Know Before You Go


What to do before, during and after your hunt

Part 1

Before Your Hunt

Preparing for your hunt before you leave is very important. However, educating yourself for the return of your animals is equally as important.  The information we will provide will guide you to successful planning to ensure the safe return of your animals so that you can avoid any problems that may risk loss of your trophies and the large financial investment made.  We have suggestions to assist you in making the decision to purchase a hunt all the way through to the importation of your trophies into the U.S.

Before purchasing a hunt, obtain confirmation from your booking agent that the Professional Hunter or Outfitter is authorized to hunt.  Ask to see a copy of their Letter of Permission from the country where you intend to hunt.  It is also wise to verify if the PH or Outfitter is a member of the Association of Professional Hunters with the country where they are selling hunts.

Take time to do your homework.  Know the regulations for firearms not only in the country where you intend to hunt, but also any country that you may transit through.  Each has specific regulations and what may be allowed in one country could be restricted in another.

Check with your airline to verify what their regulations are regarding firearms.  Airline rules are ever-changing and could vary from the time your flight is booked until the actual departure date.  Normally, each passenger is allowed to carry a limited amount of ammunition, which must match the caliber of weapon being checked.  Only one gun of each caliber may be checked in each gun case.

You will need to register your guns with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) prior to departure.  Do not wait until the last minute to get this done.  You may contact the closest CBP office to register your firearms.  We suggest that you register any other items that contain serial numbers as well, such as scopes, binoculars or cameras.  The registration is done on a Customs Form 4457 which may be printed from our website or CBP’s website  List all items; however, DO NOT sign the form until you are at the Customs office.  Do not take your guns to Customs unless you have informed them in advance.  Make sure that the Customs Officer stamps the form with their official red CBP stamp.

When overseas, the CF4457 will be referred to as your “American Gun Permit”.  Never give the original to anyone.  This form is your lifeline abroad and dealing with foreign law enforcement authorities.  The CF4457 is valid for as long as you own the same firearm and the form must be presented to U.S. Customs upon your return to the U.S.

Advise your credit card company of your trip plans.  Please be sure that you have a sufficient credit limit to avoid any problems with currency conversions.  Any charges made abroad will register as U.S. Dollars until the conversion is done overnight.  Therefore, if you charge 10,000.00 South African Rand, the charge will register as $10,000.00 US Dollars until converted.

Use your full legal name when completing any documentation for your hunt and do not use nicknames.  This is mandatory for proper clearance through U.S. Fish & Wildlife.  Your full given name must match the documentation prepared overseas when your trophies are shipped.

Make sure that you have hunt tags for your animals, preferably one per piece.  You may obtain tags from your taxidermist or any Coppersmith office.  If you purchase colored electrical ties, these can be attached to the tags and will make it easier to identify your animals at camp when being skinned.

If you intend to hunt threatened or endangered species, do not apply for U.S. Import Permits from FWS until after your return from the hunt.  If you have questions regarding completion of application forms, please do not hesitate to ask Coppersmith for assistance.

Decide prior to your hunt if you would like to clear the trophies on your own once they arrive in the states of if you will be using the services of a Customs Broker, such as Coppersmith Global Logistics. If you intend to clear on your own, please be aware that the trophies must be processed in a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Designated Port of Entry and you will need to make arrangements prior to arrival with all federal agencies.  Customs Brokers experienced with trophy clearances, such as Coppersmith Global Logistics, are automated with all government agencies and up-to-date on all regulations.  Using a broker is not mandatory, but can make the process much easier as well as assisting to ensure compliance with U.S. FWS, Customs, Agriculture and any other applicable federal agency.  We are experts, so just as one may use a CPA for tax preparation; it is probably best to use a Customs Broker for your trophy clearance.

Part 2

While You’re On The Hunt

In this segment, we have suggestions that are beneficial while you are on your hunt.

Determine how you want your trophies to look when mounted in your home so that the Professional Hunter or Outfitter can give instructions to the skinners at camp.  Take time to meet camp personnel and get to know their names.  They will appreciate and respect this effort and this will pay off for you in the long run.

Decide if you want your trophies mounted overseas or only dip and packed.  If you have the mounting performed overseas, visit at least 2 taxidermists while you are still abroad.  Take time to go into their processing rooms to see the mounting process and finished items as well as for references from other U.S. clients.  Be sure to get full contact details from the taxidermist you choose, whether they do the mounting or only dip and pack and forward to Coppersmith for follow up on progress after you return home.  Get a commitment on the turn around time for processing.

For dip and pack shipping, you can use the services of a company that specializes in dip and pack processing only or a taxidermist who offers dip and pack services as well.  The usual turn around time for dip and pack is approximately 3-5 months and mounted trophies average 12-18 months.  Additionally, it can take around 2-4 weeks to obtain export permits.  Delays are much longer during the months of November through February due to the perishable season in South Africa.  This cargo takes precedence over all other cargo and aircraft space is limited.

There are factors to take into consideration when choosing to have your animals dip and packed or mounted overseas.  Not only is the turn around time much less for dip and pack items, but shipping costs are much less.  Likewise, the processing time is longer and shipping costs are higher for mounted trophies, but usually the taxidermy costs are less.  It is worth weighing the pros and cons of each to make the best decision for your budget and time frame needs.

Before returning from your safari, obtain a copy of your Hunt Register, which itemizes each animal’s sex and measurements.  You will be required to sign this document along with the Professional Hunter, Outfitter or Land Owner.  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service may request a copy when verifying information about your shipment.  If you hunt in multiple countries, please be sure to collect copies from each before you leave.

If you hunt with a group, do not allow the entire group to hunt on one permit under one group member’s name.  Not only is this illegal and items can be subject to seizure by U.S. FWS, but it also takes away from the country for the purchase of permits.  It is only right to support the economy of the country where you are hunting.

If purchasing curios to ship back with your trophies, you will need to obtain a sales receipt or Proforma Invoice.  This is mandatory for U.S. Customs and all items must be declared.  Be aware that some curios are dutiable.  The sales receipt or proforma invoice must include a detailed description of each item, including what the items are made of for proper Harmonized Tariff classification for U.S. Customs.  The name and address of the selling party, country of origin, value of each item in the currency paid is also required for Customs entry and duty assessment.  DO NOT, under any circumstance, ship food or wine with trophies.  These require special processing prior to arrival in the U.S. under the Food & Drug Administration’s Bioterrorism Act.  Toiletry, cosmetic, table & kitchenware items will require normal FDA clearance.  It is not worth possible problems or refused entry by the Food & Drug Administration, which could affect your trophy clearance.

Part 3

When You Return

We’ve covered some of the important issues prior to and during your hunt, so now we will focus on what to expect after you return.

Notify Coppersmith Global Logistics when you return and provide a list of animals taken as well as all contact details for the taxidermist handling your trophies so we may follow up with them on the progress of your shipment.  We will review the species taken and advise if any special permits or clearing requirements will be necessary.  If the items are dip and pack only, we can determine if reprocessing by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Approved Establishment will be required upon arrival in the U.S.

All Customs Brokers are required to obtain a Power of Attorney and Homeland Security Identification Validation documentation in order to sign all necessary entry declarations on your behalf.  Your social security number is mandatory. U.S. Customs does not identify you by your name, but by your “importer number”, which for an individual, is the social security number.  Identification Verification documents are the following:

1)    Government or State issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.

2)    Copy of your social security card.  U.S. Customs may also request a photocopy of the back of the social security card as well, so do not be surprised if we ask for this.

Once your trophies are ready to ship, the taxidermist will forward the trophies to their designated shipping agent who will provide you with a quotation for transport costs.  Be sure the quote includes costs for insurance.  You will likely be asked to prepay charges to the shipping agent, however, some will allow charges to be sent “collect” and we will add the transportation costs to our billing invoice.

You may be given an option to have the trophies shipped by air or ocean service.  Airfreight is much faster, but may be a little more expensive.  Base ocean rates are cheaper, but you should expect additional costs in the U.S. for exam costs and handling fees.  The transmit time is also much longer.  Also, ocean shipments require a security filing called “Importer Security Filing” or “10+2 Rule”.  There are data elements that must be electronically transmitted to U.S. Customs 24 hours prior to the vessel departure.  If you choose ocean service, you will need to be sure this is performed timely.  Coppersmith can do this on your behalf; however, we will need all data sent to us at least 72 hours prior to the sailing date.  If information is not filed timely or is inaccurate, you are held liable and the penalty for a late filing is $5,000.00 and incorrect filing is $5,000.00, so the total penalty possible for an importer is $10,000.00.

Always request copies of all documentation before the trophies are exported, especially if your shipment contains CITES species.  Coppersmith will need copies in advance of shipping so we may review for any errors.  You need to review the documentation carefully and advise if any inaccuracies or missing information.  Be sure that all species that you hunted are included.  It is much easier to correct errors before shipping to avoid seizure, refusal or re-export; corrections cannot be done after arrival in the U.S. without permission from U.S. Fish & Wildlife.  U.S. FWSW will determine if corrections will be allowed.

Upon arrival of trophies at the first U.S. Port, U.S. Customs/Agriculture places all trophies on hold.  The agency will review to verify if reprocessing by a USDA Approved Establishment is necessary and to inspect the wood packing material that contains your trophies.  There are international standards for all wood packing called “IPPC Standards”.  Solid wood packing must meet certain criteria and requires a stamped logo on the wood indicating the method of treatment, country of origin of the wood and the registration number of the company that treated the wood material.  If the stamp is missing or not visible, the entire shipment will be refused and ordered for re-export back to the country of export.  Some ports have a different order of processing and agriculture inspection is performed last.

Generally, the order of processing trophies upon arrival at the U.S. FWS Designated Port of Entry is as follows:

1)    CBP/Agriculture as well as Centers for Disease Control or U.S. Public Health Services, if applicable.  Agriculture holds are usually 1-3 business days.

2)    U.S. Fish & Wildlife – Declaration is transmitted electronically and a paper package is presented with original documentation.  The declaration must include a breakdown of all species by scientific name, pieces, values, permit information, country of origin, export name and address, cargo location and proper coding.  Depending on the port, processing time is generally 3-10 business days.

3)    U.S. Customs & Border Protection – Documentation presented include copies of all import documents and a copy of the U.S.

4)     FWS release.  All items are reported on a Customs Form 3461 for cargo release, which include the harmonized tariff classification by product, country of origin, airway bill of lading & flight information, manufacturer/shipper information, arrival information, values and other data required for electronic cargo release.  A Customs form 7501/Entry Summary is also filed that shows the classification numbers and duty computation.  Although trophies are duty free, reporting requirements with the time limits mandated by law are processed the same as dutiable goods.  Each agency requires certain packaging order for documentation presentation. The process can be time consuming and involves aspects that are not seen by clients, such as tracking and verification of automated manifest information.  There are also data elements that must be annotated on documentation for Customs purposes that are not required for other agency processing.

All shipments may by physically inspected by any or all of the Government agencies involved.  None are performed at the same time and certain ports require an appointment prior to inspection as well as a company representative must meet the officer to open all crates and remove contents for inspection.

After releases are received by all agencies, Coppersmith will notify you for payment of charges due and confirm arrangements for pickup or delivery to your residence, taxidermist or USDA Approved Establishment.  Please note that if a shipment is ordered to a USDA Approved Establishment, the shipment must be delivered by bonded truck and cannot be picked up by any individual.  If not delivered by truck, the only party allowed to pickup is the taxidermist or an employee of the taxidermist.  We will be required to obtain verification of employment for USDA records if a taxidermist’s employee is sent for pickup.

The charges you should expect to pay for a hunt are:

1)    Payment for the hunt, permits and fees

2)    Taxidermy or dip and pack costs

3)    Air or ocean transportation costs, export documentation, foreign trucking fees, insurance and crating costs.

4)    Customs Brokerage service frees, include U.S. FWS entry fee, U.S. Customs entry, local charges to the airline or ocean carrier, handling fees.  Additionally, charges that may be applicable are collect air or ocean charges, U.S. delivery & handling, storage, U.S. FWS premium CITES inspection fees and exam charges.

5)    U.S. Taxidermy costs if shipped dip and pack.  If required by CBP/Agriculture, reprocessing charges from a USDA Approved Establishment.

We appreciate and welcome your comments regarding our service as well as our website.  Service is what we offer. We strive to improve in any way possible.  Let us know if you are pleased with our service and especially if one of our trophy specialists deserves recognition for a job well done.

We want to hear if you experienced any problems.  This is very important to us.  We can only improve if we are aware of problems.  Your feedback can help us serve you and other clients more efficiently.

Please feel free to call any of our offices for assistance.  Thank you for supporting us and we wish you a successful hunt and safe travels!