Buying A Gun In Colorado As A Non-Resident: What You Need To Know

For shooting sports enthusiasts visiting Colorado, buying a gun across state lines might be on your checklist. But is it legal for a non-resident to purchase a firearm in the Centennial State? The quick answer is yes, with some restrictions.

This guide will walk through everything you need to know about buying a gun in Colorado as a non-resident. We’ll cover the types of firearms you can and can’t purchase, required documentation, background checks, and step-by-step purchasing procedures to follow.

Firearm Types Non-Residents Can and Can’t Buy in Colorado

Permitted firearms purchases

As a non-resident, you are legally allowed to purchase certain firearms in Colorado. These include:

  • Handguns: Non-residents can purchase handguns from licensed firearms dealers in Colorado. However, they must comply with the same background check requirements as residents.
  • Long guns: Non-residents can also buy long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, from licensed dealers in Colorado. Again, background checks are mandatory.

It’s important to note that the purchase of firearms in Colorado is subject to federal laws, which means non-residents must comply with all applicable federal regulations.

Prohibited firearms for non-residents

While non-residents can purchase certain firearms in Colorado, there are restrictions on certain types of firearms. The following firearms are generally prohibited for non-residents:

  • Automatic firearms: Non-residents cannot purchase fully automatic firearms in Colorado, as they are heavily regulated under federal law.
  • Short-barreled shotguns: These are shotguns with barrels shorter than 18 inches. Non-residents are generally prohibited from purchasing them.
  • Short-barreled rifles: These are rifles with barrels shorter than 16 inches. Non-residents are also generally prohibited from purchasing them.

It’s important to consult the Colorado Department of Public Safety or a licensed firearms dealer for the most up-to-date information on firearm restrictions for non-residents.

To learn more about Colorado’s firearms laws and regulations, you can visit the official website of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which provides detailed information on background checks, permits, and other important aspects of firearm ownership:

Documentation Needed for Non-Residents to Buy a Gun

Buying a gun in Colorado as a non-resident requires certain documentation to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. Here are the key documents you need to have in order to purchase a firearm as a non-resident:

Valid out-of-state photo ID

When purchasing a gun in Colorado as a non-resident, you will need to provide a valid out-of-state photo ID. This can be your driver’s license or any other government-issued identification card that includes your photo. The ID must be current and not expired.

Proof of handgun training (for handguns)

If you are purchasing a handgun as a non-resident, you will also need to provide proof of handgun training. This is a requirement specific to handguns and does not apply to long guns such as rifles or shotguns.

The training can be in the form of a certificate or documentation from a recognized firearms training course or program. It is important to note that the training must meet the standards set by the state of Colorado.

Hunter education certificate (if applicable)

If you are purchasing a firearm for hunting purposes as a non-resident, you may be required to provide a hunter education certificate. This certificate is typically obtained by completing a hunter education course, which covers topics such as firearm safety, hunting laws, and conservation.

The requirement for a hunter education certificate may vary depending on the type of hunting you plan to do and the specific regulations of the state.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and regulations for purchasing a gun in Colorado as a non-resident. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) website is a valuable resource where you can find detailed information about the documentation needed and the process for purchasing a firearm.

You can visit their website at

Background Checks for Non-Resident Firearm Purchases

When it comes to buying a gun in Colorado as a non-resident, understanding the background check process is crucial. Non-residents must go through both federal and state-level background checks to ensure compliance with the law and maintain public safety.

Let’s take a closer look at the two types of background checks involved in non-resident firearm purchases.

Federal NICS system

The first step in the background check process for non-resident firearm purchases is the federal NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) check. This system is maintained by the FBI and is used to determine if an individual is eligible to possess firearms under federal law.

When you purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, they will initiate a NICS check by submitting your information to the FBI. The NICS system checks various databases to determine if you have any disqualifying factors, such as felony convictions, restraining orders, or mental health issues.

It’s important to note that the NICS check is a federal requirement and applies to all firearm purchases, regardless of residency status.

State-level CBI checks

In addition to the federal NICS check, non-residents looking to buy a gun in Colorado must also undergo state-level background checks conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). These checks are specifically designed to ensure compliance with Colorado state law.

The CBI checks include a review of the individual’s criminal history, mental health records, and any other relevant information that may disqualify them from owning a firearm under Colorado law. These checks are performed in conjunction with the federal NICS check to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s eligibility.

Timing and potential delays

While the NICS background check is typically completed instantly, the CBI checks may take longer to process. The exact timing can vary depending on various factors, such as the volume of background checks being conducted at a given time.

It’s important to be aware that delays in the background check process can occur, especially during peak periods or when additional research is required. However, Colorado law requires that background checks be completed within a certain timeframe to ensure individuals are not unnecessarily delayed in exercising their Second Amendment rights.

It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and allow for potential delays when purchasing a firearm as a non-resident in Colorado. Being patient and understanding the importance of thorough background checks will help ensure the safety and security of all individuals involved.

Step-By-Step Process for Buying a Gun in Colorado

Buying a gun in Colorado as a non-resident may seem like a complex process, but by following a few simple steps, you can navigate through it smoothly. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you understand what you need to know:

Finding an FFL dealer

The first step in buying a gun in Colorado as a non-resident is to find a Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer. FFL dealers are licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to sell firearms.

You can find a list of FFL dealers in Colorado on the ATF’s website or by conducting a quick online search. It’s important to choose a reputable dealer with a good track record.

Selecting your firearm

Once you have found an FFL dealer, the next step is to select the firearm you want to purchase. Colorado has a wide range of gun stores and dealers offering a variety of firearms to choose from. It’s crucial to consider your specific needs and preferences when selecting a firearm.

Factors such as intended use, caliber, and size should be taken into account.

Completing ATF Form 4473

After selecting your firearm, you will need to complete ATF Form 4473. This form collects information about the buyer, including personal details, address, and criminal history. It is important to answer all questions honestly and accurately.

The FFL dealer will provide you with the form and guide you through the process if needed. Remember, providing false information on this form is a federal offense.

Passing background checks

Once you have completed ATF Form 4473, the FFL dealer will conduct a background check. This check is done through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to ensure that the buyer is eligible to purchase a firearm.

The background check typically takes a few minutes, but in some cases, it may take longer. If you pass the background check, you can proceed with the purchase.

Transfer and payment

Once you have passed the background check, you will need to complete the transfer and payment process. The FFL dealer will provide you with the necessary paperwork and guide you through the payment options.

It’s important to note that non-residents may face additional fees or requirements, so it’s advisable to clarify these details with the dealer beforehand. After completing the necessary paperwork and paying for the firearm, you can take possession of it.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with local and federal laws regarding firearm ownership and transportation. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s best to consult with legal professionals or local law enforcement authorities.


While buying a gun in Colorado as a non-resident is legal with proper documentation, restrictions exist on certain firearms. Completing background checks and following all federal, state, and local laws ensures a smooth purchase.

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