UK Sword Law-Importing Swords To United Kingdom

UK Sword Law-Importing Swords to United Kingdom. Info for UK customers. UK sword guide. UK Sword restriction and exceptions.

As of the 6th April 2008 the Government will be introducing an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which will see the addition of some Swords to the Offensive Weapons Order list. This is a list of items prohibited for sale, import, trade of transfer within the UK.

Guide now updated to include details of the 2nd amendment to the CJA 1988 which came into force on the 1st August 2008.

There is much confusion regarding this new legislation so below is a quick reference FAQ detailing how this new legislation affects you.


Q: Are all swords now illegal?

A: No. the new legislation only covers some swords with a curved blade over 50cm.

Q: Is it just Samurai Swords that are now banned?

A: No. ANY sword with a curved blade over 50cm is now banned from sale, import, trade or transfer. This includes Persian Talwars, Military Cavalry swords, some Fantasy swords and many other types of sword unless specifically exempted – see below.

Q: Do I have to surrender my Samurai Sword I have at home?

A: No. Ownership of all swords is perfectly legal so you can keep any sword you have already in your possession. You cannot sell it or give it away.

Q: Are all Samurai Swords now banned?

A: Under UK legislation, no. The law only affects some swords over 50cm so although Katana swords are now banned (unless covered by the list of exemptions), most Wakizashi and Tanto swords have blades under 50cm so are unaffected by this legislation

Q: Are straight bladed swords affected?

A: No. The new legislation only covers curved bladed swords – straight bladed swords are totally unaffected by this legislation. The Home Office have indicated that there may be an extension of the legislation to cover all swords by October 2008 but as yet this is undecided.

Q: How is the blade length measured?

A: The legislation covers all swords over 50cm. The measurement is to be taken from the tip of the blade to the top of the handle (where the blade meets the handle) in a straight line NOT following the curve of the blade.

Q: Are there any exemptions?

A: Yes. There are several exemptions to the sword ban – These exemptions are:

•Members of historical re-enactment groups which hold a Public Liability Certificate.

•Members of a Martial Arts club which hold a Public Liability Certificate.

•Use for authorized Theatrical / film use.

•All Swords over 100 years old.

•Samurai Swords made before 1954.

•Samurai Swords made in Japan at any time using the traditional forging technique.

As of 1st August 2008 a 2nd amendment was made to this legislation adding the following exemptions:

•Where only swords made using ‘the traditional technique’ in Japan were exempt, this has now been widened to cover swords made anywhere in the world “according to traditional methods of making swords by hand”

•Also, it is now permitted to import / make / buy a sword for the “purpose only of making the weapon available for the purposes of use in religious ceremonies”.

Q: Can you bequeath a Sword to someone in your will?

A: Yes, you can legally receive a sword covered under this legislation if left to you in a will.

Q: I have a genuine WWII Officers sword – is this exempt from the ban?

A: No – ALL curved blades swords with a blade over 50cm are included in the ban unless covered by the listed exemptions (see above)

Q: Can I buy a traditionally hand forged sword from China?

A: Yes – Since 1st August 2008 swords made “according to traditional methods of making swords by hand” are now exempt from restriction relating to sale or import.

Q: Can I make myself a new sword for use in my own home?

A: Yes. The manufacture of swords covered under the definition is now permissible under the 2nd amendment which came into force on the 1st August 2008 so long as it is made “according to traditional methods of making swords by hand”

Q: I have a sword which needs a new handle – can I replace the handle?

A: Yes – Manufacturing a new sword is prohibited but repairing / refurbishing an existing sword is allowable so long as it retains it’s original dimensions.

Q: I am a sikh and want a large Talwar for ceremonial purposes – can I buy one?

A: Yes. There is now a specific exemption to this legislation allowing swords to be obtained / manufactured for use in religious ceremonies.

Q: I have a retail shop where I sell swords – can I no longer continue to do so?

A: Retailers and dealers can sell these swords so long as they can prove the swords not exempt from restriction are being sold to eligible buyers (covered by the exemptions) It is for the retailer to confirm the validity of the buyer through checking membership details of an appropriate club or association. Any retailer supplying a sword covered by the ban and not making these checks will be guilty of an offence and liable to prosecution. The exact mechanics of how this is to be done has not yet been confirmed by the Home Office.

Q: What are the penalties for breaking the new law?

A: Anyone convicted of breaking this new legislation will be liable to 6 months imprisonment, a fine not exceeding Level 5 on the standard scale (£5000) or both.

This info is for UK customers only.

FAQ is mostly focused on Samurai swords, Scimitars and other swords with curved blade.


    • It seems you are allowed to import a ninja swords. Ninja sword has a straight blade. UK law banned swords with curved blade over 50cms (19.7″).

  1. It seems that if the blade of the ninjato (ninja sword) is curved, and over 50cm long, then it must have been traditionally hand forged to be permitted for importation. Gladly I find that an exemption has been made for Sikhs such as myself wishing to purchase a Tulwar for ceremonial purposes. Personally I think it would be best if everyone and not just Sikhs were allowed these beautiful swords, following a background and security check as there would be for firearms so these works of art are not misused and dishonoured by criminal use. Best of luck with your transaction.

    • Totally agree we are planning a medieval wedding and partner and step son want to have swords as they are going to be medieval knight s

  2. I want to make my own gladius (typically straight blade 20″ long). I do not yet belong to a roman re-enactors group though I am considering joining one. Can I make my own sword of this type using stock removal methods (not traditional forging)?

  3. I live in scotland and want to make my own gladius (typically 20 inch straight blade length). I want to join a re-enactors group but am not yet a member of one.

    My sword would not be forged but made using stock removal of a 2 inch wide 1/4 inch steel stock bar. I know there is a restriction on making swords using this method but does it apply to the non-restricted straight blades or only to curved 30 inch or longer blades?

  4. one thing has got me confused other than milling down a metal bar every way of making a sword has been used in the past so surely any sword made in any other way other than milling would be legal? right?

  5. Hi there i would like to import a straight bladed sword (katana)it is hand made and if i was to import a curved blade katana with a blad length over 50cm that is hand made would i need any proof that its hand made ??? please reply…

  6. Ridiculous law. Knee jerk appeasement that is completely fatuous and only serves to emphasize he stupidity of this countries law makers. I would contest that it is easier for the layman to kill or injure with many common edged tools than with a Japanese sword which actually need from the person wielding it some degree of training to make it effective. And someone trained in its use is not very likely to put it to such a purpose!

    • Exactly, these idiots will ban hammers, knives, sticks, forks and criminals who are always able to buy guns will hunt down us like a rabbits.
      Give power to an idiot and he will deliver a law.

    • The sword material is irrelevant. You can import any straight bladed sword but you can import only curved swords under 50 cms. This means no katanas, no regular sabres etc.

  7. I want to buy a genuine Japanese katana 72cm long blade. A antique certified over 400 years old. Is that ok and will customs add any charges to the import? Regards Miro

    • You can import a genuine swords or nowadays swords made by the original techniques (you must prove this). Certificate will help.

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