UKARA stands for the United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association. It provides retailers with a database of players to allow them to purchase Realistic Imitation Firearms (RIF). UKARA was formed in response to the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 which made the sale and manufacturing of imitation firearms illegal.
The UK Government wanted to prevent replica weapons from ending up in the wrong hands. Airsoft replicas can often look like a real firearm. This presents a risk to both the general public and the police. This limits the potential of people coming into harm's way.
A UKARA licence can be obtained through most airsoft game sites in the UK. An airsoft player has to have participated in at least 3 skirmishes over 56 days (or 8 weeks). Each time you visit the game site, you will have your application form stamped by the game site owner (or another member of staff).
Once you have completed 3 skirmishes (games) you can submit your UKARA application for player registration online or through your preferred retailer. If you plan on becoming a regular player, we recommend you pick a local airsoft site and play all 3 games there.
You'll usually receive your UKARA number via email within 1 or 2 weeks following your submission.
No, it is not a legal requirement to have a UKARA membership to buy an airsoft gun. However, you must have a valid defence for purchasing a realistic imitation firearm. Although it's strongly recommended to register your details with the UKARA database, retailers may accept the following defences:
You can purchase a two-tone replica without the need for a valid airsoft defence or UKARA membership. However, two-tone guns cannot be tampered with or resprayed to look like a RIF. It is an illegal offence to spray a two-tone gun black.
It's also here where purchasing second-hand airsoft guns can carry risks. The person selling the weapon may not have a valid defence or UKARA membership. You have no way of checking and so we recommend never buying weapons second-hand unless you have proof that the gun purchase meets the required legal criteria.