Traveling Outside of the US with Firearms

Posted On : Apr 9, 2015

Posted By : Tom Murphy

Traveling Outside the US with Firearms

Traveling Outside of the US with Firearms

This April new requirements will go into force concerning travel out of the USA with guns and ammo. The government now considers this an export, and has passed new regulations.  Actually, the ruling was made in 2008, but not enforced until now. If the quantity is 3 firearms or fewer, or a maximum of 1,000 rounds of ammunition, there is an export license exception, but a traveler with firearms will now be required to file electronic export information. 

There is an online quiz that can help you determine whether an export license or an exemption applies. It’s at:

From the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement page FAQs:

I am going hunting in Africa and plan to take a rifle and rifle ammunition; do I need to obtain an export license?

No, 22 C.F.R. § 123.17 allows U.S. persons to temporarily export up to three (3) firearms (rifles and/or handguns) and up to 1000 rounds of related ammunition without a license providing that they will be returned to the United States. However, the exporter is still required to make a declaration via the Automated Export System (AES), pursuant to 22 C.F.R. § 123.22(a) and submit the AES Internal Transaction Number (ITN) along with the firearms/ammunition to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for visual inspection prior to departure from the U.S. NOTE: U.S. persons exporting firearms and ammunition from the United States using a valid license exemption are responsible for knowing and complying with any foreign laws requiring an import permit or advanced authorization prior to transporting or carrying firearms and ammunition into the foreign country. Attempting to bring firearms into a foreign country without prior authorization or permission from the appropriate foreign officials may result in arrest, criminal prosecution, seizure of personally owned firearms and ammunition, and/or denial of entry into the country.

What is required when traveling internationally with firearms and/or ammunition for personal use in recreational activities such as hunting and shooting sports competitions?

Any removal of firearms and/or ammunition from the U.S. for any period of time is considered an “export” and requires compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. 22 C.F.R. § 123.17 allows U.S. persons to export temporarily from the United States without a license not more than three (3) non-automatic/semi-automatic firearms in Category I(a) of the United States Munitions List (rifles and pistols up to .50 caliber ) and not more than 1,000 cartridges therefor, provided that:

1.The person declares the articles to a CBP officer upon each departure from the United States, presents the Internal Transaction Number (ITN) from submission of the Electronic Export Information (EEI) in the Automated Export System (AES) per 22 C.F.R. § 123.22, and the articles are presented to the CBP officer for inspection.

2.The firearms and accompanying ammunition to be exported is with the individual's baggage or effects, whether accompanied or unaccompanied (i.e. checked baggage), but not mailed.

3.The firearms and accompanying ammunition must be for that person's exclusive use and not for re-export, sale, gift, or other transfer of ownership. The person must declare that it is his/her intention to return the article(s) on each return to the United States.

Along with this new requirement, the hunter still has to get his guns inspected by US Customs and a Form 4457 filled out and stamped.  Form 4457 is known as the Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad.  This covers anything of value such as cameras, lenses, computers, and firearms.  This form informs Customs that you took the item out of the USA and are bringing it back; that you are the owner and that duty doesn’t have to be paid. 

You can download this form from the Internet, list your firearm by make, model and serial number and take the form and the firearms to the nearest Customs office.  The Customs agent will inspect your firearms for correct serial number, then sign and date the form.  It doesn’t have an expiration date, and can be used for multiple trips.

So, to take firearms out of the country, what can you do?

1.   Do all of the following yourself:

           a).  First, fill out the Form 4457 and get it stamped at a US Customs office.
           b).  Get an EIN on the IRS website as a sole proprietor.
           c).  Go online and take the necessary steps to get an ITN, and then
                 present the firearms and ITN to Customs. (You could get the
                 Form4457 at this time, but it’s better to have it in advance.)

2.   Use a travel agency that has a firearms permit service, and let them do the
      heavy lifting.


3).   Rent a firearm in the country where you will be hunting.  Most outfitters have
       rifles and ammunition available at a nominal cost.  This alleviates the
       necessity of taking any firearms with you.

Whatever you plan to do, allow sufficient time to get everything in place.  Start at least 60 days before your departure.  Make multiple copies of all your paperwork, including your passport.  When you travel, put a copy in each piece of luggage, plus another in with your original documents.  And don’t forget to complete the paperwork and other requirements for the countries you will be traveling to or transiting through.

Tom Murphy