Don't get caught out!
Normally, a few months before the shooting seasons kicks off again we start getting questions from our customer that sound a little something like this:
Can I take my gun on board the aircraft?
How many guns can I take on board?
What about ammunition, is it safe to carry in a pressurised aeroplane?
What paperwork do you need so I don't have to worry about customs and special branch?
While it is perfectly legal to carry licensed weapons on board privately owned or chartered aircraft there are a few rules that you need to adhere to in order to ensure a smooth transit into the country you're visiting and leaving.
First things first.. Paperwork.
You'll need to check that you have your paperwork in order. This means that for every gun you want to take with you, you will need a copy of the registration certificate. This also goes for any amount of ammunition you wish to carry but we will get to that later.
Your charter company or operations department should request copies of these documents well in advance of your flight. Copies will then be passed around to the relevant places and then kept on file for the authorities as a reference.
You should take advantage of the opportunity to send the documents before your flight because this then means that the handling agent, who is expecting your weapons, can send the details to customs and special branch before hand. This will expedite your arrival and exit on to your final destination quite considerably.
Ammunition - To carry or not to carry?
Some operators advise against taking ammunition but it is perfectly legal and completely safe if handled correctly.
First of all if you wish to carry ammunition you must ensure that the operator of the aircraft holds a valid Dangerous Goods Certificate. This ensures that they know how to handle and place items which can be considered hazardous to flight. Not all operators have this so it's always best to check.
Secondly, when you're planning how much ammunition you will need it is important to remember that that you cannot bring more than 5kg. This is stipulated by the authorities so it's best to stick to it.
Even if you have sent your paperwork in advance, more often than not the special branch and customs officers will want to visually inspect your weapons to ensure that they are what you say they are. If you haven't prepared this phase of your trip can take a good while, especially if you're carrying a few guns.
Here are a few things that you can do to speed up the process:
Carry copies of your gun licences on your person - they can get lost in the system between different handling agents.
Ensure your gun is in a case with easy access and where possible position your gun so the serial number is clearly visible when opening the case. This will also mean that the special branch or customs officer won't have a reason to manhandle your expensive pride and joy.
Label your case clearly. Sometimes special branch and customs officers can check ten guns at a time and accidentally put the wrong gun in the wrong case. After a long trip you don't want to be checking who has which gun.
Last but not least, let the handling agent take the weapon and ammunition from the aircraft to the lounge or room where they are to be inspected. It is a legal requirement that you don't touch or handle any weapons and ammunition whilst airside. As well as this, the handler knows where the special branch or customs officer wants them taking.
In conclusion, if you've sent your paperwork well in advance and stick to the ammunition quantity rules then the checks shouldn't take more than five minutes. If you don't, you could be waiting around for half an hour while your private driver adds the unexpected waiting time to the bill.
Book early with us to avoid disappointment on your first shoot!
Remember, as ever we are here to look after your travel arrangements. If you want to get in touch about prices please use the contact us for more details.