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How to Travel Internationally with a Rifle

Posted by Jessica Koenes on May 13th 2022

While traveling internationally with a firearm may sound like an intimidating prospect, it's not if you know the right regulations. Here are some things that will help ensure your trip goes off without any surprises or problems

Do you have a travel bug? Are you ready to go on an outfitting adventure overseas, but want some tips before boarding that plane! Here are a few things every traveler should know.

Adventure Travel Awaits!

The wonderful part about living in the United States of America, is you have so many freedoms and rights. These are things we can take for granted. The great thing is, you have the option to travel with your firearm, by land, air or sea. Let’s dig into some “need to know” items when it comes to taking your rifle across international borders by air.

Did you know?

Hundreds of American citizens are faced with arrests in other countries for carrying firearms or ammunition without the proper legal paperwork? An arrest is the last thing you need to deal with at the end of a long flight across the border. The majority of the yearly arrests made for improper documentation of firearms across international borders happen in Canada and Mexico.

The consequences and penalties for an arrest related to international improper firearm documentation are severe. You could be facing large fines, losing your firearm, prison time, and/or a life-long ban from a country. No one is above the law and there are no exceptions for violating another country’s gun laws. So take the time and do a little research ahead of time so you can avoid the nightmare of legal issues in foreign countries.

Traveling Internationally With A Firearm

Airport by Skitterphoto from Pixabay

Helpful Strategies for International Travel

If you are considering taking a firearm across international borders, you will need to do some work to make sure all your documentation is in order and to make sure you are complying with international firearm regulations and specific country firearm laws.

  • Research

    Know the laws of the country you will be traveling to. To find out more about gun laws in the specific country, contact the foreign embassy in the United States. Take the time and ask a LOT of questions. Do not assume anything. Even when it comes time to pick up your firearm. Find out where your luggage will be located. It may not be taken to oversized luggage. Keep your eyes open and if possible, have multiple eyes looking in the baggage claim.

  • Department of Homeland Security

    Read over the Department of Homeland Security's rules for exporting a firearm. The Homeland Security Agency is the primary federal agency that looks into international smuggling of illegal weapons. A failure to copy with the Department of Homeland Security regulations for permanent or temporary transportation of firearms may result in detention, seizure, and forfeiture of improperly declared firearms and ammunition.

  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

    Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to be up to date on the newest travel information. This also puts you on the radar for the U.S. embassy so they can contact you if there is an emergency or if anything goes south with your property as it travels internationally.

  • Firearm Travel Permits

    Most countries you visit require a permit for your firearm to enter the country. Get your US Custom form 4457 in order. This will be required documentation. You can get this documentation by bringing your gun to the customs office that is close to where you live. Call first before you show up with your firearm. Calling ahead will make this a whole lot easier. The Customs office will help you know what entrance to use and what time to come by for the paperwork. Once you complete the form, it is wise to laminate the form and keep it somewhere safe with other paperwork you need for international travel with your firearm. Remember, the rest of the world does not necessarily understand the freedoms of the 2nd Amendment. Even if you do not have a permit to own the gun you are traveling with, stop by a local sheriff and ask them to write a letter stating that you own the gun and are traveling with it. Trust me, it will save a big headache having the official documents in order, even if they are not required in the United States. This is especially helpful when coming across language barriers. Documentation is key. Communication is not something you can assume will pan out.

  • Contact Agencies for Travel Documentation

    It really helps to contact the agency you are traveling for. Whether it is a competition, hunting excursion, or whatever you are traveling with a firearm for. Having a printed copy of your invite will serve you well when it comes time to cross customs and explaining the purpose of your travel.

  • Local Travel Laws

    Look into the local laws in the country you are visiting. Some countries only allow you to carry your firearm from the airport to a locked facility. Make a few calls, find out before you arrive in a foreign airport, what is the expectation for your firearm once you land.

TSA Rifle Case

TSA Rifle Case by AJ Koenes from Cedar Mill Fine Firearms


Of course, international flight travel with a firearm has the same TSA regulations as traveling within the state by airplane with a firearm. Make sure you are storing your bullets separately from your firearm. Have the proper storage for your weapon, like firearm cases and make sure it has a TSA approved lock on the outside of the travel storage. Know your limitations and remember, TSA will not require you to give over your key or combo and look through your gun case. If they need to inspect the gun case, you will be notified and will be required to accommodate them. Give yourself extra time for checking in when traveling internationally or within the state with a firearm.

No matter what your purpose for international travel with a firearm is, take the time to make a few calls and do some intentional follow ups. Doing the legwork before you travel will make the trip so much more enjoyable and can make all the difference for finishing the last leg of your travels with your firearm in hand. Regulations change and this is especially true for international travel. It is always a good idea to do a final call and confirmation a week before you depart. Do ensure peace of mind, make the follow up call, take the extra time.

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