Legal aspects of using/purchasing night vision devices

Always before shipping or maybe even travelling with a Night Vision Device, you should thoroughly check out the import/export laws in your country and the local laws in the country you are transferring your Night Vision Device to.
Legal controls of this technology are very strict, so often neither night vision equipment with generation 2 or generation 3 image intensifier tube can be exported to the other country without the appropriate export licence from your countries Dept of Trade.

Temporary removals of this technology are treated the same way as exports so even going on holiday without an export license is also punishable by fines!
Certain countries regulate possession and/or use of night-vision devices.
In Iceland, the use of night-vision devices for hunting is prohibited, while there are no restrictions on the devices themselves.
In France owning generation 3 is illegal for civilians. There also illegal is having any systems which can be mounted to anything, as an example to rifle, tripod, helmet or head.
Only handheld devices of generation 1 and generation 2 are legal to own. Exporting any Night Vision Device without an export license is also punishable by fines!
In Germany to export a generation 2 image intensifier tube within the EU, there is no paperwork necessary for a civilian, but exporting a generation 3 image intensifier tube requires an export license by the BAFA.
No matter if you are civilian or not and even if you go on a hunting trip to Czech you'd officially need an export license! Violations are punishable by high fines and commercially even by prison.

For Germany, there are also restrictions regarding which kind of Night Vision Device you can use as a civilian. You cannot mount any Night Vision Device onto a rifle and systems designed to be installed on a rifle are illegal to own. Some companies may have a special license to sell such devices even to civilians but mounting them remains illegal, even though hunting at night is legal.
Belgian firearms legislation forbids any night vision devices if they can be mounted on a firearm, even if not mounted they are considered illegal.

The situation is similar in Poland and several other EU countries, where it is allowed to use night vision devices exclusively for observation.
In the Netherlands the possession of night vision devices is not regulated, nor is it forbidden to use them mounted on firearms.

The usage of weapon mounted night vision equipment for nighttime hunting is only allowed with a special permit in certain areas for hunting wild boar.
Section 19 point 5a of the German Bundesjagdgesetz states says: It is forbidden to use artificial light sources, mirrors, devices to illuminate or light targets, or night vision devices with image converters or electronic amplification intended for guns.
These aids are not banned for observation purposes but for catching or killing game.
Many of EU regulations cover all image intensifier tubes that are manufactured in the EU or sold here.
These restrictions do not come with a penalty since that has to be done by the jurisdiction of the member country and by the laws of each country.
New Zealand rescue helicopter services use several sets of 3rd generation night vision goggles imported from the USA, and the country is required to restrict access to the equipment to comply with the strict regulations regarding their export.
There are no prohibitions on the ownership or use of night vision equipment for shooting non-indigenous game animals, such as rabbits, hares, deer, pigs, tahr, chamois, goats, wallabies, etc.

In USA a 2010-2011 summary of State hunting regulations for the use of night-vision equipment in hunting listed 13 States in which the equipment is prohibited, 17 States with various restrictions, e.g. only for certain non-game species, and/or in a certain date range, and 20 States without restrictions.

It did not summarize the regulations for thermal-imaging equipment.
In Minnesota, as of 2014, "A person may not possess night vision or thermal imaging equipment while taking wild animals or while having in possession, an uncased and loaded weapon, that could be used to take wild animals." There is an exception for law enforcement and military use.
The night-vision prohibition was enacted in 2007, and the thermal-imaging prohibition was added in 2014.

In California, it is a misdemeanour to possess a device "designed for or adaptable to use on a firearm which, through the use of a projected infrared light source and electronic telescope, enables the operator thereof to visually determine and locate the presence of objects during the nighttime". This essentially covers scopes using
generation 0 technology, but not the subsequent generations.
Most people have at least heard of ITAR.
Everything regarding export or even testing on US soil is prohibited. As a foreigner even looking through a generation 3 device is not allowed. Export of generation 3 is only allowed to Mil/LE with export license and even then there's an FOM limit to these export image intensifier tubes.
However, some US made generation 2 devices are exportable, but you need an export license for that by the Department of Commerce and to apply for such license you need to be a company.
Also here are restrictions regarding performance, as example, it can never be beyond resolution 65 lp/mm. Illegal export of generation 2 cost a lot of money in fines.
Exporting a generation 3 device is punishable with a prison sentence and major fines!
Please note it is the sole responsibility of the customer to be aware of and comply with US, UK, European and any other local law governing the use of such equipment.
Back to blog