If your hunting plans include crossing the Canadian/United States border with firearms, muzzleloaders, or bow hunting gear, there are two important documents that will smooth the process tremendously. Take care of these ahead of time as much as possible, and you’ll be able to focus more on the enjoyment of the hunt and less on bureaucratic … bull stuff.
The first to put in good order is actually the document you’ll need last. Its official name is the “U.S. Customs & Border Protection Form 4457.” It’s actually a broader document called a “Certificate of Registration of Personal Effects Taken Abroad,” but we’re going to focus on your needs to cover your hunting gear.
Acquire this form at the US Customs and Border Protection website. Enter 4457 in the search field to find it quickly.
Complete this form with a detailed description of your firearm or bow including make, model, caliber, barrel length and, most importantly, the serial number. Customs agents have also recommended to me including information on the scope and its serial number separately. Actually it’s a good idea to fill out this form on any of the more expensive gear you’ll take with you like cameras, spotting scopes, etc. If it costs more than $1,000 put it on the form.
Once you have this complete, take the gun or bow in a locked travel case and the completed, but not signed 4457 to your nearest US Customs and Border Protection Office. There the gun/bow will be inspected by an agent to make sure the information matches the effects, and you’ll sign the form in his/her presence. The final step will be notarizing the 4457 with an official seal and the signing agent’s signature and badge number.
Save this completed 4457. It’s good as long as you own that gear. Present it any time you’re entering back into the states with that gun or bow. It will smooth the process in a number of ways, but if nothing else, it shows the agents they are dealing with an experienced traveler who knows what he/she is doing. That goes a long way in making reentry into the country much smoother.
For the Canadian side of the equation, you should go online ahead of time and acquire the Canadian Nonresident Firearm Declaration form (RCMP GRC 5589e) on the Government of Canada site.
Complete all of the information required on this form, but again do not sign it! That’s to be done in the presence of the Canadian Customs agent after he/she has matched up the firearms to the information on the document. Then you’ll pay a $25.00 per person fee that’s good on the guns on the form for 60 days. They will issue you signed documents and a receipt that is to be kept with the firearms at all times you are in Canada including in the field. I use a stock mounted ammo holder with a zippered compartment on my rifles. I zip the gun docs along with my hunting license into this compartment which assures I’m always legal anywhere the gun goes.
Then you’ll be on your way to enjoy your hunting trip with less hassle factor.