Buying Ammunition In California With A Real Id

For gun owners in California, purchasing ammunition just got more complicated with the new REAL ID requirements. Understanding the laws around buying ammo with a REAL ID is crucial for staying compliant.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: You need either a REAL ID or other acceptable ID in order to buy ammunition in California starting July 1, 2019.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying ammo with a REAL ID in California, including the new requirements, types of identification, online ordering, out-of-state purchasing, and more.

New REAL ID Requirements for Buying Ammo

California has implemented new regulations for purchasing ammunition, which now require individuals to possess a REAL ID. These requirements are part of a broader effort to enhance public safety and ensure that only eligible individuals can purchase and possess ammunition.

Understanding the background of California’s ammunition laws and the implications of the REAL ID Act is crucial for residents who want to exercise their Second Amendment rights responsibly.

Background on California Ammo Laws

California has long been known for its strict firearm regulations, and ammunition laws are no exception. In 2016, the state passed Proposition 63, also known as the “Safety for All Act,” which introduced a series of measures aimed at reducing gun violence.

One of these measures was the requirement for individuals to undergo background checks when purchasing ammunition.

Under the previous regulations, buyers were required to present a valid ID and undergo a background check at the point of sale. However, with the implementation of the REAL ID Act, the process has become more stringent.

Overview of REAL ID Act

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Its main purpose is to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards.

The Act aims to prevent identity theft and fraud by ensuring that individuals’ identities are thoroughly verified before they receive a REAL ID.

With a REAL ID, individuals can access certain federal facilities, board domestic flights, and now, purchase ammunition in California. The REAL ID Act requires applicants to provide additional documentation, such as proof of identity, date of birth, social security number, and residency.

These stricter requirements aim to ensure that only eligible individuals can obtain a REAL ID and, consequently, purchase ammunition.

When the New Rules Started

The new rules regarding the purchase of ammunition with a REAL ID went into effect on July 1, 2019. Since then, individuals looking to buy ammunition must present their valid California driver’s license or identification card that meets the REAL ID requirements.

This means that the ID must have a gold bear and star in the top right corner to indicate its compliance with the REAL ID Act.

It’s important to note that individuals who already possess a valid California driver’s license or identification card that meets the REAL ID requirements do not need to take any further action. However, those who do not have a REAL ID-compliant document will need to visit a DMV office and provide the necessary documentation to obtain one.

For more information on the REAL ID Act and the specific requirements for obtaining a REAL ID in California, individuals can visit the official website of the California Department of Motor Vehicles at

Acceptable Forms of ID to Buy Ammo

When purchasing ammunition in California, it is important to have the proper identification. The state has implemented strict regulations to ensure the safety and responsible ownership of firearms and ammunition. Here are some acceptable forms of ID that you can use to buy ammo:

REAL ID Driver’s License or ID Card

One of the most common forms of identification accepted for purchasing ammunition in California is a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card. The REAL ID Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005, sets federal standards for identification documents.

These IDs have enhanced security features and are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

If you have a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, you can confidently use it to buy ammunition. It is important to note that starting from October 1, 2023, a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card will be required for all domestic flights and entry into federal facilities.


If you don’t have a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a passport is another acceptable form of identification to buy ammunition. A passport is a globally recognized travel document issued by the government, and it serves as proof of citizenship and identity.

If you are a U.S. citizen and you have a valid passport, you can use it to purchase ammunition in California. However, it is worth mentioning that carrying your passport with you on a daily basis may not be practical, so having a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card is often more convenient.

Military ID

Members of the military, both active duty and veterans, can use their military ID as a form of identification to buy ammunition. Military IDs are issued by the Department of Defense and are recognized as official government identification.

If you are a member of the military, remember to bring your military ID when purchasing ammunition. It is important to note that military IDs are only accepted if they are current and not expired.

Other Alternatives

If you don’t have any of the aforementioned forms of identification, there are other alternatives that may be accepted when buying ammunition. Some examples include:

  • Consular identification cards
  • Permanent resident cards (Green Cards)
  • Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
  • Native American tribal identification cards

It is important to check with the ammunition vendor or the California Department of Justice for a complete list of acceptable alternative forms of identification.

Remember, when purchasing ammunition, always carry a valid form of identification to comply with state regulations and ensure a smooth and hassle-free transaction.

Buying Ammunition Online with REAL ID

Online Retailers that Ship to California

Buying ammunition online in California can be a convenient option for firearm owners, especially with the implementation of the REAL ID. With a REAL ID, residents can purchase ammunition from online retailers that ship to California.

However, it is important to note that not all online retailers offer shipping to this state. Therefore, it is advisable to research and find reputable online retailers that cater to California residents.

Some well-known online ammunition retailers that ship to California include, Lucky Gunner, and Brownells. These retailers offer a wide variety of ammunition types and brands, ensuring firearm owners have access to a diverse selection.

Providing Identification Information

When purchasing ammunition online with a REAL ID, you will be required to provide certain identification information to comply with state and federal regulations. This information may include your full name, address, date of birth, and the REAL ID number.

It is essential to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, as any discrepancies can lead to delays or even rejection of the order.

Additionally, some online retailers may require you to upload a scanned copy of your REAL ID for verification purposes. This step is taken to ensure compliance with the law and prevent unauthorized individuals from purchasing ammunition.

Background Checks

Background checks are an integral part of the ammunition purchasing process in California. Whether buying ammunition online or from a physical store, buyers are subject to a background check to validate their eligibility to possess ammunition.

When purchasing ammunition online, the online retailer will typically conduct the background check during the checkout process. The retailer will verify your eligibility by cross-referencing your identification information with the appropriate databases to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.

It is important to note that background checks are not instant, and there may be a waiting period before the ammunition is shipped. This waiting period allows sufficient time for the background check to be completed.

For more information on buying ammunition in California, you can visit the official website of the California Department of Justice:

Purchasing Ammo Out-of-State with California REAL ID

Buying ammunition in California can be a complex process, especially when it comes to purchasing ammo from out-of-state. However, with the introduction of the REAL ID, California residents now have a more streamlined way to purchase ammunition legally.

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to buying ammo with your California REAL ID.

Following California Law

It’s important to understand that even with a California REAL ID, you still need to adhere to state laws when purchasing ammunition. California has strict regulations in place, and it’s crucial to stay informed to avoid any legal issues.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the current laws and regulations governing ammunition purchases in the state.

Limitations on Importing Ammo

While the California REAL ID makes it easier to purchase ammunition within the state, there are still limitations on importing ammo from out-of-state. California law prohibits the importation of ammunition unless it is done through a licensed ammunition vendor.

This means that you cannot simply purchase ammunition online and have it shipped directly to your doorstep. Instead, you must go through a licensed vendor who will conduct the necessary background checks and ensure compliance with state regulations.

It’s worth noting that some neighboring states have specific regulations in place regarding the sale of ammunition to California residents. It’s essential to be aware of these regulations before attempting to purchase ammo from an out-of-state vendor to avoid potential legal issues.

Tips to Avoid Issues

To ensure a smooth ammunition purchasing process with your California REAL ID, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Research and identify licensed ammunition vendors who are authorized to sell to California residents.
  • Verify the vendor’s reputation and check if they have experience in shipping to California.
  • Double-check the vendor’s compliance with California laws and regulations to avoid any legal complications.
  • Consider purchasing ammunition in-person from a licensed vendor within California to streamline the process and ensure compliance.

Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to purchasing ammunition. By following the appropriate procedures and staying informed about the current legislation, you can enjoy a hassle-free experience while exercising your right to bear arms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do gun stores accept digital ID?

Yes, many gun stores in California now accept digital identification in addition to physical IDs. This means that if you have a REAL ID stored on your smartphone or another electronic device, you can use it to purchase ammunition at these stores.

It’s important to note that not all gun stores may accept digital ID, so it’s always a good idea to call ahead and confirm their policy before making a trip.

What if my ID is expired?

If your ID is expired, you will not be able to purchase ammunition in California. According to the California Department of Justice, a valid government-issued photo identification is required for ammunition purchases, and this includes having a non-expired ID.

It’s crucial to ensure that your ID is up to date before attempting to buy ammunition.

Can family members make purchases?

Yes, family members are allowed to purchase ammunition in California on behalf of someone else. However, there are certain requirements that need to be met. The family member making the purchase must be at least 18 years old for rifle or shotgun ammunition and at least 21 years old for handgun ammunition.

Additionally, they must be able to provide proper identification and pass any required background checks.

For more detailed information on ammunition purchase regulations in California, you can visit the official California Department of Justice website at


In summary, California residents need a valid form of identification, such as a REAL ID, to purchase ammunition within state lines or online. Abiding by all California laws around ammo purchases will ensure gun owners stay compliant.

While the new requirements may be frustrating to some, being informed about the REAL ID rules will make buying ammo straightforward. With proper ID and adherence to regulations, purchasing ammunition can be a smooth process.

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