South Africa Travel Tips and Firearm Import

Rules, Regulations, Forms and Tips for Traveling to South Africa

What You Can Bring to South Africa

You are entitled to import into South Africa a personal allowance of 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 9 ounces of pipe tobacco, two liters of wine, one liter of alcohol, other gifts up to a value of R500 and any amount of foreign currency as long as you declare amounts over $20,000 to customs upon arrival.

Flying with Children

If you are flying to, from or transiting through South Africa with a child under 18 years of age, you will have to adhere to these rules.

  • If only ONE parent is travelling with the child – Where only one parent is accompanying the child, the following has to be presented:
    • an unabridged birth certificate (full)
    • consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate, authorizing them to enter or depart from South Africa with the child
    • a court order granting them full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship or where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate.
    • You should travel with these documents in case you are asked to provide them.
  • There are additional rules for adults travelling with a child who is not their biological child, and for children travelling alone. For more information go to South African High Commission website.

South Africa Firearms Import Permit

Sporting firearms may be readily imported into South Africa. You may bring up to three firearms per hunter (however most airlines limit you to 2) and 200 rounds of ammo per firearm but again airline regulations allow only 5 kg or 11 lbs of ammo per passenger. The average weight of factory loaded ammo boxes of 20 shells per box runs from 1 lb 4 ounces to 2 lbs.

Prior to the day of your flight you will need to take a trip down to the local Customs Office (usually located at all international airports) and get a Form 4457 (Certificate of Registration of Personal Effects Taken Abroad). These Custom Offices are normally open 9 – 5, Monday – Friday, but it would be best to call before you go to ensure that there will be somebody available to assist you. When you go, take the guns that you will be taking to Africa with you, this is required for bows as well.

This is a very easy procedure. They will sign a customs form that includes the manufacturer, model and serial number of each firearm. The reason for this form is to show the US Customs people when you return to the USA that you owned the guns prior to your departure and that you are bringing back the same guns that you took out of the country. Be sure to have that form available on your return. Since the United States does not require your sporting rifles to be registered you must have this form to show the South African police. This will suffice as proof of ownership for the required SAP Form 520 that will be discussed below.

Upon arrival at the airport in South Africa

Upon arrival in South Africa you must have filled out a SAP Form 520 for the South African Police in order to receive a temporary firearm import permit to be issued to you. A step-by step guide for you to follow upon arrival in Johannesburg is included below:

  1. Sign for your firearms in the area just to the right of where you walk into the baggage claim area. After collecting your luggage you will then proceed through the Red Channel area of customs, as you must declare your firearms (even though they will not be with you at this point as they have been delivered to the South African Police Office).
  2. Depart the customs area to the right and proceed out to the general meeting area. Walk straight ahead to the corridor (there is a sign up above to indicate the corridor where the SAP office is located) and turn right. The location of the SAPS office will be just ahead and to the right.
  3. Enter this office with all of the paperwork that is required and tell them that you are going to be hunting and you need to claim your firearms and obtain a temporary firearm import permit.
  4. You need to show proof that the rifle belongs to you. The U.S. customs registration Form 4457 you obtained prior to departure can be used for this. Completion of Form SAP 520 will then take place. This form details your address, rifle make, type and serial numbers as well as the amount of ammunition imported.
  5. They will then issue you a Temporary Import Permit. You must retain a signed copy of this permit and it must be in your possession while you are hunting.

*You will need to present this copy on your departure from South Africa. There is no charge for doing any of this, although we have heard of visitors who were asked to pay. If you ask for a receipt for this charge you will probably be told, “The receipt book is full, so this time there is no charge”.

Your PH should provide all of the necessary forms required for obtaining your temporary firearms permit. Anyone can go through this procedure on their own upon arrival in South Africa and there is no cost for doing this. Some people may be uncomfortable in doing this on their own and there are some companies that are available for assistance in obtaining your permit. One of these companies that we recommend is There is a charge for their services and if you decide to use them, allow plenty of time before your safari in order to send them the necessary paperwork that they require.

Further information is available from the Central Firearm Registry, South African Police Services; telephone number 27-12-3536057, fax number 27-12-3536041. All firearms brought into the country must be taken out with the visitor when they depart. It is illegal to leave any firearm behind.

South Africa Travel

South Africa is geared towards travel by air and road with an extensive network of well-maintained paved roads and many domestic, as well as private charter airline services.

Most parts of the North West Province are easily accessible via a well-constructed road network. Major highways are paved as are most roadways around metropolitan areas; however rural roads are seldom paved. Any valid drivers license is accepted in South Africa provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is printed in English. Contrary to driving in the U.S., driving in South Africa is done on the left.