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Customs and Border Protection Reverses Reversal

Law Shield became concerned when a long-dormant State Department rule change was suddenly being enforced, which affected the ability of our members to travel lawfully overseas with firearms.

Exports of rifles and handguns generally require a license from the State Department, except for U.S. residents who temporarily export up to three firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. This exemption allowed hunters, sportsmen, and industry employees to travel overseas with firearms for legal purposes, subject to the laws of the destination countries.

Ordinarily, to travel with firearms, a person visits a U.S. Customs office at some point before departure, where they provide information about their firearms on a Form 4457, which should be signed or stamped by a Customs official. Upon returning to the U.S., the traveler could use the form to verify prior possession of the firearms in the U.S.

However, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which has primary responsibility for enforcing the relevant regulations, recently announced that licensing exemptions could only be claimed by filing a declaration in the Automated Export System (AES), a database maintained by the Census Bureau. But that database was designed for use by commercial entities and it required an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is supplied by the IRS. According to the IRS, EINs are issued for business purposes, and applicants for one must state a business reason for obtaining it.

Anybody worried yet?

Fortunately, after scrutiny by firearms industry and sportsmen’s groups, and key members of Congress, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it is returning to its previous system of facilitating the international transport of personal firearms and ammunition.

Law Shield is gratified by the return to common-sense regulations for traveling abroad with firearms.

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