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Firearm Users Visiting Canada 

The Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for controlling items brought into Canada. However, here is some basic information if you wish to bring a firearm or other item regulated by the Firearms Act into Canada.

The Firearms Act is a federal law and applies all across the country. Provinces may have additional requirements, especially with respect to hunting.

You must be at least 18 years old to bring a firearm into Canada. If you are younger than 18, you may use a firearm in certain circumstances, but an adult must remain responsible for the firearm.

If you have been convicted of anything considered a criminal offence in Canada, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will need to get approval of rehabilitation or a temporary immigration permit from Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration before you can enter Canada. Contact the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate for more information.

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: 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: You cannot bring a prohibited firearm 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.

As a non-resident, you have two options for meeting the Canadian licensing and registration requirements

Option 1

You can declare your firearms in writing, in triplicate, using the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration (form CAFC 909).

If you are bringing more than three firearms, attach a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration Continuation Sheet (form CAFC 910).

Please fill out the declaration form ahead of time to save time at the point of entry. However, wait until you arrive at the point of entry to sign the form because a customs officer must witness your signature.

Once the customs officer has confirmed your declaration, it will have the same effect as a licence for you and a temporary registration certificate for all the firearms you bring to Canada. It is valid for 60 days. You can renew your declaration at no additional fee, if you renew it before it expires, by contacting the CFO of the province or territory where you are staying. To renew it, call 1 800 731-4000.

A confirmed declaration costs a flat fee of $25, regardless of the number of firearms listed on it. It is only valid for the person who signs it and for those firearms listed on the declaration. If you come with others who will be using firearms in Canada, you will each need to meet these requirements.

Option 2

You can apply for a five-year Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) and register your firearms in Canada. You must wait until you get your PAL before you register your firearms.

If you apply for a PAL, you must provide evidence that you have passed the written and practical tests for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. If you wish to be licensed for restricted firearms, you must also have passed the tests for Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course. A course from your own country would not meet the requirements of Canadian law. You can take the tests without taking the courses.

Contact the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) of the province where you will most likely be using the firearm for information on any other documents you need to provide from authorities in your country to assist with the background safety check.

Once you have your PAL, you can apply to register your firearms online for free or by submitting a paper application (CAFC 998). The firearms must be verified by an approved verifier before they are registered. Call 1-800-731-4000 (Canada and the U.S.) or 1-506-624-5380 (outside Canada and the U.S.) for help to verify your firearms.

If you have a valid licence and registration certificate, you will not have to complete the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration and pay a fee. However, you will still have to make an oral declaration to the customs officer.

Special Circumstances and Exceptions

In some special circumstances, such as cross-border law-enforcement activities or Olympic events, an exemption order might be applied under the Firearms Act and related regulations. These circumstances are reviewed through a rigorous policy process, and can include a number of prescriptive conditions. Exemption orders are a legislative rather than administrative instrument that requires Cabinet review and approval; they are developed only on an exceptional basis.

If you are participating in cross-border events, such as historical re-enactments or other games involving the import of firearms, you would not be eligible for a licensing or registration firearms exemption or a fee waiver.

For Firearms Borrowed in Canada

You do not need a licence if you remain under the direct and immediate supervision of a licensed adult (aged 18 or older).

Otherwise, you need one of the following:

PLEASE NOTE: A confirmed Non-Resident Firearms Declaration does not currently permit you to borrow firearms in Canada.

A temporary borrowing licence will only allow you to borrow non-restricted firearms, 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 on 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 you import temporarily, using a confirmed Non-Resident Firearm Declaration, must be taken back out of Canada. If your 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. The firearm will be registered to the new owner during the transfer process that must take place whenever a firearm changes ownership. A CFO must approve all transfers of restricted firearms.

Duties and taxes may be payable on all firearms that you sell or give to someone in Canada. For more information, please contact the Canada Border Services Agency at 1 800 461-9999 (toll free within Canada) or (204) 983-3500 or (506) 636-5064 (long-distance charges apply).

To be able to acquire a firearm in Canada, you need a valid PAL or FAC. The firearm will be registered to you 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.

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.

Storage, Display and Transportation

When you bring a firearm to Canada, you must comply with the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations.

To be able to bring a restricted firearm to Canada in person, you will need to obtain an Authorization to Transport (ATT) from the CFO of the province where you will be entering Canada. If you have a valid PAL and registration certificate, you will be able to apply in advance. If you will be bringing the firearms with you and declaring them with a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration, you will need to wait until your declaration has been confirmed, before you call the CFO to request an ATT.

You can reach any of the CFOs Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time, by calling 1 800 731-4000. Keep these hours of operation in mind when making your travel arrangements. If you are unable to arrange your arrival time to coincide with the CFO office hours of operation, you may wish to call the CFO in advance to see if you can make other arrangements to obtain an ATT.

Fees (in Canadian Funds)
  • A confirmed Non-Resident Firearm Declaration costs $25. This fee covers all the firearms listed on the declaration.
  • An initial PAL costs $60 for non-restricted firearms only, or $80 for any combination of restricted and non-restricted firearms. It is valid for five years. 
  • A Temporary Firearms Borrowing Licence (for Non-Residents) costs $30.
  • There is no fee for an ATT.
  • There is no fee to register or transfer a firearm.
Information

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.

  • For information on the declaration process, please call the Canada Border Services Agency at the following numbers:
    Within Canada: 1 800 461-9999
    Outside Canada: 1 204 983-3500 or 1 506 636-5064
  • For information on hunting other types of game, please contact the appropriate provincial or territorial authorities or refer to their web site.

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.

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