FAQ

Here’s a list of helpful answers to commonly asked questions. Don’t see the answer to your question? Contact us and we’ll get back to you.

I’m an American. Can I get a PAL?

Retrieved from RCMP’s website regarding foreign visitors (including American hunters) to Canada with firearms. Retrieved Oct 6, 2019:

Firearm Users Visiting Canada

Note

This information applies only to firearms that are neither restricted nor prohibited, as set out in Part III of the Criminal Code of Canada. For information on visiting Canada with restricted firearms, contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Firearms Program (CFP)Additional requirements must be met before a restricted firearm can be brought 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. Individuals that are younger than 18 may use a firearm in certain circumstances, but an adult must remain present and responsible for the firearm.

Licensing Requirements

Firearm owners and users in Canada must have firearms licences for the class of firearms 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 requirements:

Option 1

Declare firearms in writing to a customs officer at the point of entry to Canada, using the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration (form RCMP 5589).

If there are more than three firearms, a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration Continuation Sheet (form RCMP 5590) 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.

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.

Once the declaration has been confirmed by the CBSA customs officer, it acts as a licence for the owner 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 (call 1-800-731-4000) of the relevant province or territory.

Option 2

Apply for a five-year Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).

To apply for a PAL, applicants must provide evidence that they have passed the written and practical tests for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. A course from another country does not meet Canadian legal requirements.

The CFO of the province or territory to be visited can provide information on any other documents that will be required to complete the background security check.

With a Canadian firearms licence, there is no need to complete the Non-Resident Firearms Declaration. 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, one of the following is necessary:

Note

A confirmed Non-Resident Firearms Declaration does not currently permit the borrowing of firearms in Canada.

A temporary borrowing licence permits the following uses:

  • 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

Duties and taxes are not generally payable when a firearm is temporarily imported using a confirmed Non-Resident Firearm Declaration, because its purpose is to support temporary use in Canada, followed by re-exportation.

Duties and taxes may be payable if a firearm is brought into Canada and then sold or given to someone in Canada (i.e., not re-exported). 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).

Anyone acquiring a firearm in Canada must have a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). PALs can be confirmed by contacting the CFP.

Restricted firearms must be registered prior to sale or transfer with the CFP.

Buying or Importing Ammunition

A PAL or a confirmed Non-Resident Firearm Declaration or a Temporary Firearms Borrowing Licence (for Non-residents) is necessary to buy ammunition in Canada. Limited amounts may be brought into Canada with you. Please note that ammunition should not be loaded in a firearm when arriving at an entry point.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is responsible for regulating the import of ammunition under the Explosives Act. 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 CBSA.

Storage, Display and Transportation

In order to bring a firearm to Canada, the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations must be complied with. For non-restricted firearms:

  • A secure locking device, such as a trigger lock or cable lock, should be attached, so the firearms cannot be fired; or
  • The firearms should be locked in a cabinet, container or room that is difficult to break into.
  • The ammunition should be stored separately or locked up. It can be stored in the same locked container as the firearms.
  • If left in an unattended vehicle, firearms should be kept in the trunk, or out of sight. The vehicle should be locked.

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. It is valid for five years. For more information on the current licence fee structure, please contact the CFP by one of the methods listed at the end of this document.
  • A Temporary Firearms Borrowing Licence (for Non-Residents) costs $30.

Prohibited Devices

Some large-capacity magazines are prohibited even if the firearms for which the magazines are designed 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 real firearms. 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 on a case-by-case basis.

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. However, some flare guns that are based on the same frame or receiver as a firearm are considered to be firearms and are not exempt from firearms controls.

Information

For more information, contact the CFP.

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 CBSA:

  • Within Canada: 1-800-461-9999
  • Outside Canada: 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064

For information on the regulations for hunting migratory birds, please contact the Environment and Climate Change Canada:

For information on hunting other types of game, please contact the appropriate provincial or territorial authorities or refer to their website.

For information on regulations pertaining to ammunition, please contact the Explosives Safety and Security Branch of Natural Resources Canada:

This fact sheet is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations. Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.

What are the current magazine restrictions?

From the RCMP’s Special Bulletin for Business #72 (retrieved Oct 2, 2019):

Maximum Permitted Magazine Capacity

Special Bulletin for Businesses No. 72

Background

The maximum capacity of a cartridge magazine is set out in Part 4 of the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted.  The Regulations prescribe “prohibited devices”, and a magazine that has a capacity which exceeds the maximum permitted capacity is a prohibited device. Businesses can be in possession of prohibited devices if appropriately licensed.  However, individuals may not possess prohibited devices.    

The magazine regulations have been in force since 1993. However, in recent years, new cartridge magazines have been introduced which have resulted in novel situations as it concerns the application of the Regulations. There has been no change to the Regulations. Nonetheless, the application of the existing Regulations to a few new products has given the appearance of a change in the law. This has been particularly evident in the case of cartridge magazines designed or manufactured for more than one type of firearm.

Purpose

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide greater clarity on the maximum permitted capacity of cartridge magazines designed or manufactured for use in more than one kind of firearm. Note that the maximum permitted capacity of a magazine is determined by the physical characteristics of the firearm it is designed or manufactured for and the type of ammunition for which it is designed. The maximum permitted capacity of the magazine does not depend on the classification of the firearm, nor does the magazine capacity influence the classification of the firearm.

Current Issues

1. Magazines designed or manufactured for both rimfire calibre rifles and handguns

Magazines designed to contain rimfire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a rifle do not have a regulated capacity. However, magazines designed to contain rimfire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic handgun are limited to 10 cartridges. Magazines designed or manufactured for use in both rifles and semiautomatic handguns are subject to the handgun limit of 10 cartridges.

Example:
Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 rifle and 15-22P pistol chambered for 22LR caliber:

  • the 10 round magazine is unregulated
  • the 25 round magazine is a prohibited device

Example 2*: The Ruger BX-25 magazine, chambered for 22 LR calibre, is designed and manufactured for use in the Ruger SR22 rifle, the 10/22 family of rifles/carbines and the 22 Charger handgun. As a result, this magazine is a prohibited device unless modified so its capacity is 10 cartridges or less. (*This information was not included in the original version of this bulletin, but was added on 2013-09-05.)

 

2. Magazines designed or manufactured for both centrefire calibre rifles and handguns

Magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic rifle are limited to five cartridges. However, magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic handgun are limited to 10 cartridges. Magazines designed or manufactured for use in both semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic handguns are subject to the limit of five cartridges.

Example:
Hi-Point rifle and handgun chambered for 9mm Luger caliber:

  • magazine capacities over five rounds are prohibited.

 

3. Magazines designed or manufactured for both centrefire calibre semiautomatic rifles and other (non-semiautomatic) rifles

Magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic rifle are limited to five cartridges. However, magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a rifle other than a semiautomatic or automatic rifle, do not have a regulated capacity. Magazines that are designed or manufactured for use in both semiautomatic rifles and other (non-semiautomatic) rifles are subject to the semiautomatic rifle limit of five cartridges.

Example:
Remington model 7615 pump action rifle chambered for 223 Remington caliber:

  • the 10 round magazine is prohibited
  • the five round magazine is unregulated

 

4. Magazines designed for one firearm but used in a different firearm

The maximum permitted capacity of a magazine is determined by the kind of firearm it is designed or manufactured for use in and not the kind of firearm it might actually be used in. As a consequence, the maximum permitted capacity remains the same regardless of which firearm it might be used in.

Example:
The Marlin model 45 (Camp Carbine) rifle chambered for 45 Auto caliber uses magazines designed and manufactured for the Colt 1911 handgun, therefore the seven round and eight round capacities are permitted.

 

5. Magazines for semiautomatic handguns which contain more than ten (10) rounds of a different calibre

Magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic handgun, are limited to 10 cartridges. The capacity is measured by the kind of cartridge the magazine was designed to contain. In some cases the magazine will be capable of containing more than 10 rounds of a different caliber; however that is not relevant in the determination of the maximum permitted capacity.

Example:
Heckler and Koch P7 pistol chambered for 9mm Luger caliber:
The magazine designed for the 40 S&W calibre variant of the pistol will hold 13 cartridges of 9mm Luger calibre and function in the 9mm Luger calibre P7 pistol. This is permissible as the maximum permitted capacity of the 40 S&W calibre magazine must be measured by the number of 40 S&W calibre cartridges it is capable of holding, which is 10 such cartridges in the case of the HK P7 pistol magazine.   

For more information, please contact the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program by one of the following methods:
telephone: 1 800-731-4000
web site: www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index-eng.htm
e-mail: [email protected]

This bulletin is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Firearms Act, the Criminal Code and Regulations. Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.

Can the CFSC PAL course be done online?

The Government of Canada mandates that all new shooters (or those without proof of a prior older license, such as a POL or FAC) are required to take in-person courses.

Hunter Safety provincial/territorial courses can usually be taken online, but to get your federal gun license in Canada you must complete the 8 classroom hours for Non-Restricted licenses, and 6 further hours past that prerequisite for the Restricted.

What could prevent me from getting my PAL?

Students need to ensure their own eligibility for the PAL/RPAL before registering for a course.

If a student were to come and take a course, and then send their forms in – and then be denied by the RCMP because for whatever reason it turns out that the student was ineligible all along – that situation would not be the instructor’s responsibility. The student does end up ultimately responsible for their own application once they leave the Non-Restricted Course or the Restricted Course, so it’s important to know if something might preclude you beforehand.

The instructors’ jobs are to deliver the course education, to deliver the testing, and to generally help with paperwork before students leave for the day. Once the course is over, the RCMP are responsible for processing gun license applications mailed in by students (the testing information is confirmed by instructor copies sent in separately).

The Canadian Firearms Program at the RCMP define reasons for PAL refusals or revocations as potentially extending to include: “a history of violence, mental illness, potential risk to oneself or others, unsafe firearm use and storage, drug offenses, and providing false information”. (RCMP-CFP, accessed Nov 5th, 2015)

If you’re still wondering about your eligibility, your best bet is to give a quick shout over to the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program before you register. They’re open weekdays, at 1-800-731-4000 during business hours.

What about language barriers?

Students need to complete the course and testing in English or French. RGSL’s courses are offered in both official languages. Though students may speak other languages, we are required to use either English or French only.

Students are not allowed to bring in electronic translators to the course. Students may not bring human translators. The expectation is that students will be able to communicate well at a firing line, where miscommunication can prove fatal. Consistent gun-range communication is important for safety!

Outside communication is prohibited, and using electronic devices is not allowed during the tests.

The RCMP, through RGSL, require that students have a good grasp on the English or French spoken and written language components before registering, as sometimes it’s difficult for RGSL instructors to translate more complex firearm concepts to students in real-time at the course itself.

All of our instructors primarily speak English, though some speak French as well.

What if I lose my forms after the course?

Update: RGSL now recommends students take a computer scan of their Course Report before sending the original to the RCMP so they keep a copy on file. Students have occasionally been reporting that their Course Reports have been lost in the mail, and scanning them protects against loss by keeping proof on file that you have passed the course.

“Course Report” JUS332 forms are issued to successful students who pass the Non-Restricted and/or Restricted courses. These act as proof that students passed the respective courses and have satisfied the written and practical testing requirements. They are the most important forms that students receive from RGSL!

If you misplace your Course Report forms, you might be in trouble depending on the circumstances. RGSL sometimes has students come in who have no choice but to re-take the course as a result of lost forms (it’s up to the discretion of the RCMP/CFP for your own situation). Some students have years-old Course Report forms that are able to be submitted and processed despite the passage of time.

Normally the process is such that RGSL will give the student their original to be mailed in with their PAL/RPAL application.
A second copy is sent to the student’s provincial or territorial Chief Firearms Officer.
A third copy is sent to the Canadian Firearms Program in Miramichi, New Brunswick, for federal processing.
A fourth copy is intended to be left in cold storage with the original instructor.

If you’ve misplaced your forms, your best bet is to call the Canadian Firearms Program at 1-800-731-4000 to ask them what course of action should be taken in your specific situation.

RGSL mails and stores forms in a timely fashion after courses, and so your best point of contact after the course is done is the CFP (RCMP).

Can I take my Restricted course before my Non-Restricted course?

No. Under rules given to us by the RCMP, students themselves are responsible for making sure they take the basic Non-Restricted course first, and then the Restricted course afterwards.

If you’re signing up for both courses at once, ensure that you select the Non-Restricted date ahead of the Restricted date.

RGSL will try to make sure we weed out students who have inadvertently signed up for the Restricted course first, but ultimately the responsibility for the RCMP application rests with the student.

Anyone who already has their Non-Restricted PAL (or Non-Restricted course completed) may then immediately take the Restricted course.

Are the firearms RGSL trains with “real guns”?

RGSL only uses guns which are “disabled”. That is, guns which are still legally considered to be firearms. That’s because if RGSL put firing pins back into them, they would function again – but without those pins, they’re disabled, and thus are safe for training – they cannot fire any ammunition at all.

RGSL also only uses inert or dummy ammunition. All our primers have been crushed, burned, removed or are otherwise absent. No explosive compounds are allowed on-site during courses for everyone’s safety.

Guns come in three different statuses in Canada – guns which are active (ready to load/fire now), disabled (could be made to fire again but aren’t functional at present) and deactivated (somebody has signed off on the destruction of an integral part – these guns are no longer “guns”).

I have firearms that I would like to dispose of. What should I do?

RGSL accepts donations of Non-Restricted and Restricted firearms, and in particular we look for firearms that may have educational value for our students. If you are the executor of an estate, or are in possession of firearms and would like them gone, please contact us and we will help you figure out a solution. We are often able to pick up the firearms themselves and are able to ensure safe, legal transport.

You are generally also able to turn in firearms for disposal at your local RCMP detachment. Please notify them in advance if you are planning to do so!

Where can I check the status of my PAL application with the RCMP?

You can reach the Canadian Firearms Program (who process the applications) at 1-800-731-4000 (Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM nationwide). Alternatively, you can get the status online through the RCMP portal here.

Who is eligible to get their PAL/RPAL?

Any permanent resident or citizen of Canada 18 or over may apply for their PAL (and upgrade to an RPAL). Non-residents in Canada are also eligible to apply as well, however the RCMP may request a letter of good conduct from their home country (or other pertinent details) later on in the application process.

Those under 18 but at least 12 years old may apply for a Minor’s License which permits borrowing of Non-Restricted firearms for target practice, organized shooting competitions, hunting, and instruction in the use of firearms. A Minor’s License also permits the acquisition of ammunition, unless there is an age restriction under provincial or territorial law (generally stores won’t sell to minors in practice, though).

How old do I need to be to get my gun license (PAL)?

Non-Restricted and Restricted PALs are issued to adults aged 18-or-older. Minor’s Licenses are issued for those who are 12-17.

Those under 18 but at least 12 years old may apply for a Minor’s License which permits borrowing of Non-Restricted firearms only, for target practice, organized shooting competitions, hunting, and instruction in the use of firearms. A Minor’s License also permits the acquisition of ammunition, unless there is an age restriction under provincial or territorial law (generally stores won’t sell to minors in practice, though).

More information is available regarding firearms users younger than 18 at the RCMP’s website.

RGSL usually requires minors be accompanied by a parent also taking the Non-Restricted course – please contact us directly if this describes you. Minors should not take the Restricted course.

My firearms license (either my old PAL, POL or FAC) has expired and I want to make sure I’m legal once again. What should I do?

Generally speaking (most of the time), if you had an FAC but not a PAL, you need to complete the PAL requirements for licensing. We can help you with that. If you had a PAL and it expired, you can usually just send in an RCMP 5592 (PAL application form) and don’t need to re-submit the proof of safety courses. For more information, check out these RCMP frequently asked questions!

Calling the Canadian Firearms Program at 1-800-731-4000 (Monday-Friday, 8:30AM-4:30PM nationwide) will also help answer critical questions like this to help you sort out what you need.

I have a disability and cannot perform all the shooting positions demonstrated in the CFSC/CRFSC. Can I still take it?

Yes. We make accommodations during testing for those who may have bad legs, bad backs, or other disabilities. At RGSL, we treat every student with common sense, decency and courtesy.

While our private  classroom is not wheelchair-accessible (it’s on a lower level of the mall with no elevator), Cabela’s Regina and Cabela’s Saskatoon courses are made wheelchair-friendly and are accessible.

What are the CFSC/CRFSC course rules?

There are two major rules.

The first is that there are n