Tactical Weapons Firearms

How to legally transport your firearms when traveling

Let's talk about what you need to know when driving across state lines as well as what to do when flying with your firearms.
Brady Kirkpatrick Avatar
tsa how to legally transport a firearm
Miami, Florida, Miami International Airport MIA terminal, Transportation Security Administration TSA, check-point, travel advisory sign, firearms guns prohibited. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Traveling from place to place with firearms wasn’t always this hard.  There was a point when you could just get in your vehicle and take off without worrying about answering the law if you got pulled over. But times have changed. And the Second Amendment seems like it isn’t in the Constitution when politicians take their oath. So when we want to take our firearms across state lines and on airplanes, we must adhere to certain rules. 

And since I’m moving across the country soon, I’ve done a lot of research so I don’t land in the wrong state and have the feds waiting for me at the gate. Ahh, that rhymed. 

Anyway, I’m going to give you a few tips on traveling with firearms. We’ll talk about what you need to know when driving across state lines as well as what to do when flying with your firearms. 

Let’s get into it. 

Driving across state lines (vehicle)

Driving across state lines can present a few problems if you aren’t careful. You could be perfectly legal in one state but completely against the law in the other, even if you took a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong place. 

The penalty can sometimes be worse depending on the firearm you’re transporting. And each state carries out the penalties differently. 

For example, in the state of New Jersey, you are allowed to transport a firearm as long as it’s in your trunk in a locked case, and the ammo is in a different locked case in another area of the car. 

The NJ State Police also have on their website that as long as the transporter has followed the laws in the state that he or she started in and finished in a state where it’s also legal, there is no crime. 

As long as you transport it correctly.

New York, on the other hand, would put you under the prison (literally) for transporting a firearm unless you are licensed in the state. So it’s best to stay away from there as much as you can. 

Short answer: if you’re covering multiple state lines and you aren’t sure what their laws are for transporting firearms in the states you’re passing through, then you should read up on the laws online before traveling. 

Transporting on airlines

Believe it or not, transporting a firearm on a plane is easier than driving. The rules are fairly simple, and TSA is transparent about the requirements on its website. 

You need a hard-sided lock case that’s TSA-approved, TSA-approved locks, and a firearm — one that fits in the case, of course. You’d be surprised how many folks don’t check dimensions before buying a case. 

I recommend a Pelican case. They are TSA-approved and can take the beating that luggage gets under the plane. 

Transporting a firearm on a plane only requires you to have the firearm stored in the case without any ammo. The case must have a way for you to lock it with an external key or combination that only you have. 

You’ll need a secondary hard case if you’re traveling with ammo. Ammunition cannot be in the same case as firearms. Magazines should be in the case with the firearm as well, though. 

how to legally transport a firearm
Airport x-ray image of a briefcase with a handgun inside. (Getty Images)

On a bus

Privately owned companies like Greyhound, Peter Pan, Trailways, etc., all have their own rules and regulations that they require you to follow. 

I know that most of them do not allow firearms whatsoever, but others may allow a firearm to be transferred under the same conditions as if you were flying (hard case, locks, etc.)

But you should check with the company beforehand. 

What about a boat? 

Well, I don’t know where you’re planning on going, but you should probably leave the gun at home. Cruise ship companies do not allow firearms on their ships. 

And it’s most likely that whatever country you’re going to probably doesn’t want any firearms there, either. 

And there are probably some pretty severe penalties over that type of thing. 

Traveling with firearms may seem like a headache until you do your research. As long as you ensure you follow the laws of each city or county you go through, you’ll be right as rain. 

Also, ensure you have the proper case and locks to keep thieves and prying eyes away from your firearms. People make a big deal about that these days. 

I hope that this article answers the questions that you have for transporting your firearms. But do me a favor, make sure you don’t forget any ammo in your pocket when you’re about to go through TSA. 

Trust me; it isn’t fun.