Possession and Acquisition Licence
A Possession and Acquisition Licence is a licence that allows individuals in Canada to possess and acquire firearms as well as ammunition. Licences are typically valid for five (5) years and must be renewed prior to expiry to maintain all classes. Once licensed, an individual can apply for a firearm transfer; and an Authorization To Transport (ATT) for restricted and prohibited firearms. If an individual possessing a PAL is convicted of certain offences, a PAL can be revoked. If an individual does not renew their PAL prior to its expiration date or if they have their PAL revoked, they must legally dispose of any firearms in their possession. A licence for prohibited firearms can be issued to qualifying businesses, and very rarely to individuals (firearms they own, as the gun laws changed over time.) Previous convictions for serious violent, drug or weapons offences almost invariably result in the denial of the application.
Obtaining/Applying for a PAL
All licensing of firearms in Canada is managed by the RCMP's Canadian Firearms Program (CFP). In the Canadian system, there are three classes of firearms and firearm licences: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. See Classification of Firearms below for complete details on prohibited, restricted and non-restricted firearms.
Individuals who wish to possess or acquire firearms, and acquire ammunition in Canada, must have a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence. This licence is distributed exclusively by the RCMP and is generally obtained in the following three steps:
- Safety Training
- All PAL applicants are recommended to successfully complete the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) for a Non-restricted licence, and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC) for a restricted licence. In many provinces, however, applicants are also able to challenge the Non-Restricted and Restricted License examinations without completing the respective safety courses. In most cases, the Non-restricted class is a prerequisite to obtain the Restricted licence, but both examinations can be challenged at the same time. The examinations contain both a written and practical component. Information on the locations and availability of these courses can be found here.
- Applying for a licence
- Currently there is only one type of licence available to new applicants, the Possession/Acquisition Licence (PAL). Canadian citizens, as well as non-residents, can request a PAL.
- Security Screening
- Background checks and investigations are performed. All applicants are screened and a mandatory 28-day waiting period is imposed on first-time applicants.
Licences are typically valid for five (5) years and must be renewed prior to expiry to maintain all classes. Once licensed, an individual can apply for a firearm transfer; and an Authorization To Transport (ATT) for restricted firearms.
Classification of firearms
Like licences, firearms are classified into prohibited, restricted and non-restricted categories, as defined by Part III of Criminal Code (R.S., 1985, c. C-46)
Prohibited firearms include:
- Handguns with a barrel that is 105 millimetres (4.1 in) or less in length
- Handguns that are designed to discharge .25 or .32 calibre ammunition (unless stated in the Regulations Prescribing Exclusions from Certain Definitions of the Criminal Code International Sporting Competition Handguns)
- Rifles and shotguns that have been altered by sawing, cutting or any other means, so that their barrel length be less than 457 millimetres (18.0 in) or their overall length less than 660 millimetres (26 in)
- Automatic firearms, whether or not they have been altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger
- Firearms prescribed as prohibited by the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted (SOR/98-462):
- Firearm capable of discharging dart or other object carrying electrical current or substance, including Taser Public Defender and any variant or modified version of it
- Firearm known as SSS-1 Stinger and any similar firearm designed or of a size to fit in the palm of the hand
- Carbines, rifles and shotguns of designs commonly known as, including any variants or modified versions of them:
- A.A. Arms AR9 semi-auto rifle and AR-9 carbine
- AK-47 rifle and all variants, including AK Hunter, AKM, AKM-63, AKS-56S, AKS-56S-1/2, AKS-74, AKS84S-1, AMD-65, AR Model .223, Dragunov, Galil, KKMPi69, M60, M62, M70B1, M70AB2, M76, M77B1, M78, M80, M80A, MAK90, MPiK, MPiKM, MPiKMS-72, MPiKS, PKM, PKM-DGN-60, PMKM, RPK, RPK-74, RPK-87S, Type 56, 56-1, 56-2, 56-3, 56-4, Type 68, Type 79, American Arms AKY39, AKF39, AKC47 and AKF47, MAM70WS762, Mitchell AK-22, AK-47 and Heavy Barrel AK-47, Norinco 84S, 84S AK, 56, 56-1/2/3/4, Poly Technologies Inc. AK-47/S, AKS-47/S and AKS-762, Valmet M76, M76 carbine, M78/A2, M78 LMG, M82 and M82 Bullpup, except: Valmet Hunter, Hunter Auto and M78
- American 180 auto-carbine, including AM-180 and Illinois Arms Co. Model 180 auto-carbines
- Armalite AR-180 Sporter carbine
- Barrett "Light 50" Model 82A1 & Model 90 rifles
- Benelli M1 Super 90 and M3 Super 90 shotguns, except: M1 Super 90 (Field/Sporting Special), Montefeltro Super 90 (Standard Hunter/Left Hand/Turkey/Uplander/Slug/20 Gauge), Black Eagle (Limited Ed./Competition/Slug Gun), Super Black Eagle (Custom Slug)
- Beretta AR70 assault rifle
- Bernardelli B4 and B4/B shotguns
- BM 59 rifle, including: Beretta BM 59, BM 59R, BM 59GL, BM 59D, BM 59 MkE, BM 59 MkI/MkII/MkIII, BM 59 Mk Ital/Ital TA/TP/Para and BM 60CB, as well as Springfield Armory BM 59 Alpine, BM 59 Alpine Paratrooper and BM 59 Nigerian MkIV
- Bushmaster auto-rifle
- Calico M-900 rifle, including M-951, M-100 and M-105 carbines
- Cetme Sport auto-rifle
- Claridge HI-TEC C, LEC, ZLEC-9 carbines
- Daewoo K1, K1A1, K2, Max1, Max2, AR-100, AR-110C, MAXI-II and KC-20 rifles
- Demro TAC-1M and XF-7 Wasp carbines
- Eagle Apache carbine
- Encom MK-IV, MP-9 and MP-45 carbines
- FAMAS rifle, including MAS223, FAMAS Export, FAMAS Civil and Mitchell MAS/22
- Feather AT-9 semi-auto carbine and AT-22 auto-carbine
- Federal XC-900, XC-220 rifles and XC-450 auto-rifle
- Fabrique Nationale FN FNC, FNC-11, FNC-22, FNC-33, FNC Auto and FNC Auto Paratrooper rifles, as well as FN FAL, FN 308 Model44, FAL Competition Auto, FAL Heavy Barrel 308 Match, FAL Paratrooper 308 Match 50-64 and FN 308 Model 50-63
- Franchi SPAS 12, LAW 12 shotguns
- Franchi SPAS 15 shotgun
- Galil assault rifle, including AP-84, ARM, AR, SAR, 332 and Mitchell Galil/22 auto-rifle
- Gepard anti-materiel rifle
- Goncz High-Tech carbine
- Grendel R-31 auto-carbine
- Heckler&Koch G3, G3A3, G3A3ZF, G3A4, G3SG/1, G11, HK33, 33A2, 33A3, 33KA1, HK91, 91A2, 91A3, 93, 93A2, 93A3, 94, 94A2, 94A3 and PSG-1 rifles, as well as: MP5, MP5A2, MP5A3, MP5K, MP5SD, MP5SD1, MP5SD2, MP5SD3 submachine guns
- Iver Johnson AMAC long-range rifle and Plainfield Super Enforcer carbine
- J&R Eng M-68, PJK M-68 and Wilkinson Terry carbines
- Kimel Industries AR-9 rifle/carbine
- Leader Mark Series auto-rifle
- Maadi Griffin rifle/carbine
- McMillan M87, M87R rifles and M88 carbine
- Pauza Specialties P50 rifle and P50 carbine
- PE57 rifle
- Research Armament Industries Model 500 rifle
- SIG AMT, SG-550 rifles and SG-551 carbine
- Spectre auto-carbine
- Springfield Armory SAR-48, SAR-48 Bush/Heavy Barrel/Para/22
- Steyr AUG rifle
- Striker, Striker 12 and Streetsweeper shotguns
- Thompson submachine gun including: Model 1921, 1927, 1928, M1, Auto-Ordnance M27A-1, M27A-1 Deluxe, M1927A-3/A-5, Commando Arms MkI, MkII, MkIII, Mk9, Mk45
- Universal Enforcer Model 3000 auto-carbine and Model 3010N, 3015G, 3020TRB and 3025TCO carbines
- US Arms PMAI assault rifle
- USAS-12 auto-shotgun
- UZI, Mini-UZI and Model A carbines
- Weaver Arms Nighthawk carbine
- Pistols, revolvers and other handguns of designs commonly known as, including any variants or modified versions of them:
- AA Arms AP-9 auto-pistol and AP-9, Target AP-9 and Mini AP-9 pistols
- Bushmaster auto-pistol
- Calico M-950 auto-pistol and M-110 pistol
- Claridge Hi-Tec Models S, L, T, ZL-9 and ZT-9 pistols
- Cobray M10, M11, and RPB M10/M11/SM10/SM11 and SWD M10/M11/SM10/SM11 pistols
- CZ Skorpion auto-pistol
- Encom MK-IV, MP-9 and MP-45 assault pistols, including MP-9, MP-45 mini pistols
- Federal XP-450, XP-900 auto-pistols
- Goncz High-Tech long pistol
- Grendel P-30, P-30M, P-30L and P-31 pistols
- Heckler&Koch SP89 auto-pistol
- Ingram M10, M11 pistols
- Interdynamics KG-99 assault pistol
- Intratec Tec-9, Tec-9S, Tec-9M and Tec-9MS auto-pistols (as well as any semi-automatic variant including Tec-DC9, Tec-DC9M, Tec-9A, Tec-Scorpion, Tec-22T and Tec-22TN)
- Iver Johnson Enforcer Model 3000 auto-pistol
- Kimel Industries AP-9 pistol
- Leader Mark5 auto-pistol
- Maadi Griffin pistol
- OA-93 assault pistol
- Patriot pistol
- Partisan Avenger auto-pistol
- Spectre auto-pistol
- Sterling MK6 carbine
- Steyr SPP auto-pistol
- Sterling Mk7, Mk7 C4 and Mk7 C8 pistols
- US Arms PMAIP assault pistol
- UZI, Micro-UZI pistols
- XM231S pistol and A1, A2, A3 Flattop pistols
Restricted firearms are:
- Handguns that are not prohibited
- Firearms with a barrel shorter than 470 millimetres (19 in)
- Rifles and shotguns that can be fired when their overall length has been reduced by folding, telescoping or other means to less than 660 millimetres (26 in)
- Firearms prescribed as restricted by the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted (SOR/98-462), and any variant or modified version of them:
- High Standard Model 10 Series A & Series B
- M-16 rifle, including Colt AR-15, AR-15 SPI/Sporter/Collapsible Stock Model/A2/A2 Carbine/A2 Government Model Rifle/A2 Government Model Target Rifle/A2 Government Model Carbine/A2 Sporter II/A2 H-BAR/A2 Delta H-BAR/A2 Delta H-Bar Match/9mm Carbine, Armalite AR-15, AAI M15, AP74, EAC J-15, PWA Commando, SGW XM15A and CAR-AR, SWD AR-15, as well as any .22 calibre rimfire variant of it including Mitchell M16A-1/22, M-16/22, CAR-15/22, AP74 Auto Rifle
Non-restricted firearms are:
- ordinary rifles and shotguns, other than those referred to above.
PALs were introduced in Canada in 1995 as part of Bill C-68 as a replacement for the FAC (Firearms Acquisition Certificate) system. Whereas the FAC was only required to acquire a firearm, a PAL is required to both acquire and possess firearms and to acquire ammunition. A PAL for non-restricted firearms allows its holders to acquire and possess any non-restricted firearm, while a PAL for restricted firearms (which also covers prohibited firearms to those eligible) allows the holder to acquire and possess restricted firearms.
When first implemented, the PAL also allowed the holder to acquire a cross-bow, although no licence was required to possess one. There is no longer a licensing requirement for cross-bows.
Transportation of firearms
The transportation regulations are broken down into two divisions: those for non-restricted firearms and those for restricted or prohibited firearms. These rules are laid out in the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations. A non restricted firearm may be transported so long as it is unloaded. Such a firearm does not need to be encased or trigger locked.
A restricted firearm must be disabled by use of a trigger, cable, or other locking device and locked in an opaque case. An unattended non-restricted firearm left in a vehicle must be locked in the trunk or other compartment, if one is available. In order to transport restricted or prohibited firearms, an individual must obtain an Authorization to Transport. An ATT is generally approved only for individuals to transport a restricted or prohibited firearm to a shooting range for target practice, gun show for sale, to a gunsmith or gun shop or for a competition (e.g.: IPSC).
An Authorization to Carry (ATC) allows a person to carry a restricted firearm or prohibited handgun concealed (if specified as a condition of carry) and loaded. An ATC for open carry is usually only issued to employees of armoured car companies or for other limited employment reasons. In very rare situations, an ATC may be issued for protection of life, which would allow the holder to have a loaded handgun with them, or at home, without violating safe storage rules that usually require an unloaded firearm to be trigger locked and secured.
- "Criminal Code". Laws.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
- "Regulations Prescribing Exclusions from Certain Definitions of the Criminal Code (International Sporting Competition Handguns)". Laws.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
- "Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted". Laws.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
- Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations