Traveling with rifles

Firearm Imports/Exports

South Africa requires a temporary import/export permit for firearms and ammunition when traveling to South Africa.

The following are rules & regulations for the import/export/transit of firearms to South Africa

  • You may temporarily import a maximum of four firearms per hunter, but not more than one of the same caliber.
  • ONLY South African Airways allow the transportation of firearms. Ensure your flight/s you are booked on indicate it is an SAA flight AND NOT an SAA SHARED CARRIER flight. The shared carrier will not honor or permit the carry of firearms. EVEN IF YOUR FLIGHT INDICATES IT’S AN SAA FLIGHT, DOUBLE CHECK IT IS NOT A SHARED CARRIER FLIGHT.
  • You may only bring ammunition applicable to the firearms that you will be carrying.
  • No person under the age of 21 may bring firearms into South Africa or apply for a temporary import permit in his / her name.
  • The barrel, frame or action is to be marked with the same serial number.
  • Semi automatic shotguns for bird hunting or a custom made handgun can be bought into South Africa for hunting purposes only.
  • No self protection firearms allowed.
  • If in transit, permits are required by any passenger spending the night in South Africa while in transit to a third country. The same pre-requisites apply as to obtain the normal temporary import permit.

Firearm Import/Export permits can be issued at both our international ports of entry, Johannesburg and Cape Town International airports, or applied for before your arrival in South Africa.

We strongly recommend using Air 2000 / Hunters Support to assist you through this process. Follow the link, for all documentation and requirements. By sending Air 2000/Hunters Support the required details, they will apply for the permit on your behalf; meet you at the airport and walking you through customs onto your connecting flight. Please note Air 2000 Hunters Support does charge a minimal fee for this service – be sure to double check rates with them at the time of the service.

If you will be using the Air 2000 Hunters Support service to assist in the clearance of your rifle/s upon arrival and departure, please take note:

  1. All applications must be completed in black ink and in the original form, no Photostats or emailed copies will be accepted.
  2. The copy of the signature and photo page of the passport must be notarized by a notary with a notation specifying: I hereby confirm this is a true copy of the original document signed and stamped.
  3. The copy of the proof of ownership i.e. copy of the firearm license or US Customs form 4457 must also be notarized with the notation specifying: I hereby confirm this is a true copy of the original document signed and stamped.

No applications will be accepted by Air 2000 Hunters Support if the lead time is less than 4-6 weeks prior to your arrival in South Africa.

Permits for semi-automatic shotguns must be submitted to Central Firearms 90 days prior to arrival into South Africa, and the letter of motivation must be in the original format as per the requirements of the Firearms Control Act.

Don’t forget to send off your Hunters Support paperwork sooner rather than later, not forgetting we need all of the following:

  • Hunters Support form
  • SAPS 520
  • Notarized copy of the passport
  • Notarized copy of the US Customs form 4457 or License (which ever is applicable)
  • Hard copy of your flight itinerary

If you have any queries or questions please just email Air 2000 on and they will gladly assist.

Lastly - When dealing with Air 2000 Hunters Support and acquiring their custom clearing service/s, be sure to specify if you would like to be met upon international arrival only OR upon arrival and departure into/from South Africa.

Traveling with Ammunition

ALL ammunition you are travelling with, internationally arriving/departing in/out of South Africa and within South Africa / regionally within Southern Africa on South African Airways, SA Air Link and SA Express must be in a separate locked hard metal/plastic ammunition case. (No tapped cardboard boxes allowed) Ammunition is no longer allowed to be checked within checked luggage arriving in South Africa.

All ammunition will travel alongside the firearm and not in the checked bag onto final destination (Port Elizabeth/Home).

Also note a maximum of 200 rounds of ammunition is allowed per firearm/per caliber. Most airlines have a weight limit on ammunition of +-11 lbs, which is approximately 140 rounds of 243 / 120 rounds of 300 Win Mag / 100 rounds of 375. From past experience we would recommend no more than 80 rounds per caliber.

To make this as hassle free process as possible, for the benefit of our clients, John X Safaris has installed links for both the required application forms.

For additional questions regarding traveling to South Africa with rifles or for a safari review this resource.

Lastly, hunters traveling with rifles will require a Letter of Invitation from John X Safaris. Hit the link and complete the required fields prior to submitting your Letter of Invitation to Air 2000 Hunters Support or arriving at either of our international airports.