Shortly after booking his first dove hunting trip to Córdoba last year, our client Mike asked about taking his own gun with him on the adventure. We typically recommend that our clients leave their guns behind when traveling to Argentina, to minimize stress and time required for the day of travel and customs experience.
Having recently lost his Dad, Mike had an incredibly compelling rationale to kick our advice to the curb. “Dad and I always talked about going to Argentina to hunt doves,” he said. “But we never got to do it together. I want to shoot with his gun to honor him.”
This is the kind of spirit that has fueled Trek International Safaris for the better part of the past five decades.
“Getting a sporting gun into another country can be an unduly arduous endeavor,” says Trek’s President Milton Hanburry. “If you want to shoot your own gun, we will move mountains to make it happen. And because we have more experience in this arena than anyone else, we can save you a lot of time and frustration getting it done.“
Why We Recommend Leaving Your Guns at Home
Trek’s partner lodges in Argentina are the very best in the region, each offering a well-maintained inventory of premier brands such as Barretta and Benelli. You may have heard stories about shoddy provisions at other lodges, but our clients universally report high levels of satisfaction with the guns at our lodges. Utilizing someone else’s guns when high-volume dove hunting is practical, saving you not only time, but also a tremendous amount of wear and tear on your guns.
Nevertheless, Trek knows that, like Mike, you may have sentimental loyalty to a favorite gun, or just have a gun that feels perfect to you. For this reason, we are meticulous in helping get your gun into Argentina in a streamlined fashion.
Traveling abroad with your firearm is a complicated process, and we’ve outlined many of the complexities below. As a member of the Trek community, you can rest easy knowing we will be with you every step of the way.
Essential U.S. Customs Documentation
When it comes to importing your shotgun, not all South American countries’ regulations are created equal. Bolivia and Uruguay are hands-down the easiest South American destinations for taking your own gun. Argentina has more stringent requirements. No matter where you travel internationally, the first thing you’ll need to legally get a gun out of and back into the U.S. is a stamped U.S. Customs Form 4457.
This is a fairly straightforward process in which you complete the form and take your gun(s) to a U.S. Customs office to have the serial number(s) verified. You only need to complete this process the first time you travel with a particular gun.
Argentina Consulate Permit
If you’re traveling to Argentina for the first time with a gun that is not semi-automatic, you’re in luck. You do not need to obtain a permit from the Argentine consulate.
However, when traveling to Argentina with a semi-automatic gun, or if you have previously visited Argentina with a firearm, failure to obtain a consular permit will likely result in your gun being confiscated for the duration of your visit to the country.
To obtain this permit, you must either make an appointment to personally visit with an Argentina Consulate General in the U.S. within 90 days of travel, or you may be able to obtain this permit by mail. Trek will help you determine which is the best option depending on your location.
“We are on a first-name basis with folks at every consulate general processing gun permits for Argentina,” says Trek Vice President Joe Patterson. “While the approvals process can take anywhere from a week to 60 days, Trek can expedite approvals when needed.”
Once you have your paperwork completed and submitted to Trek, we will promptly send it on to our local partners, with whom we will work in tandem to ensure all local licenses and paperwork are handled.
Booking Your Flights
When traveling to Cordoba, whenever possible, we suggest connecting through Lima, Peru or Santiago, Chile, or take advantage of American Airlines’ direct flight from Miami to Córdoba (which is set to commence on June 6). The process for clearing customs with your gun in Córdoba is routinely less than one hour. Flying through Buenos Aires can take considerably longer.
It is worth noting that not all airlines allow travel with guns and some will not transfer your firearms to another carrier.
When taking your own gun to Argentina, Trek highly recommends you utilize our office to book your travel. A recent article in Sports Afield outlined the myriad troubles that can arise for those traveling to Argentina with their own firearms and in absence of the highly coordinated process Trek and our Argentina partners execute to help you get your gun to the lodge.
“I went to the RENAR (police) office, which is after immigration but before you get to customs. I then went to Argentine Customs and there a second set of papers had to be generated, and this took nearly two hours. I then had to wait for two more hunters in our party to come in via another flight. Before they cleared customs, it was too late to make the connecting flight with Areolinas Argentinas (AAR) from Newbery airport (AEP) to Cordoba airport (COR) since AEP is at the other side of Buenos Aires and it can take two hours to travel between the two via car. A change of ticket was not too bad ($100) but there was more bureaucracy required to get the guns on the internal flight.”
This is not an experience that is acceptable to Trek.
Day of Travel
On your day of travel, make sure you are familiar with TSA’s guidelines for packing and checking your firearm. if you are utilizing multiple airlines to reach your final destination, you will need to recheck your gun prior to connecting with a second airline.
Once you arrive in Argentina, you will need to clear immigration before getting your gun checked and permit stamped. One of Trek’s partner representatives will be there to help you every step of the way.