Americans taking guns into Canada or transporting guns through Canada need to know that the Canadian government has-and strictly enforces-zero-tolerance gun control laws that must be followed by U.S. citizens taking firearms into Canada.
Most problems arise from Americans forgetting they have a handgun with them when crossing the border. This happens most often to Americans from states that allow residents to carry concealed weapons. Failure to declare any firearm will result in confiscation and probably the destruction of the weapon. A fine will be assessed and jail is a possibility.
In general, Americans are allowed to bring up to three allowed guns into Canada as long as the proper forms are filled out and fees paid. Guns must be declared at the border crossing.
Even when guns are declared and the proper forms are completed, Canadian border service officers require travelers to prove they have a valid reason for bringing a firearm into the nation.
Border officers also check to ensure that all firearms are safely stored for transportation and that the guns being transported match those described in the declaration documents.
Only people age 18 years or older are allowed to bring firearms into Canada. While persons younger than 18 may use a firearm in Canada under certain circumstances, an adult must be present and will be held legally responsible for the firearm and its use.
Non-Resident Firearms Declaration
U.S. citizens bringing firearms into Canada, or taking firearms through Canada to Alaska are required to fill out a Non-Resident Firearms Declaration (Form CAFC 909 EF). The form must be presented in triplicate, unsigned, to a Canadian customs officer at the traveler's first point of entry into Canada. The customs officer must witness the signature, so do not sign the form beforehand.
Persons bringing more than three firearms into Canada also need to complete a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration Continuation Sheet (form RCMP 5590).
Once it has been approved by the Canadian customs officer, the Non-Resident Firearms Declaration is valid for 60 days. The confirmed form acts as a license for the owner and as a temporary registration certificate for the firearms brought to Canada. 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 Canadian province or territory.
A confirmed Non-Resident Firearms 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 Non-Resident Firearms Declaration has been approved by the CBSA customs officer, the declaration acts as a license for the owner and it is valid for 60 days. For visits longer than 60 days, declarations can be renewed for free, providing they are renewed before they expire, by contacting the Chief Firearms Officer of the relevant province or territory.
Persons bringing firearms into Canada must also comply with Canadian Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms regulations. The Canadian customs officer at the point of entry can inform firearms owners of these regulations.
Allowed, Restricted, and Prohibited
Approval of the Non-Resident Firearms Declaration allows only standard rifles and shotguns commonly used for hunting and target shooting to be transported into or through Canada.
Handguns with at least 4-inch barrels are considered "restricted" firearms and are allowed in Canada, but require the completion an approval of an Application for an Authorization to Transport Restricted Firearms. This Non-Resident Firearm Declaration costs $50 Canadian.
Handguns with barrels shorter than 4-inches, fully automatic, converted automatics, and assault-type weapons are "prohibited" and not allowed in Canada. In addition, certain knives, even those used for hunting and fishing, may be considered prohibited weapons by Canadian officials.
In all cases, travelers must declare to Canadian Customs authorities any firearms and weapons in their possession when entering Canada.
There are often facilities near border crossings where weapons may be stored, pending the traveler's return to the United States, but this should be done before attempting to enter Canada.
Canadian law requires that officials seize firearms and weapons from persons crossing the border who deny having them in their possession. Seized firearms and weapons are never returned.
The easiest way to transport firearms is to have them crated and shipped to your destination via a commercial carrier.