Bringing Firearms to the US

This article contains information that was accurate when originally published. Changes to legislation may have occurred since then and the information may now be out of date. The article is archived and intended for information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice.

A question that is often asked in our CFSC/CRFSC classes is “can I bring a firearm into the US?”  The simple answer is: yes, you can!

Canadians who lawfully own firearms may apply for a permit to temporarily import firearms into the US for certain valid purposes.  Generally, those purposes are hunting, and to attend a competitive shooting event or gun show.  In the recent past, applicants completing the ATF Form 6NIA, the form required for temporary import, would have to provide proof of one of these authorized activities.

Recent changes to gun importation rules have actually made it a little easier for Canadians – who do not require a nonimmigrant visa to enter the US.  The ATF revised their form in 2014, and updated their FAQ (frequently asked questions) on their website.  Nonimmigrant aliens (which includes Canadian citizens),may apply using the Form 6NIA without requiring a hunting licence, or invitation to a competitive shooting event or gun show.

The process to apply is very simple, and the response is reportedly quite quick:

  • Complete the ATF Form 6NIA with all relevant details
  • Include your email address – the approved form will be emailed back to you
  • Provide your Canadian firearm licence number at Question 12
  • If you are applying as a nonimmigrant alien who does not require a visa to enter the US, answer “No” at Question 13 – you may then skip Q14 and Q15, which ask about hunting licences and competitive target shooting events in the US
  • Complete the list of your firearms and ammunition that you plan to temporarily import into the US
  • Sign and date the form, then send to the ATF

The turn around on a faxed application was about 4 days, in our experience.  The form was sent back with a permit number stamped onto it, and was signed and dated with the ATF approval.  Approved forms are valid for 1 year from the date of approval.  There is no fee to apply.

Canadians bringing firearms to the US should also be aware of the following:

  • You must show the form to CBP officers when you enter the US with a firearm or ammunition. You may need to satisfy them that you have a lawful purpose to bring firearms or ammunition into the US, such as attendance at a gun show, competitive shooting event, or to hunt, even though you were not required to provide proof at the time of application
  • If you are a NEXUS member, you may not use NEXUS to import/export firearms, as this is a program violation in both the US and Canada. You must use regular traveller lanes and make a declaration to officers in both countries
  • Your firearms must meet other US importation requirements, for example, you may not import short-barrelled rifles (under 16″ barrels) and you may not import firearms that are on an embargo list, such as US government surplus or those manufactured in a restricted country
  • You may not leave any firearms or ammunition in the US on a permanent basis – any unused ammunition must leave with you
  • The form does not authorize the export of any firearms or ammunition you purchase or acquire in the US

The process for Canadians interested in bringing firearms to the US temporarily is quite simple and the permit is easy to obtain.

Canadians who own registered restricted firearms in Canada will find that they may already have an Authorization to Transport (ATT) for the purposes of transporting their restricted firearms to and from a port of exit/entry from Canada, including a border crossing or airport.

There are numerous gun shows and competitive shooting events, and target ranges throughout the US, and many gun clubs in the US are happy to have out of state members.  With the ATF Form 6NIA process, and your Canadian ATT, it is very simple to legally bring your Canadian restricted firearms to the US.