Bringing Hunting Firearms into South Africa

It is always best to bring your own guns/rifle(s) for your African hunting safari.

US 4457 currently remains, i.e. this is the only USA document you need to leave the USA with your firearms, but check with your airline on booking if they require any other documents. 

Warning to Hunters flying Delta to South Africa

Published: Hunting Report - 23 July 2015

A Delta Airlines gate agent has denied boarding to a hunter traveling to South Africa for not having a firearm import permit with him. The agent insisted that the South African Police Service (SAPS) requires travellers to have an import permit issued to them 21 days prior to travel. This is incorrect, and hunters traveling with Delta need to be prepared with paperwork and information to counter this, before their departure.

South African Police Services 

The SAPS official website has a page dedicated to information on the importation of firearms to the Republic of South Africa :

Under the section "Issuing of a permit" it does state that an application should be submitted directly to the Central Firearms Control Register "at least 21 days in advance to enable the South African Police Service sufficient time to process the application and to submit the permit to the applicant to an address outside the borders of the Republic of South Africa or the nominated person." This is for those wanting to get a permit issued in advance of arrival. Just two sections later on the same page in bold letters, it states, "A temporary import permit will only be issued at the port of entry to the following persons: To a foreign visitor for the purpose of hunting."

Hunters are advised to print out a copy of the SAPS website with its URL and highlight or circle the section above. Show this to the agent at check-in and keep a copy with you. If necessary, insist a supervisor look up the website and read the page in its entirety instead of stopping at the first section about import permits. Anyone experiencing this problem is encouraged to contact The Hunting Report (305-253-5301 or Please provide the date and time this occurred, the gate number and if possible the name of the misinformed agent. - Barbara Crown, Editor-in-Chief.

PHASA also advises hunters to take their Letter of invitation or Hunting Contract from the Outfitter with them to check-in.

SAPS 520 form

Below is a summary of what is required to bring firearms into South Africa. For the details go to :

Check list to bring to Johannesburg airport gun permit office - You will need your completed SAPS 520 with :

  • Blank SAPS 520 form - in case you made a mistake filling it out - this may change since the above new requirements for USA hunters - ask your USA travel agent. Custom Travel who we use a lot is on top of this.
  • COPY of Passport - preferably certified/notarized; the first 2 pages of your passport, those with your photo and particulars will be sufficient.
  • COPY of round trip air ticket. (One-way tickets can create problems with Immigration).
  • Boarding Pass.
  • COPY of Letter of Invitation - this I email to you when I have your full names, addresses and passport numbers from the contract.
  • COPY of Letter of Intent - eg. "To whom it may concern" I , Jack Frostie, intend to hunt in South Africa and use the listed firearms. Some of the species I intend to hunt are….. and signed & dated for the arrival date in Johannesburg.
  • COPY of Customs declaration form 4457 / an Official Signed Customs form from your Government proving that the gun/s you are bringing are your property and are fully detailed on such form - preferably certified / notarized - get this at your local US Customs office/ Your contries Customs office and ensure the form is one dated for the year of travel, not an old form dated for previous years. This document also protects you when you return home from your own countries customs, proving the rifle/s or any valuables you listed on it are your property and you did not buy such outside on your safari, so cannot being charged import taxes.
  • Have the originals of all these documents handy when you are getting the gun permits in Johannesburg.

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