Air Travel With Guns

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Qantas Airlines have changed their regulations in regards to checked in baggage for domestic travel. As of June 1st, 2011 only 1 piece of baggage per customer is allowed to be checked in. Any additional pieces of baggage Qantas will charge the customer $30 each way(firearms are counted as baggage). This means if you are flying with a suitcase and your firearm it will count as 2 pieces of baggage and a fee of $30 will be charged to you upon checking in. The only way around this is by putting your firearm and luggage in the one bag and making sure all stays below the 23kg weight restriction.

When booking your next shooting trip it is worthwhile taking the above into consideration. The information below outlines domestic airlines regulations on travelling with firearms:

QANTAS – Only 1 piece of baggage per customer. All additional pieces of baggage (including firearms) to be charged $30 each.

JETSTAR – 20 kg weight restriction for all baggage. Your firearm is counted towards this. As the average firearm and case weighs approx 8-10kg this only leaves you 10-12kg of luggage to take with you.

VIRGIN – 23kg weight restriction for luggage. Your firearm is put thru as “sporting equipment” and weighed only as 5kg regardless of its actual weight.

TIGER – No firearms are permitted with Tiger Airways.

As airline regulations regarding transport of firearms change from time to time, check with your chosen airline to verify their current requirements.

With the advent of cheap air travel within Australia, many more hunters and shooters are taking to the skies. The discount airlines have revolutionised air travel and many hunters are now following the gamebird seasons around the country. Even those shooters that enjoy competing in target shooting competitions are becoming frequent fliers and going to shoot at places they would never have thought of before. And why not? In some cases it is cheaper to fly to some hunting and shooting destinations than it is to drive a car and takes a lot less in time.

Many firearm owners are scared or worried about what is required for air travel with guns. The security arrangementsmake people think that to be able to take a firearm on a plane would be impossible. Well it is not impossible.

Let’s face it, your firearm is after all, just a lump of wood with a steel tube screwed on it. When it is thirty thousand feet up in the air in the cargo hold, it is of no danger to anyone. It is no different to a set of golf clubs or a baseball bat at that height.


So what are the procedures? Firearms and ammunition are classed as Dangerous Goods and must be declared before you take off. Of course, and rightly so, they cannot be packed in carry-on baggage. In checked in baggage though, they can be safely transported by air provided that they are correctly packaged, labelled and accompanied by the appropriate documentation. If there is anything to fear, it is not the airlines, it is the paperwork required by the Australian Customs Service and various State Police departments. Luckily, on interstate domestic flights this is of no concern and only the airlines have to be dealt with.

Most domestic airlines have procedures and requirements which are quite simple. The firearm must be packed in a dismantled condition. Shotguns have barrels removed and rifles have the bolts removed. They must be packed in a hard lockable case. Any of the plastic or aluminium gun cases will do. There must be no ammunition in the case with the firearm. If asked to do so, the owner must be able to unlock

Upon presenting at the baggage check in counter, the staff must be informed that the case contains a firearm. They will ask if it is disassembled and whether there is ammunition packed with the gun. If necessary they will ask to see the firearm. Once they are satisfied all is in order, they will fill out a red and white Dangerous Goods tag that you will sign. This is then attached to the gun case.

The same Dangerous Goods tagging procedure will now happen with your ammunition. You are permitted to take a maximum of 5 kilograms of sporting ammunition that is classified in Division 1.4s. You are not permitted to combine more than the amount permitted for one person. The ammunition must be securely boxed in its original packaging. Loose ammunition in belts or bags is not allowed. The packets of ammunition should be carried in a separate lockable case.

Most hunters and shooters who are using shotguns do not bother to take ammunition with them. It weighs too much and can be easily purchased at the destination. Rifle shooters usually take their own ammo because the rifle will be sighted in for a specific bullet weight and speed. If the rifle is sighted in for factory ammunition then it is best to buy it at the destination rather than risk being

Once this is done then an airline employee will escort you and the firearm to the special baggage section where you will hand over the gun case and ammunition case. That’s it, job done! Get on the plane, dream of your hunting trip and enjoy your flight.

At your destination the firearm and ammunition must be picked up from the special baggage section. It does not come out on the carousel with ordinary luggage. You will need to show your boarding pass, Dangerous Goods tag receipt and possibly Shooters Licence.

Flying with firearms on domestic routes within Australia is a breeze. Going oversees with them is a nightmare and a pain in the butt. This is mostly brought about by ridiculous red tape and regulations of the Australian Customs Service.

Every country has its own rules and regulations for taking a firearm into it. There are far too many to list in this article. The airline requirements are exactly the same except that you have to show them a Customs clearance form. You must obtain a Restricted Goods Permit from Customs prior to export and items may be subject to an import permit.

You will also need to get paperwork done by the various state police departments. Because of the different State arrangements and the ever-changing rules, it is best to find out what is required by calling the Customs Information Line:

Call: 1300 363 263 (Australia only)
+61 2 6275 6666 (Outside Australia)

When presenting your firearm at the Australian Customs Service in the international airport, make sure that you allow at least an hour for the paperwork to be done. Usually the office will be unattended and then the manuals will have to be searched to find out what paperwork is required. They will also want you to unlock the case so they can inspect the firearm.

Most hunters using shotguns that leave Australia will be going to New Zealand. Their gamebird hunting is fantastic.

It is easy to take a gun into New Zealand for sporting purposes. When you arrive in New Zealand you must declare all firearms to New Zealand Customs Officials and the New Zealand Police. At the police office in the airport you will apply for a Visitors Firearms Licence (T licence), which is valid for one year, and a Permit to Import.

To obtain a Visitors Firearms Licence you must pay $25 and show Police your passport and your Shooters Licence. You will receive your Permit for Import and Visitor’s Licence immediately on your arrival and they will usually wish you “Happy Hunting” and give you a big smile. New Zealand Police have an excellent website at

Air travel with firearms is easy. There is no need to be scared of it. Book a cheap ticket and go and enjoy yourself.

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