Are Night Vision Goggles legal in the US?

by | Learn

Last Updated on May 11, 2021

Some states have banned this type of electronic tool while others have allowed it. We discuss some state regulations for the use of night vision goggles below:

  • Night Vision Goggles is prohibited in 13 states
  • Night Vision Goggles has restricted use in 17 states
  • Night Vision Goggles has unrestricted use in 20 states

It is a set of restrictions that have been used for all those who wish to use night vision goggles. In some states, there are specific restrictions that we may consider.

Before you proceed, here’s a good guide to the best night vision goggles in the market nowadays! You may also want to check the best night vision goggles for kids as well, but, if kids are going to use one, make sure to check are night vision goggles dangerous for them or not?

The Legality of Night Vision in California

For the state of California, some restrictions have been implemented for all those people who wish to use this implement: “designed for or adaptable to use on a firearm. Through the use of a projected infrared light source and electronic telescope, enables the operator thereof to visually determine and locate the presence of objects during the night-time.”

night vision device

It is not possible to use night vision goggles to complement this device with any firearm. These restrictions are incorporated for those implements with Gen0 technology that are scoped. Any of the later generation scopes are not included in this list. (1)

A few decades ago, in 1995, there was an effort to expand the number of restrictions for other similar electronic devices that incorporated night vision. These restrictions did not become law, and people living in California must only comply with the above conditions.

The Legality of Night Vision in Minnesota

In Minnesota, there are also a set of restrictions that must be complied with, and this is since 2014. The state of Minnesota has imposed that “A person may not possess night vision or thermal imaging equipment while taking wild animals or while having in possession [an uncased and loaded weapon] that could be used to take wild animals.”

All military and police personnel have the exception due to the equipment and weaponry they have. Thermal imaging devices were banned in 2014, while night vision implements were banned in 2007. (2)

A few years ago, there were bills to promote thermal imaging and night vision in exceptional cases. The cases covered in these 2014 bills included night vision for predators, thermal imaging for wild animals that an organization does not protect.

States that allow the use of Night Vision Goggles for hunting

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York 
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

night vision device for huntingIn all other states, certain restrictions must be respected. There are also states where it is forbidden to use any implement that means night vision function. 

Hunting deer at night is an illegal activity, for example, in Texas. It is an illegal activity since it is a dangerous activity that could generate some locals’ accidents.

People can use some night vision goggles. Night vision goggles are not the most suitable for any hunting. Some states directly prohibit this type of electronic implements in any situation.

Final Words

While using night vision goggles is an illegal activity, it is not illegal in all U.S. states. In some states, it is possible to use this implementation with some restrictions. The action of using night vision and hunting is allowed. It is necessary to check the legality of each state before engaging in these activities.


(1) Gen0 –
(2) Thermal imaging –

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About Gadgets Spy

Hi, I’m Michael, a security and surveillance expert. I co-founded and write for GadetsSpy and help teach people about new tech and Gadgets.