Can Americans Bring Guns to Canada?

Yes, absolutely!

That’s the short answer. The longer answer is, it depends on the firearms and the reason they’re coming.

Temporarily importing firearms into Canada is routinely done by visitors not only from the US, but from all over the world. The usual reasons are to hunt and participate in sport shooting competitions, and the process is fairly straightfoward.

Temporarily importing firearms into Canada is routinely done by visitors not only from the US, but from all over the world.

First, visitors should do a little bit of research to determine how their firearms may be classified. For most hunters bringing bolt action, pump action, break action and lever action firearms, these will almost always be classified as “non-restricted” and allowed into Canada. Many semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are further controlled as either “restricted” or “prohibited” firearms, and should be looked into further before packing into the gun case.

two shotguns in truck gun rack
American hunters frequently import firearms into Canada for hunting excursions

Next, transport the firearms in accordance with the law. Most of the time, visitors are arriving by air, where the airline requirements are actually more strict than the Canadian transport requirements. For visitors arriving by car, the firearms simply have to be transported unloaded, but keep in mind they will require a secure locking device such as a trigger lock or cable lock, or lockable case, when stored.

On arrival at the border, whether by airport, land or otherwise, be sure to declare all firearms and ammunition to the Border Services Officer. They will direct gun owners to a secondary examination area to complete the importation documentation. This may also involve a physical inspection and verification of the firearms and any ammunition.

This is when the importer must complete Form RCMP 5589 – Non-resident Firearm Declaration, and pay a fee of $25.00. This form, once processed, becomes the visitor’s de facto firearm licence while they are in Canada. It allows the visitor to possess the firearms listed on the form for up to 60 days. They can also use it to purchase ammunition while in Canada.

Restricted firearms importations

Occasionally, handgun shooters will come to Canada to attend as invitees to sponsored pistol matches. These visitors will need to obtain an “authorization to transport” (ATT) their handguns from the port they plan to enter to the place where the competition is, and back. They will have to call the Chief Firearms Officer for the province they are visiting to obtain the ATT application prior to coming to Canada, otherwise they will not be able to bring the firearm with them from the port of entry until the ATT is issued.

The RCMP Canadian Firearm’s Program website has a fact sheet on importing firearms into Canada.

Visitors are not just limited to the 60-day confirmed declaration, either. Anyone, whether they are a resident or not, can take a firearm safety course and apply for a 5-year Possession and Acquisition Licence. For hunters who frequently visit Canada with firearms, this may make sense as it would be a cost savings after just 4 hunting trips.