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Old 01-11-2009, 09:14 AM   #1
Eleua's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 16

First question on this forum...

If a USA flagged yacht pulls into port in another country that is more restrictive in its firearms laws, the USA yacht is required to declare firearms and ammunition. I saw this in most countries in the WIKI section.

No problem, right?

Some nations require that the firearms be impounded and given back upon departure.

Have there been instances of firearms being "lost" by the authorities, or have authorities objected to certain firearms (.50cal, H&K UMP, suppressors, laser sights, frangible ammo) that are legal in the USA (for now), but are just too scary for some governments?

I have no problems declaring firearms, but I do want them back. A $4000 firearm is not something I want to get "lost."

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Old 01-11-2009, 09:34 AM   #2
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Interesting question - without getting into the OLD "guns aboard or not" debate.

I'm pretty sure that you will always get them back. It becomes a pain in the butt however when you clear in to the southern end of a country (for example) and wish to cruise the coast and then clear out in the north of the country.

As you mention from reading the various countries' regulations on the Cruising Wiki, MOST countries require declaration of weapons, MOST take these into custody but some will allow you to keep them in a sealable locker aboard (if you have one) so perhaps it is better to install a gun safe aboard for these instances.

It is also interesting to note that in some countries even pistol flare-guns must be declared - and even spear-guns in some places.


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Old 01-11-2009, 01:13 PM   #3
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I think you'll find that the customs officers in some countries are more .....honest.... than in others, but I've never heard of anyone's impounded firearms being "lost". We do know one person who almost had his boat confiscated because he did not declare his firearm, though. He spent a lot of time and money defending himself in court.

I tell cruisers that they really, really don't want to be put in jail in some of the countries they might visit, so please don't try to be clever.
In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

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Old 01-11-2009, 07:32 PM   #4
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I can envisage one circumstance under which you might not get your firearms back. If you enter a country in one port and leave from another then you might find the country's customs service unwilling to transport your firearms from the port of entry to the port of departure. Generally they will do this though but you will be charged for the service.

Whatever you do, do declare any weapons you have on board. Don't wait for the customs to find you - go to them and declare your weapons otherwise their interpretation may be that you are trying to smuggle arms into the country. Believe me - you don't want to end up in that situation.

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Old 01-12-2009, 10:45 PM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2004
Home Port: Darwin
Vessel Name: Gone Troppo
Posts: 103

Hi All,

I have met only one person who has had his guns "lost" while in the hands of customs. It was a USA flagged boat, and it happened in Indonesia. I think it would be a rare event.


Happy Sailing,


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Old 01-14-2009, 09:52 PM   #6
Join Date: Apr 2007
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There have been several cases I know of personally where the weapons have been "lost". A simple "insurance" to such problems is to remove a critical part of the weapon and keep that onboard. Then the weapon is of lesser value to the locals and generally you will always get it returned.

But the problem mentioned above about having to "return" to your initial "check-in" port to retrieve your weapon can be a major factor in deciding to declare the weapon.

And - - in some countries - e.g. Puerto Rico and the Virgins - -simple possession of a weapon onboard the vessel is illegal and will get you thrown in jail or at least severely fined and the weapon confiscated. It revolves around a catch-22 situation where only local citizens can get a weapon's license and you are not a local citizen. So check very carefully each country where you are going to stop before "declaring your weapons."

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