How can I legally buy a gun in Canada?
The short answer is, you need a license.
This site is designed to tell you in just 3 minutes what you need to know about Canadian firearms laws to get started towards buying a firearm in Canada.
Legally buying firearms in Canada isn't complicated, or expensive. Around 2 Million Canadians already have firearms licenses. That's about 1 in 15 adults.
Basically you just need to pass a short, and fairly easy (though very important) safety course, and then mail away for a licence. If you're approved you'll get it in the mail and you can go shopping.
The course you will take 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".
Québec Residents: Your government has some additional requirements not described here. You should read the page you are on now, and then also the Quebec Page to find the additional information.
The PAL is a pink card that looks similar to this:
The PAL is the license that lets you buy firearms.
Detailed steps to get your PAL (Canadian Firearms Licence)
- Use the "find a class" page on this website to find out where to take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC).
- Pass the CFSC. It's fun and easy, very few people have any trouble. There are no trick questions, or difficult concepts.
- Fill out, and mail in the application form with the required supporting papers (like your photograph.)
- Wait a few weeks.
- Receive your license, and go shopping!
See, it isn't really that complicated.
What about handguns?
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 need to take some additional steps. After you have finish reading this page, use the "Handguns" section of this website to find out more.
What's the safety course like?
The 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.
The course comes with a great book. It's an easy read, with lots of pictures and diagrams to help you learn the details.
Is the test hard?
No, it's 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 knowledge of what was covered. The vast majority of people pass. Don't let the word "test" make you nervous.
How Much Does a Canadian Firearms License Cost?
It's really not that expensive. It 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 could even save you money! If you take up hunting, it can be an excellent source of surprisingly large quantities of inexpensive, and very high quality meats.
Here is a rough guide to the costs. However prices will vary, especially from province to province. My wife actually paid just $20 for her classes as part of a women's retreat.
Estimated PAL Costs
|Expense||Low End||High End|
|One day CFSC class||$50||$225|
|Optional CRFSC class for restricted firearms||$0||$225|
|Licence application fee||$60||$80|
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.