Firearm Importance

Visitors bringing firearms into South Africa for hunting purposes should try to obtain a copy of the Temporary Firearm Import Application – SAP311 in advance from their hunting outfitter and complete this form before arrival in South Africa. This is recommended if possible to help streamline the entry process. The form however can be filled out on arrival. The form must be completed in black ink and left unsigned until the document is finalized in front of the police official issuing the actual permit at the airport.

Required along with the SAP311 will be the following:

  • Passport
  • Airline Ticket
  • Proof of Ownership, i.e. firearm licenses, etc

While the South African Police Service has been lenient up until now regarding proof of ownership, they are now stricter in this regard. To preclude any problems on arrival, please make sure you have proof of ownership by the way of a gun licence, customs declaration letter from the country of origin, etc. Proof of ownership is obligatory.

 Contact Details for Client While in South Africa

Please make sure that you have the company name and the name of your outfitter, as well as addresses and contact telephone numbers in South Africa of where they will be staying/hunting during the course of your trip. Both business and cell numbers must be supplied. This information is necessary for the actual Temporary Import Permit, as well as if the Police need to get in contact for any reason.

We would recommend a letter from the outfitter addressed to the client with all these details which the client can produce on arrival. 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 firearm/s in safekeeping until that client leaves South Africa.

 Firearms will be physically inspected to ensure the serial numbers match those of the licenses and the application forms. Ammunition will also be inspected and it is important to note that this ammunition also requires a permit.

 For visitors clearing customs at the Johannesburg International Airport, please take note of the following procedure to be followed on arrival: Clear passport control in whichever terminal where the flight arrives. (Generally, SAA and its co-partners at Terminal 2, and all other airlines in Terminal 1).

Proceed to baggage claim at the respective carousel. Pick up general baggage, then proceed to the respective Airline Help Desk to pick up firearm/s from the airline company and sign the receipt for the firearm/s.

 Proceed to the South African Police Firearm Office. Look for the office signage. (N.B. Do not at this stage proceed to customs)

On receipt of the temporary import permit at the SAP Firearms Office, proceed to Customs, the Red Zone, where you declare the firearm/s and finish other custom clearance procedures. For those visitors clearing customs at any of the other international points of entry, please take note of the relevant suggestions made above which relate to documentation, requirements, etc. Please 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.

Also, please ensure that your firearms arrive on the same flight as you do. This must be done with the airline company on departure. Your firearm/s 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 firearm/s 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  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 (SAP312) are issued to a 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 312 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 caliber 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 caliber. Permits will only be issued for ammunition that is accompanied by a firearm of the same caliber.

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

Prohibitions of firearms are: (Section 32 of the Arms and Ammunition Act, 1969) (Act. 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.

This will affect clients wanting to bring in semi-automatic shotguns on temporary import permits. The latest requirement which is in effect immediately is that no temporary import permit will be issued unless the application is made in advance together with a motivational letter as to why the shotgun is needed. The application must be made through the Central Firearms Registry.

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.

Here you can download the official SAP 520 application form as well as the SAP 520 Instructions.




On this page you will find the official Firearm Import Legislation as described by the South African police.

It should give you no problems to import your own firearm, as long as the documentation and applications are correct. Just allow yourself time enough in the airport to go thru the formalities.

Always make sure you obtain the latest information and documents before you start your journey.

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