Importation & Firearms
We recommend a scope-sighted rifle around .30 calibre. A limited number of firearms are available for rental at $25 per day and ammunition is available at cost price.
At least 180-grain ammo is required and preferably soft point! Great sucesses is achieved with "Nosler Partition" bullets that ensure reliable expansion and mushrooming while providing deep penetration at both short and long ranges.
It is highly recommended that you make use of PHASA (Professional Hunters Association of South Africa) to obtain your rifle importation permit before your arrival in South Africa at a cost of $140. It does require some paperwork on your part, but it is worth the time and cost. A representative of the company will meet you and have your permit ready at the SAP offices at the airport in South Africa.
Firearm/Ammunition Allowances and Specifications - USA:
To facilitate taking your firearms back to the USA, you need to register with them with a US Customs Office. Offices are usually located at all major cities. To locate the nearest office, visit the US Customs website at www.cbp.gov Failing to do so and attempting to take those guns back into the USA can result in felony charges of trafficking in "implements of war". It is necessary to take your firearms to this office so that an officer can confirm the model and serial number. This is a lifetime form that may be used on future trips as well.
As an international traveller, you should be aware of the rules for bringing items back from your trip. You can view the US Customs "Know Before you Go" Regulations for US Residents at their website at www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/
The maximum number of guns that can be legally exported from the USA without a serial permit is three (3) per person. Firearms should always be transported, unloaded and locked in a heavy plastic or metal case. Ammunition should be packed inside of a locking hard case and placed inside your checked luggage. Only full cartridges of ammunition are allowed to be exported.
If you are an NRA member you normally have some protection for your firearms being transported. You can also check with your homeowner's insurance to see if your policy covers the loss of firearms.
Firearm/Ammunition Allowances and Specifications - South Africa:
- No more than one firearm per calibre, a maximum of 2 firearms for the purpose of hunting, and 100 rounds of ammunition per firearm will be permitted. No ammunition for other rifle calibres will be permitted. Please note that you are only allowed to export full packets of ammunition out of USA. No partial packets or loose bullets will be allowed. Most airlines only allow a maximum of 11 pounds of ammunition, but we recommend that you check with your travel agent beforehand. Depending on the number of trophies you would like to take, normally a total of 80 rounds of ammunition are sufficient.
- An exception to this rule may apply for shotguns where more than one of the same calibre may be allowed for bird hunting purposes. An acceptable written motivation as to why more than one is required must be provided at the SAPS Gun Office.
- Firearms must bear the manufacturer's serial number or any other mark by which the firearm can be identified. The identification number must be stamped and the mark affixed in the prescribed manner on the barrel or the frame or the receiver of the firearm.
- Handguns will be allowed in the country, but only for hunting purposes. Any visitor wishing to bring in a handgun in this regard needs to have a letter from an association in the country of origin, stating that the handgun will be used for hunting purposes.
- Prohibited firearms, which may NOT be imported into South Africa, include:
- Any fully automatic weapon;
- Any semi-automatic weapon;
- Handguns for self-defence;
- Weapons which fall under military categories
- A semi-automatic shotgun for hunting purposes may be allowed if an application is made at the Central Firearms Registry at least 21 days before arrival. A motivation letter as to why this type of firearm is required.
General Provisions of Firearm Specifications:
- Temporary Import Permits:
- May only be issued to a foreign visitor for the purpose of hunting;
- Will be issued subject to the requirements of the Act with regard to the carrying, storage, safe custody and transport of a firearm and ammunition;
- Subject to the use of the firearm only for the purpose set out in the permit;
- Subject to the fact that NO person who holds a temporary import permit is allowed to transfer the firearm to another person in South Africa without prior written permission having been obtained from the Central Firearm Registry;
- Whenever the holder of a temporary import permit leaves the Republic of South Africa, the firearm in respect of which the permit is issued must accompany the holder of the permit;
- Possession of no more than the quantity of cartridges determined by the Registrar and specified on the permit for each firearm in respect of which the temporary import permit applies;
- A Temporary Import Permit shall not be issued for a period exceeding six months at a time;
- Applicant must be 21 year of age or older;
- Should a firearm not be declared on arrival and a temporary import permit not issued, you will face severe penalties and possible arrest on departure from South Africa.
- Please ensure that your firearm/s arrive on the same flight as yourself. This must be done with the airline company on departure. Your firearm/s may only be signed for by yourself and will not be released to your outfitter or professional hunter, should it/they arrive on a separate flight. If the firearm/s do not arrive with the passenger, the passenger must proceed to his final destination in South Africa and apply at the closest police station for a Temporary Import Permit.
- Please do not pay for any service regarding the handling of firearms at Johannesburg International Airport, or any port of entry. The issuing of the SAP 520 is a free service and the South African Police Service requests clients not to pay anybody involved in handling firearms from the time of arrival in South Africa right through until you receive your firearm/s and the permit from the SAPS. Clients that are paying various airline staff, security staff, or porters involved are contributing to the problem. Please note that there is a handling fee payable at airlines and/or security companies for the handling of handguns. Some airlines have incorporated a handling fee for all firearms. We suggest that you check with your airline with regard to any "official" fees that may be required.
- There is no permit required, nor any charge by the South African Police Service for a bow. Handling fees are charged by the airline and/or security companies for bows and handguns.
- Please note that the SAPS will hold NO firearms for safekeeping. If a client brings in prohibited firearms, brings in more than what is allowed, or lacks the necessary documentation and his request for a temporary import permit is denied, the involved firearms must be exported immediately by the client or voluntarily surrendered to the State.
Importation of Firearms:
A temporary import permit of a firearm can be obtained in two ways: before your arrival in South Africa through PHASA (Professional Hunters Association of South Africa), or upon arrival in South Africa.
Obtaining Permits from PHASA In Advance:
It is highly recommended that you make use of this service by PHASA to obtain your permit in advance. This option will save you time and lots of frustration, as your permit will be ready upon arrival.
This service rendered by PHASA allows you to apply for your Temporary Import Permit before your arrival in South Africa at a cost of $140 per application (including government VAT) through the Central Firearms Register. Payment can be made by Credit Card, cash or cheque.
PHASA recommends that, where possible, the actual Temporary Import Permits be obtained prior to your arrival. When you make use of PHASA's service and your application(s) are successful, a PHASA representative will meet with you and your Temporary Importation Permits will be available for collection at the SAPS Office on arrival at O.R. Tambo International (previously known as Johannesburg International Airport).
Should you require PHASA to obtain the temporary import permit prior to your arrival, please send the following certified/notarized documentation directly to PHASA by registered mail/courier to reach them at least 40 days prior to your arrival in the RSA. Please note that the following documents must be couriered or posted to PHASA, as no fax or email copies will be accepted.
- SAPS 520 Gun Import/Export Permit Application Form - To be completed and signed in black ink. Instructions for completing the SAP 520 Form in advance;
- Certified / Notarized copy of passport;
- Copy of airline tickets or itinerary;
- Certified / Notarized copy of proof of export - This is proof that your firearms have been legally exported from your country of residence. For USA citizens the 4457 Form (officially stamped) is required which can be obtained from your local US Customs office (US Customs and Border Protection). Example of a completed form. Locations of U.S. Custom facilities that can approve your form;
- Certified / Notarized copy of firearm licenses - The SAPS realizes that some countries, e.g. the US do not issue gun licenses. In this event the USA form 4457 is acceptable for USA citizens. Office in Boise Idaho: 2873 W. Appollo, Boise | Tel: (208) 344-9062. Location is up by the airport, off Vista Avenue N. of the Interstate.
- Invitation letter from hunting outfitter. Tumuga will supply you with the letter, which will include:
- Letter to be on outfitter's official letterhead;
- Name of person being invited;
- Duration of the hunter's stay;
- PH's details - name, surname, license number and the province he is licensed in;
- Hunting outfitter details - same as above;
- The physical addresses and telephone numbers of the farm(s) where the hunt(s) will take place;
- Type of animals being hunted, eg. big game, bird shooting, etc.;
- The recommended calibres required for hunt(s);
- Statement that firearms will only be used for hunting purposes on mentioned properties;
- Date and signature of outfitter.
- Motivation letter from client - This is a letter from the client stating that he is temporarily importing the specified firearm/s for the purpose of hunting, to include that the firearm/s are required as he will be hunting (list the species to be hunted), etc. Example of a motivation letter from the client;
For postal services ,send your application to: PHASA, P.O. Box 10264, Centurion 0046, South Africa
For courier services, send your application to: PHASA, 71 Lobelia Lane, Irene 0157, South Africa
PHASA's contact details: Tel: +27 (12) 667 2048 | Fax: +27 (12) 667 2049 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The following firearms and ammunition will not be allowed to enter South Africa:
- Any automatic or semi-automatic firearms;
- More than one firearm per calibre per person;
- More than 200 rounds of ammunition per person per firearm;
- Any pistol or revolver (unless specified for hunting)
Reasons why your application will not be approved:
- If you have any of the above mentioned firearms and/or ammunition;
- If any of the supporting documents as required in #d cannot be produced;
- If you are less than 21 years of age
Should a firearm not be declared and a Temporary Import Permit not issued, and you proceed through customs without declaring a firearm, you will face severe penalties and possible arrest on departure from South Africa. Also, please ensure that your firearms arrive on the same flight as you do. This must be done with the airline company on departure. Your firearm/s may only be signed for by you and will not be released to your outfitter or professional hunter should it arrive on a separate flight. In this case, the firearm/s will be held by the SAPS until you claim ownership in person.
The temporary import permit serves as your firearm license in South Africa and enables you to buy ammunition in South Africa for the calibres noted on the permit. At all times while you are in possession of your firearms, you must have the temporary import permit on your person. When you are not using the firearms, it must be locked in a safe.
Obtaining Your License Yourself:
The following documentation along with a completed, but not signed, SAP 520 form must be presented upon arrival in South Africa:
SAPS 520 Gun Import/Export Permit Application Form
Instructions for completing SAP 520 Form
If you are unsure on how to complete this document, you can leave it blank and complete it with the police officer at the airport. This document will also be supplied to you at the airport in case errors are made to it.
- Identity - Passport (South African immigration requires that your passport be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended stay and that you have two blank visa pages, side-by-side, available for necessary entry stamps);
- Flight Details - Return Airline Ticket
- Proof of Ownership - This is proof that your firearms have been legally exported from your country of residence. For USA citizens the 4457-Form (officially stamped) is required which can be obtained from your local US Customs office (US Customs and Border Protection);
- U.S. Customs Form 4457 - printed from your PC (Example of completed form);
- Locations of U.S. Customs - facilities that can approve your form
- Proof of Export - Documentary proof of export from the country of origin. Clients must obtain documentation from an official government institution (e.g. US Customs and Border Protection), police/customs, for legally exporting firearm(s). For USA citizens the U.S. Customs Form 4457 is acceptable. You will use this documentation when you enter the country (SA). The police at the airport (SA) use the U.S. Customs form to verify that the rifle is yours. It is very important that you keep the original because when you return from hunting the Customs officer in the USA will require that you show the document to be able to enter without duty on the weapon.
- Motivation Letter from Client - This is a letter from the client stating that he is temporarily importing the referred to firearm/s for the purpose of hunting, to include that the firearm/s are required as he will be hunting (list the species to be hunted), etc. (Example of Motivation Letter)
- Invitation Letter from the Hunting Outfitter - Tumuga Hunting needs to issue you with an invitation letter before your departure, which is needed for entering South Africa. The following information is required from you in order to issue this letter:
- Full name and surname as it appears in your passport
- Passport number
- Exact arrival and departure dates as on your airline ticket
- Rifle make(s)
- Rifle calibre(s)
- Rifle serial number(s)
- Any Other Supporting Documents - Firearms will be physically inspected to ensure the serial number(s) match those of the licenses (proof of ownership) and the application form. Ammunition will also be inspected. Please insure sufficient time is allowed to go through the temporary importation process and to clear customs. To save time and frustration, it is highly recommended that you apply for your permit in advance through PHASA. Visitors bringing firearms into South Africa for hunting purposes will be asked to fill in a SAP 520 - Temporary Import Application. We would suggest filling in the form beforehand to save the processing time at the Police Office.
Procedure Upon arrival at O.R. Tambo Airport:
- Disembark from aircraft and clear passport control in whichever Terminal the flight arrives. (Generally, SAA and its co-partners at Terminal 2, and all other airlines in Terminal 1).
- Proceed to baggage claim at the respective carousel. Pick up general baggage. Inform the airline helpdesk about your rifle. The airline will take your rifle to the SAP office. Declare your rifle and clear customs. Exit into the arrival hall where a Tumuga representative will meet you before taking you to the SAP office.
- On arrival at the SAPS Firearm Office present your issued temporary import permit or have the following available for inspection:
- Completed SAP520 application form
- Return Airline Ticket
- All firearm licenses for the gun/s accompanying the client. The SAPS realizes that some countries, eg. the US does not issue gun licenses. In this event the USA form 4457 is acceptable for USA citizens.
- Proof of export of firearms from country or residence. (This is to proof that your firearms have been legally exported from your country of residence, if your country does not have an official export permit the SAPS require a letter from a government agency of your country of residence stating this. For USA citizens the 4457 form is acceptable.)
- The completed SAP520 form filled in but unsigned (if you did not apply for your permit in advance, can also be filled in on arrival).
- Letter of invitation from your Outfitter and motivation letter from client
- Your documentation will be inspected. If your documentation is not in order, you will be asked to rectify this. The actual firearms and ammunition will be physically inspected to ensure the serial numbers match those of the licenses and the application forms. You will then be asked to wait while your application is being processed (if you did not obtain your import permit in advance).
- When your application has been processed and your permit has been issued you will have to sign for the permit. If you are connecting to other flights, please make sure that you allow ample time for this process. REMEMBER THE ISSUING OF THE TEMPORARY IMPORT PERMITS IS FREE OF CHARGE. DO NOT TIP OR PAY ANY SAPS OFFICER FOR THIS SERVICE.
- If you have a domestic connecting flight you have to do the following:
- Exit the international terminal building;
- Turn left. Follow the directions to the domestic departures;
- Check in for your domestic flight;
- Your rifle case will be tagged and you will be required to take it to the airline security desk that is situated just before the security checkpoint;
- The airline security will check the serial number on your firearms and your temporary import permit. THIS SERVICE IS FREE OF CHARGE. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY AIRLINE OR SECURITY PERSONNEL FOR THIS.
- Keep our import permit in your possession;
- Your firearm will be placed on the aircraft by the airline security;
- Collect your firearm from the airline security desk at your domestic destination.
- Should a firearm not be declared and a temporary import permit not issued, and you proceed through customs without declaring a firearm, you will face severe penalties and possible arrest on departure from South Africa