A guide on how to legally bring your firearm(s) into Canada for hunting and back home again
So, you want to hunt in Canada, eh? It’s no secret that Canada is the home of all things big. Big bucks, big bears, big moose, big wolves, big timber and big bird populations. Great opportunities for ruffed, spruce, and sharp-tailed grouse await — along with some amazing Hungarian partridge numbers, good woodcock populations, amazing waterfowl hunting and a chance at some ptarmigan. Public land is plentiful and easy to find. There’s only one issue: getting your shotgun(s) into Canada.
Per Canada’s government
“Canada’s firearms laws help make Canada safer for residents and visitors.
“When you enter Canada, you must declare all firearms and weapons to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). If you do not, they may be seized and you could face criminal charges. You need documents to prove that you are entitled to possess a firearm in Canada, and you must transport it safely.
“For more information about Canada’s firearms laws, a specific firearm, weapon, device and/or applicable fees, contact the Canadian Firearms Program at 1-800-731-4000.
Valid purposes for visitors to import firearms to Canada
To import firearms into Canada you must have a valid purpose. Valid purposes can include hunting during hunting season, use in competitions, repairs, re-enactments, in transit, moving from point A to point B through Canada or protection from wildlife in remote areas.
Classifications of firearms in Canada
All firearms in Canada fall into one of three classes: non-restricted, restricted or prohibited. A non-restricted firearm is any rifle or shotgun that is neither restricted nor prohibited. Most common long guns are non-restricted, but there are exceptions. Full classifications can be found on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website. For the typical uplander, a shotgun falls into the non-restricted class.
Procedure for importing firearms
You are required by law to declare all firearms to a border services officer when you arrive at the border and to provide any documents required. For most shotguns you’ll need to fill out the RCMP 5589 (non-resident declaration) form and pay a $25 (Canadian) fee. Then, you must answer all questions truthfully. The border services officer must be satisfied that you have a valid reason for bringing the firearm into Canada, and may check to ensure that you have stored your firearm properly for transportation. The border services officer will also review your documents and may verify that the firearm you have matches the one described on the documents. You must be 18 years of age to import a firearm. However, persons under the age of 18 may be eligible for a Minor’s Possession License.
If you have declared a firearm but cannot meet the import requirements, or if you do not have the proper documents, the border services officer, at his or her discretion, may allow you to export the firearm from Canada. Alternatively, the border services officer may detain the firearm, issue you a receipt and allow you a reasonable amount of time to present the correct documents to the CBSA.
If you have not been truthful, or if the officer believes that you should not bring the firearm into Canada, the CBSA can detain it. If you did not declare the firearm, the CBSA will seize it, and you may face criminal charges.
Within the prescribed limits, non-residents can import 200 rounds duty free for hunting purposes, or up to 1,500 rounds duty free for use at a recognized competition.
Getting your firearm back home from Canada
You will need to fill out a CBP Form 4457 prior to your leaving the U.S. This form will detail all the valuables you will be taking with you abroad, including your firearm. A completed form will be sufficient proof to the CBP customs officer that you departed from the U.S. with your gun and did not purchase it outside the country. Once completed, the form can be used multiple times for that particular firearm that you registered. Remember, when you’re coming back with a firearm, do not use the NEXUS lane.
*Note: The information in this article is subject to change. It is highly recommended that you check the latest laws and regulations as some updates may not be reflected in this article.
Matt Breuer has been working in the outdoor industry for over 15 years, guiding, writing, promoting, volunteering, and working with several conservation groups. He’s on the Board of Directors of the MN Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, and is a recruitment and retention coordinator with RGS. He owns and operates Northcountry Guide Service & Promotions in northern MN. Link up with Matt by visiting www.northcountryguides.com .