Overview of Canadian Firearms Licences

The Ontario CFO issued an urgent bulletin on December 22, 1999 reaffirming the requirement under the Firearms Act that all firearms owners must be in possession of a valid Firearms Possession Only Licence (POL) or a Firearms Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) on January 01, 2001. Valid Firearms Acquisition Certificates (FAC) will be deemed to be PALs for the purposes of the act until they expire. Check the pages on airgunsand antiques for some interesting exceptions.

The Eastern Ontario Handgun Club will be hosting CFSC and CRFSC Courses and Examinations at the Club as required to meet the needs of members. Successful completion of the examinations for these courses is required under the new legislation to acquire a PAL.

Those wishing to take these Courses or challenge the exams in the future should contact Firearms Training for instructors who are EOHC members and give a Club discount. Each Course is limited to eight students. If you are an knowledgeable about firearms and their use, you should be able to successfully challenge the exams for these courses. The Courses and the Exams use different guidelines for safe firearms handling that you are unlikely to have seen in any other safety training. You will want to be aware of the ACTS & PROVE method used in the Justice Department's materials.

Firearms Possession-Only Licence (POL)

(Form JUS 669)

If you already have firearms and will not get any more by any means (eg. purchase, gift, inheritence, prize, etc.), you could have applied for a possession-only licence prior to 2001. This licence authorizes possession of the guns that you already own, the purchase of ammunition and will allow you to borrow firearms of the same legal category. If you do not have a firearms licence of some type and you have guns, you will be liable for up to five years in prison and your firearms subject to confiscation.

You must have applied for a possession-only licence before January 1, 2001. An amnesty has been announced to protect those who have applied for and are waiting to receive a licence, until June 30, 2001 (at which time the Canadian Firearms Centre assumes the licencing backlog will be cleared up). If you apply for a firearms licence after 2000, you will have to get the "possession and acquisition" licence. The authorities appear to have no interest in pursuing people who don't have a firearms licence and are attempting to 'go legal' by getting a PAL now - so don't worry about getting a licence and registering your guns being used against you.

A possession-only licence is renewable every five years. It is promised that a notice will be sent reminding you to renew. Send in your renewal application well in advance as there are frequently delays of several months in the processing of licence applications.

Firearms Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL)

(Form JUS 670)

Whether you now have firearms or not, if you plan to acquire any guns or ammunition, you must obtain a possession and acquisition licence. This licence will allow you to buy firearms or receive them as gifts, inheritances or in trade.

A possession and acquisition licence must be renewed every five years. It is promised that a notice will be sent reminding you to renew. If you are ever without a valid licence you will be commiting criminal offences and your firearms will be subject to confiscation.

In most cases, you will have to pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course test(s) to get a possession and acquisition licence. There are some exceptions (see below).

Canadian Firearms Safety Course

The revised Canadian Firearms Safety Course and the new Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course reflect the new gun laws and regulations. The first training course deals with non-restricted firearms safety. The second focuses on restricted firearms (primarily handguns) safety and legal obligations.

To get a possession and acquisition licence, you must pass the necessary test(s), UNLESS:

  1. You have already passed the old CFSC test between 1992 and 1999;
  2. You have passed a firearms safety course before January 1,1995 that has been "designated as equivalent" by the Attorney General of Manitoba or Quebec;
  3. A Chief Firearms Officer certifies that your knowledge of firearms laws and safe handling practices meets the standards required by the licensing regulations. Check for the latest developments in Ontario , which theoretically give you a way to avoid the full test (although in practice it seems over 95% of applicants do not succeed in their quest for alternate certification).

If you have passed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course test before February 1, 1999 (covering firearms safety for both non-restricted and restricted firearms), or have received alternate credit for it as set out above, you will not be required to pass new Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course test to get a possession and acquisition licence for restricted firearms.

If you were prohibited, by court order, from possessing firearms, you will have to take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course AND pass the test, before applying for a firearms licence.

This page was last modified February 15, 2002.

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