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Yes, this site has been updated since the end of the long gun registry!

How can I legally buy a gun in Canada?

The short answer is, you need a license.

I'm a guy named NoahThis site is designed to tell you in about 4 minutes everything you need to know about Canadian firearms laws to get started towards buying a firearm in Canada.

I'm the author Noah A. I'm not selling anything. I just run this site to help those who want to own firearms in Canada navigate the current law and processes because I found it difficult to find up-to-date, information when I first got started.

Last year this site received 72,028 visits from across Canada, and "they" say Canadians don't like guns!

You can Ask Questions at the bottomThere is a section at the bottom of this site to ask any questions about firearms you have which the page doesn't answer.


Legally buying firearms in Canada isn't complicated, or expensive.

Almost 2 Million people have done this before you. Roughly 1 in 15 of the Canadians old enough to qualify for a firearms license have already gotten one.

Basically you just need to pass a short and easy (though very important) safety course, and then mail away for a licence. When you're approved you'll get it in the mail and you can go shopping.

The course you will take (or at least pass the test for) is called the Canadian Firearms Safety Course, (CFSC for short) and the license you'll get is called a Possession and Acquisition Licence, but everyone just calls it a PAL. It's generally pronounced "pal", like the word for a friend, not "Pee Eh Ell".

Quebec firearms laws are significantly different from the rest of CanadaQuebec Residents: Your government has some additional requirements and procedures (such as in-person applications) which I am not very familiar with, please consult other sources for additional information.

The PAL is a pink card that looks similar to this:

A PAL is a pink and blue ID card with your photo and some important information on it.

The PAL is the license that lets you buy firearms.

Detailed steps to get your PAL (Canadian Firearms Licence)

  1. Follow these simple steps to get your PAL gun license in CanadaUsing the "Where can I take the class?" section later on this page find an instructor and sign up for the CFSC.
  2. Pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Courses (CFSC). It's fun and easy, very few people have any trouble. There are no trick questions, or difficult concepts. There's more on this later.
  3. Fill out, and mail in the application form. You'll get it from from your instructor, or print it out from the RCMP CFP website. (details later.)
  4. Wait a few weeks.
  5. Receive your license and go shopping!

What about handguns?

How do I get a handgun in Canada?Yes, handguns are legal in Canada. If you want to own a handgun, (or other "restricted" firearms such as AR-15 rifles) in Canada you will additionally need to to pass a second course called the CRFSC (the R is for Restricted,) and pay a bit more on the application to get a PAL which allows you to buy restricted firearms.

Although not technically correct, most people call it an RPAL, you can guess what the R in front is for. Although an RPAL is actually just a PAL which says "restricted" on the back (in addition to "non-restricted") under the sections that list what types of firearms you are allowed to acquire and possess.

An RPAL is absolutely not a concealed weapons permit and does not authorize you to carry a handgun. Carrying a handgun in Canada without authorization is very illegal and there is virtually no way for you to get authorization to do so without having a job which requires it.

If you can afford the extra couple of bucks,
get the restricted licence. It's well worth it.
Especially if you want to target shoot, or collect guns, both of which are a lot of fun!

There is a section at the very end of this article on handguns, but don't worry about it until you get there, the rest of the information before then applies.

What's the safety course like?

The CFSC in Canada is easyThe course is fun and easy, and is designed to be sufficient safety instruction for people who have no prior experience with firearms.

Most people simply take a one day class (usually a Saturday), that includes watching a video, listening to an instructor, and going over a book. You know, typical classroom sort of stuff. It's pretty low key, and most people have a lot of fun. It's usually costs around $75, though the price can certainly vary, particularly from province to province. I think my wife paid only $20.

The course comes with a great book, it's an easy read with lots of pictures, and diagrams to help you learn the details. You can probably get a copy of the book at your local public library if you'd like to flip through it before taking the class, though you certainly don't need to.

There are two PAL books, one for the regular PAL one for the RPAL.

Is the test hard?

The test is easyNo, it is not. At the end of the course there is a test based only on what is covered in the course. Don't worry, it's pretty easy. You'll have to answer a few questions and demonstrate some basics of what you learned. The vast majority of people pass, just don't let the word "test" make you so nervous that you make silly mistakes.

Where can I take the class?

CFSC locationsThere are thousands of instructors who run the classes all over the country. In order to find a class near you select your province from the drop down box below and call the phone number, or visit the website provided.

I know, nobody likes calling phones anymore, but sorry this whole process is a bit out-dated so you might just to have to. For some provinces there's no decent website that's going to do this part of it for you.

Alberta

Alberta Hunter Education Instructors' Association
+1 (866) 852-4342

Listing of CFSC Instructors in Alberta.

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

British Columbia

Firearms Office
+1 (800) 731-4000 extension 9530

This isn't an endorsement, I've never worked with them, but Silvercore Advanced Training Systems is a major provider of firearms training in BC. At the time I'm writing this they offer classes in Abbotsford, Delta, Langley, New Westminster, Port Alberni, Vancouver, and Victoria. In addition to the CFSC and CRFSC they offer a variety of other courses as well.

If you know of other organizations in BC, especially northern BC that regularly schedule classes please contact me.

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Prince Edward Island

Contact the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division for dates and location of upcoming Canadian Firearms Safety Course. +1 (902) 368-4683

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Manitoba

Firearms Office
+1 (800) 731-4000 extension 8004

This isn't an endorsement, I've never worked with them, but if you're in the Winnipeg area I do know that 1st Shot Firearms Safety Training offers the CFSC and CRFSC there.

I have no information beyond this. If you know of an organizations in Manitoba that regularly schedule classes please contact me.

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

New Brunswick

The CFSC is offered by the Department of Natural Resources, please contact your district office for more information. For contact information click here.

The CRFSC is offered via the Firearms Office of the Department of Public Safety and the Solicitor General to find out about taking the class call them at +1 (506) 453-3992 (weekdays 8am - 5pm).

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia the Department of Natural Resources has elected to have Hnatiuks Hunting & Fishing Ltd. run the courses. To register online please click here. Or call +1 (855) 472-0281 (toll free)

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Nunavut

Firearms Office
+1 (800) 731-4000 extension 4511

I have no information beyong this, if you know of anyone who runs classes here please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca, so that others don't have to call the Firearms Office.

Ontario

Listing of CFSC Instructors in Ontario.

Or call the Firearms Safety Education Service of Ontario (FSESO)
+1 (800) 731-4000 ext 7537

Or if that's no good try that Firearms Office
+1 (800) 731-4000 extension 7503

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Québec

CFSC

Sécurité nature
+1 (888) 523-2863

From a number of E-Mails I've gotten it's my understanding that as of July 2012 the CFSC is only occasionally offered in English in Québec. Perhaps you can find an instructor who offers the CRFSC in English using the link below and see if they also offer the CFSC in English.

CRFSC

(may also offer CFSC)

Fédération québécoise de tir
+1 (514) 252-3056

Listing of CRFSC Instructors, and dates in Québec.

Here is a possibly useful link to finding a schedule.

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Saskatchewan

Firearms Office
+1 (800) 731-4000 extension 8502

I have no information beyong this, if you know of anyone who runs classes here please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca, so that others don't have to call the Firearms Office.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The courses are offered through the College of the North Atlantic which has many locations across the province to serve you. If you want to find out when and where you can take the course call +1 (888) 982-2268.

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Northwest Territories

Firearms Office
+1 (800) 731-4000 extension 9026

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Yukon

Firearms Office
+1 (800) 731-4000 extension 9530

This isn't an endorsement, I've never been there, but I've been told the Whitehorse Rifle & Pistol Club regularly schedules CFSC classes. You may wish to check them out if you're near Whitehorse.

If you find that any of this information is out of date, incomplete, or know how it could be improved please contact me by E-Mailing questions@howtogetagun.ca.

Can I take the CFSC online?

You can't take the CFSC onlineMaybe. In most provinces you can't because there is a hands-on component involving the handling of firearms and ammunition, (not at the same time.) Also the person testing you needs to verify your identity in person.

Running of the CFSC and the CRFSC is delegated by the RCMP CFP to various organizations depending on province and territory. The organization in your area may offer an online or "home study" version, but most do not.

 NOTICE  There are websites out there selling practice tests and study material, don't mistake these for taking the course, or the test. You can buy them if you want to, but just be sure what you're buying.

Will They Deny My Application?

Very few people are deniedVery few applications are denied. In 2011 there were 99,677 licences issued, and only 519 refusals, about 0.5%

You don't need to be a resident or citizen of Canada to hold a Canadian firearms licence.

I can't tell you if you'll be denied, if you think you might be denied, you can call the RCMP CFP at +1 (800) 731-4000 and ask. Please do not contact me to ask if you'll be denied.

Where Do I Get The Application Form?

Handguns and other restricted or prohibited firearms must still be registered in CanadaYour instructor will usually give you one, but you can get it online. It's called a CAFC 921E / RCMP 5592 and you can get it from the RCMP CFP website.

I recommend you print off a couple of copies, you'll want to make sure you send in one that's really neatly filled out so that messy writing doesn't delay your license while they have to try and call you to find out what something that might be hard to read says.

How much does a firearms license cost?

what does a gun licence cost in CnadaIt's really not that expensive. It really only works out to a couple of bucks a month if you look at it in terms of a the cost over the time it's good for.

Generally speaking shooting is a pretty inexpensive hobby; and hunting can be an excellent source of inexpensive high quality meat.

Here is a rough guide to the costs; this is based on what I paid in Alberta, it is my understanding that the prices may vary from tester to tester, and province to province. My wife paid a lot less than this, and I've had friends who've paid more.

Estimated PAL Costs
One day CFSC class$75
  
Photo from a store$15
Licence application fee$60
Postage$0.61
Total$150.61
Estimated RPAL Costs
One day CFSC class$75
One day CRFSC class$75
Photo from a store$15
Licence application fee$80
Postage$0.61
Total$245.61

Approximately every five years you will have to renew your license. There is a fee to renew, however it may, or may not be waived for some renewals.

Now go do it!

or

Ask a Question

E-Mail questions are usually answered in 5-10 hours,
questions sent using the form below usually take 2-4 days.

If you don't have access to your E-Mail right now there is a questions form here.

Additional Notes on handguns and registration

How do I get a handgun in Canada?This section is only applicable to those discerning connoisseurs of firearms who are interested in owning handguns, or other restricted firearms such as AR-15 rifles. You will learn this stuff (and more) in the CRFSC. You don't need to know this before you take the class but it's nice to know things in advance.

All restricted firearms must be registered. Licensing and registration are not the same thing. Even without a "long gun registry" all restricted and prohibited firearms must be registered. That means handguns, and even some kinds of long guns must still be registered.

Registration is a process that amounts to letting the RCMP CFP know who owns particular firearms and where they keep them. It happens automatically when you purchase an applicable firearm at a store. With a private sales the buyer and seller must call the RCMP CFP and initiate the transfer themselves. I find the calls tend to take about 10 minutes, they can answer any questions not covered in the CRFSC at that time too.

Neither an RPAL or an ATT (more on that in a minute) is an authorization to carry a handgun, or any other firearm, either concealed or visible, in public or private.

In order to do that you need an Authorization To Carry (ATC, not to be confused with ATT). Generally you will not be able to get an ATC, unless you have a job which requires it, such as guarding money.

Being worried that you'll be a victim of crime is not sufficient cause for the RCMP CFP to issue you an ATC.

It's not generally legal to shoot restricted firearms on private property (such as a farm or acreage) unless that property has an RCMP approved firing range.

As I said, you can't just carry your restricted firearms around with you, so how do you take them from your home to the shooting range? You'll need what's called and Authorization To Transport (ATT.) Notice the difference between Carry and Transport.

Transporting means you're taking a restricted firearm directly from the place it's registered at (eg. your house) to a location indicated on the ATT, such as an RCMP approved shooting range, gunsmith, or somewhere to sell it. You'll need to do so in accordance with the terms of the ATT you're issued, and with the general transportation requirements.

Basically that means the firearm must be unloaded, secured with a trigger lock (or similar,) be inside a locked container, which is then (if possible) in a locked trunk, with the ammunition also locked up. You must then proceed by the most direct reasonable means. So don't get any ideas about leaving your handgun in the trunk "just in case."

You will probably also need to belong to a gun club. It's my understanding that all Chief Firearms Officers (CFO) require you to be a member of a gun club in order to issue an ATT.

Since you can't shoot a restricted firearm pretty much anywhere except at an approved range they may require you be a member of one. Prices for gun club memberships range from very cheap to insanely expensive, so shop around. My favourite club in Alberta (AHEIA) runs about $145/year (equivalent to $12.69/month.) I also used to belong to a range that was $380/year, and one that was just $80/year.

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For more information you may wish to contact the Canadian Firearms Program. Remember that there may be additional laws and regulations which affect you in addition to the federal laws and regulations.

Most of the icons on this site were found on http://www.iconfinder.com/.

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