State Laws for Ordering Pepper Spray Online

09 16 2020

Can You Order Pepper Spray Online? Pepper Spray State Laws Explained

While pepper spray is legal in all 50 states for self-defense purposes, buying it can sometimes prove a challenge — even though it’s made from an item you can usually find at the local grocery store. Most countries, including the U.S., consider pepper spray to be a weapon. As such, just like with knives and guns, there often are restrictions on where you can buy pepper spray and how you can use it.


All states allow civilians to carry a small amount of pepper spray, provided that the person is at least 18 years old and the pepper spray is being used for personal defense. This falls under state laws that allow the use of “proportionate and necessary force” to protect oneself. Most restrictions fall into two categories: where you can buy it and how much you can carry. In addition, pepper spray is federally banned from any and all air travel.


With online shopping becoming a bigger percentage of total commerce every year, the question of whether you can order pepper spray online is more relevant than ever. SABRE has compiled the various oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray online ordering restrictions in one place so you can avoid potential problems.

Pepper Sprays for Animals

frontiersman bear spray in packaging

Animal defense sprays, such as  dog pepper sprays and bear attack deterrent sprays, can legally be shipped without restrictions to all 48 contiguous U.S. states — even those with limitations on human pepper spray.

Unscrupulous manufacturers, though, sometimes use this loophole to ship bear sprays — which are stronger than human sprays — to these states. This raises serious legal questions should the purchaser then use this bear spray on a person. SABRE thinks it best to avoid these such legal ramifications and work within the shipping laws as they were intended.

States with Restrictions on Buying Pepper Spray Online

As of this writing, there are two states that ban shipping any human-formula pepper spray within their borders: Massachusetts and New York. In Massachusetts, pepper spray for human attackers can only be purchased locally from a licensed firearms dealer, and buyers must have a firearms identification card. Those within New York borders can buy it from a licensed firearms dealer or a pharmacy. Pepper sprays also cannot ship to Alaska, Hawaii or Washington, DC.


While some states don’t have specific shipping restrictions on self-defense spray, they do have overarching laws regarding canister size and content. These regulations also apply to online orders within the state. Here are some of the current state restrictions on self-defense spray:

  • Arkansas: Canisters cannot exceed 5 ounces.
  • California: Canisters cannot exceed 2.5 ounces.
  • Florida: Canisters cannot exceed 2 ounces.
  • Hawaii: Canisters cannot exceed ½-ounce.
  • Michigan: Canisters cannot exceed 1.2 ounces. They also cannot have a strength higher than 18% OC or 1.4% major capsaicinoids (MC).
  • New Jersey: Canisters cannot exceed ¾-ounce.
  • North Carolina: Human-formula canisters cannot exceed 5 ounces. (No restrictions on animal sprays.)
  • Washington, DC: All pepper spray items must be registered at the local police station as soon as they are received
  • Wisconsin: Canisters must have a safety feature and cannot exceed 2 ounces or have an OC concentration higher than 10%. Sprays must be pepper-only with no tear gas or UV dyes. The pepper spray also cannot be disguised as a common item such as a lipstick case or pen.

Some states also have laws regarding who can carry pepper spray and thus order it. In several states, for example, convicted felons cannot possess pepper spray. Others require a concealed weapon license. Some cities and municipalities may also have their own regulations, and state laws can change from time to time. Whenever you’re in doubt, contact your local law enforcement agency to verify the pepper spray shipping and possession laws in the area.


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