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How to fill out SAPS 520 when hunting in South Africa

In this section we discuss how to fill out SAPS 520 when hunting in South Africa. The SAPS 520 form is available in pdf format and can be downloaded from slightly further down on this page. Please follow the instructions diligently and do not sign the form unless requested to do

so in the presence of a South African police official. (If you need an example of how to fill out SAPS 520, ask us and we will email you a copy if you are booking a hunt through us. If you are booking a photo safari with us on your way to hunt in Zimbabwe with Georgia Safaris, we will supply you with instructions on how to fill out SAPS 520 when hunting in South Africa).

SAPS 520 requirements when hunting elsewhere in Africa

Will you be in transit in South Africa when going hunting in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe or Mozambique? If your answer is yes, then you need to know how to fill out SAPS 520 when hunting in South Africa.

If you hunt with us we supply a fully filled out example of the SAPS 520.

Firearm and hunting rifle import procedure

1. If you are bringing a rifle into South Africa for the purpose of hunting you must fill out an SAPS 520 form and the US Customs 4470 form. You are welcome to download the SAPS 520 from here and you are welcome to download the US Customs 4470 from here

The SAPS 520 form must be completed in black ink only (unsigned until told by a South African Police official to sign it)

2. Notarised copy of your passport (photo and signature page only) Please make sure you have a minimum of two free pages in your passport and a validity of six months after returning home (read more in the Gear Guide section about your passport)

3. Notarised copy of your proof of ownership of the firearms you intend

bringing along on your safari hunt (US Customs form 4457 or License)

4. Copy of your flight schedule / itinerary

5. Copy of your letter of invitation from your outfitter: Hunting in Africa Safaris will forward you an invitation upon acceptance of a hunt with us. For precise assistance with the importation process, we highly recommend you have your firearms pre-cleared ahead of your arrival. This will save you at least 2 – 3 hours at the South African Police Service clearing office at the airport in Johannesburg depending on how many other hunters there are on the flight with you. For this service we recommend the services of Hunters Support at They have someone in the customs area who will assist you from there right up to receiving your firearms.

How to fill out SAPS 520 when hunting in South Africa

You still need to fill out form SAPS 520 if you are in transit between South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. This appiles to whether you are hunting in South Africa or not.

1. You must complete sections E 1 to E 25.4, G, I and J (only sign the document in the presence of a police official when requested to do so)

2. Please complete the SAPS 520 in black ink only, no other color will be accepted by the authorities.

3. An original notarized copy of your passport (photo and signature page). The passport must have a minimum of two free pages and a minimum of six months validity after the termination of the hunt.

4. A notarized copy of proof of ownership of your firearms in the form of:

4.1 The US Customs form 4457 OR

4.2 A letter from your local sheriff in the form of an affidavit confirming ownership OR

4.3 An invoice from the gun shop where you purchased the firearms OR

4.4 A copy of your firearms license. (whichever one is applicable).

5. The Proof of Ownership 4457 (or any of the other forms of proof of ownership) and the copy of your passport must be signed and stamped as true copies of the original documents by a Public Notary.

6. The letter of invitation from Hunting in Africa Safaris that was sent to you prior to your departure – you must have this invitation handy with your other documentation upon arrival. You need to ensure that:

6.1 You have a maximum of four firearms, depending on how many firearms the airline you are traveling with will allow per passenger.

6.2 You may NOT bring in to the country more than one rifle of the same caliber – unless prior approval was obtained at least 4 – 6 months ahead of your arrival date

6.3 The frame, barrel or action of all your firearms are marked with the same serial number

6.4 For semi-auto shotguns, we will refer you directly to for assistance as this is a tricky process

6.5 Handguns for hunting purposes: please visit for assistance as this is a tricky process.

To have your firearms pre-cleared or not

There are many companies in South Africa that pre-clear your firearms for temporary import purposes. This is done for a fee that you pay direct to the pre-clearing company.

The biggest pro to having your firearms pre-cleared is: you spend minimal time in the SAPS (South African Police Service) office at the airport in Johannesburg. After a gruelling 15 + hours in an airplane, you want to get out and start hunting. The pre-clearing of your firearms limits your time in the SAPS office.

The biggest con to having your firearms pre-cleared is it costs extra money. Some hunters prefer to pay the additional fee, and some hunters rather go the longer route.

One more con: if you are the only hunter on your flight, the time spent in the SAPS office is about as much as when you have pre-cleared firearms. Of course, no-one knows beforehand how many hunters will be on your flight.

Remember to check with the airline you are traveling with what their requirements are for transporting ammunition.

What to do once you disembarked at Johannesburg airport

If you are a smoker, hang on it will be a while yet before you can light up.

Have your passport handy so you can clear customs. Once you have cleared customs, locate the carousel where all your luggage will hopefully appear. Your rifle will NOT be there: it is transported direct from the airplane to the SAPS office. Once you have all your luggage, exit customs into the arrivals hall. Keep to the right where Pieter or our representative will be waiting at the flight information board and assist you to the SAPS office. It is about 100 ft from the entrance of the arrivals hall to where the flight information board is.

Have your unsigned and filled out SAPS 520 handy together with the hunting invitation letter from Mkulu African Hunting Safaris. The SAPS official will have you identify your rifle case. Open the rifle case and produce the rifles so the official can compare the serial number on your rifles with the serial numbers filled out in the SAPS 520 form. It is a good idea to have the bolt removed from the rifle and stored beside the rifle. It is a brilliant idea to have no ammunition in the chamber and magazine of the rifle. If all paperwork is in order, we can proceed to the parking lot and head out start driving to your hunting destination.

Additional information required
  • A letter of motivation by yourself stating the following: That you are temporarily importing the firearms (list serial numbers and calibers) for the sole purpose of hunting in South Africa. Secondly, state you intend taking those rifles back with you at the end of the hunt.
  • List the species of animals that you are intending on hunting and also which province (State) you will be hunting in.
  • Add your intended date of departure Please bear in mind that all firearms will be physically inspected by a police official upon entry into South Africa, and again on departure.
Firearms that may not be imported
  • Any fully automatic firearm.
  • Weapons which can be classified as military firearms.
  • Any semi-automatic firearms – including shotguns.
  • You are not allowed to bring into the country two firearms of the same caliber unless prior approval from the authorities was obtained.