Important Notice

South African Police Services Central Firearms Deck will no longer accept previous custom form 4457 that do not have the most recent/current expiration date of 08/31/2019.  People traveling to hunt with firearms will need the new CBP Form 4457 (08/16).  This new form is issued by the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

If you intend to hire a gun or not planning to bring one then none of this is needed. You don't even need to read this section.

  • Transport your gun in a sturdy hard gun case that can lock.

  • I am a one gun man, but if you want to try more than one, you are welcome.

  • No pistol or revolver will be allowed into South Africa.

  • Handguns will be allowed into the country, but only for hunting purposes. Any visitor wanting to bring in a handgun in this regard needs to have a letter from an association in the country of origin, stating the handgun will be used for hunting purposes.

  • As far as I know there is no permit required, nor any charge by the South African Police Service for a bow is needed.

  • A comfortable shoulder strap or - sling gun to carry.

  • Bush could be thick, with twigs or branches in the way so we prefer “slower” calibre e.g.3006 to .375 or something similar with 180 gr. or heavier expanding bullets.

  • The most important is to bring a rifle you are familiar and comfortable with that shoots straight Don’t buy one just for the trip

  • An ammo pouch that will prevent ammo from being noisy when stalking/walking. Fits either in belt or rifle stock. Those black elastic ones work well and are cheap.

  • Ammo - approx. 50 rounds should be enough. If you reload yourself, DO NOT bring ammo in green reloading plastic boxes. Put them in original store packing, even if worn or second-hand. Printed box must indicate calibre etc.

  • You can practice by doing shots over a shooting stick. Cut a branch about 1” thick with a “v” on top. Vary the length according to your height and position e.g. sitting, kneeling and standing. Remember we won’t be hunting from a bench!

  • We usually zero rifles at 55 yards, which should then be adequate for all your shots. We hardly ever shoot further than 150 yards.

  • Permits, procedures and licenses for your gun from your country or state - all explained below.

  • Temporary Importation of Firearms into South Africa

Latest Information Received from the South African Police Service - Importation of Firearms (Updated – August 2004)

  • I would like to provide the following information and make the following suggestions to insure that you have a smooth running handling process on arrival in South Africa.

  • My information which is needed below is as follows:

    • Company Name: HARLOO SAFARIS

    • Outfitters Name: Edmond Rouillard

    • Address: P.O. Box 7, Pongola, 3170, Kwa Zulu Natal.

    • Contact Numbers: (034) 41 31340/1 (w) or 082 654 7109 (cell)

    • Hunting Outfitter Number: KZN 198/2020

    • Importation of Firearms - permits, procedures and Suggestions etc.


  • Ensure sufficient time is allowed to go through the temporary importation permit process and to clear customs. During the busy periods of the hunting season up to seventy clients may be needing permits at the same time.

  • We would therefore recommend at least three hours should be set aside for this procedure, but may take 10 minutes.

  • Make sure that you have all MY details as above handy with you eg Harloo's name, address, tel numbers etc.

  • This information is necessary for the actual Temporary Import Permit, as well as if the Police need to contact us for any reason.

  • The police are also fully aware of the nature conservation legislation and the fact that a hunt undertaken by a foreign client legally must be organized by a hunting outfitter, therefore if a client cannot produce who his outfitter is and where he will be hunting, it may be presumed he does not have an outfitter and could be operating illegally in South Africa. In such a case the SAPS may not issue a Temporary Import Permit and hold the client's firearms in safekeeping until that client leaves South Africa.

  • Also, ensure that your firearms arrive on the same flight as you do. This must be done with the airline company on departure.

  • Your firearms may only be signed for by you and will not be released to your outfitter or professional hunter should it/they arrive on a separate flight. In this case, the firearms will be held by the SAPS until such time as you claim ownership in person.

  • 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 company staff or the security company involved are actually creating a problem.

  • Please note however that there is a handling fee charged by airlines and/or security companies for the handling of handguns.

  • Temporary Import Permits (SAIP520) are issued to the particular person and are not transferable.

  • Temporary Import permits are issued for a period of 90 or 180 days.

  • When the visitor departs from the country, he MUST take all the firearms as stated on the Import Permit with him. He is not allowed to leave any of the firearms mentioned on the SAP 520 in South Africa.

  • Should a firearm not be declared and a temporary import permit not issued, and you proceed through customs without declaring a firearm, you will face severe penalties and possible arrest on departure from South Africa.

  • There is no permit required, nor any charge by the South African Police Service for a bow. Handling fees are charged by airline and/or security companies for bows and handguns, but not for rifles.

  • No more than one firearm per calibre and 200 rounds per calibre will be allowed into the country.

  • The only exception to this is for shotguns, where more than one shotgun of the same calibre 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 calibre.

  • Permits will only be issued for ammunition which is accompanied by a firearm of the same calibre.

  • Temporary Import Permits will not be issued for anyone under the age of 21.

  • Note: Prohibitions of firearms are: (Section 32 of the Arms and Ammunition Act, 1969) (No 75 of 1969

  • Automatic Rifles

  • Semi-automatic Rifles

  • Automatic or Semi-Automatic Shotguns

  • Hand Carbines

  • Strict controls on automatic and semi-automatic firearms are enforced.

  • The SAPS requests applications for semi-automatic shotguns be made well in advance so that the necessary administrative work can be completed authorizing the issuing of the permit before the client arrives in South Africa. No application on arrival will be considered.

  • No temporary imports will be issued for semi-automatic or automatic rifles.

Follow the following procedures:

Step one: download Form 4457 in the USA 

  • It is a "US Customs and Border Protection Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad" form that will need to be taken to a US Customs office nearest you. You will need to bring your firearm down to them and they will record it on this form. This will then need to be taken with your firearm to South Africa in order to get the gun into the country Application form 4457 and print 

Step Two: download Form SAP 520 

  • Visitors bringing firearms into South Africa for hunting purposes should obtain a copy of the Temporary Firearm Import Application — SAP520  in advance Application form SAPS 520 and print 

  • Fill in the temporary firearm import permit application (SAP520) in advance if possible and bring it with you. The SAP520 can however be filled out on arrival at the SAPS Firearm Office in South Africa.

  • NB! It is important to note that the form must be completed in black ink and must remain unsigned until the document is finalized in front of the police official issuing the actual permit at the airport.

  • I would like to recommend that where possible to obtain the actual temporary import permits in advance. It saves a lot of time, effort and hassles especially after a long flight.

To get import permits prior to arrival has pros and cons:

  • The cons are extra effort beforehand and cost. (approx $140)

  • The pros is basically that after you have been traveling for close to 24 hours, you probably won't have to queue for up to 3 hours to have your import licenses processed. It seems like PHASA has a way to "get you through faster".

  • It also means that we can hit the road earlier and arrive in camp and gives us more time to settle in, sight rifles etc and start hunting the next morning early.


PHASA (Proffesional Hunters Assoc. of South Africa) is now rendering this service at a cost of $ 140 per application. Should you wish to make use of this service you need to send the completed SAP520 form along with the following certified documentation to the PHASA Office by registered mail/courier to reach the Office 25 days before you arrive in the RSA: 

This is the contact details and adress to where your application for a import permit must be sent at PHASA:

PHASA Website

Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA)

P. O. Box 10264

Centurion 0046

South Africa

Tel: +27 – (0)12 - 667 2048

Fax: +27 – (0)12 - 667 2049

E mail:


If you do it yourself which is not too complicated the following procedures and documents is needed:

  1. A completed SAP 520 form

  2. Complete page 2 – E – Natural person’s details

  3. Complete page 4 – G – Import/Export details

  4. Complete page 5 – I – Details of firearms and ammunition

  5. Complete page 6 – J – Signature of applicant or

  6. Complete page 8 – N – Signature of nominee/authorized person. (Client should give written permission for this).

  7. Certified copy of passport

  8. Certified copy of airline ticket/itinerary

  9. Certified copy of proof of export (This is proof that your firearms have been legally exported from your country of residence. If your country does not have an official export permit the SAPS require a letter from a government agency of your country of residence stating this. (For USA citizens the 4457 form is acceptable.)

  10. Certified copy of firearm licences. The SAPS realizes that some countries, eg. the US do not issue gun licenses. In this event the USA form 4457 is acceptable for USA citizens.

  11. Invitation letter of Hunting Outfitter to include: Name of person being invited; Duration of the hunter’s stay; Outfitter details – name, surname, licence number and the province he is licenced in; The physical address(s) and telephone number(s) where the hunt(s) will take place; Type of animals being hunted eg. big game, birdshooting etc.; The recommended calibres required for hunt(s); Date and signature of Outfitter. (I will forward this on the E mail under "Invitation to hunt")

  12. You will enter the firearm office. Your documentation will be inspected. (If your documentation is not in order, you will be asked to rectify this.

  13. The actual firearms and ammunition will be physically inspected to ensure the serial numbers match those of the licenses and the application forms.

  14. You will then be asked to wait while your application is being processed...

  15. Step Three: Procedure to be followed on arrival at the Johannesburg International Airport Clear passport control in whichever Terminal where the flight arrives.

  16. Disembark from aircraft and clear passport control in whichever Terminal the flight arrives. (There are only 2 Terminals).

  17. Proceed to baggage claim at the respective carousel. Pick up general baggage. 

Then one of two scenarios can happen pending which country or which airline you arrived from:

  • Scenario A: Go to SAPS (South African Police Service) office or “firearms office” (just ask) in the carousel area. Ask for your gun case, collect it and proceed to customs, go through the green area, out into the public reception area with your gun as well as baggage. Veer off to your right under the electronic information sign and proceed to the “SAPS Firearms Office”. Look for office signage

  • Scenario B: Go to SAPS (South African Police Service) office or “firearms office” (just ask) in the carousel area. Ask for your gun case. They will inform you that you should collect it at the “SAPS Firearms Office. Proceed to customs without your gun, go through the green area, out into the public reception area with only your baggage. Veer off to your right under the electronic information sign and proceed to the “SAPS Firearms Office”. Look for office signage

Step Four: On departure you have to do the following:

  • Check in for your international flight.

  • Your rifle case will be tagged and you will be required to take it to the airline security desk that is situated just before the security checkpoint.

  • The airline security will check the serial no of your firearms and your import permit.

  • On your final departure from South Africa the temporary import permit must be handed back when you check in your rifle case.

  • Proceed to board.


  • If anybody involved in the above-mentioned process asks you for money that person is trying to bribe you. That is a criminal offence.

  • Every person involved in this process is in possession of an ACSA access card with his/her name and photograph. If a person tries to bribe you, ask them for their ACSA permit and make a note of their name.

  • Report it immediately to the South African Police Service.

  • If it is a South African Police Service member that asks for money, report it immediately or as soon as possible to the Client Service Center in the multi storey parking area or any other SA Police Station.

  • If any SA Police Service member refuses to take down your complaint or do not give you a case reference no contact the SAPS commander at Jhb Int Airport Director B. M. Zuma at 0827789639 or Superintendent SB Mhlangu at 0835894220.

  • The temporary import permit serves as your firearm licence in South Africa and enables you to buy ammunition in South Africa for the calibres noted on the permit.

  • At all times while you are in possession of your firearms, you must have the temporary import permit on your person.

  • When you are not using the firearms, it must be locked in a safe.

  • Updates to this information will be posted on the SAPS Website at, if there are any developments/changes due to the SAPS Firearm Office location, etc.

Connecting Flights:

  • If you have a domestic connecting flight you have to do the following:

  • Exit the international terminal building; Turn left. The domestic terminal is +- 500 meters away on your left-hand side;

  • At the domestic terminal, go to the second floor – this is domestic departures. Check in for your domestic flight;

  • Your rifle case will be tagged and you will be required to take it to the airline security desk that is situated just before the security checkpoint;

  • The airline security will check the serial number on your firearms and your temporary import permit.

  • Keep our import permit in your possession;

  • Your firearm will be placed on the aircraft by the airline security;

  • Collect your firearm from the airline security desk at your domestic destination.



We’ve launched a new website to make your rifle permit application quick, easy, and hassle-free!
Rifle Permits brings you a simplified, automated application process with three easy steps:


Step 1

Complete Documents Online

Step 2

Submit Documents Online

Step 3

We process the application and issue your permit

Our website has a completely new look, with easy-to-navigate tabs, accessible information, and a seamless user experience.
What are you waiting for? To get started, simply visit our website and see what we’ve done to streamline your experience.

As every travelling hunter would like to hunt with his/her firearms we are there to make it easy and stress free to bring your rifles into South Africa and beyond. Please visit our website for detailed information. Remember we need all the required documents at least 30 days prior to your hunt, so it is never to early to start the process!


You can download the new CBP4457 customs form from our website. This is only a blank form, you need to take your rifles to your nearest customs office for the form to be completed, signed and stamped by US customs. Visit this link to download the new form: