Border Patrol, Customs Advice to Hunters Planning International Travel


WASHINGTON—Many hunters enjoy traveling to international destinations, but before heading on that international hunting trip, there are certain requirements hunters must first satisfy.

“When planning your trip, it is important to remember that regulations change frequently around the world, depending on outbreaks of exotic plant and animal diseases,” said Steve Ehrlich, Branch Chief of CBP’s Travel and Tourism Initiative. “It is the traveler’s responsibility to be aware of these regulations in order to ensure their trip goes smoothly.”

Hunters who plan to travel with their licensed firearms must obtain a Customs and Border Protection Form 4457, Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad. This form provides the traveler with a document that lists articles that will be taken out of the country so they won’t be charged duties on these items upon return to the United States. This form is in addition to any import, export, or sportsman’s licenses that may be required in the destination country.

“This form allows a CBP officer to verify that the traveler has that property in their possession while they’re exiting the United States,” Ehrlich explained.

Additionally, hunters must ensure that their firearms are properly licensed for export, according to Department of Commerce and Department of State rules.

“The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has jurisdiction over shotguns with a barrel length of 18 inches or more and related components,” explained Ehrlich. “BIS also has jurisdiction over muzzle-loading rifles and handguns, air guns, replica firearms, shotgun shells and components, and most optical sighting devices for firearms.”

Rifles and shotguns with a barrel less than 18 inches are the jurisdiction of the Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), which has jurisdiction over defense articles and services. Further information on traveling with firearms can be found on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

Should the hunter bag the desired game, hunters should contact their local Port of Entry prior to returning home for information on processing the animal and the availability of necessary inspectors.

“Travelers are responsible for declaring their items and presenting them for inspection upon returning to the United States,” Ehrlich explained. “All agriculture-related products must be declared when entering the United States to include animal hunting trophies, game animal carcasses, and hides.”

Because animal hunting trophies, game animal carcasses, and hides are severely restricted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), it is also up to the hunter to learn which animals can be hunted and brought back to the United States. Hunters should visit the CBP website for information on what agricultural products can be brought into the United States.

For further information on how to bring your hunting trophies back to the United States, email the National Center for Import and Export at [email protected] or call (301) 851-3300.

As for the photo above, bringing back elephant trophies is allowed on a case-by-case basis. Call the CBP at the number above to confirm before you go on that big game hunt in Africa.

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