Pepper Spray Laws – New York State

There are some restrictions for pepper spray in New York State, mainly you need to be 18, you can’t have any felonies or assaults, and it should be pocket-sized among some other minor rules.

What Are The Pepper Spray Laws In New York State

  • Pepper spray is LEGAL to use and carry for self-defense within NY state.
  • Pepper spray formulated for human attackers, although legal for self-defense, is not allowed to ship to a NY address (many surrounding states do allow shipment).
  • Animal pepper sprays for dogs and bears CAN be legally shipped/carried/used.
  • Personal alarms are a “legal to ship” alternative to human formula pepper spray
  • According to the official law, canisters should be pocket-sized.
  • The user must be a minimum of 18 years old.
  • Users cannot have any felonies or assaults on record.


If you are thinking about purchasing pepper spray for self-defense in New York State and you aren’t sure if you are breaking any rules, check with a local lawyer or the nearest police force in your area. If you are caught and you are breaking the rules you could be in serious trouble!

Relevant State Statutes

265.20 Exemptions.

a. * Paragraph (h) of subdivision twenty-two of section 265.00 and
sections 265.01, 265.01-a, subdivision one of section 265.01-b,
265.01-c, 265.02, 265.03, 265.04, 265.05, 265.10, 265.11, 265.12,
265.13, 265.15, 265.36, 265.37 and 270.05 shall not apply to:

1. * Possession of any of the weapons, instruments, appliances or
substances specified in sections 265.01, 265.01-c, 265.02, 265.03,
265.04, 265.05 and 270.05 by the following:

(a) Persons in the military service of the state of New York when duly
authorized by regulations issued by the adjutant general to possess the

(b) Police officers as defined in subdivision thirty-four of section
1.20 of the criminal procedure law.

(c) Peace officers as defined by section 2.10 of the criminal
procedure law.

(d) Persons in the military or other service of the United States, in
pursuit of official duty or when duly authorized by federal law,
regulation or order to possess the same.


14. Possession in accordance with the provisions of this paragraph of
a self-defense spray device as defined herein for the protection of a
person or property and use of such self-defense spray device under
circumstances which would justify the use of physical force pursuant to
article thirty-five of this chapter.

(a) As used in this section “self-defense spray device” shall mean a
pocket sized spray device which contains and releases a chemical or
organic substance which is intended to produce temporary physical
discomfort or disability through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed
in the air or any like device containing tear gas, pepper or similar
disabling agent.

(b) The exemption under this paragraph shall not apply to a person

(i) is less than eighteen years of age; or (ii) has been previously convicted in this state of a felony or any assault; or

(iii) has been convicted of a crime outside the state of New York
which if committed in New York would constitute a felony or any assault

(c) The department of health, with the cooperation of the division of
criminal justice services and the superintendent of state police, shall
develop standards and promulgate regulations regarding the type of
self-defense spray device which may lawfully be purchased, possessed and
used pursuant to this paragraph. The regulations shall include a
requirement that every self-defense spray device which may be lawfully
purchased, possessed or used pursuant to this paragraph have a label
which states: “WARNING: The use of this substance or device for any
purpose other than self-defense is a criminal offense under the law. The
contents are dangerous – use with care. This device shall not be sold by
anyone other than a licensed or authorized dealer. Possession of this
device by any person under the age of eighteen or by anyone who has been
convicted of a felony or assault is illegal. Violators may be prosecuted
under the law.”

15. Possession and sale of a self-defense spray device as defined in
paragraph fourteen of this subdivision by a dealer in firearms licensed
pursuant to section 400.00 of this chapter, a pharmacist licensed
pursuant to article one hundred thirty-seven of the education law or by
such other vendor as may be authorized and approved by the
superintendent of state police.

(a) Every self-defense spray device shall be accompanied by an insert
or inserts which include directions for use, first aid information,
safety and storage information and which shall also contain a toll free
telephone number for the purpose of allowing any purchaser to call and
receive additional information regarding the availability of local
courses in self-defense training and safety in the use of a self-defense
spray device.

(b) Before delivering a self-defense spray device to any person, the
licensed or authorized dealer shall require proof of age and a sworn
statement on a form approved by the superintendent of state police that
such person has not been convicted of a felony or any crime involving an
assault. Such forms shall be forwarded to the division of state police
at such intervals as directed by the superintendent of state police.
Absent any such direction the forms shall be maintained on the premises
of the vendor and shall be open at all reasonable hours for inspection
by any peace officer or police officer, acting pursuant to his or her
special duties. No more than two self-defense spray devices may be sold
at any one time to a single purchaser.