I always find it amusing that many shooters put a lot of time, effort and expense into their equipment, and hone their marksmanship skills. Yet when offered the chance to take it overseas, feel it’s too much hassle. I’ve hunted in Europe and Africa and have always taken my own guns; why, because that is why I bought them.
Going it alone
The process requires you to have a firearms certificate (FAC) and currently a European Firearms Pass (EFP), Brexit pending. Some countries want a letter from the outfitter, to prove why you are bringing guns in.
Check up on local laws as to what’s legal. For example, France and Italy have bans on military calibres. Some just wave you through with your guns, others, take all the details and issue a sort of temporary permit.
For your own peace of mind as well as legal airline requirements, you will need a lockable gun box. My Browning Maral rifle came in a fitted, combination-locked box. Cheaper, rigid plastic cases work too, but must accept padlocks for security reasons. Top of the line are the Peli cases, they offer enough capacity for not only a scoped rifle, but the rest of your gear too. Plus have wheels and handles, so great for dragging around airports.
Ammunition needs to me secured in a lockable metal container; cash boxes are favourite and will hold up to 40-60-rounds depending on calibre. This is put in your hold luggage (which must be lockable too) once it has been checked.
I would check the amount you can take with you, also before you go, check your gun numbers match those on your FAC, as mistakes happen. Before booking your flight, ensure that they will take firearms, as not all airlines do.
Get to the airport early, as the process takes time, at the booking in desk tell them you have guns and they will process your ticket and weigh the gun box and you might get charged excess baggage, outbound and inbound. Your hold baggage with ammo box inside then goes off in the usual manner.
Security will turn up and take you and the guns to HM Customs to log them in and out on the way back; don’t forget your FAC. Then it’s off to the X-ray machine, here you part company, you go to departures the gun gest held in secure storage and are personally put on the flight by an officer.
Getting to the other side, your guns might come off on the normal luggage carousel, or through security, it just depends where you are. With your FAC and EFP at the ready it’s best to declare them with the local customs, some issue paperwork others don’t, but it’s best to try and get some form of receipt for when you fly out. In truth I’ve only been asked for my EFP twice in many years and in most cases been waved through with no checks at all.
Once back in the UK, get your luggage and got straight to customs as your gun will already be there and they will check it back in.
It is a bit of a process I’ll admit, but it’s worth it when you have your own gun and ammo that drops your trophy animal as you know it will. And not have to rely on some piece of junk that could not shoot its way out of a dust bin from the inside.
Are you planning to travel for hunting soon? Where are you going?