How To Get Your Canadian Firearms License


Getting your firearms license in Canada is not nearly as daunting a task as some have made it out to be. Canadian licensed gun owners are statistically some of the most law abiding individuals in the country given the training they have received and the requirement to undergo multiple background checks of which are reviewed on a constant basis. There are two types of firearms licenses in Canada that can currently be acquired by individuals. To put this into perspective think about it as ones basic license followed by an additional endorsement.

Possession and Acquisition License

Your Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) will allow you to posses and acquire shotguns and rifles of the Non-Restricted class. As of April 6th, 2012 firearms of the Non-Restricted Class are no longer required to be registered with the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program.

Restricted Possession and Acquisition License

Your Restricted Possession and Acquisition License (R-PAL) is an endorsement on the basic PAL, this class of license will allow you to posses and acquire short barreled semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, handguns, and rifles restricted by name through legislation such as the AR-15 and any variant thereof. All firearms falling under the Restricted class may only be used at an approved shooting range, as designated by the RCMP. You will also be required to posses a valid Authority To Transport (ATT) permitting strict transportation between your home and various shooting ranges/clubs that you may be a member of, the terms of these authorizations vary from province to province at the discretion of the provincial Chief Firearms Officer (CFO).

The Tests

Each  license type requires one written test regarding the laws surrounding lawful use, transportation, and storage of the particular class of firearms that the test is for, followed by a practical test where one must demonstrate their ability to safely handle, load, and unload a variety of actions and types of firearms.

All tests require a minimum passing score of 80%, written tests will consist of 50 multiple choice questions. For the practical tests, actions such as muzzle sweeping individuals will result in an automatic failure as will any action deemed unsafe. At the beginning of the practical portion test takers will be made aware of the proper safe direction and down range area in the class room that such test will likely be administered in.

Challenging the Tests

Traditionally most individuals wishing to complete and write these tests will attend a 2 – 2 1/2 days course where they will go over the material found in the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC) manuals. At the end of the course the tests will be administered respectively.

Individuals who do not wish to complete the course can skip it and challenge the tests with an instructor for a cost of $40 for each set of tests. We always advise that individuals looking to get licensed take the tests, as it has been reported that certain employers particularly armoured car jobs like Brinks require the course been taken in addition to the presentation of a valid R-PAL.

From the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Progam’s website it provides a couple of lists as read below as to the material covered in the CFSC and CRFSC:

Topics covered in the CFSC include:

  • the evolution of firearms, major parts, types and actions;
  • basic firearms safety practices;
  • ammunition;
  • operating firearms actions;
  • safe handling and carry procedures;
  • firing techniques and procedures;
  • care of non-restricted firearms;
  • responsibilities of the firearms owner/user; and
  • safe storage, display, transportation and handling of non-restricted firearms.

Topics covered in the CRFSC include:

  • the evolution of firearms, major parts, types and actions;
  • basic firearms safety practices;
  • ammunition;
  • operating handgun actions;
  • firing techniques and procedures for handguns;
  • care of restricted firearms;
  • responsibilities of the firearms owner/user; and
  • safe storage, display, transportation and handling of restricted firearms.

Following the successful completion of each test, your scores will be sent away for approval by the provincial CFO. During this time you can fill out the Application for a Possession and Acquisition Licence Under the Firearms Act, once you have received your validated test scores back your application can then be sent off to the head office of the Canadian Firearms Program in Miramichi, New Brunswick. Once it arrives there is a series of background checks that are conducted, there is also a legislated mandatory 28 day wait period before a license can be issued. The application can be tracked online and you will know when it has been approved.

The application can be found on the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program website, usually course administrators will provide you with a copy and assist you in it’s completion.