Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. I want to buy a firearm from the US and have it sent to me in Canada.

A1. Any holder of a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) may import a restricted or non-restricted firearm, depending on the limitations of their PAL. However, the US control the export of most firearms (antiques and muzzle-loaders are not controlled for export) and the US must issue an export licence to the American exporter. Prior to issuing this licence the US government requires that the Canadian importer present a document from Canada allowing this proposed transaction. To satisfy that US requirement Canadian residents may apply for an International Import Certificate (IIC).

The following steps are involved;

  • have the US seller identify the exporter - the US government requires that this exporter be a Federal Firearms Licenced (FFL) gun dealer for most exports. In many cases the US seller is an FFL dealer.
  • apply to Foreign Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) for an International Import Certificate (IIC) by calling (613) 996-2387 or by faxing your request to (613) 996-9933 and requesting blank application forms. Once completed, the form should be returned to ITCan for processing and certification. Expect this process to take 2-3 weeks. The certified document will then be returned to the applicant for onward delivery to the US exporter. There is no charge for the IIC.
  • pre-register the firearm through the Canada Firearms Centre. Pre-registration allows the importer to clear the firearm through the Canada Border Service Agency without any undue delay.
  • the US exporter will attach their copy of the IIC to their application for an export licence. In the US, applications for shotguns are administered by the Department of Commerce and for all other firearms are administered by the Department of State.
  • once the US export licence is issued the US exporter may then send the firearm to Canada.
  • the Canadian importer is responsible for declaring the value of the firearm to Canada Customs and for ensuring that all safe storage and safe transportation regulations are observed.
  • within 30 days of arrival in Canada, the importer must have the firearm verified and such verification confirmed with the Canada Firearms Centre.

Q2. I want to go to the US and buy a firearm and return with it to Canada.

A2. The US passed new legislation in February 2003 which makes it illegal for a ‘non-resident alien’ to come into possession of a firearm in the US. This does not apply to antiques or muzzle-loading firearms, nor does it apply to Canadians with legal residency in the US or to US citizens, regardless of their residency. A Canadian may purchase a firearm in the US but cannot take possession of it, nor can they export it from the US. The only legal method is to come back to Canada and follow the steps in Question 1 (above).

Q3. A family member in the US has given or willed a firearm to a Canadian resident who wishes to import it.

A3. The same procedure is required as in Question 1 (above) with a small exception. The ‘holder’ of the firearm in the US would be the exporter and this person can write a letter to the Department of Commerce (shotguns only) or the Department of State (all other firearms) and request a ‘one-time exemption’ from the export licence requirements (refer to Attachment “B” of the Department of State on-line document - PDF, 198 KB.) Note that the Canadian IIC is still required by the US government before the exemption can be granted.

Q4. I want to buy parts in the US for my firearm and import them into Canada.

A4. The US controls on the export of firearms extends to parts also. For small orders worth less than US$100.00 the US Department of State allows an exemption from the export licence. This exemption, however, does not cover ‘significant’ parts which includes; barrels, slides, cylinders, bolts, frames and receivers. It should be noted that there is no equivalent exemption offered by the Department of Commerce for shotgun parts. Further, there is no exemption for ammunition or ammunition components. Canadian importers should follow the procedure outlined in Q1 (above) to import parts not exempted.

Q5. I wish to buy ‘prohibited’ firearms or parts in the US and import them into Canada.

A5. The importation of ‘prohibited’ goods is strictly controlled by Canadian legislation. The import of prohibited firearms may only be undertaken by businesses with a Canadian Firearms Business Licence which supply such firearms to the police, military or theatrical/cinematic industries. For more information on import eligibility contact Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada or your Chief Firearms Officer. The import of parts for prohibited firearms is controlled by the “Export and Import Permits Act” (EIPA) and an Import Permit is required. This is in addition to the IIC which may be required by the exporting country. The import of parts for prohibited firearms may require proof that the importer is a ‘grand-fathered’ owner of the firearms in question and that the imported parts are to maintain the prohibited firearm in a safe condition.

Q6. I want to import a replica or an air-gun.

A6. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada does not control the importation of replica firearms or of airguns. Contact the Canada Firearms Centre or the Canada Border Services Agency for more information.

Q7. I want to permanently export a firearm to the US.

A7. Firearms that are classified as either antique, restricted or non-restricted may be exported to the US without a Canadian Export Permit. However, the Canadian exporter must be in possession of an approved US import permit (currently this is a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Form 6 (BATF Form 6)). To export prohibited firearms the exporter must apply for an export permit from Foreign Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). Blank applications are available by calling (613) 996-2387 or by faxing your request to (613) 996-9933. Completed applications must be accompanied by a US Import Permit (BATF Form 6) which specifically identifies the firearm to be exported. Canadian exporters are required to report the permanent export of firearms to the Canada Firearms Centre. It is recommended that copies of the Export Permit, foreign import authorisation and any waybill issued by the carrier be provided to the Canada Firearms Centre to support the exporters claim of permanent export. A photocopy of the foreign import authorisation should be included with the package when shipped.

Q8. I want to go to the US to hunt or to shoot in a competition.

A8. The US passed legislation in 2002 which now requires all ‘non-resident aliens’ to obtain a temporary import permit (BATF Form 6NIA) prior to travelling in the US with a firearm. This document requires proof of registration at a shooting event or possession of a valid hunting licence issued by any State of the US. The Form 6 can be applied for on-line as can some State hunting licences. Once issued the Form 6 can be valid for up to a year (in the case of hunters) or to the date of the competition. Canadian firearms owners should be prepared to show proof of firearms licence and registration when they return to Canada.

Q9. I want to permanently export a firearm to a country other than the US

A9. In keeping with Canada’s multilateral agreements on the international movement of firearms, the Canadian exporter must obtain an Export Permit from Foreign Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). Blank applications are available by calling (613) 996-2387 or by faxing your request to (613) 996-9933. Completed applications must be accompanied by an import authorisation issued by the destination country. In cases where no import authorisation is required, a letter of explanation, issued by the destination country, must be provided. Allow 6-8 weeks for the application to be processed. Canadian exporters are required to report the permanent export of firearms to the Canada Firearms Centre. It is recommended that copies of the Export Permit, foreign import authorisation and any waybill issued by the carrier be provided to the Canada Firearms Centre to support the exporters claim of permanent export. A photocopy of the foreign import authorisation should be included with the package when shipped.

Q10. I want to take my firearm hunting or to a shooting competition to a country other than the US.

A10. The temporary export of firearms requires an Export Permit from Foreign Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). Blank applications are available by calling (613) 996-2387 or by faxing your request to (613) 996-9933. The need for an import authorisation from the destination country is waived. Conditions attached to the temporary Export Permit require that the firearm be returned to Canada and that proof of such return is reported to ITCan. Canadian exporters wishing to take their firearms into another country should ensure that their plans are in keeping with the firearms law of the destination country.

Q11. I want to export my firearm to a foreign country and it must travel through one or more intermediary countries

A11. Many countries control the ‘in-transit’ movement of firearms and ammunition through their territory. Ensure that you or your carrier are aware of any requirements and whether those requirements are limited to ‘third party’ movements, i.e., a freight company is transiting a foreign country as opposed to the owner transporting their own firearm through a foreign country. The Canadian government cannot assist in cases where a firearm has been seized by a foreign government because their transit regulations were not observed. In the case of firearms shipped through the US, refer to Attachment “C” of the Department of State on-line document (PDF, 198 KB).

Contact information

CANADA

Trade Controls Bureau
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
111 Sussex Ave.
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Telephone: (613) 996-2387
Fax: (613) 996-9933

Canada Border Services Agency
Automated Customs Information Services
Telephone: (800) 461-9999 (from within Canada)
(204) 983-3500 / (506) 636-5064 (from outside Canada, long-distance charges apply)

Canada Firearms Centre
Telephone: (800) 731-4000 (from North America)

UNITED STATES

Firearms and Explosives Imports Branch
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
244 Needy Road
Martinsburg, WV 25405
Telephone: (304) 616-4550
Fax: (304) 616-4551
NIA Fax: (304) 616-4554
Website:  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Department of State
Directorate of Defence Trade Controls
PM/DDTC, SA-1, 12th Floor
Bureau of Political Military Affairs U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20522-0112
Telephone:(202) 663-1282 (for general inquiries about and guidance on licensing and compliance matters)
Fax: (202) 261-8199
Email: DDTCResponseTeam@state.govl
Website: http://pmddtc.state.gov/

Department of Commerce
Bureau of Industry and Security
14th St & Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20230
Export Counselors at 202-482-4811 (Washington, DC) or 408-998-8806 (Northern California) or Exporter's Inquiry Form
Website: BIS