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Crossing the Border with a Concealed Carry? Canadian Gun Laws

Canadian Gun Laws

Canada is one of the most beautiful places that you can visit. And for Americans, Canada is one of the easiest countries to go to for business or pleasure. But if you plan to bring a gun (or more than one gun) into the country, your experience will probably be the opposite of “pleasure.”

That is because Canada has very strict gun laws making traveling with a gun that much harder. Many of these gun laws are unpopular even among Canadian citizens. And as for Americans visiting Canada, it is very easy to get in trouble simply because you don’t understand Canadian gun laws, especially if you try to bring a concealed carry firearm into the country.

But what are these laws you should know about? And what can you do to make bringing guns into Canada less of a headache? Keep reading to discover the answers!

Does Canada Have Concealed Carry?

In the United States, a concealed carry weapon license is arguably a gun owner’s best friend. Once you take a rigorous training course and get your license, you’ll be able to bring a concealed weapon into plenty of places that you otherwise would not be able to visit. 

Unfortunately, the list of places you can bring your gun with a CCW doesn’t include Canada. For the most part, Canadian gun laws generally prohibit the use of concealed carry within the country unless the person has been issued an Authorization to Carry as part of the country’s Firearms Act.

As you might imagine, the government-issued Authorization to Carry is usually limited to law enforcement personnel and select government workers. So that concealed carry license that you got back in America will sadly not let you bring a concealed weapon like you could if you were traveling from one state to another.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that, with quite a few restrictions, you are still allowed to bring certain firearms into the country. This can help to keep you safe during your visit, especially if you are visiting some of the more rural areas of the country.

Requirements To Bring Guns Into Canada

It’s probably not surprising for you to learn you’ll need to jump through some hoops to bring guns into Canada. But once you make it through those hoops, you might be surprised at what you’re allowed to bring into the country!

Generally speaking, gun laws in Canada require that you be 18 or older to bring firearms into the country. It’s possible for minors as young as 12 to bring a firearm into the country so long as they have a minor’s license. Additionally, minors are limited to bringing in only non-restricted weapons (more on this in a bit).

The other big restriction is that you need to have a clean criminal record. If you have items on your record, even things that are completely unrelated to firearms or violent acts, you may have difficulty bringing guns into the country.

If you are of age and have a clean criminal record, then the last real hurdle is to declare the guns to Customs officials when you enter the country. If you fail to declare certain weapons, or if you try to bring illegal weapons into the country, they may be confiscated by Customs and never returned.

How will you know which guns are allowed and which are not? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about Canadian gun restrictions.

The Three Classes of Firearms

In America, many gun lovers have a simple philosophy: at the end of the day, guns are guns. However, the Canadian government breaks down firearms into three different classifications. And you need to know which is which before you try to bring any guns into the country.

The first category is prohibited firearms. As the name implies, these are firearms that you cannot, under any circumstances, bring into the country. This typically includes handguns with barrels longer than four inches, fully automatic weapons, converted automatic weapons, and assault-type weapons (more on this later).

Restricted firearms primarily refers to handguns, though other weapons (including simple defensive tools such as mace and pepper spray) qualify as well. It’s possible to bring restricted firearms into the country, but you’ll need to get an Authorization to Transport from one of Canada’s Provincial Chief Firearms Officers ahead of time. Additionally, you’ll need to pay a $50 fee to Customs and sign a Firearms Declaration Form.

The final category, and one that covers most of what Americans bring into Canada, is non-restricted firearms. This mostly refers to shotguns and rifles, and these are particularly useful if you get attacked by anything in the wilderness. As an added bonus, it is much easier to drive through Canada with these types of guns, which is particularly useful if, say, you are driving through Canada on your way to Alaska.

More About Restricted Firearms

Interested in learning more about restricted firearms? Here is more of the info you need before you try to bring any guns into Canada.

In addition to most handguns, both semiautomatic rifles and shotguns that shoot center-fire ammunition are restricted. These rifles and shotguns must also have a barrel between 4.14 inches and 18.5 inches.

One very specific restriction refers to guns that were either originally made to or have been adapted to fire after folding, telescoping, or otherwise reducing to a gun less than 26 inches long. Finally, Canada reserves the right to restrict other guns very specifically via regulation.

Specific Prohibited Firearms

Want more information about the firearms you are specifically prohibited from bringing into the country? Below, we have all the info you need!

First of all, handguns with barrels that are 4.14 inches or longer are prohibited. Similarly, handguns made to fire 25 or 32-caliber cartridges are prohibited. And there is a general prohibition on assault-style weapons that covers over 1,500 makes of guns.

Additionally, shotguns and rifles that are less than 26 inches long are prohibited. Similarly, ones with barrels less than 18 inches are prohibited.

All silencers and other devices to stop or quit the sound of a gun have been prohibited. All fully automatic weapons are prohibited. 

Guns with bullpup stocks are prohibited. Finally, certain types of cartridges are prohibited: cartridges for center-fire, semi-automatic rifles or shotguns are usually limited to 5 rounds and cartridges for semiautomatic handguns are usually limited to 10 rounds.

Oh, and it should go without saying, but don’t try to bring any replica firearms made to look like a real prohibited item!

Other Prohibited Weapons

Obviously, we have been focusing on specific guns that you can and cannot bring into Canada. But we’ve discovered those who love guns typically love other kinds of weapons as well. With that in mind, you should know there are other types of weapons you are completely forbidden from bringing into the country.

As we mentioned before, pepper spray and mace are prohibited. The only real exception is that you are allowed to bring in spray specifically designed to ward off bears.

You can’t bring in any tasers or stun guns if they are shorter than 480 mm. Blowguns are prohibited, as are spring batons or any spring-loaded rigid batons.

Many things associated with martial arts and street fighting are prohibited. This includes brass knuckles, morning stars, spiked wristbands, throwing stars, fighting chains, and nunchucks. Crossbows 500 mm or shorter are prohibited, as are any crossbows designed to be used one-handed.

What most Americans have to worry about, though, is trying to bring over a prohibited knife. Flick knives, automatic knives, and butterfly knives are prohibited, as are gravity knives. Belt-buckle knives, finger rings with blades, push daggers, and anything shorter than 30 cm that hides a knife blade is similarly prohibited. 

Transporting Non-restricted Firearms Through Canada

It’s one thing to get your non-restricted firearms into Canada. It’s another to safely and legally transport these weapons through the country!

The main thing you need to know is that if you are going to leave the guns unattended, such as leaving them in your car, you must lock them in the trunk of your car. In the event that there is no trunk available, the firearm simply needs to be locked somewhere within the vehicle and hidden out of sight.

Transporting Restricted Firearms Through Canda

It’s harder to get restricted firearms into the country, but not impossible. And as you might imagine, there are stricter regulations when it comes to transporting restricted items. 

When traveling with a restricted firearm, you have two options. The first is to use a secure locking device that ensures the firearm is inoperable. The second is to lock the restricted firearm into some kind of secure opaque container, something that keeps people from seeing the gun inside and that will not accidentally open up while you travel.

While not a strict requirement, the Canadian government officially recommends that you remove bolts or bolt carriers from restricted firearms while you travel with them.

How To Safely Bring Your Guns Back Into America

As great as Canada is, you’ll eventually want to return to America. And if you want to return with all of the guns you brought over, there are a few things you need to know.

In the eyes of the American government, you are technically importing your guns back into the country. Accordingly, you may need to provide your Canadian documentation to United States Customs officials when you return to the country.

If you want to save yourself a few headaches, stop by the U.S. Customs office in Canada before you leave the country. They can provide you with a Certificate of Registration For Personal Effects Taken Abroad. Because this includes the serial numbers for your guns, this paperwork can make things much easier for you as you bring your guns back into America.

Canada Has Been Traditionally Gun-Friendly

Many Americans who love guns often joke about Canada being pretty “anti-gun.” And in light of recent restrictions and crackdowns, it’s not hard to see how the country landed this reputation. However, you might be surprised to discover the average Canadian citizen’s view on firearms!

Research as recently as 2017 revealed that Canadian citizens owned 12.7 million guns (both legal and illegal). When compared with the country’s population, that means there were 34.7 guns for every 100 residents. To really put that in perspective, Canada had the fifth-highest gun ownership rate in the entire world.

So, what changed? If the country’s citizens generally like owning and using guns, what led to Canada’s gun crackdowns, including amnesty and buyback programs? It can all be summed up in two words: Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau Won Political Points By Being Anti-Gun

Back in 2020, there was a mass shooting Nova Scotia. The gunman killed 22 people, making this the deadliest attack in the nation’s history. In response, Justin Trudeau banned all “assault-style” weapons throughout the country.

For career politician Trudeau, this bold move was an attempt to win political points. For example, he proudly told the world that “Canadians deserve more than thoughts and prayers.” He also claimed these assault weapons were designed to do nothing but kill people more efficiently and that “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”

Ironically, this politically-motivated move seemed to backfire. Trudeau understandably made gun supporters throughout the country angry, as they called him out (rightfully so) for using a tragedy as political leverage to start grabbing guns. Meanwhile, gun control proponents felt Trudeau didn’t go nearly far enough, wanting him to ban even more kinds of guns.

Fortunately, you have far more rights related to your firearms here in America. But to really get the most out of the Second Amendment, it’s important to take a concealed carry course

Exercise Your Second Amendment Rights Wherever You Go

Canadian gun laws may not allow you to use a concealed carry permit. However, once you’re back in America, this permit is the single best way to take your gun almost anywhere that might require you to defend yourself. 

To get the permit, you just need to take the right training course. But what if affordable courses were closer than you might think? To get started, come find a training course near you today!