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Self-Clearing of Firearms on Arrival in South Africa

This is a discussion on Self-Clearing of Firearms on Arrival in South Africa within the Before & After the Hunt forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; I'm off in a few days, any advice for a guy looking to self-clear my two firearms and ammunition?...

  1. #1
    Ardent's Avatar
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    Default Self-Clearing of Firearms on Arrival in South Africa

    I'm off in a few days, any advice for a guy looking to self-clear my two firearms and ammunition?

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    Do you have your SAPS paperwork complete?

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    Ardent - if you need the SAPS 520 application and instructions, you can download and print them from the "Firearm" section of my website, click here to get to that page. It will speed up the process if you have the application filled out in advance. Along with the SAPS 520 application, make sure you have the following documents on arrival in Johannesburg: Copy of 1st 2 pages of passport, US Customs Form 4457 (proof of ownership of firearm), copy of airline itinerary and letter of invitation from PH to hunt in South Africa. Hope you have a great safari!

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    Half the documents you need you will have with you anyway, but a short list of what they will be looking for is as follows:

    • a complete SAP520 form;
    • passport;
    • proof of ownership documents for your firearms (for us Aussies, that's a registration certificate);
    • export permit for your firearms & ammo out of Canada;
    • An invitation letter from your PH.
    • a motivation letter that you write stating:
      1. firearm/ammo and quantity
      2. hunting dates and details of flights in and out
      3. details of your outfitter;
      4. species you intend to hunt.


    When I landed I had a very easy time on the way in - just make sure you collect your gun case just after the luggage carousel before you go to the firearms office. the only thing I was missing was my invitation letter, but my PH was waiting outside so I had him come in and write one on the spot!

    I have flown in on other days and they disregard everything, just rubber stamp the documents, not even look at the gun case! And other days they are just impossible and you really have to maintain your composure otherwise you will say something you might regret!

    Getting in and out of Zimbabawe is far more efficient. The guys know what they are doing and understand that you aren't there to make their life difficult. Really good operators in Zim. In RSA, it's a bit of a joke really.

    If you need sample documents, PM me and I can email them to you.

    What are you hunting and where?

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    Is not another requiremnt in SA that you have a minimum of 5 blank pages in your passport? Not so much for your guns but if you cannot clear immigration it will not matter.

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    Thanks guys appreciate the heads up on all counts, I have my new passport with all clear pages, SAPS forms, invitation letter, hunt and flight details, export permits from my country for arms, ammunition, and accessories etc. Guns cased in a Pelican case, ammunition in a separate Pelican.

    Thanks for the reassurance folks, I absolutely love this place, most supportive and helpful forum I've found on the net, for anything.

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    Ardent ~ sounds like you have all bases covered. Hope all goes smooth and you have a great trip!

    Lori Ginn & Jennifer Ginn
    TRAVEL EXPRESS - AfricaHunting.com Exclusive Travel Specialists
    "Don't buy your tickets to Africa without calling us first!"
    800-808-4868 / 406-363-0883
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    CK1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ardent View Post
    Thanks guys appreciate the heads up on all counts, I have my new passport with all clear pages, SAPS forms, invitation letter, hunt and flight details, export permits from my country for arms, ammunition, and accessories etc. Guns cased in a Pelican case, ammunition in a separate Pelican.

    Thanks for the reassurance folks, I absolutely love this place, most supportive and helpful forum I've found on the net, for anything.
    Ardent,

    Just curious....which Pelican case did you use for your ammo?

  9. #9
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    CK1 ~ We have a Pelican 1200 that we use for ammo - inside it's about 7" X 9" X 4" deep. Also works great for sat phone, etc.

    Lori Ginn & Jennifer Ginn
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    No, we would not recommend it.
    Rather use the 'MEET AND GREET' service. The additional cost for this purpose is worthit!
    Ansie Strauss
    Kowas Hunting Safaris - Namibia
    kowasadv@iafrica.com.na
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  11. #11
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    Have actually entered RSA twice now with firearms since I made this thread, having just returned from a Limpopo hunt with Spiral Horn. If I could offer advice to anyone going over for the first time with firearms it would be simple, self clear for sure, just have your paperwork filled out before arrival (SAPs 520 form, invitation letter, proof of ownership of firearms, and return airfare proof).

    It is one of the easiest permits I've ever had to deal with, and I don't think an intermediary could make it any easier. Again, just have your ducks in a row, and no worries. I showed up the second time without my SAPs form filled out, and without an invitation letter, as I was horribly rushed and came straight from work in remote Northern Canada to my flight to Africa, and it still all worked out (though I wouldn't recommend this).

    As for the ammunition case, sorry for taking so long to reply, I'm unsure of the model as it's not with me but it sounds like the same size Lori mentions, roughly shoebox sized, very handy.

  12. #12
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    I would have to agree.

    While you can do this your self that is OK if your rifle is on your airline and you have a lot of time. However, If you have a airline connection to another part of south africa use a service period.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kowas Hunting Safaris View Post
    No, we would not recommend it.
    Rather use the 'MEET AND GREET' service. The additional cost for this purpose is worthit!
    James Grage - New Mexico
    Hold a steady Eye & Rifle...
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    James, that is a good point.
    With a connection it could be an issue.

    I think it is simple enough to do it yourself if you are not in a huge rush.

    After spending a lot of hours and picking up different people at the Joburg airport I have noticed that you can clear your firearms in no time at all IF you arrive on a flight from Europe. (of course if you arrive with a plane load of hunters this could change)
    Buddies flew in this direction and theirs were the only firearms on the flight.
    No lines and simple.
    Less then 15 minutes total from start to finish for both of them.

    On the other hand I watched a flight arrive from the USA.
    12 hunters at least got off the plane, two cases per person for a few of them, and the Rifles came off baggage last of course. They had a line up at SAPS down the hall.
    No matter who filled the paperwork out they were going to wait and they did.
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    Brickburn

    This past fall there were at least 3 plain loads of hunters in September. The room was full of hunters the hall was packed with the over flow. i would say about 30 to 40 plus hunters.

    It was a Zoo.

    The room was filled to over flow.

    Visited with some hunters from Minnesota who i knew through trapshooting.

    The issue was the ones who used a service were treated first and if you were clearing your rifle your rifle case was set out by SA agents. The Clearing agents would set aside your rifle case until the clearing agents processed there customers. and some customers brought additional rifles and hand guns that needed to be cleared. Time consuming...

    I had my paper work filled out and the process was about 5 to 10 minutes. the issue was my rifle was set to the back by the rifle brokers who went behind the counter and placed there customers rifles first.

    I had 4 hours between flights and by the skin of my teeth i was able to make my flight as it left 15 minutes early.

    In the future i will use a broker, money well spent.
    James Grage - New Mexico
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    I have to agree with James. When we arrived in RSA we had the guy from Afton waiting for us. All the paper work was pre-arranged. When we got to SAPS office he pretty much new all the people working there and he went straight to the counter. Following a short exchange in Africaans we went straight to the front of the line. 10 minutes and we were out of there. One thing I found interesting is that SAPS were not at all interested in the ammo we had. Did not check at all. The next day ( we overnighted at Afton) the process was repeated. I would use the service again without hesitation and would recommend it to anyone. The is especially true if it is your first trip over. On the way back we did it on our own as we new the process. However, there was no jumping the line and took a little longer ( about 5 guys in front of us).

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    Sadly it sounds like institutional, indirect bribes to me.

    But, if you know you are going on a "hunter laden" plane from Atlanta and you have a connection or no time.
    Perhaps that is another expense you should expect.

    It will be interesting when everyone decides to pay this fee and they still have to wait in a line.

    Sounds like the IRS office.
    No waiting in line as long as you paid an accountant $2000 to file your taxes for you.
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    Brickburn,
    Perhaps you are correct in what you say, however I think guys going over for the first time and especially if traveling on to another country from Joburg will not be familiar with the system ( I certainly wasn't). The $90 USD that it cost us for the service was well spent as we breezed through the paper work and gun inspection. Even now that I am familiar with process I would still use the service again as you know that all paper work is correct and there should be no problems. Perhaps if you are being met by an SA PH then you may not require such a service as there will be someone there to help if you need it.

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    I have self cleared the first 3 times and used a service the last time but next April going to Namibia with an overnight at the Afton House I'm using their service just so I don't have to hassle with anything transitting through 2 countries.

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    I've self cleared twice. Being an Aussie I'm not on a plane load full of other hunters.

    I had no problems. I made sure I kept my voice low and didn't 'demand' anything. That is a fatal mistake I watched others do on both occasions. It just meant I got closer to the head of the (small) queue a lot quicker.

    Paying for a Meet and Greet for an average Joe like me, is the equivalent of a trophy fee for another animal.
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