Registering Firearms in Nicaragua

Dear Readers,

I was invited to write about this topic, please be aware this is a guide about this topic but the procedure can change from one police station to another.

First of all any foreign person who wants to buy a gun and obtain a license – which is mandatory – it is imperative to be a legal resident in Nicaragua. I would say you must be a resident for five years because this is the validation period of the gun license or “Licencia de Arma de Fuego” or just call a “portación”. For example, you may be denied a permit if you are on a one year residency or near the expiration of your present residency.

The License is stated by the Special Law of regulation and control of firearms, ammunitions, explosives and other related materials; law 510 and the law was enacted February 25th,  2005. The law covers several types of licenses but I will focus on the licenses which allow a person to possess and use a gun, especially for personal protection or property protection.

DAEM refers to DAEM (Departmento de Armas, Explosivas, y Municiones) office of the police.

The 29th article states the requirements for the license of possession and personal use. The regulations are as follows in Spanish and English:

Requisitos generales para licencias que autoricen la posesión y portación de armas de fuego:

General requirements for licenses that authorize the possession and transportation for firearms:

1. Ser mayor de 21 años de edad

You must be 21 years of age or more

2. Presentar copia de la Cédula de Identidad ciudadana que acredite su identidad, en caso de ser extranjero residente en el país, este debe de presentar la cédula de residente emitida por la Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería

You must present your residency card (cedula) or Nicaraguan citizenship granted by Immigration.

3. Comprar y llenar el formulario de solicitud policial en el que se detalle, entre otros aspectos, nombres y apellidos, domicilio legal del solicitante, número de cédula, tipo de licencia solicitada y otros que reglamentariamente establezca la Autoridad de Aplicación de esta Ley.

Purchase and complete the gun license application.

4. Plena capacidad física y mental para el uso y manejo de armas de fuego

You must demonstrate you have full physical and mental capacity to have and use firearms..

5. Adiestramiento y conocimiento mínimo necesario del arma que tienen y portan para poder habilitarles como titulares de licencias de armas de fuego

You must have a certificate which shows you have the knowledge to use guns.

6. Las personas no deben tener antecedentes penales ni policiales

You will need certification from the local police and the court house proving no there is no criminal record or suit against the applicant.

7. Factura pro forma del arma que se va adquirir, y cuando se trate de compra venta entre particulares, se debe de presentar la escritura correspondiente y la licencia del arma.

You will need bill of sale for the gun or Writ signed by a Public Notary if the purchase was done from an individual.

8. Presentar la autorización de la Autoridad de Aplicación de la Ley y su Reglamento para la compra de cualquier arma de fuego, esto para los casos en que se trate de primera vez la obtención del arma de fuego.

Authorization from DAEM – Police branch which authorized the usage of the gun – In my personal experience I never saw this.

9. Copia del recibo de pago de los aranceles correspondientes.

Receipt of payment at the Bank for the right to use the gun; C$ 160  (Cordobas).

To summarize in English:

To get the License it is imperative to comply with the following requirements:

  1. Be over 21 years old.
  2. Get the Nicaraguan Residency: only Nicaraguan Citizens and Legal Residents can get a Weapon License, and I make emphasis on Legal Residency because there are people living in Nicaragua without their Residency card, as retirees or investors.
  3. Get a certification by the Nicaraguan Police of No Criminal Record. (C$30)
  4. Get a certification from the Court to prove there isn’t any criminal process against the applicant. (C$150)
  5. Fill out a Police form of application.
  6. Certification of a Psychologist or a Doctor to prove the applicant is mental and physically able to carry and handle a weapon. (typically $C500 for doctor to provide letters stating mental and physical health)
  7. Certification of completion of a course from a Shooting School previously approved by the Nicaraguan Police.
  8. Copy of the Bill of Sale.

In Nicaragua the gun must be concealed all the time.

The procedure is simple but long; patience is required for anyone who wants to apply.

According to the list above the first step will be to buy the gun from a legal gun dealer in Nicaragua, the seller will give you a bill but keep the gun until the new owner returns with the licenses; at least with the first gun, if the buyer already has a license, the seller will give the gun at the moment of the purchase. On the other hand, if it´s a private purchase, the seller must have the gun legally, with a valid License, else the gun will be confiscated, so never buy a gun from an individual without the supervision of a lawyer to confirm the weapon is being legally sold.

After that, the applicant must obtain from the local police in Nicaragua their police record and from the Court House of the city which he/she is living a certification confirming there is not any criminal action against him/her.

At the same time it is mandatory to obtain a certification from a psychologist confirming the owner is in good mental condition to have and use a gun and a training certificate to prove the applicant is knowledgeable in using a gun, usually the gun dealer is able to help with those requirements

Once the requirements are complete the applicant must submit it to the DAEM offices at the local police and they will process it, do an inspection of your home, do an interview of your neighbors to confirm the applicant lives there and is a law abiding citizen – good relationship with neighbors is imperative for this and many other reasons. Then the Police will grant the authorization, make your payment at the bank and have your picture taken; the police´s services will process the card and give to the applicant. This is a process which can take from 15 to 30 days in total from the day the buyer buys the gun.

If the purchase is from an individual, the police will require seeing the gun and keeping it while the process is completed. The police may send your gun to the criminal laboratory to confirm the gun was not used it in any crime.

Bringing a Gun into Nicaragua

It is possible to bring a handgun to Nicaragua though you must follow the process like in most countries in Latin America. Can you imagine if a Nicaraguan Law abiding citizen tried to bring a handgun to the USA? Remember you must be a resident so that process should be completed prior to bringing in the firearms.

The First Step will be obtain in USA or the country from which you are bringing the guns; the IMPORTATION PERMIT FROM THE NICARAGUAN CONSULATE. Guns will be confiscated if there is no permit. It sounds unlikely but happens. I can imagine me going to the State with a gun and no permit … probably I will be in Jail!

That is imperative, if you don´t bring it you will lose your guns.

Also you will lose your guns if you bring more than 2 per person and I want to stress this. I explained this by email to some people who contacted me and they brought 3 and lost the 3rd. The law is the law. According to Nicaraguan Law named: Ley 510, Ley Especial para el Control y Regulación de Armas de Fuego, Municiones, Explosivos y otros materiales relacionados:

Article 101. If someone over 21 years old desires to bring a firearm for civil purposes like pistols, shotguns and some rifles, not for military purposes such as AK–47 or M–16, sub machine, etc; will be allowed to do so just once, and only for personal use. A maximum of two (2) firearms may be brought to Nicaragua. You need to submit the receipt of purchase (or license) and an application at the Nicaraguan Consulate in your respective country along with a letter to the local Police in Nicaragua. 

It is permitted to bring a military purpose weapon but just for a collection. The weapon must be modified so there would be no possibility it could be used.

These firearms can come to Nicaragua by airplane or in a container. If you are going to bring your luggage with you, each airline has its own policy and you must comply with it. American Airlines and Continental have a hard policy about this and require checking the handgun at the airline counter at the airport in a special box and locking it in front of an airline worker which is then sent as piece of luggage on the airplane.

When you arrive in Nicaragua you must declare your firearm at the airport. A Customs officer will take it, issue you a receipt and give it to the Police. Once inside the country you must obtain a Certification of Importation from the “Dirección de Registro y Control” of D.A.E.M (police area of gun´s legalization) your license (all paperwork) and present them to the Police headquarters to retrieve your gun.

According to the Law, importation of ammunition is not allowed for common people just armory companies. However, according to the Police, you can bring it with you in your luggage or container as part of your Household Goods if you are coming as a retiree but you cannot bring it every time you come to Nicaragua. In Nicaragua there are several stores with a guide range of ammunitions and accessories for your handgun.

You may wonder why not purchase my gun in Nicaragua instead of bringing it from abroad? You can do it, but there are at least two things you must consider before doing so:

  1. You can bring the weapon you already have in your country…… as my client who informed me: “I just have two guns: a .357 magnum and a .44 magnum, that I want to bring with me since I’ve had them with me for several years”.
  2. Costs and options: because of recent law on weapons, the cost of guns in Nicaragua have soared, e.g., in Nicaragua a Glock can cost $1,300.00 while in the US it would be around $600.00; also, there are much better opportunities to buy your favorite brand in the US.

The same permit procedure must be followed for a person who imports a gun from abroad, the difference will be the gun will be kept by Customs and the owner will pay import taxes (70 – 75% of the value of the gun) and then send it directly to the central office of the DAEM in Managua while the license is processed.


You may purchase or own as many guns as you wish but you will need a separate permit for each one. You should use a lawyer or perhaps a friend in the police department to help you walk through the process. Having a firearm without a permit is automatic confiscation, jail time and a fine on top of it.

The renewal process is much easier.

Best Regards,

paul-tifferPaul Tiffer R.

Abogado y Notario Público

Tiffer & Asociados

Hospital Militar 1 Cuadra al Lago

1 Cuadra Abajo; # 1210

Cell Phone: 88841652

Managua, Nicaragua