In Germany, there is a law (Weapons Act) that prohibits the carrying of a knife with a blade length of 12 cm. "Fixed knives with a blade length of more than 12 centimetres, any knives classified as cutting and thrusting weapons and folding knives that can be unfolded with one hand may not be carried in public."

Now I wonder what it's like to buy such a knife in a shop and take it home. Is that already prohibited?

  • 1
    Can you provide a link to the Weapons Act and quote the relevant extracts, please.
    – user35069
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 17:27
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    @Rick gesetze-im-internet.de/waffg_2002/__42a.html Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 17:31
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    The key part here is "carrying", if it's in its original packaging, and it's blade or handle is contained, then you're transporting, rather than carrying. Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


Obviously, there are plenty of kitchen knives over 12 cm in length.

A knife that is legal for home use be carried outside the home in an enclosed compartment (verschlossenes Behältnis) which prevents immediate access. So it is forbidden to carry the knife thrust through a belt, or in a jacket pocket, but it can carried in a locked tool box or the like. A shrink-wrapped package also qualifies.

To carry it "unwrapped" is forbidden, but there are exceptions to that ban which come down to "reasonable use." A bread knife would be reasonable if it comes with a loaf of bread and all the other implements for a picnic. It is not reasonable in a nightclub.

A number of knife styles or cutting implements are generally forbidden, no matter how they are carried or stored.

  • 4
    How old is this law? As a tourist in Berlin 20+ years ago I bought a spring loaded knife in a hardware store for no logical reason. Would the same law have been in effect then? Note that I later found it would be allowed into the US if I only had one usable hand. With two hands I surrendered it. Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 19:14
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    @GeorgeWhite, the law gets revised every now and then. I can't tell you what the rules were two decades ago. Three decades ago, laws in West Berlin were even more convoluted.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 19:21
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    @GeorgeWhite The law is revised from time to time, and there were some substantial changes around 2007-ish which had some media attention because the change actually affected some things in everyday use at the time. So what was ok 20+ years ago might not be anymore. Especially spring-loaded knives and things like butterfly knives had restrictions added in the 2000s and early 2010s.
    – Polygnome
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 12:25
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    Gotcha, always carry an extra loaf of bread on your way back from the picnic. Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 16:11
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    I'm now having visions of getting mugged by a guy wielding a knife and a loaf. Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 16:55

According to section 42a Weapons Act (WaffG), Paragraph 1forbids:

    1. Knives with a blade that can be locked with one hand (one-hand knife) or fixed knives with a blade length of more than 12 cm respectively.

But, at Paragraph 2, there are two potentially relevant statutory defences to carrying such a knife home from the shop:

(2) Paragraph 1 does not apply:

    1. for transport in a closed container,
    1. for carrying the objects according to paragraph 1 nos. 2 and 3, provided that there is a legitimate interest.

And Paragraph 3 defines legitimate interest to mean:

(3) A legitimate interest pursuant to paragraph 2(3) exists in particular if the items are carried in connection with the exercise of a profession, the maintenance of customs, sport or a generally recognized purpose.

If, as user @o.m. pointed out in their comment, the knife remains in its original packaging - i.e. within a "closed container" - then Paragraph 2(2) would presumably apply.

If not, I strongly suspect that taking it home directly after buying it would be "a generally recognized purpose" so not prohibited under this Act.

(The above quotations are via Google Translate, and I've altered them slightly to make sense in English)

  • 7
    Transport home would usually be deemed a closed container, if one doesn't open the sales packaging.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 19:22
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    @o.m. depends on the sale point - if you buy a blade after testing it (common with high-quality knives!) there is no seal on the container, but it is only a cardboard box, which is not considered closed. Though, you may have a legitimate interest and recognized purpose such as hunting or carrying your tools of the trade (e.g. hunters, butchers, cooks on the way to using said tools)
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 13:26
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    The UK seems to have very similar regulations. The advice I was given for buying them was: 1) Keep the receipt, and if you've opened the box get the shop to retape it 2) Don't linger an overly long time with it in your possession before taking it home or locking it in your car - some more shopping is almost certainly fine, a long dinner probably not. 3) Bringing in knives to be sharpened - it's probably a good idea to make an appointment for this. being able to show legitimate reasons to carry a knife, and that you're taking due care, is sensible even if you're sure of your legal rights
    – lupe
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 10:06
  • @lupe How does locking in a car help? The German police can look for knives that are not in a closed container in a car and you will be in the same trouble as if you had it on you outside of the car. They especially like to check cars with registration signs from certain countries with more liberal knife laws. Many personal stories available on the web. Commented Feb 16 at 19:20

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