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Firearm Collectors

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This fact sheet presents information about the Firearms Act and its supporting regulations to individuals who collect firearms. It does not apply to firearms that meet the definition of an antique, as set out in the Criminal Code and its associatedregulations.

This fact sheet is also of interest to those who plan to acquire a particular restricted firearm or prohibited handgun – for example, a family heirloom. These firearms may only be acquired for an approved purpose, such as collecting. Individuals do not need to have other firearms to be able to acquire a restricted firearm as part of a collection. However, in most cases, individuals would be able to acquire a prohibited firearm only if they already have one in the same category of prohibited firearms registered in their name. Refer to the section of this fact sheet on "Additional Requirements for Restricted and Prohibited Firearms" for more information.

Licence Requirements

To acquire firearms, other than antiques, for a collection individuals must be at least 18 years old and have a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) for the class or classes of firearms they are collecting. The three classes of firearms are:

  • non-restricted (ordinary rifles and shotguns),
  • restricted, and
  • prohibited.

A Possession Only Licence (POL) will allow individuals to keep firearms they have lawfully owned since December 1, 1998. However, it will not allow them to acquire more firearms.

To maintain legal possession of firearms, an individual must keep their licence current by renewing it before it expires.

Renewing a firearms licence is also important in order to preserve any grandfathering privileges individuals may have for prohibited firearms. A licence renewal application will be mailed to licence holders at least 90 days before their current licence expires. It is important that licence holders return the completed form as quickly as possible.

Licence Fees

The initial fee for a PAL is $60 for non-restricted firearms only, or $80 for any combination of non-restricted, restricted and prohibited firearms.

For more information on the current licence fee structure, please contact the CFP.

Registration Requirements for Restricted or Prohibited Firearms

Firearms owners need a valid registration certificate for each prohibited or restricted firearm in their possession. A registration certificate issued under the former law (prior to December 1, 1998) is no longer valid. Individuals who possess restricted or prohibited firearms that have not yet been registered, or any restricted or prohibited firearms that were registered under the former law but not re-registered under the Firearms Act, are in illegal possession of those firearms. To minimize the risk of penalties, immediate steps must be taken to register these firearms or to dispose of them lawfully – for example, by turning them in to a police or firearms officer. A firearms licence is required in order for an individual to register a firearm.

If individuals borrow a restricted or prohibited firearm, they need to borrow the registration certificate as well.

If individuals buy or sell a restricted or prohibited firearm in Canada, the registration records must be updated to show the transfer of ownership.

A restricted or prohibited firearm must be verified by an approved verifier if:

  • it is being registered for the first time; or
  • it is being transferred to a new owner and has not previously been verified; or
  • is has been modified so that their description has changed, or
  • the Registrar requests that it be verified or re-verified to confirm its description or classification.

Call 1-800-731-4000 for help to verify a firearm.

Additional Requirements for Restricted and Prohibited Firearms

Restricted and Prohibited Firearms

To be able to possess or acquire a restricted or prohibited firearm for collection purposes, individuals need to know the historical, scientific and technical features of the firearm. The Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) of the applicable province or territory is responsible for deciding whether individuals are eligible to have the firearm for a collection when they apply to register it.

Prohibited Firearms

As a general rule, an individual may possess prohibited firearms only if they have been "grandfathered" under section 12 of the Firearms Act. Being grandfathered means that individuals can keep certain prohibited firearms that were registered to them on specific dates set out in the Act. To stay grandfathered for a particular category of prohibited firearm, an individual must continuously hold a registration certificate for a prohibited firearm in that category from December 1, 1998, onward. To be able to keep their registration certificates valid, individuals need to renew their licence.

An individual may also sell, give or trade prohibited firearms to other grandfathered and suitably licensed individuals.

A licence holder's grandfathered status only applies to the categories of prohibited firearms that are currently registered to them. The categories of prohibited firearms are as follows:

  • full automatics (shown on a firearms licence as 12(2) firearms);
  • converted automatics (full automatics that have been altered so that they can only fire one projectile when the trigger is squeezed) (shown on a firearms licence as 12(3) firearms);
  • firearms prohibited by former Prohibited Weapons Order No. 12 (shown on a firearms licence as 12(4) firearms);
  • firearms prohibited by former Prohibited Weapons Order No. 13 (shown on a firearms licence as 12(5) firearms); and
  • handguns with a barrel length of 105 mm (about 4.14 inches) or less, or that discharge .25 or .32 calibre ammunition (These are currently shown on a firearms licence as 12(6) firearms. On licences issued after April 10, 2005, they will be shown as 12(6.1) firearms).

To find out which other prohibited firearms are in categories 12(4) and 12(5), please refer to the list of restricted and prohibited firearms.

Individuals do not need to be grandfathered to acquire a prohibited handgun if:

  • the handgun was made before 1946, and
  • the handgun is currently registered in Canada, and
  • they are the child, grandchild, brother, sister or spouse of the lawful owner.

Individuals who acquire a prohibited handgun in these circumstances will have 12(7) printed on their firearms licence. This means that they can lawfully possess a pre-1946 handgun passed on by a direct relative, but they are not authorized to acquire other prohibited handguns.

Any prohibited firearms that an individual acquires must have been registered in Canada on December 1, 1998. This means that even if a licence holder has grandfathered status, they cannot bring a prohibited firearm into Canada as a new import and they cannot acquire a prohibited firearm that has never been registered.

Inspections

The Firearms Act allows for periodic inspections of firearms collections. The main purpose of inspections is to ensure that all firearms in a collection can be accounted for and that the firearms are stored safely, as set out in the Storage, Display and Transportation of Firearms and Other Weapons by Individuals Regulations.

Before inspecting a firearm collection in a residence, inspectors must give reasonable notice and obtain consent or a warrant.

Important Notice

Until further notice, due to ongoing litigation, Quebec residents are required to register non-restricted firearms with the Canadian Firearms Program.

Information

For more information, contact the CFP.

This fact sheet is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations. Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.