Importation of firearms

Its always best to bring your own rifle – This one you know in and out, which will in most cases make a difference.  

If you wish to bring your own rifle(s) or handgun, please study the below requirements and procedures.


1. Temporary Firearm Importation Application form “SAPS 520” (download and read instructions below).
2. Passport (must be valid for at least 6 months)
3. Copy of airline tickets to/from South Africa
4. Proof of Ownership, i.e. firearm licenses, etc. While the South African Police Service has been lenient up until now regarding proof of ownership, they are now stricter in this regard. To preclude any problems on arrival, please make sure you have proof of ownership. For european hunters, please bring your EU Weapon Passport.
5.Customs declaration form 4457 (US citizens) / Official Signed Customs form from your home country, proving that the firearms you are bringing, are your property and fully detailed on such form. Please bring original or a copy stamped by a notary public. Download it HERE
6. Letter of Invitation from outfitter (this one we will provide you with)


SAPS 520 Form
The SAPS 520 is the form you need, in order to temporary import your weapons into South Africa.

  • Download SAP 520 form HERE.
  • Download detailed description HERE.
  • Download a filled out example HERE

ONLY fill out the following sections: D (temporary import or export permit), E1 – E25.4, G and I. The form MUST be completed with BLACK INK and left UNSIGNED (section J) until the document is finalized in front of the police official who is issuing the actual permit at the airport – only exception to this is if you have used the Pre-approved Permit Service with Afton Safari Lodge, in which you should also complete section J with your signature (read below about Pre-approved Permit Service).


Pre-approved Permit & Meet/Greet Services (optional)
We recommend you make use of the services provided by Afton Safari Lodge in Johannesburg. They offer a VIP Meet & Greet, as well as a complete Pre-approved Permit Service.
– With the VIP Meet & Greet Service, you will be met upon arrival at the gate, and guided through passport control. The officer on duty will also assist you in picking up your luggage and weapons, getting you processed at the firearms office (in order to get your Temporary Permit), and help you check-in for your onwards domestic flight. In other words, you will be personal assisted in the whole process from start to finish. 
– With the Pre-approved Permit Service, Afton Safari Lodge will make all paperwork for you in advance (including the Temporary Permit), and all you have to do, is show up at the police office and present your weapons for inspection – no hassle and unforeseen delays. A combination of the two mentioned services is also possible. The price is $100 for any of these services. Click HERE to visit their website.


Procedure to be followed upon arrival at Johannesburg Airport
1. Clear passport control in whichever terminal where your flight arrives.

2. Proceed to baggage claim at the respective carousel. Pick up general baggage, and then proceed to the the little office, which lies adjacent to carousel number 8. Here you can pick up your firearms. The office may be unattended for small periods of time (have patience). In case you cannot find this office or if no personel shows up, proceed to the respective airline Help Desk to get instructions.

3. Proceed to the South African Police (SAPS) Firearm Office. Do not at this stage proceed through customs (the red zone) – You must not declare weapons here. When exiting, look for the SAPS Firearm office signs (when exiting the customs area and entering the big arrival hall where people are standing to greet the arriving passangers – turn right).

4. Present yourself at the firearms office and go through the process. On receipt of the temporary import permit, proceed to check-in for your domestic flight. Pull out the ammunition from your luggage, and let the check-in agent know that you are traveling with firearms.

5. Check-in agents will check-in your regular luggage, and issue the relevant firearms tags, before directing you to the appropriate firearms desk, for inspection and final processing of your firearms. This desk is located in the domestic terminal, right next to security.

6. At the firearms desk, you must hand over your firearms and weapon tags. The personel might want to check your weapons again, as well as you temporary import permit. You must also sign a form, declaring that your firearm(s) are safe and unloaded for carriage.

7. Proceed through airport security and board your plane towards Port Elizabeth (or other domestic destination).

8. Upon arrival in Port Elizabeth (or other if agreed), we will be standing by, ready to assist you in picking up your weapons at the relevant firearms desk. After that, its time for a short drive into the bush and a cold beer/drink at the camp:-)


We will assist you in checking in at Port Elizabeth Airport. Here again, your ammunition will (most likely) be ordered to be checked in as a separate piece of luggage. If the check-in agent allows you to keep the ammunition in your suitcase (in respect of your following flight from Johannesburg), we recommend you check-in your luggage ALL the way to the US or your final destination (then you don´t need to worry about your suitcase in Johannesburg). If the check-in agent ask you to take the ammunition out of your suitcase, we recommend you only check-in your suitcase to Johannesburg. IN ANY CASE, your firearms will have to be picked up in Johannesburg and re-checked for next international flight!

1. After checking in your luggage, we will accompany you to the firearms desk (same one as you arrived in Port Elizabeth) and assist you in handing in your weapons.

2. After our goodbyes, you can proceed through security and board your plane to Johannesburg.

3. In Johannesburg, proceed to luggage claim and pick up your suitcase (if not checked all the way through to final destination). In the same luggage hall, proceed to the little firearms office, located a few meters to the right of the exit. Sign required papers and pick up your firearms.

4. Proceed to the check-in counter for your international flight. Once again, let the check-in agent know that you are traveling with weapons. You will be asked to pack the ammunition into your suitcase (ask staff). Check-in your suitcase and get firearms tags for your weapons.

5. Now proceed to the firearms desk, located at top level in Terminal B. It lies in opposite end than the security and firearms desk, which you visited on your outbound flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. Ask for directions if you are unsure of anything.

6. At the firearms desk, hand over your firearms and firearm tags. The staff might want to check your weapons, as well as you temporary import permit. In any case, you must sign a form, declaring that your firearm(s) are safe and unloaded for carriage.

7. Now all is done. Proceed to international departures, and enter through security/passport control, in order to board your flight towards your final destination(s).


General recommendations and information

  • Please ensure sufficient time is allowed to go through the temporary importation permit process and to clear customs in Johannesburg. During the busy periods of the hunting season, up to seventy clients may be needing permits at the same time. We therefore recommend at least 3 hours to be set aside for this procedure. With Pre-Approved Permit Service, 2 hours should be sufficient (there may be waiting periods at passport control).
  • Ensure your airline allows hunting weapons onboard before booking your flight. Note that ONLY South African Airways are allowed to transport weapons on domestic flight within South Africa (read more below).
  • Please do not pay for any service regarding the handling of a firearm at Johannesburg International Airport, or any port of entry. This is a free service and the South African Police Service asks clients not to pay anybody involved in handling firearms, from the time of arrival in South Africa, right through until you received your firearm and the permit from the SAPS. Clients that are paying the various airline staff or the security company involved, are actually creating a problem. If you need assistance from the airport porters, they do require a small tip for their assistance.
  • Please also note, that there may be a handling fee charged by airlines for the handling of weapons.
  • Please also ensure that if you are traveling through another country in transit with rifles, that you have the required permits and paperwork for that specific country (for example Dubai and Amsterdam require in transit permits), also some airlines like Emirates, British Airways and KLM require notification that you are traveling with rifles before they will accept the rifles. Please ask your travel agent to assist with this or contact the airline you are using directly for the correct information, we will always recommend that you make use of an experienced hunting travel agent.
  • Temporary Import Permits (SAPS520) are issued to the particular person and are not transferable.
  • Temporary Import permits are issued for a period of 90 or 180 days.



  • No more than one firearm per caliber, and 200 rounds per caliber, will be allowed into the country. The only exception to this is for shotguns, where more than one shotgun of the same caliber may be allowed for bird hunting purposes, if the client produces on arrival at the South African Police Gun Office, an acceptable written motivation as to why he/she requires more than one shotgun of the same caliber.
  • A maximum of 5 kg. securely boxed ammunition per passenger will be permitted for carriage, either as a separate piece of baggage or within checked baggage in the hold of the aircraft (read about Regulations for Transportation of Firearms below)
    • Permits will only be issued for ammunition which is accompanied by a firearm of the same caliber.
  • Temporary Import Permits will not be issued for anyone under the age of 21.
  • Automatic or Semi-Automatic rifles er NOT allowed
  • Automatic or Semi-Automatic shotguns are NOT allowed unless applications for these are made well in advance, so that the necessary administrative work can be completed before the client arrives in South Africa. No application on arrival will be considered.
  • Handguns for hunting are only allowed with pre-approvals, which can be produced upon supplying a motivation letter and help from Afton Safari Lodge. Contact us for further information.
  • You are not allowed to leave any of the firearms mentioned on the SAP 520 in South Africa!
  • There is no permit required, nor any charge by the South African Police Service for a bow.



Firearms may NOT be packed inside checked luggage and must therefore be packed in an appropriate lockable firearm container or case, separate from checked luggage.

Ammunition must be separated from weapons and must be packed within checked luggage on international flights, but must be properly secured in an ammunition case or solid box. No ammunition may be packed loosely in checked baggage or within the same case as firearms.

NOTE 1: Airlink is currently the ONLY airline carrier, who is currently allowed to transport firearms onboard domestic flights (South African Airways ceased their domestic flights on 29th February 2020) – Please therefor make sure your domestic flights within South Africa is carried out by Airlink. Please update yourself with regulations before booking your flight. 

NOTE 2: On domestic flights within South Africa, your ammunition must be checked in separately. All though this is a “recommendation” from the local airlines, the airport staff chooses to enforce this procedure! We therefor strongly recommend that ammunition is packed in lockable cases, which is suitable for being handed in as a separate piece of luggage on domestic flights. 



This all may seem a bit complicated, but really it is not. If you have any questions, we will gladly help you out. Contact us by clicking HERE


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