Unfortunately the exemption only protects Airsoft as a sport, so if you wish to continue purchasing you must play at a skirmish site that holds 3rd party insurance, even if you are 18 or older. If you do meet the age requirements we would suggest you visit the UKARA Registered Game Sites page and visit your local site, Airsoft is a great sport to get into and once you are registered you can purchase as many Airsoft replicas as you want.

Are any other Airsoft products affected?

No, only the replicas themselves fall under the RIF definition, everything else from accessories such as magazines, parts and consumables such as gas and BBs are all unaffected. They can all be purchased as normal as they do not resemble a realistic imitation firearm and therefore are not covered by the VCRA.

The Act & other exemption's

On the Government website you can view The Act. Part 2, section 36 onwards deals with Realistic Imitation Firearms. You will also be able to see what the other exemptions of ownership are

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