Safari Club International has received information about changes in the requirements for hunters who wish to export/bring their firearms and ammunition with them when they travel to hunt outside the United States. SCI has been researching these new requirements in order to understand exactly why these changes are going into effect and what will be required of our members who wish to travel with their firearms and ammunition to hunt in other countries. A great deal of confusion still remains, but we are attempting to present members with some of the questions being raised and the answers we have discovered so far. Please note that the information below is not intended to serve as legal advice. Before traveling, SCI members are advised to consult directly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and/or their own legal counsel:
Q: What is now required of a hunter who wishes to export/bring his or her firearms/ammunition to hunt outside the U.S.?
A: The firearms and ammunition to be exported must be with the individual’s accompanied or unaccompanied (checked) baggage or effects. The owner must declare that the firearms and/or ammunition to be exported are for his/her exclusive use and not for re-export or other transfer of ownership. The owner must state that it is his/her intent to return with the firearms/ammunition on his/her return to the United States.
See 22 C.F.R. §123.17
Q: Which of these requirements are new?
A: Firearm/ammunition owners are newly being required to submit Electronic Export Information (EEI) in the Automated Export System (AES) to obtain an Internal Transaction Number (ITN). The AES is a joint venture between CBP, the Foreign Trade Division of the Bureau of the Census (under the Department of Commerce), the Bureau of Industry and Security (under Commerce), the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (under the Department of State), other Federal agencies, and the export trade community.
Q: How are the new export requirements different than what was previously required?
A: For many years, the State Department’s International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) have allowed Americans to temporarily export up to three non-automatic firearms and up to 1,000 rounds of ammunition without a license, as long as the firearms were declared and presented to a CBP officer (also known as a Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) license exemption). Previously, the owner of the firearms/ammunition would bring the firearms/ammunition to a CBP office at some point before the trip and would complete Customs Form 4457—a form that can be completed for any personal property and that is normally used to prove that the traveler owned the property before going abroad. The form protects a traveler from paying import duties on items already owned. The owner of the firearms/ammunition would retain the form and present it upon reentry if needed. Form 4457 will no longer satisfy the requirements for bringing firearms/ammunition out of the country.
Additional information about the new requirements can be obtained from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website: https://www.ice.gov/cpi/faq
Q: Why is this change going into effect now?
A: These new requirements became part of regulations that went into effect in 2012. For reasons unknown at this time, the government has only recently decided to implement them.
Q: When do these changes go into effect?
A: While we do not know for certain, some sources indicate that these changes have already gone into effect. Other sources state that the changes will be imposed on April 3, 2015. Regardless, it appears that CBP may not actually be ready to fully implement these changes. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may not be able to require individuals to use the AES system because the system requires entry of an Employer Identification Number (EIN). EINs are normally only obtained by businesses, and the Internal Revenue Service says they should only be used for tax purposes. Because individuals do not generally possess EINs, it may not be possible for ICE to require hunters to utilize them for firearms exportation purposes. SCI is currently investigating this question.
SCI has learned from the National Rifle Association that CBP has instituted a temporary plan for those who wish to export their firearms and who are either unaware of the new requirements or are unable to use the AES system. We have been told that, under the temporary plan, CBP officers at airports can manually enter identifying information about the traveler/exporter and his/her firearms. SCI is attempting to verify this information. We do not know how long this temporary plan may be in effect. We also do not know what system will be available for those who are leaving the U.S. by means other than airports (e.g., driving to Canada).
Q: What is SCI doing to address these changes?
A: Currently, SCI is gathering information to try to better inform our members about what they will need to do to ensure that they are complying the new requirements. At the same time, we will be working on ways to delay the implementation of the requirements until our members have a better understanding of how to comply. We are also working with our partners in the hunting and recreational shooting communities to challenge the implementation of these requirements. We will continue to update you as we obtain additional information.