Flying with a handgun within South Africa

Personally, I am a staunch believer in carrying a firearm every day, wherever I go, it’s just part of my culture and belief system. Unfortunately, I also love to travel, and this presents an obvious problem for people like me. Can I fly with my handgun in South Africa?

According to SAA’s website, you can fly with your handgun and ammunition on their flights within South Africa. Only licensed handguns are allowed, and the gun and ammunition need to be checked in at the firearm desk. You may not take your handgun onboard or in your checked baggage. 

The handgun and ammunition must be stored in separate lockable cases. While SAA says that you can keep the ammunition in your checked luggage, I recommend that you instead check it in at the firearms desk along with your handgun. SAA is the only airline that allows you to fly with a self-defense handgun.

How to fly with a handgun within South Africa

Flying with your handgun is allowed within South Africa on SAA flights only. You will be required to produce a valid firearm license and check in the firearm and the ammunition at the firearms desk before departure. You may not fly with any gun at all to or from George airport.

You first need to check in and have your baggage checked by the attendants. While checking in, tell the attendant that you have a firearm to declare and check-in, and ask them where the firearms desk is. At the firearm desk, you will be asked to produce the firearm license, your ID, provide a lockable case for your firearm and a separate lockable case for your ammunition. Your ammunition is limited to 5kg in weight and payment of R375 (at the time of writing this article) will be required.

What are the requirements for flying with a firearm in South Africa (With SAA)?

  • Firearm License
  • ID
  • Firearm in a lockable case (Make sure it is unloaded)
  • Ammunition in a separate lockable case. Less than 5kg
  • Payment of 25usd (Around R375)

Prior to checking in the firearm, the firearms officer will

  • Check the firearm serial number matches the license
  • Check the ammunition
  • Fill in the firearm register with the firearm owner before taking the firearm in.
  • Inform the receiving airport of the details of the firearm so that you can collect it at your destination’s firearms desk.
  • Checked ammunition will be tagged, indicating that it has been properly inspected so that it doesn’t get confiscated or cause delays at further security checks.

You will be given a receipt, do not lose it. You will need it to retrieve your firearm at the destination airport. Your firearm will be handled by the designated officers from here on and loaded onto the flight. When you arrive at your destination, you will first collect your baggage, and after that, collect your firearm at the firearms desk.

Which airlines allow you to fly with your handgun in South Africa?

In South Africa, SAA is the only airline that allows you to travel with your self-defense handgun in South Africa. Other airlines such as Mango, Kulula, British Airways, and Safair, etc. do not allow passengers to check-in handguns.

While booking your ticket with SAA with the intent to fly with your firearm, watch out for codeshare where you buy an “SAA” ticket on a Mango flight. If you book through SAA, but end up on a Mango flight, you will not be allowed to fly with your handgun.

It is also worth keeping in mind that the attendants at check-in are not usually familiar with the firearm check-in process, so don’t be alarmed if they say that firearms aren’t allowed. Explain that it is permitted, and ask for their supervisor, who should be more familiar with the process.

Also, do not confuse SA-Airlink, and SA-Express with SAA. They are not the same and do not share the same policies regarding firearms.


Safair does allow flying with rifles and shotguns for sporting purposes, while semi-automatic rifles and handguns are not allowed.

Make sure you check the rules and regulations regarding flying with a firearm on a Safair flight.


SA Airlink does not allow self-defense handguns, but allows “hunting handguns”. While a hunting handgun could be the exact same thing as a handgun for self-defense, it appears that they refer to the purpose for which the firearm license was issued. Hunting rifles, shotguns, and sporting firearms are allowed to be checked in. Flying with a firearm with Airlink costs R400 handling fee paid to the handling agent at the airport.

Before flying with a firearm with Airlink, be sure to check their rules and regulations regarding flying with firearms, and make sure you contact them in advance to avoid any issues when you arrive for check-in.


Most people assume that you may not fly with a firearm in South Africa, but in reality, there are a few airlines that allow it. While you obviously won’t be allowed to take your firearm on board, they allow it to be checked in via the firearms desk.

Regarding flying with self-defense handguns, at the time of writing this article, SAA is the only airline that can accommodate you. SA-Airlink allows handguns. However, only handguns licensed for hunting are allowed.

According to SAA’s website, the handgun and ammunition should be stored in separate lockable cases, and ammunition is limited to 5kg. You will need to produce your firearm license, ID and make a payment of around R375.

The officer at the firearms desk will check that the firearms serial number matches the license. He will also check the ammunition and make sure the firearm is unloaded. There will be some paperwork to do, whereafter the firearm will be taken in and tagged to indicate that it has been inspected. You will receive a receipt that you must present at the destination airport firearm desk when you collect your firearm.

When you arrive at your destination airport, you can head to the firearms desk after collecting your baggage and retrieve your firearm by showing the officer your receipt.

When writing this article, SAA is the only airline that accepts handguns for self-defense. In contrast, some others, such as Safair and SA Airlink, only allow manual rifles and shotguns for sport. Others, such as Mango, do not allow firearms at all.

When booking a ticket with SAA, make sure you are not placed on a flight with another carrier that does not allow firearms.

Have you recently flown with a firearm within South Africa?

Have you recently flown with a handgun in South Africa? If so, what was your experience? How did you find the experience? What airline did you fly with, and did you have any issues? I am constantly trying to keep my information as up-to-date as possible, so I would love to hear from you.

Please use the comment section below to share your experience with me, as well as other readers!

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