by Brian McCombie - Monday, June 15, 2020
Once again, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has helped hunters, this time by working through some regulatory red tape that had the potential to ruin many a hunting trip abroad.
The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) did this by advising the Trump Administration of a bureaucratic glitch left over from the previous administration that created a catch-22 for hunters traveling out of the country with their personal firearms and ammunition.
“This is another great example of a little-known, yet important, accomplishment by NRA for hunters,” said Erica Tergeson, director of hunting policy for NRA-ILA. “We fight every day to reduce red tape and make hunting more affordable and accessible for America’s sportsmen and women.”
If you have ever hunted outside the United States and brought firearms with you, you know the general procedure: Pre-trip, you fill out U.S. Customs Form 4457 (Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad) and visit a U.S. Customs office where a staff member will certify the form for you. This form lists the personal property you will be taking out of the country on your trip, in this case your firearm(s), optics and other gear. When you return to the States, you present Form 4457 to U.S. Customs to prove that you owned the property before going abroad, protecting you from paying import duties on items already owned. (For more background from NRAHLF.org on the importance of Form 4457 in ensuring duty-free re-entry into the United States, click here.
This process was straightforward enough and worked fine for years. But in 2012, an Obama-era rule change required an individual taking personal firearms and ammunition to another country on a temporary visit to register with the U.S. Commerce Department's “Automated Export System,” or AES.
The problem here? AES is designed for commercial exporters. It also requires all users to first obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, the IRS makes it clear that EINs are issued solely for business purposes and, therefore, applicants must certify a business reason for obtaining one. As a result, the new AES process created an unworkable web of bureaucratic red tape and left many American hunters and sport shooters scrambling to figure out how to proceed.
When the AES requirement first surfaced, NRA-ILA worked with pro-hunting members of Congress—including U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah)—to find a solution. These members of Congress negotiated a temporary workaround for the AES registration requirement that allowed the Form 4457 process to continue until a permanent solution could be reached. However, until recently the AES registration requirement was still on the books and, as NRA-ILA knew, it could be revived at any time, which would put hunters traveling to other countries in a real bind.
Fortunately, the Trump administration has put this issue to bed, with help and consultation from NRA-ILA. Under the newly formulated export rules, the Commerce Department now states that traveling Americans can bring up to three firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition for personal use while abroad, and the Form 4457 process is the acceptable method for declaration. This rule will apply to the vast majority of firearms and ammunition used for hunting and sport shooting, as the Trump Administration’s broader export reforms moved these items under the purview of the Commerce Department.
NRA-ILA and NRA Hunters’ Services have worked tirelessly on this and other issues of importance to hunters and Second Amendment supporters, communicating our concerns to our elected representatives, filing comments when appropriate and working hard to keep America’s hunting heritage alive and vital.
With this regulatory adjustment, and help from NRA-ILA, President Trump has provided yet another win for Second Amendment, hunting and sport shooting advocates.
About the Author
Brian McCombie is a field editor and editorial contributor for the NRA's American Hunter. He writes about firearms and gear for the NRA's Shooting Illustrated website, as well as handling public relations and marketing for companies and manufacturers in the shooting sports industry. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Brian likes hunting hogs, shooting 1911s chambered in 10 mm and .45 ACP, watching the Chicago Bears and relaxing with his two cats, Peanut Morgan and Simon.
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