What paperwork do I have to complete to get my firearms into RSA?

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The process is somewhat involved, yet it is not overly complicated.  At Chacma Safaris we have the experience and resources to assist the client throughout the process to ensure that the client and their firearms arrive in RSA without complications or confusion. In addition, to facilitate the processing of the client’s paperwork, we can connect the client with experienced independent affiliates that provide this service for a nominal fee. These affiliates ensure, in advance, that the client’s paperwork is completed properly, that the documents clear the required reviewing authority satisfactorily, and personally meet the client at the airport to ensure the firearms pass through customs smoothly. If this service is preferred, all documents* must be completed and emailed to the client’s selected affiliate in RSA 25 days in advance of the client’s scheduled arrival in Johannesburg.

The following *documents are required:

  1. Copy of official passport.
  2. A Letter of Invitation from Chacma Safaris (click here to download form)..
  3. For US Residents: CBP Form 4457 (downloadable from this website: www.cbp.gov), at their website, scroll to the bottom and click “Forms”. You will need to scroll through the first page of PDF’s and then you’ll find the downloadable PDF for CBP Form 4457 on page 2.
  4. Form SAPS 520 – Temporary Import Application – Follow this Link to the South African Police Service website to download the SAPS 520 Form.
  5. Copy of Client’s Travel Itinerary. Official print-out from the client’s selected airline is sufficient. (Note: this document is not depicted in the photo above).

It is advisable to have several original copies of this form made in the presence of a CBP Agent. Possession of this form allows you to return to the US without the risk of paying duty on items you already own. Therefore, list all items of value having a serial number (optics, laptop, etc.). In completing CBP Form 4457, take note that CBP does not consider a telescopic sight mounted on a firearm to be part of the firearm, therefore do not forget to list any mounted telescopic sight as a separate item with its own serial number. Also, a completed CBP Form 4457 does not have an expiration date. Therefore, if you should return to Africa the original form is valid so long as you are transporting the same items as listed thereon.

Finally, it is not a bad idea to have a copy of each of these forms (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) in your gun case and in your carry-on luggage, as well as in your checked luggage.

For more firearm related questions visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).

How do I get my firearm(s) safely into and out of RSA?

Check the specific requirements of your airline as well as (if you are a US Citizen) those of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Typically, firearms must be locked in their own airline approved security case. Ammunition must also be locked as well, however it must be in a separate case from the firearms. Both must be checked as baggage of course. It is advisable to have original copies of your importation paperwork (CBP Form 4457, etc.) in your firearm security case, on your person, and inside your checked baggage where your ammunition is stored. This is not a requirement. It simply ensures that you have back-up copies of your importation paperwork. We know of few disappointments that equal making the trip to RSA and not having access to your firearms due to loss of paperwork. If you have access to the internet you typically can “check-in” for your departing flight up to 24 hours in advance of its departure and obtain your boarding pass at that time. During this process you should “declare” your intent to travel with a firearm. Show up at the airport with the firearm in a locked case. Declare it once again at “check-in” then simply follow the prompted procedures set out for you by the airline and attendant federal agents. These are the current general guidelines as we know them to be. However, both the TSA, the airlines, SAPS (South African Police Service) may change their requirements at any time. Therefore, the prudent client will contact each of these agencies (via respective websites) as part of their safari planning.

SAPS 520 Form

Follow this Link to the South African Police Service website to download the SAPS 520 Form
or download SAP 520 here

Irrespective of your country of residence the South African Police Service (SAPS) will require your completion of SAPS FORM 520 which is the principal document necessary to obtain a Temporary Import Permit. This form should be downloaded from the SAPS Website or can be filled out on arrival (not recommended for the reasons stated above).

Client Letter of Invitation

Each client intending to bring firearms into the Republic of South Africa (RSA) must submit the required documents to the South African Police Service (SAPS) in order to obtain approval for the importation of those firearms. A Letter of Invitation (LOI) from a licensed African Outfitter is one of the necessary documents that must be presented to SAPS. Please see our website under Resources for the Letter of Invitation.

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