International Travel

If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please review the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel. Many countries will not allow you to enter with a firearm even if you are only traveling through the country on the way to your final destination. Each year, hundreds of U.S. citizens face arrest in other countries because they are carrying firearms or ammunition, much of which they could legally possess in the United States. If you plan to take your firearms or ammunition to another country, you should contact officials at that country’s embassy to learn about its regulations.

If you find that you can legally take your handgun with you, be sure to:

  • Ask your airline about limitations or fees that may apply for firearms and ammunition.
  • Transport unloaded firearms in a locked, hard-sided container as checked baggage only.
  • Make sure the container completely secures the firearm from being accessed.
  • Retain the only key or the combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations.
  • Transport any firearm parts — including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins — in checked baggage as they are prohibited in carry-on baggage.
  • Transport any firearm ammunition magazines or clips, whether loaded or empty, securely boxed or within the hard-sided case containing your unloaded firearm.
  • Transport any ammunition in your checked baggage, as it is prohibited in carry-on baggage.
  • Transport any small arms ammunition (up to .75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge) packaged in a fiber (such as cardboard), wood, plastic or metal box specifically designed to carry ammunition.
  • Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter.

Contact TSA Customer Service with any questions you may have.

Per U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), firearms are considered restricted items, meaning that special licenses or permits are required from a federal agency before they are allowed to enter the United States. However, you do not need an ATF permit if you can demonstrate that you are returning with the same firearms or ammunition that you took out of the United States. To prevent problems when returning, you should register your firearms and related equipment by taking them to any CBP office before you leave the United States. The CBP officer will register them on the same CBP Form-4457 used to register cameras or computers.

Per the U.S. State Department traveling internationally with firearms webpage, the penalties for carrying firearms or ammunition that are illegal in other countries can be severe: steep fines, having firearms (and vehicles, if traveling by car) confiscated, prison time and/or being banned for life from that country.

No one is exempt from penalties for violating another country’s gun laws. With a little thought and research ahead of time, you can avoid running into trouble if you decide to travel with your gun abroad.

Related Articles From the USCCA Blog

Best Practices for Traveling With Firearms

Best Practices for Traveling With Firearms

Beth Alcazar — November 1, 2016

Securing Firearms While Traveling

Securing Firearms While Traveling

Claude Werner — October 25, 2012