Travel to Africa for a hunt from the US can be a daunting undertaking the first time you do it, but if you have all of the correct information there is no need to worry. Here is what you need to know for your upcoming African Safari.
1. First, you need to get a letter of invitation to come on a hunt from your PH.
2.You will need proof of ownership for your guns.
3. Don’t book your flight online. There are seldom bargains and we recommend having someone to help you if there are problems. If you do book your tickets online, you could also have trouble with any extra flights within Africa and you will have trouble booking inexpensive add-on tickets from your hometown to your jump-off destination.
4. Use a Quality Booking Agent (www.gothunts.com) to book your hunt and help you with getting prepared for your upcoming hunt.
5. Get a Customs Form 4457
Go to a US Customs office and get your Firearms listed on a Form 4457 called “Certificate Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad”. U.S. Customs Form 4457 must be completed and stamped in the USA before boarding your flight to Africa. It proves ownership of personal items, such as rifles, taken out of the country.
- Click here for Directions for filling out Form 4457
- Download US Customs Form 4457 (Adobe PDF version)
You will need this Form upon arrival in Africa, AND upon return to the US.
6. You will also need to fill out an aplication form for the South African Police Service. Download Form, proof of ownership for your guns and a letter of invitation from your outfitter.
Flying From US to South Africa
- Option 1:
Fly from your hometown to Washington D.C. Dulles Airport connecting to South African Airways (SAA) non-stop (except in July & August) to Johannesburg South Africa or Joberg as we call it. This flight leaves at 5:50 PM every night, so there is ample time to get to DC to make the connection.
Important: Be sure that you have a minimum of two hours between your arrival in Dulles, JFK or Atlanta and your departure time. Last year 82% of all firearms did not make the connection on flights with less than the two-hour window.
Sometimes, luggage will arrive, but not the guns. This is because guns are handled differently, and it just takes more time. If you arrive at Joberg without your guns and you have a connecting flight to another South African Airport or to Namibia, Botswana, or even Zimbabwe, you have a problem as you have folks waiting for you at your destination and you are not coming until your guns arrive. The airport will not forward your guns like they do your luggage in the USA. You need to get gun permits (or transit permits) upon arrival, and you must be there to do it.
To hasten the process of the firearms permit application and transfers, we recommend you contact www.hunterssupport.com as they will meet you upon arrival in South Africa and handle things from there. If you book your hunt through Outdoors International, we will take care of all of this for you.
- Option 2:
Go to New York’s JFK airport and take SAA from there direct to Joberg with only a stop for fuel in Dakar Senegal.
- Option 3:
Go to Atlanta, and take the Delta flight directly to Joberg with also a fuel stop in Dakar.
- Option 4:
Some folks feel it is better to go via Europe. The problem though, is that you fly all night from the US to Europe, and then sit all day in the airport as all their flights leave at night again. Some folks prefer to get a day room and break up the trip. Whatever suits your taste or budget.
*You will need an additional firearmse permit if you want to leave the airport and go to a hotel
*If you are flying from USA to Namibia, this option above is our recommendation.
Entry Into Namibia and South Africa
Entry into Namibia is a breeze as you just fill out the form upon arrival and go on your way. You will be required to fill out a Rifle Import/Export Application, which must be handed to the police at the airport. Download and print your Rifle Import Application by clicking here.
Joberg is a different deal for permits, and much more information is required. That is why we use Air-2000.
Luggage, Ammo and Guncases
International travel used to allow 70 pounds of luggage bag, but that has been cut to 50 lbs. We recommend using the lightest luggage you can find.
We have found some old US Air Force flight bags made out of rip-stop nylon that weigh only about two pounds. They can hold a lot of gear and still be under weight.
Important: You are now allowed only one free bag, and must pay for the second bag, or your gun case.
Airline regulations state that you can only take a maximum of 5 KG (11 lbs) of ammo per passenger, and that the ammo must be in its original box. Ammo is also “supposed” to be in a separate luggage, but every once in a while, an airline decides they want it in the locked gun case.
- Gun Cases
Use only good aluminium cases. No plastic. They will take a beating, and only aluminum can stand the punishment. Also, only 2 guns per case are allowed, and they also must be less than 50 pounds.
- Don’t put such nice “theft inviting” items as binoculars and cameras in an unlocked luggage bag. Iâ€™ve found that putting my binoculars in my gun case works well, and I carry my camera with me.
- Don’t take the bolt out of your rifle, and put it in your carry on bag. When a bolt and with its handle goes thru X-ray, it looks like a pistol, and guess what that will get you at an airport? Take the bolt out of the gun, but leave it in the gun case.
- Don’t try and take an EXTRA riflescope or range finder.
- Please mark your gun case clearly with your name, address and contact number.
On Your Return Trip to US
Now you will again need to go thru all the “hoops” and get yourself, your luggage, and guns on the right plane home. Luckily, if you are coming from Namibia to Joberg or going thru Europe, it’s not that hard.
Check all your guns and luggage all the way back to the USA. They will usually put tags on your items all the way to your home airport. However, you will need to collect your luggage and guns upon arrival in whatever city you arrive in, and clear US Customs.
Now is when you really want to have your Customs form 4457 (see link and info above) that you procured before you left. The US Customs folks want to see that Form and the firearms that match it upon arrival.
More about Customs Form 4457: Put only one Firearm per Form 4457. Don’t mix and match them. It only confuses the agents and makes this go slower than they already go.
Washington’s Dulles International Arrivals is slow. Atlanta is much better and New York JFK is not too bad either.
After clearing Customs, they will tell you where to put your luggage and guns so that they can be sent to the next connecting flight to your home.
About missing guns and insurance: If, when you arrive in the US, or your home airport, your guns are missing, file a lost luggage claim with your arriving airline, and now, is when you really wish you have purchased extra insurance from Sportsman’s Alliance Co. Look up www.siai.net or call 1-800-925-7767.
Don’t depend on your Home Owners Insurance to cover you. Unless you have a specific Rider attached to your policy, odds are your guns are not covered in entirety.