Locked, loaded and staying FREE!


 The locked and loaded thing was a joke...OK!? Seriously, this page is information for anyone contemplating cruising with a weapon aboard. No judgements here. This report is issued by Gord May, a regular technical contributor to several American sailing Mags. I asked Gord for permission to post this because it may be a very valuable reference for someone out there.. As information in this report could be out of date, the information should not be relied upon. Use this as a guide. Inquire directly with the country you plan to enter for their current requirements.

 Firearms Regulations by Country

Gord May

Over they years I've participated in, and listened to, many interesting and spirited (often "heated") debates on the advisability of carrying firearms aboard a cruising vessel. Aside from anchoring, nothing seems to generate more passion than this important subject. I'll try to keep my opinions and biases to myself, and merely provide some of the background information that may help to refine your thinking on the subject.

Every country you visit on your cruise will be less tolerant of guns than is the USA. All will require you to declare them upon entry, and some will require you to turn them over to the authorities while you are in the country. Some even require you to account for every round of ammunition. Some countries require you to clear in and out of customs at each port of call. That means you are constantly turning in and picking up your guns.

Some countries allow you to keep a gun on board, if you have a secure gun locker that customs can seal with tape. I cannot define "secure gun locker."

Of course you could lie on the customs form and not declare your gun. Now you have an illegal firearm, in a country whose gun laws you do not know. Even if you were in a situation where you had a legal right to use the gun, you may have forfeited that right by smuggling the gun into the country.

If you are sailing in the Caribbean, you will be sailing to many countries with a Spanish (not Anglo Saxon) heritage. Guns are a macho thing. Customs agents like them. If you are required to check your guns, you will very likely find that they have been taken out for a little target practice when you get them back. If you get them back.

Many experienced cruisers advise that you disable your firearm, in the presence of the authorities, prior to handing them over for "safekeeping". Ask for a receipt.

If you wish to bring firearms into any country, inquire at the country's embassy or consulate about the permit required. Some countries impose a stiff prison term for importing illegal firearms.

Returning US citizens do not require an import permit for firearms they have taken out of the country; however, this previous export must be proven by registering the firearms before departure with either customs or the ATF.
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. American travelers should exercise caution and are strongly encouraged to register either online at: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs
or at the Consular Annex of the U.S. Embassy prior to or immediately upon their arrival.

Disclaimer: The author does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information disclosed herein. The information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for legal purposes.
Anyone who knows a lawyer is specifically prohibited from reading this report.
Due your own due diligence !!!

What you can expect by Country:
I've attempted to provide a representative list, sampling some of the many Countries a cruiser might wish to visit. This list is, of course, incomplete.

The Bahamas: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...s/cis_989.html
Tourists who arrive by private boat are required to declare firearms (and every round of ammunition) to Bahamian Customs, and leave firearms on the boat (in a secure compartment) while in The Bahamas. In the event of your being boarded by Customs or the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the information on your cruising permit will be checked carefully against your actual supply. Ammo' must match cruising permit exactly.

The Turks and Caicos: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1048.html
The importation of all firearms (including those charged with compressed air) to the Turks and Caicos is strictly forbidden without prior approval in writing from the Commissioner of Police. U.S. citizens may contact the Turks and Caicos Customs Department at (649) 946-2867 for specific information regarding customs requirements.
In practice, your guns will be confiscated for the duration of your stay, and returned immediately prior to your departure. Once you've retrieved your firearms, you'll be expected to depart immediately. Spear guns, Hawaiian slings, controlled drugs, and pornography are also illegal.

The Dominican Republic: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1103.html
The DR is one of those places that confiscates your weapons, requires you to check in and out of every port, and allows cruising yachts to stop at only a few ports.

U.S. Virgin Islands:
Firearms must be declared and need a permit. For further information on firearms write to the Commissioner of Public Safety, St Thomas, USVI.

British Virgin Islands: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1079.html
Firearms must be bonded and are held by the proper authorities until time of departure. Contact BVI Customs & Immigration at (1)(284) 494-3475, the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Washington, D.C. or one of the UK''s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Anguilla: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1107.html
You need a permit to own any gun on Anguilla. Firearms should be licensed and must be securely locked on board, under the captain's control only.

Antigua & Barbuda:
Antigua and Barbuda customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Antigua and Barbuda of items such as firearms.
Fire arms must be declared and if customs are satisfied that they are safely secured, you may be allowed to keep them on board.

St. Kitts & Nevis:
Firearms must be declared and usually are bonded on board.

Non-French nationals on a tourist visit to Guadeloupe for less than 185 days can import two hunting guns and 100 cartridges for each. Other firearms are not permitted. All weapons should be declared.

It is illegal to take firearms into or out of Dominica. Don't even think of it - Dominican jails are very basic!
'Noonsite' says "Firearms must be declared."

Firearms and ammunition are a heavily restricted item
Prior approval required from the French Ministry of Defense to import firearms. (Import permit issued by Directorate General of Customs, bureau D 3.)
'Noonsite says "Firearms must be declared."

St. Lucia:
Licensed firearms must be declared and are subject to immigration and police regulations.
Firearms must be declared, but no action is taken if staying less than three days, after which they must be sealed on board by a customs officer. Yachts temporarily imported will have weapons held by customs in Castries or possibly by police if a longer permit is obtained.
Undeclared and unlicenced firearms will be seized by the authorities.

St. Vincent & The Grenadines:
Licensed firearms must be declared and are subject to immigration and police regulations. An application must be made to the Commissioner of Police for a local licence. Undeclared and unlicenced firearms will be seized by the authorities. Firearms must be declared on arrival, and can be sealed on board, but if a yacht has no suitable locker, the firearms will be held in the custody of customs or police until departure.

Firearms must be declared to customs and will be sealed on board in a proper locker or kept ashore in custody until departure. A receipt will be issued by the police.

Barbados: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1022.html
Firearms must be licensed and declared immediately to customs on arrival. They will be kept in custody until departure. Penalties for non-declaration or possessing an unlicensed firearm are severe.

Trinidad & Tobago:
Firearms and ammunition must be declared on arrival and will be taken by the customs boarding officer and placed in custody at the central police station. Requests for their return prior to departure must be made to customs at least 48 hours before clearance; failure to do so may result in a delay to departure or departure without the firearms. To keep firearms in your possession during the stay, it is necessary to apply to the Commissioner of Police for a licence.

Columbia: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1090.html
Colombian law prohibits tourists and business travelers from bringing firearms into Colombia. The penalty for illegal importation and/or possession of firearms is three to ten years in prison.

Mexico: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...s/cis_970.html
Vessels entering Mexican waters with firearms or ammunition on board must have a permit previously issued by the Mexican Embassy, or a Mexican consulate. Mariners do NOT avoid prosecution by declaring their weapons at the port of entry. Before traveling, mariners who have obtained a Mexican firearms permit should contact Mexican port officials to receive guidance on the specific procedures used to report and secure weapons and ammunition. Entering Mexico with a firearm, some kinds of knives or even a single round of ammunition is illegal, even if the firearm or ammunition is taken into Mexico unintentionally. The Mexican government strictly enforces its laws restricting the entry of firearms and ammunition along all land borders and at air and seaports. Violations have resulted in arrests, convictions, and long prison sentences for U.S. citizens.

Cuba: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1097.html
If a yacht is staying a long time in one of the marinas, firearms will be impounded by the Coast Guard (Guarda Frontera). If the yacht is cruising along the coast, firearms must be declared every time the boat checks in at a new port, and may be confiscated until departure, or alternatively sealed on board, placed under the responsibility of the captain. The seals and arms will be inspected when clearing out.

American vessels seeking to travel to Cuba must obtain a temporary sojourn license from the Department of Commerce. Temporary sojourn licenses are NOT available for pleasure boaters.

Cayman Islands: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1084.html
Firearms are held by customs for the duration of the yacht's stay, unless a yacht is fitted with a proper safe, which can be sealed. Spearguns and their parts are prohibited, and possession of spearguns or pole spears or Hawaiian slings, are illegal. These must be declared to customs at the first port of arrival, and will normally be taken off the boat and put under bond until departure.

Jamaica: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1147.html
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Jamaica without authorization from the Ministry of National Security. Entering Jamaica with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition is serious crime that can result in a long prison sentence.

Noonsite says: Firearms must be declared and will be kept in the custody of customs until departure.

Steve Pavlidis (author of 'Exuma Cruising Guide' and others says: "...You are permitted to bring guns into Jamaica and if the Customs officer feels that the locker you keep them in is secure, you will be allowed to keep them aboard. If he feels the locker is not secure, he will take your weapons, give you a receipt, and deposit said weapons with the local police until you leave. The only problem you have here is when you DON'T declare your firearms and they find them."
For more information on Steve's excellent cruising guide series, and more, goto: http://www.islandhopping.com/

All firearms and ammunition must be declared on arrival to the customs officer, who will either impound them until departure or seal them on board. Firearms include spear guns, Verey pistols and flare guns.

France has stringent regulations on firearms and ammunition . As a rule, firearms which have no legitimate sporting or recreational use are not permitted entry into France.
French firearms regulations are a bit complicated, so see the French Embassy site: http://www.info-france-usa.org/intheus/customs/6000.asp
The French West Indies: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1746.html
The French West Indies consists of the islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin (the French side) and St. Barthelemy.

United Kingdom:
Firearms and ammunition, including gas pistols and similar weapons, may not be imported.

Firearms must be declared.

Firearms must be declared on arrival. The penalty for non-declaration is imprisonment.

Firearms must be declared.

Firearms must be declared.

All firearms must be licensed, and a copy of the licence carried. There are restrictions concerning signalling pistols. Very type flare pistols must be accompanied by a firearms certificate issued in the country of origin.

Firearms must be declared. All firearms must have a licence from the country of origin. Firearms must be re-exported within three months, if not an application for a permit must be made.

French Polynesia:
Firearms and ammunition must be declared. If staying less than three days they can be kept on board, otherwise must be bonded by the authorities in each island until departure.

Firearms must be declared to customs on arrival.

Firearms must be declared on entry. All military-type firearms (greater than .22), machine guns, pistols, revolvers, ammunition, as well as flick knives and knuckledusters are prohibited imports, and will be sealed on board or taken into custody at the first port of entry. Arrangements can be made to transport them to the port of departure if sufficient notice is given of that port and the date of departure. Sporting rifles and shotguns may be kept on board if a permit is obtained from the police.

New Zealand:
Firearms must be declared to customs, and are normally kept in police custody until departure. If there is an onboard safe for firearms, this may be approved by the police.

Firearms may be left on board if they can be locked and sealed. If not, they will be taken ashore and bonded until the yacht leaves.

Firearms must be declared and then sealed by the customs officer. A permit for firearms is required.

Sri Lanka:
Firearms must be declared on arrival and held in custody by customs until departure. One must ensure that a receipt is obtained for the firearms.

Firearms must be declared.

Firearms will be retained.
The waters in the vicinity of the Somali coast, both south and west of the Horn of Africa, are now considered to be dangerous for both commercial shipping and small boats. The US authorities have issued a warning advising vessels to stay at least 30 miles off the African coast. The east coast is just as dangerous. Boats are strongly advised to avoid passing between the island of Socotra and the African mainland, while those approaching from the east through the Gulf of Aden should stay well clear of both the Somali and Yemeni coasts, as both are considered to be dangerous. The best approach is to sail in convoy with other yachts and try to be in permanent contact with someone ashore who knows one's position at all times and could alert the authorities in an emergency.

Firearms must be declared on arrival and will be confiscated until departure. One must make sure one gets a receipt. One should have a firearms permit, otherwise on departure one has to go to the Ministry of Defence with the receipt to get approval for the return of the firearms. Any firearms and ammunition not declared will be seized. Firearms without a licence or official documents could be confiscated; this includes spear guns.

Certain firearms and weapons are prohibited, and those permitted require a Possession Licence. All arms and ammunition will be sealed by customs and treated as bonded goods onboard the vessel.

A list of firearms, with their type and details, must be handed to the authorities on arrival.

Firearms may be removed for the duration of the stay.

All arms and ammunition, including spearguns, must be handed to the police or customs on arrival and a receipt obtained. The bonded firearms will be returned on departure.

South Africa:
Firearms will be sealed by customs on board if this is possible. Otherwise firearms will be removed and bonded until departure.

And finally, my homeland
"the True North, Strong, & Free"

Canada: http://www.cfc-ccaf.gc.ca/
Click on: Information for Visitors / Non-Residents

Firearms are strictly controlled.

As of January 1, 2001, visitors bringing firearms into Canada, or planning to borrow and use firearms while in Canada, are required to declare the firearms in writing using a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration form.

Prohibited firearms include fully automatic, converted automatics, and assault-type weapons. Prohibited firearms are not allowed into Canada.

An Authorization to Transport (ATT) is required for all restricted firearms. Restricted firearms include: handguns that are not prohibited; non-prohibited semi-automatic, centre-fire firearms with a barrel length less than 470 mm; firearms that can fire after being reduced, by folding, telescoping or otherwise, to an overall length of less than 660 mm; and firearms specifically restricted by regulations (including some long guns).

Non-restricted firearms include: any rifle or shotgun that is neither restricted nor prohibited. Most ordinary rifles and shotguns are in this category. A non-restricted firearm may be imported, at the discretion of a customs officer, for purposes such as hunting during hunting season, wilderness protection, target-shooting events, gun shows, or transit through Canada. You must comply with the safe storage, display and transportation regulations, which includes disabling, and separate ammunition storage.

In advance of any travel, please contact a Canadian embassy or consulate, or the Canadian Firearms Centre (http://www.cfc.ccaf.gc.ca ) for detailed information and instructions on temporarily importing firearms. In all cases, travelers must declare to Canadian Customs authorities any firearms and weapons in their possession when entering Canada. If a traveler is denied permission to bring in the firearm, there are often facilities near border crossings where firearms may be stored, pending the traveler's return to the United States. Canadian law requires that officials confiscate firearms and weapons from those crossing the border that deny having them in their possession. Confiscated firearms and weapons are never returned.

Disclaimer: The author does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information disclosed herein. The information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for legal purposes.
Anyone who knows a lawyer is specifically prohibited from reading this report.
Due your own due diligence !!!

As always, corrections and comments are most welcome.

See the U.S. Department of State "Consular Information Sheets" at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...cis_1765.html.
See also:
"Tips for Traveling Abroad" http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html
"FOREIGN ENTRY REQUIREMENTS" http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/...ures_1229.html
And the Noonsite Country Reports:

TRAVEL WARNINGS from Foreign Affairs Canada:
Country Travel Reports are available for every country of the world. They include information on security and safety, health, and entry requirements, as well as contact numbers for Canadian government offices abroad. If an unstable condition exists in a country, the Travel Report will contain information about this and will advise Canadians to avoid travel to the country or to a particular region of the country, and/or to leave.

Piracy & Security Resources:

From Noonsite (Jimmy Cornell): http://www.noonsite.com/

From On.Passage.com (Rod Hall): http://www.onpassage.com/

From the International Maritime Bureau:
IMB Piracy Reporting Centre: http://www.icc-ccs.org/prc/overview.php
Weekly Piracy Report: http://www.icc-ccs.org/prc/piracyreport.php

Caribbean Safety and Security Net (Roger Page & Caribbean Cruisers Association)

Yacht Piracy - Information Centre for Bluewater Sailors (Klaus Hympendahl):

OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE (ONI) WorldWide Threat to Shipping: http://pollux.nss.nima.mil/onit/onit_j_main.html

Maritime International Secretariat Services: http://www.marisec.org/piracy/index.htm

Yacht "Heartsong" ~ Firsthand Accounts of Piracy and Attempted Piracy (as of Jan. 03) http://www.heartsong3.com/piracy_update.htm

Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA): http://www.ssca.org/

HTH - Yours in safe & secure cruising,
Gord May

Gord May