What is UKARA?
UKARA stands for ‘United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association’. It serves as a single database of all registered Airsoft Skirmishers in the UK, and allows retailers to check the eligibility of customers wishing to purchase airsoft guns or “Replica Imitation Firearms (RIF)”. A UKARA Registration is recognised as a valid defence for purchasing an airsoft gun.
At Socom Tactical, we require proof of UKARA or site membership from customers who wish to purchase an airsoft gun. This protects us, and our customers.
A UKARA defence to protect airsofters
To stop airsofters being arrested for buying the very tools they need to enjoy their past time, a defence for buying Realistic Imitation Firearms (RIF) is a way of proving that you have a valid reason for purchasing them. This is typically to stop realistic-looking weapons getting into the hands of people who want to use them for reasons other than their intended purpose.
UKARA was formed in 2006, in response to the Violent Crime Reduction Act (VCRA). This law specified that to purchase a realistic looking firearm, the purchaser must have a reason, or defence, for purchasing it. If you have a valid defence you can purchase a realistic-looking airsoft gun. If you do not, the weapon must be two toned. Two toned airsoft guns are guns whose primary colour is red, blue or green, rather than a military or camo colour.
You can find out more about airsoft’s “curious” relationship with the law in one of our earlier blogs.
How do I get a UKARA licence?
While sometimes referred to as a “license”, what you are applying for is UKARA membership. To get UKARA membership, a fledgling airsofter must visit an Airsoft Skirmish Site 3 times or more outside of 56 Days or 8 Weeks, at which point the site can stamp their paperwork. It can then be handed in to a certified retailer for entry onto the database.
Game Site UKARA licences
If you run an airsoft game site and want to become UKARA registered, you can download a form from the UKARA website and email it off. It costs nothing and is as easy as that!
Once processed, your site name, web URL and address will be added to the approved sites list so that visitors can visit your site in the reassurance that you are UKARA protected. Your site can then be a starting point for new airsofters wishing to obtain validation, and you will be issued with a UKARA stamp for validating player forms.
UKARA numbers typically appear as three alpha characters, followed by five numeric characters:
A UKARA number is unique to each airsofter. The confidential information of that airsofter is kept on a secure database and is only used for confirming membership of the UKARA scheme.
For more information about UKARA, you can visit their website.
How old do you have to be to get a UKARA?
In order to get a UKARA number and become a registered airsoft player, you must be 18 years of age or over and able to provide valid proof of ID in the form of a driver’s licence, passport etc.
What is a UKARA defence?
A defence baked into the law protects airsofters. If an airsofter can prove that they are buying realistic imitation firearms for a valid reason, they have a defence in the eyes of the law. We call this the UKARA defence
Is airsoft legal in the UK?
Under UK law, airsoft guns of a certain type are not classified as firearms. From the 2nd May 2017 the Policing and Crime Act introduces an exception from the classification for airsoft guns as firearms, so long as they meet certain criteria.
This means that airsoft guns, no matter how they are powered, are not firearms. This applies if they are designed to fire a spherical plastic missile that is no bigger than 8mm in diameter and they have a muzzle energy that is no greater than 1.3 joules, if they can fire successive shots, or 2.5 joules if they can only fire individual shots.
Can anyone buy an airsoft gun?
You can only buy a realistic imitation firearm under the following circumstances:
- You must be over 18
- You are an airsofter with membership of an insured skirmish site
- You are a member of a properly insured historical re-enactment group or society
- You are a film, television or theatre production company
- You are (or are acting on behalf of) a museum
- You are a Crown Servant in pursuance of specific and relevant Crown duties
If you don’t meet these criteria, you can still buy an airsoft gun, but one who’s principle colour is significantly different to that of a real firearm. At Socom Tactical, we are able to provide two tone firearms if required.
What is a RIF gun?
A RIF gun is a Realistic Imitation Firearm. It is an airsoft gun that looks and fires like the real thing. They are restricted from purchase under the Violent Crime Reduction Act.