Initial planning - do this early.
Get this all started WELL in advance – at least 2 months before the competition, but earlier is better. It can take some time to get all the paperwork in place, and you need to do the following before you can start applying for your documents.
IMPORTANT – At a minimum you HAVE TO arrange flights and accommodation BEFORE you apply for your documents as those details need to be included on the document applications.
The Documents – apply well in advance
To get into Queensland, Australia:
Note that each State may have different costs, forms and processes for entry - for example, in Queensland you do need to complete a separate B709A application but in other states you may not have to. Sometimes you can email your applications and may or may not receive a confirmation by email, but the original Permit and B709A Certificate will arrive by post.
If you are travelling through different states with your firearms you may need separate Permits for every state. Some states will accept other states overseas Visitor Firearms Permit, check on the Police website for this.
Documents for other States:
To return to NZ:
Remember to take all your paperwork with you, also your NZ Firearms Licence and Passport. It’s a good idea to have an extra copy in your checked in luggage, email yourself a copy, or have it saved somewhere “in the cloud”.
Pack your rifle separately from the bolt and ammunition. Put locks on your rifle case, and cover the locks with tape so they don’t catch on things in the cargo hold. Pack your ammunition in your checked-in luggage in its original packaging (i.e. the Eley / RWS packets etc). Make sure you haven't left ANY loose ammunition in your bullet block. Ammunition weight needs to be less than 5kg. Pack your bolt in your checked-in luggage. You can take a scope in carry-on luggage if you want, but no firearms parts. All this will be asked about when you check in.
Check in early (at least an hour earlier than the normal final check-in time), and expect that some airport staff do not deal with firearms very often so may take some time to process you. When you check in you will have to declare your firearm and ammunition, and sign a red/white tag that is attached to the luggage. Keep the other copy of this safe as you will need to present this when you pick up your luggage on arrival. Rifles (and sometimes gear bags) are put through the “Oversize Luggage” sections after check-in.
Arriving in Australia:
Your rifle won’t arrive on the usual luggage carousel, although your other bags might. You will have to go to the Oversize Luggage section to pick up your rifle, and usually (but not always) will need to show the copy of the red/white tag you signed in NZ to prove that it is your bag. Then take everything to the inbound queues as usual.
Make sure you have declared you have a firearm on the inbound entry form, then you will be sent to the Border Security section to be checked. You need to produce your NZ Firearms Licence, Passport, Visitor Permit and B709A, and will be asked to open up your rifle case so your rifle’s serial number can be checked against this paperwork. In some airports you will also need to show your ammunition, however in others you don’t. Airport staff will take copies of your paperwork, but make sure you get your original Visitor Permit back. This can all take some time, but shouldn’t actually be too stressful.
Also don’t forget to declare if you have any food or other items they ask about – even with your firearm all those other rules still apply. And please remember that you are representing NZ at this stage, so no jokes about Australian security processes (or firearms)!
While in Australia:
Storage of firearms/ammunition – in most cases you will be required to store your rifle and ammunition in the armoury at the range the competition is at. If you do, make sure you have everything labelled and locked, including your ammunition box and gearbag.
Always keep your Visitor Permit and Firearms Licence with you. At some ranges you will need this to log-in every day you arrive.
Again make sure you arrive at the airport VERY early. You need your processed Australian Export Declaration (B957) and Restricted Goods Permit (RGP) (take the processed forms you received by email in advance, or the Customs office will have the processed forms if you lodged them there when you arrived), plus your Firearms Licence and Passport to the Customs Office in the airport BEFORE you check-in, and sometimes there are huge queues there. Don’t tape your locks before this, as you will have to open up your rifle case to have the serial number checked by Customs – tape them after this check.
In some airports you will then be escorted by Customs staff to the check-in desk to pass your rifle and bags over, in others they let you get there yourself, sometimes it just depends how busy they are.
Arriving back in NZ:
Again pick up your rifle at the Oversize Luggage section. In Auckland Airport you will then need to go to the Police Desk to have serial numbers and paper work (NZ Firearms Licence and Permit to Import Firearms (POL67E), checked before you join the usual Customs queues. If you have not already been checked by the Police, declaring the firearm on the inbound form will have you sent to the Security section at Customs, where they will send for a member of the NZ Police. Your Import Permit will be stamped and/or signed, and make sure you keep a copy of this as you may be able to use it again. Once this is done you may need to put everything through the X-Ray machine (depending on the airport), and they will probably ask you again if the Police have checked your gear too.
And feel free at this stage to let our NZ Customs guys and Police know how many medals you’ve managed to win from the Aussies!
The final step once you’re home is to advise the office of the NZ Police where you applied for your Permit to Import that you have returned, and they will mark this off on their copy of the POL67E.
Keep a file with copies of all the documents so that you can copy them when you need to apply for them again.