New US Customs policy pertaining to bows & arrows for hunting

firehuntfish

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I was getting a lot of client inquiries on this so I figured I would make a post:

For anyone traveling with archery equipment for hunting purposes returning to the USA from foreign soil, US Customs has implemented a new inspection procedure that you need to be made aware of...

US Customs will now be retaining your bow cases in their clearing offices that are usually in or adjacent to international baggage claim areas. Previously, this practice was reserved for firearms inspection only, but bows used for hunting are now being included in this inspection. It is now very likely that if your bow case resembles any type of rifle case or sports equipment container, it will go to this office where they will inspect the equipment for game blood, flesh, and bodily fluids. In Atlanta, the office is right next to the regular baggage carousel. It is all glass-walled, and the cases will be stacked up and readily visible.

You will need your passport and the stamped receipt for clearing immigration to present to them. They will ask you to open the case, and they will spray your equipment including arrows and broadheads with disinfectant. If you pack your arrows and broadheads in a separate bag (like I did), they will likely ask you to present them for inspection/decon as well. Just make sure you don't have any questionable items packed in your bow case....

I inquired with the customs officers conducting the inspections and asked them when this procedure went into effect. The said it was new for 2017. I have also heard from several other traveling bow hunters that they have encountered the same inspection process returning from recent Africa hunts, so I guess it is here to stay....The good news is that they are clearing bow cases first, which is not making the rifle hunters very happy. :mad: I was first in line, and this process added about another 20 minutes on to our transfer time. The inspection took less than 5 minutes, but the officers did not get around to starting inspections until a line of two dozen hunters had formed behind me... I imagine the guys in the back of the line were there for at least an hour. :( This is important to keep in mind when scheduling your connecting flight from your arrival airport. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time.
 
I was getting a lot of client inquiries on this so I figured I would make a post:

For anyone traveling with archery equipment for hunting purposes returning to the USA from foreign soil, US Customs has implemented a new inspection procedure that you need to be made aware of...

US Customs will now be retaining your bow cases in their clearing offices that are usually in or adjacent to international baggage claim areas. Previously, this practice was reserved for firearms inspection only, but bows used for hunting are now being included in this inspection. It is now very likely that if your bow case resembles any type of rifle case or sports equipment container, it will go to this office where they will inspect the equipment for game blood, flesh, and bodily fluids. In Atlanta, the office is right next to the regular baggage carousel. It is all glass-walled, and the cases will be stacked up and readily visible.

You will need your passport and the stamped receipt for clearing immigration to present to them. They will ask you to open the case, and they will spray your equipment including arrows and broadheads with disinfectant. If you pack your arrows and broadheads in a separate bag (like I did), they will likely ask you to present them for inspection/decon as well. Just make sure you don't have any questionable items packed in your bow case....

I inquired with the customs officers conducting the inspections and asked them when this procedure went into effect. The said it was new for 2017. I have also heard from several other traveling bow hunters that they have encountered the same inspection process returning from recent Africa hunts, so I guess it is here to stay....The good news is that they are clearing bow cases first, which is not making the rifle hunters very happy. :mad: I was first in line, and this process added about another 20 minutes on to our transfer time. The inspection took less than 5 minutes, but the officers did not get around to starting inspections until a line of two dozen hunters had formed behind me... I imagine the guys in the back of the line were there for at least an hour. :( This is important to keep in mind when scheduling your connecting flight from your arrival airport. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time.
 
This would be nothing new to me. Atlanta has been the most difficult. My case does look like a rifle case, but when I inform them it has only archery equipment, I am always told OK, open it and stand back...........
 
@Dan, Thank you for the valuable information, I will make the thread sticky for now to get the news out.
 
I just got back on June 30th and went through Atlanta with a bow. After about 3 gun inspections they asked who in line had bows. They had the bow hunters come up and get their cases and they had us walk right out of the room without even opening our cases and doing any kind of inspection what-so-ever. No ID check or nothing. True story................. Sonny
 
I just got back on June 30th and went through Atlanta with a bow. After about 3 gun inspections they asked who in line had bows. They had the bow hunters come up and get their cases and they had us walk right out of the room without even opening our cases and doing any kind of inspection what-so-ever. No ID check or nothing. True story................. Sonny

That figures..... One thing for certain about the government is that it is consistently inconsistent. Even when checking bows with airlines, each hunter's individual experience will depend greatly on who, what, when and where your are traveling. Most of these airlines don't even know their own rules as they pertain to guns, bows, and sports equipment. Same deal with the TSA. I have heard accounts that TSA is not checking bows at certain airports regarding them as common sports equipment, while others are checked consistently.

I have recently heard reports from many of our clients have been subject to these "new bow & arrow inspections"... More are getting inspected than not... Again, it is likely a timing thing. I would still advise to be aware that it is a distinct possibility to expect a delay of some sort when reclaiming your bows upon re-entry to the USA, and it would be wise to build that into your itinerary accordingly. (y)
 
leaving in 8 days can someone clarify.returning from johannesburg to atlanta then connecting to north carolina.question is when arrive to atlanta will I have to retrieve my bow and then go check in my baggage a second time to proceed to connection flight to north carolina.thought baggage would go to destination and then be searched .thanks dale
 
And that is exactly what I did. I planned for a 4 hour layover instead of the nearly 2 hour because I did not know how that was going to go and I wanted to eat breakfast once arriving Atlanta. It worked out perfectly.
 
You will reclaim your bags and bow and then go through customs. You will then recheck them. They may make you go through Agricultural as well
 
It is not just the governments who are inconsistent. I had Etihad refuse to let me even check my bow. After an hour of arguing and showing them it was allowed on their web site and telling them I flew over with it on Etihad (which they informed me that I did not, lol) they finally let me check my bow but forced me to leave my arrows in Africa. Lucky for me it was the return trip and not the ride over.
 
I saw this going on when I came through last month. It didn't take long and in my case they took us in the room according to your place in line.
 
I had the inspection of archery equipment in Atlanta last Oct. The same as was described in the first post.
 
I came thru July 2nd at 6am--they left the bow hunters in line with the rest and looking thru the glass they even checked arrows for blood and animal remains. On a positive note, they had a spray box in the gun inspection area so you didn't have to go thru the area to inspect for food/farm visits. It took approximately 45 min to clear approx 25 hunters/cases.
 
Honestly I expected this and on both trips back through Phili and Seattle, didn't get checked.
Those questions on the declaration about going to farms and such have been around a long time. It's just to make sure you don't bring any diseases back that can affect US agriculture. Sounds like someone got the smarts to realize hunting gear might be bloody and all kinds of diseases are blood-borne. So make sure your gear is clean before leaving and the inspection should take little time.
 
I didn't have any issues through Denver. Our bow case, an SKB double bow case, didn't get stopped or quarantined.

I did throw away any arrows or broadheads that came in contact with blood in Namibia. I wanted to avoid any possible issues on the return.
 
leaving in 8 days can someone clarify.returning from johannesburg to atlanta then connecting to north carolina.question is when arrive to atlanta will I have to retrieve my bow and then go check in my baggage a second time to proceed to connection flight to north carolina.thought baggage would go to destination and then be searched .thanks dale

On Delta international flights coming into ATL, you will get off the plane, go thru immigration, then go pick up your bags and go thru customs. As you exit the customs area, Delta has a baggage drop off point for connecting domestic flights and plenty of people working in that area. If you have a bow or rifle case, they will make you open it. I had a SKB golf bag case and they made me unlock and open it. Once you get past this point, you go thru the security check point (x-ray & body scan, strip search, etc) and then you are in the domestic terminal and go to your departure gate or nearest bar.
 
Thanks for all the good information. I will be returning through Atlanta in a few weeks. Fortunately, I have quite a layover before my connecting flight.
 
This was the same with our trip last July. It was our first time out of country and seemed a little unorganized and hectic, glad we had a 4 hour lay-over.
 

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