Taking a Handgun to Africa

Posted On : Jul 26, 2016

Posted By : DAH

500 Smith and Wesson Handgun

Taking a Handgun to Africa

Some of us like to hunt the hard way; walk for miles; climb mountains, live in tents, fight bugs.  Then there are those of us who like to hunt the real hard way - with handguns.  I happen to be one of the handgun hunting types and have taken a number of large, economy-sized animals in Africa with a handgun.  My firearm of choice is the Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum from their Performance Center.

Getting a handgun into African countries that allow them isn’t really difficult.  There are a few regulations that pertain strictly to handguns, but nothing onerous.  Here is a breakdown of individual countries and their laws regarding handguns.  There is one caveat, though.  It IS Africa, and laws are subject to change without much rhyme or reason.  If you want to handgun hunt in Africa, plan on starting at least six months out.  Some paperwork has to be submitted months before your departure.

Be sure to include a cleaning kit with gun oil when hunting Africa as conditions can be so dusty, or wet, that your handgun will have to be cleaned every night.

Benin Handgun Regulations

No handguns are allowed.

No automatic or semiautomatic firearms are allowed.

Benin charges for firearms permits.

Botswana Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic or military style firearms are prohibited.

Burkina Faso Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic or military style firearms are prohibited.

Cameroon Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic or military style handguns are prohibited.

Central African Republic Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic or military style firearms are prohibited.

Ethiopia Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic or military style firearms are prohibited.

Mozambique Handgun Regulations

Handguns are allowed with a specific permit.  The Mozambique temporary firearm import permit must be obtained in advance for you by your outfitter.  The fee runs from $150 to $300 per hunter depending on the number of firearms and amount of ammunition.  A maximum of 60 rounds of ammunition per firearm is allowed.  Your outfitter will send you a form to fill out.  He will then submit it to the Ministry of the Interior on your behalf as all government correspondence is in Portuguese.

The permit will list the firearms information, including serial numbers that you provide to the outfitter, and you won’t be able to change firearms afterwards.  Your handgun serial number will be checked upon entering Mozambique.

You will need:

  • A copy of the information page on your passport
  • Four passport photographs
  • Proof of firearms ownership -  U.S. citizens can use the U.S. Customs Form 4457
  • An introduction from your outfitter
  • Hunt dates (total time in Mozambique)
  • Hunting concession details
  • In-country contact details

Note: as you will be travelling through South Africa in route to Mozambique, you will have to obtain a South African firearm import permit if you remain overnight.  See “South Africa” (below) for information on this permit.   Make sure it is valid for multiple entries, as you will need it when returning through South Africa.

Namibia Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic and automatic firearms are prohibited.

South Africa Handgun Regulations

All hunters bringing handguns into South Africa must have an application form SAPS 520 along with a notarized copy of the information and photograph page of their passport.  Proof of ownership of the firearm must be presented.  For hunters from America, U.S. Customs Form 4457 is sufficient.  Also, a letter from the outfitter showing his outfitter license number, hunt dates, hunt location, species of animal to be hunted, and firearms for the hunt must accompany the SAPS 520 form.

The handgun hunter must provide a letter stating the reason for wanting to hunt in South Africa with a handgun.  It must be for a good reason, like research or development, or the permit will be denied.  The Central Firearms Registry must have the make and model in its computer, or the hunter will have to get a letter from the manufacturer stating that it was built for hunting purpose only.  The Registry may request more information, so start the paperwork process early.

The SAPS 520 form must be filled out properly or it may be rejected.  The 10-page form can be downloaded HERE.  For more information on this form, go to African Firearm Hunting by Country.

On arrival at O.R.Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, security staff will remove the cased handgun and take it to the South African Police Office at the baggage area. The hunter will clear immigration, collect baggage, and proceed to the firearms office.  It’s highly recommended that the hunter use a firearms permitting service located in Johannesburg.  There are a number of “meet-and-greet” services that will meet you at the baggage area and bring you straight through the police station.  The one I have sucessfully used in the past is provided by the Afton Guest House;

Afton Guest House is only seven minutes from the airport, and offers excellent B&B services.  Their prices are reasonable and, specifically for handgun hunters, they have a large safe to store your handgun.

Tanzania Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic and automatic firearms are strictly prohibited

Uganda Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic and automatic firearms are prohibited.

Zambia Handgun Regulations

Handguns, semiautomatic, automatic, or military style firearms are prohibited.

Zimbabwe Handgun Regulations

Handguns can be imported as a primary hunting firearm.  They can also be carried as backup.  No handgun hunting is allowed on national park land, but is allowed on the Save Conservancy or tribal land.  There is no fee for a firearm permit.

This writer has hunted in both South Africa and Zimbabwe with a handgun.  The single biggest problem encountered was the reaction of customs people everywhere when the gun case was opened and 70 ounces of Smith & Wesson’s finest stainless steel was displayed.  It made for a great conversation piece.

So to summarize, among the primary hunting destination countries in Africa, handgun hunting is only allowed in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.  So if you are planning on taking a handgun to Africa, be certain to check each country’s firearm regulations for any changes well in advance of departing for your African safari.