Most visitors to Canada are likely ready to face the inspection process at the border, knowing about the restrictions for food and alcohol taken into the country. However, not everybody is aware of the zero-tolerance policy for bringing firearms into Canada. In many instances, visitors from places that allow people to carry concealed weapons may be caught unaware.
If you are a Canadian visitor, and you forget about the handgun you have with you, the consequences can be severe. Although officers at the border can exercise discretion, they could order the destruction of your weapon, issue a fine, and you might even face jail time. Learning about the requirements and restrictions for transporting firearms into Canada might help you to avoid these harsh repercussions.
What license options are available to you?
The process at the border will depend on the types of guns you have. You can apply for a renewable 60-day permit or a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL), which will be valid for five years. You must declare all your firearms when you apply for one of the following licenses:
- Non-Resident Firearm Declaration: This will be valid for 60 days, and although you could complete the form in advance, you will need to sign it in the presence of the Canadian Customs officer who must witness your signature.
- Possession and Acquisition License (PAL): To obtain a 5-year license that will allow you to purchase ammunition in Canada, you must complete and pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course.
At the border, officers will review your paperwork to ensure it matches the weapons you have, based on the following categories:
- Non-restricted firearms: This category includes firearms such as shotguns and hunting rifles, typically used for sporting, competitions and hunting.
- Restricted firearms: Most handguns and semi-automatic shotguns and rifles fall in this category, which is for use at approved ranges -- not for hunting or self-defence.
What other legalities could cause you concern?
There are a myriad of legalities you may want to be aware of regarding prohibited firearms that are altogether banned from being brought or imported into Canada. Also, if you are traveling with someone below the age of 18 who is attempting to bring a gun into the country, there are only limited circumstances in which this will be legal.
Where can you turn for help and support?
If you run into trouble at the border because you are confused or not up to date with the laws and requirements for bringing firearms into Canada, you could find yourself in a difficult situation. However, there are resources available to you during this challenging time. An experienced lawyer can evaluate the circumstances of your specific situation and determine the best possible defence that is aimed at mitigating many or even all of the potential consequences.