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Here is some basic information about bringing a firearm, or other items regulated by the Firearms Act, into Canada.
The Firearms Act is a federal law and therefore applies across the country. Provinces and territories may have additional requirements, especially with respect to hunting.
An individual must be at least 18 years old to bring a firearm into Canada. Those younger than 18 may use a firearm in certain circumstances, but an adult must remain present and responsible for the firearm.
Classes of Firearms and Devices
There are three classes of firearms in Canada:
- Non-restricted (most common rifles and shotguns): These may generally be imported for purposes such as hunting, protection from wild animals in remote wilderness areas where firearms are allowed, or target-shooting. They may also be taken in transit through Canada by a reasonably direct route.
- Restricted: (longer-barreled handguns, some types of long guns) These are allowed for certain purposes, such as target shooting at an approved club or range, but they are not allowed for hunting or self protection.
- Prohibited: (shorter-barreled handguns, automatic weapons) These cannot be brought into Canada.
Some firearms are classified as restricted or prohibited under the Criminal Code based on their general characteristics (e.g. barrel length or calibre); other restricted and prohibited firearms are specified by name in Criminal Code Regulations.
Some large-capacity magazines are prohibited even if the firearms to which the magazines are attached are allowed. As a general rule, the maximum capacity is:
- five cartridges for most magazines designed for a centre fire semi-automatic long gun; and
- ten cartridges for most handgun magazines.
There is no maximum magazine capacity for other types of long guns, including semi-automatics that discharge only rim-fire ammunition.
Replica firearms, except for replicas of antique firearms, are prohibited and cannot be brought into Canada. Replica firearms are devices that look exactly or almost exactly like a real firearm but that cannot discharge a projectile or that can only discharge harmless projectiles. As a rule, to be prohibited, a device must closely resemble an existing make and model of firearm, not just a generic firearm. Many of these devices have to be assessed case by case.
Devices designed exclusively for signalling purposes (e.g. flare guns), and intended to be used solely for that purpose, are exempt from the requirements set out below.
Licensing and Registration Requirements
Firearm owner and users in Canada need a valid firearms licence allowing them to possess firearms and a Canadian registration certificate for each firearm in their possession. A licence issued under Canada’s Firearms Act is different from a provincial hunting licence.
Non-residents have two options for meeting the Canadian licensing and registration requirements:
Declare firearms in writing, in triplicate, using the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration (form CAFC 909).
If there are more than three firearms, a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration Continuation Sheet (form CAFC 910) should be added.
The declaration form should be filled out prior to arrival at the point of entry, in order to save time. However, it should not be signed before arriving at the entry point, as a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) customs officer must witness the signature.
Once the declaration has been confirmed by the CBSA customs officer, it acts as a licence for the owner and as a temporary registration certificate for the firearms brought to Canada; and it is valid for 60 days. The declaration can be renewed for free, providing it is renewed before it expires, by contacting the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) (call 1-800-731-4000) of the relevant province or territory.
A confirmed declaration costs a flat fee of $25, regardless of the number of firearms listed on it. It is valid only for the person who signs it and only for those firearms listed on the declaration.
Apply for a five-year Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) and register the firearms in Canada. The PAL must be issued before the firearms can be registered.
To apply for a PAL, applicants must provide evidence that they have passed the written and practical tests for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. If they wish to be licensed for restricted firearms, they must also have passed the tests for the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course. A course from another country does not meet Canadian legal requirements. However, the tests can be taken without taking the courses.
The CFO of the province or territory that will be visited can provide information on any other documents that will be required to complete the background security check.
Once a PAL is obtained, an application to register firearms can be submitted either online at no cost or by mail after completing a paper application (CAFC 998). Some firearms must be verified by an approved verifier before they are registered. Call 1-800-731-4000 (Canada and the U.S.) or (506) 624-5380 (outside Canada and the U.S.) for help in verifying firearms.
With a valid licence and registration certificate, there is no need to complete the Non-Resident Firearms Declaration or pay a fee. However, an oral declaration must still be made to the customs officer.
For Firearms Borrowed in Canada
No licence is required if the firearms user remains under the direct and immediate supervision of a licensed adult.
Otherwise, you need one of the following:
NOTE: a confirmed Non-Resident Firearms Declaration does not currently permit the borrowing of firearms in Canada.
A temporary borrowing licence permits the borrowing of Non-restricted firearms only, and only for one of the following purposes:
- hunting under the supervision of an outfitter or other person authorized to organize hunting services in Canada;
- hunting with a Canadian resident who has the proper firearms licence and hunting licence;
- competing in a shooting competition;
- target shooting at an approved shooting club or range;
- taking part in an historical re-enactment or display;
- engaging in a business or scientific activity being carried out in a remote area where firearms are needed to control animal predators;
- taking part in a parade, pageant or other similar event; or
- using firearms for movie, television, video or theatrical productions or publishing activities.
Buying or Selling a Firearm in Canada
Firearms which have been temporarily imported, using a confirmed Non-Resident Firearms Declaration, must be taken back out of Canada. If the firearms are registered in Canada, they may be transferred (sold or given) to a properly licensed business or individual by calling 1-800-731-4000. During the transfer process that must take place whenever a firearm changes ownership, the firearm will be registered to the new owner. A CFO must approve all transfers of restricted firearms.
Duties and taxes may be payable on all firearms that are sold or given to someone in Canada. For more information, please contact the CBSA at 1-800-461-9999 (toll free within Canada) or (204) 983-3500 or (506) 636-5064 (long distance charges apply).
To be eligible to acquire a firearm in Canada, a PAL is necessary. The firearm will be registered to the new owner during the transfer process.
Buying or Importing Ammunition
A valid PAL, a confirmed Non-Resident Firearm Declaration or a Temporary Borrowing Licence (for Non-Residents) will allow you to buy ammunition in Canada. As well, you may bring limited amounts into Canada with you.
Storage, Display and Transportation
Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) is responsible for regulating the import of ammunition under the Explosives Act. You may contact NRCAN for information on how much ammunition can be imported for personal use. For information on how much ammunition can be imported duty free, please contact the Canada Border Services Agency.
When you bring a firearm to Canada, you must comply with the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations.
In order to bring a Restricted firearm to Canada, an Authorization to Transport (ATT) from the CFO of the province or territory where entry to Canada will be made needs to be obtained. With a valid PAL and registration certificate, application for an ATT can be made in advance. If the firearms are being declared in person with a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration, the declaration must be confirmed before the ATT is requested from the CFO.
CFOs can be contacted Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. local time, by calling 1-800-731-4000. These hours of operation should be kept in mind when making travel arrangements. If an arrival time will not coincide with the CFO office hours of operation, the CFO can be contacted in advance to see if other arrangements to obtain an ATT can be made. No ATT is required for Non-restricted firearms, but they must be secured as required by the Regulations.
Fees (in Canadian Funds)
See: Fees for Firearm Documents (Fact Sheet)
For more information, contact us.
Application forms for non-resident firearms declarations and temporary borrowing licences may also be obtained from Canadian tourist offices, customs offices, gun clubs and outfitters.
This fact sheet is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Firearms Act and its regulations.
Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.