View Full Version : What is a Kitchen Knife (a legal question)

05-14-2011, 11:43 AM
I would to know what is a kitchen knife in your country.
It is a legal question.
What is the difference between a kitchen knife and a weapon like a sword in your country?

What criteria has the customs for import of kitchen knives in your country?

In Japan it is by form. A kitchen knife has a choil or is single bevel.
There are exception like a honesuki maru (http://zknives.com/knives/kitchen/misc/type/Honesuki-Maru.shtml) but if you inspect further the honesuki maru has no edge at the handle.
So it has a choil (but not vertical).

A makiri (http://zknives.com/knives/kitchen/misc/type/Makiri.shtml) has no choil but it was used by fisherman long ago and they are single bevel.

Would like to now the regulations in your country.

05-14-2011, 11:55 AM
I am not aware of any problems shipping to USA, just say cutlery and it will pass trough. I do not see any reason for them to reject a knife, because I can go to the store and buy any knife I want anyway.

Eamon Burke
05-14-2011, 12:00 PM
The mail service only regulates weapons, and even swords are labeled as 'art' or 'decorative'. Unless you mark knife boxes with "lethal slashinator kill stabber", it won't be an issue.

Knives are regulated state-by-state in America, and Texas has no distinctions for types of knives. Texas knife law is actually pretty cloudy and poorly thought-out. You are expressly not allowed to carry a knife over 5 1/2 inches(139mm), and it doesn't matter if it is a kitchen knife or not, you simply cannot carry it with you. If you are a cook and you walk to work, and you have a 240mm Gyuto in your bag, you can be arrested if a cop is so inclined, but usually they understand, and judges will throw that kind of thing out anyway.

It's a sign of how important kitchen cutlery is in Japan that there are such detailed laws about it.

05-14-2011, 12:35 PM
Just about all states in the US have very ill defined knife laws, and it even changes county by county and city by city. Ultimately it comes down to the decision of the officer who has stopped you to determine if you and your knives are dangerous or illegal. This ambiguity is very frustrating especially for those that EDC a knife or knives. Generally a folding "pocket knife" is considered legal as long as it's under a certain length, but even that changes depending on where in the country you are. Fixed blade knives are almost universally illegal under the law, though there is usually a special exemption given for knives primarily used to prepare food. Problems could arise though if you encounter someone unfamiliar with cutlery and you happen to be carrying something like a Butch Harner Tuna sword, or even a standard tako or yanagi.

Some states have a "concealed weapons permit" rather than a "concealed handgun permit" that may allow some to avoid the silly knife laws, though there is still a great deal of ambiguity. It is likely that if you carry a concealed handgun, you're not going to be hassled about a knife, but again according to most local laws fixed blades are a no no. "Mechanically assisted" knives are also against the law in most places in the US. This is another very gray area, as many knives are available now that will not fully open with a simple push of a button but partially open enough that a slight additional movement will lock the blade in the open position. This is in contrast to a "switchblade" style knife that opens fully with a button press.

It would be nice if we could see these laws rewritten, but more than likely that will not happen any time soon. I would almost be afraid of a change in some cases, because some knives that might be considered legal, might be forbidden outright if certain interest groups had their way. I'd rather be in a gray area than have knives I like labeled explicitly illegal.

05-14-2011, 12:56 PM
As for the definition/classification of kitchen cutlery and swords/weapons within the confines of US customs, they don't have that info readily available but assume it would be easily obtained through their department.

Here in Hawaii, my knives from outside US do take longer in customs then other products I have purchased. I have not looked into what these companies label there products when declaring its contents and value, but Koki from JCK labels it "kitchen knife".:ninja:

05-14-2011, 01:18 PM
In the State of California, the law focuses on what you can carry concealed on your person. As I understand it, it's generally legal to carry a knife with a fixed blade that's less than 4 inches long, but there's no size limit on folding knives -- except it's illegal to carry a switchblade or other folder that has assisted opening unless you're a police officer (but even that depends on the mechanism -- for example, Kershaw SpeedSafe knives are permitted). And there are other local restrictions as well as restrictions on what can be carried in certain places (schools, for instance). It's quite confusing, but this site has a good summary: http://www.zknives.com/knives/articles/law/caknifelaws.shtml

Anyway, I suggest that you never try to carry your 300mm Yanagi in your pants.

05-14-2011, 05:35 PM
Anyway, I suggest that you never try to carry your 300mm Yanagi in your pants.

... at least without a saya.....

05-14-2011, 08:24 PM
Thank you for replies.
So Exporting to US will be not a problem.
How about countries in EU or other countries?

05-14-2011, 08:31 PM
I would imagine that the situation for Australia is much the same as the US. I have never had any problems with shipments from Japan or the US. Just mark 'Kitchen Cutlery' or 'Kitchen Knife' and it will all be fine. EMS Tracking and insurance will take care of the rest.

05-14-2011, 08:47 PM
How about countries in EU or other countries?

I can't speak about all EU countries but no legal problems in Germany. Usually the nice people from the customs department expect their due (19% sales tax plus 8.5% duty for kitchen cutlery).

05-14-2011, 08:50 PM
I remember there was person living somewhere in Europe at KF that issues with a Yanagi and had to send all kinds of documentation to get their knife out of customs since it was classified as a weapon.

05-14-2011, 08:55 PM
OK I found it. It was a guy from Portugal.