South Africa Refuses 4457 Forms with “Expired” Dates for Firearm Importation

South Africa Refuses 4457 Forms with “Expired” Dates for Firearm Importation

US hunters going to South Africa with firearms must ensure their Customs Form 4457 does not show an “expiration” date that has passed. The date is found in the top right-hand corner of the form. The South African Police Services’ (SAPS) central firearms desk has advised the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) that they will no longer accept any US Department of Homeland Security Certificate of Registration (CBP Form 4457) if the date in the top-right hand corner has expired, even if a US border official has stamped it with a later date.

A 4457 Form is the document accepted by customs authorities around the world in lieu of a firearms ownership license for US hunters temporarily importing a firearm for a hunting trip. The Hunting Report first warned you about this issue with the “expiration” date on the US Customs Form 4457 last October (see Article 3892), when a subscriber reported a SAPS official did not want to accept his form for this very reason.

US Customs has not addressed this problem, despite several reports from hunters hassled over the “expiration” date. According to US Customs officials, the expiration date in the top right-hand corner is strictly for internal use and not meant as an expiration on the use of the form. Despite this, customs authorities and other agents abroad who check required firearm import documents have interpreted the date as an expiration on the use of the document.

Before you leave the US for South Africa, make sure you have a NEW CBP Form 4457, which is available from Homeland Security’s official website. That means you will have to get your new form signed and stamped by a US Customs officer before departing the US.

PHASA also warns no one should try bribing South African police to allow the importation of their firearms or to speed up the process. “Paying bribes is not acceptable under any circumstances,” reads a notice from PHASA to The Hunting Report. “Hunters are encouraged to expose anyone who tries to extort money or who offers money to an official in order to circumvent due legal procedures. Also, please treat South African police officers courteously.” There have been several instances of safari operators or their clients creating difficulties with rude behaviour, which is why safari operators can no longer accompany clients into SAPS offices.

PHASA strongly advises hunting clients to pre-apply for temporary South African import/export firearm permits and/or a transit permit by using a reputable, registered meet-and-greet agency.  Although there is a small fee, PHASA contends that the peace of mind and time saved from standing in line at the firearm permit office at OR Tambo airport is well worth it. For assistance from PHASA click here.

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