How do I need to pack my guns and ammunition?
Any and all firearms must be unloaded and stored in a hard-sided container. The container must be locked to prohibit access to anyone but you. If a case can easily be pulled open it will not meet this requirement so be sure to invest in a sturdy case built and designed specifically for this case. Improperly packaged firearms will not be permissible on the plane, even as checked luggage!
Cases that appear to have been tampered with or that have broken locks will not be placed on the aircraft.
The number of rifles permitted in each case and the number of firearm cases that are permitted per individual vary by airline so be sure to contact your airline regarding their policies.
How do I store ammunition?
Ammunition needs to be packed in cardboard, wood or metal boxes and may be placed within the same case that is holding your guns. The ammunition must be packed in any appropriately designed box or case – that is, it must be stored in something made to store ammunition. If you choose to pack your ammunition separately from the gun (that is, not in the same hard-sided case) it must still be checked with the rest of your baggage.
Gun or rifle magazines may not be used to store ammunition unless they completely, securely enclose the ammunition by covering the exposed portions of the magazines or placing the magazine in a pouch or holster. Magazines, clips and other gun parts must also be checked along with other baggage.
Do I have to check my firearm and ammunition?
Yes, all firearms, parts and ammunition must be in your checked baggage as they are prohibited from carry-on. Exceptions exist for law enforcement officers, but they must meet certain requirements as laid out by the TSA. Be sure to check out the TSA website for more information.
Who do I need to inform that I’m traveling with firearms?
When you check your luggage at the ticket counter, be sure to declare all firearms to the airline. They will provide you with any necessary paperwork and appropriately label your belongings to notify handlers and others.
Sometimes TSA agents or other security personnel will need to check the status of your packed firearms before allowing it to be placed on the plane. Be patient and provide them with any information they need, be prepared to provide them with the key or lock combo to open the storage case. Don’t forget to wait so you can retrieve your key!
Are these regulations the same across the board?
No, the information we have provided here relates specifically to the TSA, an American organization. Each individual country will have their own laws and regulations so be sure to check and see if it is permissible to bring firearms to the country of your destination. For example, transportation of firearms is prohibited to and from the United Kingdom.
Individual airlines will also have their own rules so be sure to contact your airline regarding their firearm and ammunition carriage policies. Some airlines require written declaration of firearms, others only need require verbal notification at the check-in desk.
Some airlines may not be willing to transport guns or ammunition or both. In addition, state and local requirements, and those of other countries, may prohibit or limit possession of guns, or specific types of guns or ammunition.
- Print out the firearm transportation rules for your respective airline (American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta, Jetblue )
- Purchase a sturdy, hard-sided case specifically designed for storing guns and rifles. These tend to be more expensive, but they will better protect your guns and minimize the chances of your getting into trouble for improperly packaged firearms. These cases will also usually have handles or wheels to make it easier to move and carry.
- Store ammunition in its original factory cardboard box. This box will best fit and accommodate the ammunition and package it snugly and safely.
- Put your cleared gun or rifle (either broken down or intact) and empty magazines into the case and be sure to lock it securely.
- Get to the airport early. After declaring your firearms at the check-in counter you may need to open your case for a guard to show them that the gun is, in fact, empty and cleared.