Letter Re: Procedures for a Tourist Bringing a Pistol to South Africa

Dear JWR:
The family and I have a photo safari planned in South Africa this September. I have the paperwork to take my person carry pistol with me. This paperwork is from the South African Police force. I am wondering if anyone you know has done this before. I have friends who have taken the large caliber rifles with no problem. I have searched SurvivalBlog archives but the question of taking a pistol has not shown up.

My main question is this. Do I need BATF or commerce department import/export paperwork/permission to take the pistol out of the US and back into the country. We will be transiting JFK and I know not to take possession of my luggage in New York. Thanks, – C.A.

JWR Replies: You’ll have to abide by both U.S. law and South African law.

If “self defense” is not a normally-approved justification (by the South African government), then the first thing that comes to mind is enrolling in a one day handgun shooting course in South Africa, as part of your vacation trip.. With that course as justification, you could conceivably take one or even two handguns per person, as well as the requisite magazines, holsters, and ammunition. They would of course have to be transported in airline-approved locking cases. (To minimize the risk of theft, it is best to put those cases inside of your larger checked luggage.)

OBTW, most airline rules require that any ammunition must be in the original factory boxes, and furthermore they have fairly low limits on the number of cartridges that you can bring. (Typically 200 rounds.)