European knife law guide

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Sep 21, 2018
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So, I was thinking about the research done on knife laws in the US and the studies compiled by people like Evan Nappen and Blade Forums member ‘glistam.’ I started thinking it would be cool if someone did the same on the laws for all 44 European countries.

From research I’ve been able to do, here’s a list I’ve compiled of European countries where possession of switchblade/automatic knives is legal to one degree or another (some have restrictions on carry, blade length, and age to purchase).

  1. Andorra
  2. Austria
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Czech Republic
  5. Finland
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. Hungary
  9. Italy
  10. Lithuania
  11. Luxembourg
  12. Poland
  13. Romania
  14. Russia
  15. Slovakia
  16. Sweden
Acknowledging all that, Germany allows possession of auto knives as long as they meet a certain criteria: the blade length can’t exceed 8.5 cm and they all have to be side opening as OTFs aren’t allowed. While civilian possession is legal in Hungary, commercial sale is restricted to only law enforcement and military officials. They can be bought, sold and kept at home in France and Italy but not carried in public. Sweden requires a person be of 21 years of age to purchase and Lithuania allows possession as long as the blades don’t exceed 8.5 cm and the blades aren’t double edged. Luxembourg has restrictions on carry. And Russia has a blade length limitation of 9 cm (3 and 1/2 inches).

Autos are totally illegal to possess, sell and carry in the following Euro countries:

  1. Belgium
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Ireland
  5. Liechtenstein
  6. Malta
  7. Netherlands
  8. Norway
  9. Portugal
  10. Slovenia
  11. Spain
  12. Switzerland
  13. UK
While illegal in Malta, I’ve heard the knife laws are rarely enforced there and that autos and balisongs turn up at a lot of the shadier marketplaces.

Still trying to get clarification on places like Greece, Serbia, Estonia, Latvia, Albania, Ukraine, Moldova, Montenegro, Macedonia, etc. They seem to have lots of regulations with regards to firearms but little info exists on knives. Any help would be appreciated.

Hope you guys find this useful. Did my best to be as accurate as possible.
 
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correction: autos are legal to own and carry in Switzerland and Liechtenstein as long as the blade is less than 5cm.

i'm from Liechtenstein btw
 

Jacques Mi

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Jan 27, 2021
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Legal to own or carry?

Both. But still, don't pull or carry a beastly looking fixed blade knife in puplic, ppl will definetly frown upon it. Something small like trad. folder will probably be a more suitable choice.
 

Corto_Malt

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Aug 6, 2020
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Hello,

Concerning France :
The acquisition of a knife is reserved for people of legal age (over 18 years).
You can carry one or more knives as long as they are not directly and easily usable (in a closed bag, a box or a package...).

Carrying a knife is forbidden without legitimate reason. A knife is considered a category D weapon.

Carrying a pocket knife without a blade lock, such as a Laguiole, Piedmontese or Swiss Army knife, should not be construed as carrying a knife. The courts consider that these objects are a priori tools that are part of the French tradition. Their carrying is therefore authorized but it can be requalified as a white weapon by destination according to the use made of it.

The last level of appreciation, that of the case-by-case on the ground, is subject to the appreciation of the police forces. The international events of September 11, 2001 have modified the perception of the knife, even the classic one, by the police forces. The place, the context and the people are subject to interpretation and to more or less tolerance. For example, carrying a knife at a family picnic or by scouts in a forest will not be perceived by law enforcement in the same way as carrying such objects in a stadium or airport. A specific context may also influence the perception that the police may have of carrying a knife, for example at a demonstration that may lead to violence, or at night in a public place where alcohol is consumed.

The type of knife is also important: according to the Ministry of the Interior, "The legitimacy of carrying and transporting presupposes that the knife carried or transported has characteristics of use in relation to the activity for which it is actually used. A kitchen knife or a penknife will not be perceived in the same way as a dagger or a butterfly knife.

When it comes to carrying knives, it is necessary to use common sense and logic. A golden rule is also 'when in doubt, leave your knife at home.
 
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correction: autos are legal to own and carry in Switzerland and Liechtenstein as long as the blade is less than 5cm.

i'm from Liechtenstein btw

Thanks for the information, GAGL.

Appreciate all the other info everyone has given.

I may next compile a list of which Euro countries allow possession of balisongs. I know they were banned in Germany in 2003, but I read somewhere that Germany actually allows balisongs that don’t exceed 4cm in blade length.
 
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According to Wikipedia, Serbia’s knife laws are as follows:

The "Weapons and Munitions law" article 2. lists different types of weapons.[51] It states that: "melee weapons, brass knuckles, dagger, kama, saber, bayonet and other items whose primary purpose is offense" are considered weapons. Most knives are therefore considered tools and technically legal to possess and carry. However, since any knife could be used a melee weapon and the law doesn't differentiate between particular types it is up to the authorities to determine the intent of the individual in possession of the knife and whether there is a "good reason" to do so. Thus fixed blade knives are considered appropriate for particular professions or when hunting and fishing, but will likely be treated as a weapon in an urban environment. Switchblades, butterfly knives, blades concealed in everyday objects are usually treated as weapons and assisted opening knives may also fall into that category. The appearance of the knife (how aggressive it appears), the length (although there is no legal limit on length), the location where it was carried (large gatherings, schools, public buildings etc.) and the demeanor of the person carrying the knife all factor into the decision on whether the law has been broken. Purchase, possession and carry of a melee weapon is classified as a misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to 10,000 dinars or up to 60 days imprisonment ("Weapons and Munitions law", article 35.[52] In practice the less akin to a weapon the knife appears, and if carried and used with "good judgment" the lesser the likelihood of legal consequences.
 
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Laws in Greece are as follows (per Wikipedia):


It is illegal to carry a knife for use as a weapon in attack or defense. The only general restriction is intended use, not the properties of the knife itself (in particular, there is no restriction of blade length, despite popular belief). However, in practice there will be significant leeway for interpretation for police officers and judges – and much will depend on whether an intended use other than as a weapon can be argued – for which the properties of the knife in question will be very relevant (bad: flick-knife, automated, long blade, neck-knife, tactical). So, carrying a knife that has its main use as a weapon will be illegal. In addition, it is not allowed to carry knives in certain places, such as courtrooms, to football matches, etc. Carrying knives is generally very unusual in towns, but not in the countryside.

Law 2168/1993 on weapons, explosives, etc.
"Article 1. Meaning of terms, applicability

...

§ 2. Objects that offer themselves [είναι πρόσφορα] to attack or defense are also considered weapons. In particular:

...

b) Knives of all sorts, except those where ownership is justified by use in the home, profession or education, or art, hunting, fishing or other similar uses."

The remaining sections refer to: a) sprays and electro-shockers, c) knuckle dusters, clubs, nunchakus, etc., d) flame throwers or chemical sprays, e) fishing spear-guns.

No license is needed for import, trade or carrying of knives for these uses (Art 7, 5).

See also the constitutional court decision 1299/2008 [33] where the intended use of the weapon found in the car of two criminals is the point of discussion.

A useful article from a hunting journal (in Greek).[34]
 
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From what I gather from the above info on Serbia and Greece, it sounds like auto knives, OTFs, balisongs, and assisted knives may be okay as long as you keep them at home for collecting purposes. It sounds like much of the focus with regard to knife carry is on intent or whether or not the knife being carried is aggressive-looking or has mostly weapon-like features. Sounds like choices for carry need to be made conservatively. I would probably stick with a Swiss Army multi-tool, Leatherman, an Opinel or Laguiole, or Buck 110 and make sure there’s a legitimate purpose when being out and about in public with it.
 
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Updated auto legal Euro country list:
  1. Andorra
  2. Austria
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Croatia
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Finland
  7. France (Legal to own, illegal to carry)
  8. Germany (8.5cm, no OTF or double edge)
  9. Hungary (Legal to own, sale limited to LE/Military)
  10. Italy (Legal to own, illegal to carry)
  11. Liechtenstein (5cm)
  12. Lithuania (8.5cm, no double edge)
  13. Luxembourg (Legal to own, illegal to carry)
  14. Poland
  15. Romania
  16. Russia (9cm)
  17. Slovakia
  18. Sweden (Must be 21 to purchase)
  19. Switzerland (5cm)
  20. Ukraine
 
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Known Euro countries where balisong/butterfly knives are legal to possess:

1. Andorra
2. Austria
3. Bulgaria
4. Croatia
5. Czech Republic
6. Finland
7. France (Must be 18 to buy, illegal to carry w/o authorization)
8. Germany (4cm)
9. Hungary (8cm legal for carry in public)
10. Italy (Legal if not double edged, illegal to carry w/o reasonable justification)
11. Lithuania
12. Luxembourg (Legal to own, illegal to carry)
13. Poland
14. Romania
15. Russia (90mm maximum blade length)
16. Slovakia
17. Spain
18. Sweden (Legal to own, illegal to trade or import)
19. Ukraine

Balisongs are illegal in UK, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland.
 
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