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How Can An American Acquire Canadian PAL (Possession and Acquisition) License?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Evergreen, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. Evergreen

    Evergreen Well-Known Member

    I, might be moving to northern Washington or Idaho and I have been looking into Canadian gun laws and permits. I was on some Canadian firearm websites and was looking over some information that mentioned that there may be a way for Americans to acquire a permit that would allow them to possess, purchase, shoot and carry (in rural areas) firearms in Canada that are legal. I understand Canada has very strict gun control compared to the USA and it is quite a shame it is so difficult for a Canadian, and especially an American, to be able to possess a firearm. The name of the license I am reading about is the Canadian Possession and Acquisition License (PAL).

    Since I may be living near the Canadian border, I would love to have the ability to bring guns to and from Canada. I see that British Columbia, for example, has some nice shooting ranges. Also, I was planning on doing hiking or trekking in the Canadian mountains and I would like to carry both a handgun and a shotgun for protection in the Canadian wilderness. Although, I know it is illegal to carry a handgun in Canada in urban areas, I was told it is legal to carry a weapon in the wilderness for protection or hunting purposes. I am looking for some way to be able to possess a weapon when I am in the back country around there. Does anyone know if it is possible to do this? I am thinking if you are not outright allowed to carry a gun for protection, I can at least justify it with a hunting permit or whatever means necessary to allow myself to be in possession of a firearm when in the Canadian wilderness. Does anyone know if guns are banned in Canadian National Parks, like they are in the USA? I know the USA now allows conceal carry in National Parks, but since Canada has no conceal carry concept, I don't know how their laws handle firearm possession in National Parks, like Banff, etc.

    So, I am wondering what steps I should take to acquire the PAL license. I am reading stories of many Washington state residents who have acquired this license. Since, I would be going back and forth to Canada with firearms a lot, I think I would be a good potential candidate. I am reading the process is very long, strict and cumbersome. It appears that it will require me taking all types of rigorous exams, which I understand I must do. Also, it appears they will be asking all types of strange questions and require that I give them a couple references.

    The part about the references I find a bit strange and worrisome. It says it has to be two references you have known for two years. Personally, I don't feel comfortable just giving them the information of people I know and having them undergo questioning. Most people I have known for a long time are not so involved with firearms and I wouldn't want them to have to undergo this questioning. First of all, I am wondering, is it a big deal if I really know these people for 3 years? Cannot I just find some other people at the shooting range who I know are pro-2A and use them as my references? My second question is can both of my references be in the United States? They don't require these references to be Canadian? In this case, I don't know any Canadian people personally, as of yet, and don't think I can use them as a reference. I assume they are looking for references that are local to me.

    There are some other questions I have. I am told that you have to get a signed letter by your local sheriff or police agency that vouches for your character and that you are legally able to possess a firearm license locally. Does anyone know how hard this is to do in areas like Bellingham, WA, Seattle, WA or Coeur d'Alene, ID? Also, I am told that they will ask you a tricky question that asks if you are in possessions of firearms that are banned in Canada. I am told because this is a Canadian federal document that you have to answer truthfully. Considering I will be living in WA and that I own firearms banned in Canada, how should I answer this question?

    I guess, I am all scattered right now and just want to know the best way to go about acquiring the Canadian PAL, if it all possible. Is there any other alternatives if I just want to bring a couple guns in for protection in the wilderness?

    I found one website that offers some good info, but I really need some advice from others who have gone through this procedure. Is there any Americans who have possession of a Canadian PAL or Canadians or any others who have knowledge about the procedure of an American citizen acquiring the Canadian PAL?

    Here is the link to one website I found that has interesting information about acquiring the PAL:

    Thanks very much for the help.
  2. mp510

    mp510 Well-Known Member

    Carrying a handgun in a wilderness area, even, is illegal unless you get a wilderness carry permit in addition to your PAL. Those would generally be for people who are working in remote areas (e.g. researchers, loggers, prospectors, and trappers). As long as the venue you are headed to doesn't prohibit it, you can open carry a non-restricted shotgun or rifle as long as you have a PAL.
  3. rodregier

    rodregier Well-Known Member

  4. Evergreen

    Evergreen Well-Known Member

    Can anyone answer the strange question about the references? Can they be people from the USA and do they have to be non-relatives? It would be nice if I could use someone like a father and brother to answer these absurd questions. If I must use a non-relative, can I just pick someone from my shooting range or some other pro-firearms minded person to use as my reference? I know I would not probably know the person for 3 years, but would it really be a big deal? How can they prove how long I known the person?

    I have found that guns are not allowed in Canadian National Parks.. Wow, big surprise.. LOL

    At least, if I get a Canadian PAL, I can carry in many of the bordering forest areas in British Columbia that would be near where I would be possibly living in Washington, if I move to the Bellingham area. That is grizzly/brown bear country, I'm not going unarmed. I don't care if Mr. Mountie says that only Mounties can be trusted with guns. This is a common phrase I am seeing be said by many Canadian rangers/mounties on the internet. I suppose this is typical of the "Imperial Mindset."
  5. rodregier

    rodregier Well-Known Member

    Conventional wisdom is that the civil servants processing PAL applications seldom (if ever) actually contact the supplied references.

    Forget lawful carry of restricted firearms (handguns) in the Canadian wilderness. Unless it is conjunction with a wilderness occupation that mandates such things *and* you jump thru the course and interview hoops, you'll never get a permit.

    The Canada Criminal Code has provision for what is called CCW in the US (Protection of life is the operate phrase), but the firearm community has never found a confirmed case of the permit being issued in all of Canada. I whimsically call the status of such permits as "could but never have been issued". Heck, we can't even find the official form you would use to submit such a request :-( (The employment-related form is not the same category - *those* we can find.).

    Best you can hope to lawfully acheive in Canada would be carry of a "smallish" long-gun in a wildesness area.

    Norinco shorty shotguns (14" brl) are lawful in Canada, such would be AOW in the US.
    Just don't try to bring it back with you to the US. So you'll need a Canadian storage location for it :)

  6. JustinL

    JustinL Well-Known Member

  7. Sunray

    Sunray Well-Known Member

    Go here. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/fs-fd/visit-visite-eng.htm
    This is the important part for you.
    "To apply for a PAL, applicants must provide evidence that they have passed the written and practical tests for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. If they wish to be licensed for restricted firearms, they must also have passed the tests for the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course. A course from another country does not meet Canadian legal requirements. However, the tests can be taken without taking the courses."
    "and register the firearms in Canada. The PAL must be issued before the firearms can be registered."
    "...can carry in many of the bordering forest areas in British Columbia..." No handguns if you're just hiking. No handguns unless you're coming to shoot in a match. In any case, if you have a shotgun, you don't need a handgun.
    Who can be a reference is on the application.
    "...in possessions of firearms that are banned in Canada..." Only applies at the border. You do have to know what is legal though.
    "...you have to answer truthfully..." Would you lie on any U.S. application?
    "...never found a confirmed case of..." Possibly before you were born, but Morton Shulman had one.
  8. langenc

    langenc Well-Known Member

    I dont know about the references being Canadian vs American BUT I do know that anytime a reference is given, permission should be asked of that person. That is just good ole consideration, AND maybe they would not have anything good to say about you.. But do ask em if you can list them-anytime a reference is needed-jobs, guns or whatever.
  9. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    I am a US citizen, who was born in Canada, I live in WA about 12 miles from the Canadian border, I have had various weapons on both sides of the border many times over the last 62 years. My sister still lives in Canada and my BIL is a wheelgun shooting/collecting fool (he mostly likes Smiths, but has a couple odd ball TC's, a couple Webbly's etc) I have shot on His club range before.

    Answer to question #1: Can you register your long guns in Canada so that you can hunt. simple answer is yes, it is a bit of an involved process. There are two methods, one a permit so you can import, use and leave and/or sell a firearm in Canada (most difficult) and the other is so you can hunt only. (not that difficult but takes time) with this second one you must take the weapon back out of the country when you leave. (they do check SN.)

    BTW: the present government is considering removing the license requirements on long guns as a cost saving measure...don't hold your breath but it would be nice if they do at least that.

    Next, hand guns: Yes you can bring them in, however only for a sanctioned compitition, because you are importing them or immigrating, or in special prearranged cases, to transport a pistol to Alaska (in an RCMP approved, sealed, locked, tamper proof box). They inspect and seal at the border, and check the seal when you leave Canada at the other end. Believe me, it is easier to ship the gun to Alaska and pick it up there,,,cheaper too.

    The permit for a sanctioned compition must be prearranged through the sponsoring club, and an approved shoot. The pistol must be in a locked box (they will seal it after inspection at the border) and any ammo in another locked box (they will inspect and seal that too. and charge you an import fee on any amount over 50 rounds, even if they are handloads) When you apply, you have to tell them when and where you will cross. The permit is picked up at the border crossing you specify when you present your locked box for inspection,

    you also must tell them the exact route you will take to the club that has sponsored the compitition, (including any stops to get gas etc) the time the weapon is expected to be in transit, and when it is supposted to arrive at the sponsoring range. The route you give must be the most direct possible, no unnecessary stops. on arrival, (before you go to the hotel, or my sister's house in my case) you take the locked sealed boxes to the club, and they will lock them up in their safe after the RCMP verifies the seals are still intact.

    They will be taken out of the club safe for your use, but cannot be taken off the club premises, except to return them to the US. Your permit is only good for transit from point A to Point B. and back..that is it. (this permit is called a conveyance)

    There are some very special exemptions to this that involve a few very specific compitition only firearms. Most are 22 short only. There is a list of exempt weapons on their web site if you dig deep enough.

    DO NOT BRING AN UNDECLARED MODERN HANDGUN INTO CANADA!!!!! you WILL be spending a considerable piece of time in their jail if you get caught. No JOKE! They have several different charges for doing this, and if they decide to hit you with all of them you could be doing up to 10 years as their guest, and then never be allowed back in. Canada is very serious about it's gun laws.

    Oh yes, There is one other exemption I forgot, that is antique arms (MANUFACTURED before 1889? (if I remember correctly), not modern copies) are exempt. That is also on their web page. I have never done this so I cannot say what all is involved. Maybe you can find an old black powder cap and ball .45?

    Personally, if you are not going up to hunt, (you have to have a licensed guide if you are not Canadian) forget your arms and leave them at home. It is not worth the hassle. It has gotten so bad I just use my BIL's weapons when I visit them and we are going to hunt or just go to his club and shoot.

    Just one of the reasons I never went back to Canada to live. I like my freedom here in WA.

    PS, please excuse my poor typing, but I also remembered a friend (LA police officer) that stopped by on the way to Alaska, He had not applied for a conveyance to take his service pistol up to Alaska. Thought they would let him because he was a police officer...not...he had to turn around and bring the gun down to me and have me get it shipped up so he could have it in Alaska with him.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011
  10. Evergreen

    Evergreen Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info hermann.. So you think it is near impossible then for an American to acquire a Canadian PAL? I am actually not going to do any hunting in Canada. Rather, I just want to carry a shotgun or rifle with me for animal defense. I assume that would extend to defense against 2-legged predators in the wilderness as well; although I don't know in Canada if you can legally defend yourself against human with a gun, even in the wilderness.

    Anyway, I am just looking for a way to carry a weapon for self-defense in the wilderness. I am told that in the Canadian National Parks, weapons are totally off-limits. Do you know if Bear Pepper Spray is legal to carry in the Canadian National Parks? It is better than nothing I suppose. If I move to Northern Washington, I may be interested to do lot of hiking around British Columbia, so I thought it would be nice if I had a way to carry a shotgun around with me in their forests. Whether it was my own shotgun from the USA or a shotgun I rented or purchased and stored in Canada, it would all be fine with me. I just want to have some means of self-defense when I am out in the wilderness there.

    For the most part I probably will be doing most of my hiking in Washington, where I have all my freedoms. It seems absurd in such a rugged and isolated wilderness, that people don't have the freedoms that their own pioneering ancestors had. I know Canada has screwy laws, although they don't seem too much more crazy than the other country called California down to the south of me.

    Also, if I did apply for the Canadian PAL, can I use people like a parent or brother as a reference or do they have to be totally non-related? Is it even worth my time to apply for the Canadian PAL and take all the tests, class, etc or should I just get a single permit each time I plan on doing my hiking/camping expeditions?
  11. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    It is not impossible, it is just a hassle for a long gun. Handgun, forget it. I cannot live with the "club" only crap.

    How do you like questions such as: "have you been divorced within the last 5 years?" in your application? (no, I've been married to the same woman for 42 years, but what does that have to do with a long gun permit application?) What business is it of their's if I have ever been divorced? There are many other just as intrusive questions. And I always thought British common law presumed a person innocent.

    Second problem is the "perminent" long gun app is only good for 5 years, the temporary app is only good for one trip. Handgun apps are for one shoot or 1 year (for the "perminent" handgun app)

    I go to BC all the time, and yes when hiking and hunting I have encountered bears (both black and Grizzly) and other dangerous game (Like moose, don't laugh, they can be worse than a bear, they can, and sometimes, cow and calf, try to, chase down a horse and rider.) But if you are inteligent about the encounter you do not need to make it a confrontation.

    Go to BC and enjoy some of the best outdoors around, don't sweat the animals and forget the guns at the border until they get some sane gun laws. (or unless you want go hunt moose, etc...then it is worth it...remember, for a person from the US to hunt in BC they MUST use a licensed guide, no exceptions, but a good guide will make sure the paperwork is done correctly.)
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011
  12. Evergreen

    Evergreen Well-Known Member

    I'm not planning on doing any hunting in Canada. There is just so much of that I can do in the USA without the hassle, as you say. What I would like is a firearm for defense against attacks from animals, possibly including the 2-legged animals, as well. I understand that handguns seem to be off-limits and I'd be fine with one of those short Norinco shotguns or any other type of lightweight high-powered gun I can carry.

    I really don't want to be forced to use a guide just so I can carry a rifle or shotgun with me in the wilderness. I guess what I am trying to find out is what I have to do to just carry a long gun for self-defense in the Canadian wilderness. If the Canadian PAL won't allow me to do this, then perhaps it is just not possible. I'm shocked they won't let people carry even revolvers out in the wilderness. Canadian laws make little sense.

    Anyhow, is there any permit that lets you carry a rifle/shotgun in the wilderness or is this permitted only for hunting? Is the Canadian PAL probably a waste of time, money and effort for me to acquire? Would bear pepper spray be legal to carry in National Parks and in the Canadian wilderness?
  13. hermannr

    hermannr Well-Known Member

    Pepper sray is considered a weapon in Canada and is restricted also. as are stun guns and other of the usual "self defence" items we carry/can use down here. They usually will ask you at the border and confiscate. BTW: NEVER lie at the border...ever!!!!

    Canadian weapons laws are based on fear, and are very restrictive, and to me,,,stupid. One of the major reasons I have never moved back up there
  14. VentureUser

    VentureUser Member

    Pepper spray

    While pepper spray can be a powerful tool at the hikers side it is sold at every outdoor store you walk into from Crappy tire to wal-mart bass pro and cabellas and you may need to explain an empty can of "mace" but at least you'll be around to explain it signal flares up here too with the really loud report
    Still no real defense from a charging bear but those cap and ball revolvers from before 1880(?) can be bought traded and carried without much fear just don't commit a crime with said gun( don't even spit on a sidewalk if you're carrying it I'd guess)
  15. Evergreen

    Evergreen Well-Known Member

    This sounds really messed up. I cannot even use bear pepper spray for defense in the wilderness. I guess Canada is out.. I just cannot be so weak and defenseless so far out in a rural place like Canada. It's really sad because I do think the Canadian mountains are perhaps more beautiful than the ones in the USA, except for Alaska. Oh well, I guess I will just have to wait until the laws change, if they ever do. I wish somehow British Columbia and Alberta could be ceded to the USA. Maybe, we should invade and conquer Canada instead of the Middle East :p. Oh well, wishful thinking.

    If anyone can shed some light on any of this, I'd appreciate it. But, considering the consensus here sounds like any type of weapons are illegal to carry in the Canadian wilderness, it sounds to me like a losing deal.
  16. rodregier

    rodregier Well-Known Member

    The general mindset of the Canadian authorities (and based on practice and legislation) is to reserve use of force to designated law enforcement personel. This in spite of other Canadian legislation and case law affirming the right of self-defense. Case law in Canada (and the United States) confirms that the police have no specific duty to protect particular persons, but only the general public. Most folks also realize that the police cannot be everywhere at all times, on most occasions they will only arrive after a crime has been committed.

    So on the one hand it is lawful to defend yourself in Canada, but on the other hand proactively equipping yourself with suitable implements when in public is explicitly prohibited. (Or the permit required is unobtainable).

    Rather contradictory policy/implementation, really.

    For those who want to provide for their defense in the Canadian wilderness, I commend lawful hunting. What is one way to describe hunting?
    A casual armed walk in the woods...
  17. thorn726

    thorn726 Well-Known Member

    this has me wondering what are the rules on using a Canadian's gun while you are there, can a visitor go into the woods and shoot targets with his friend's gun without paperwork or fear of prison?
  18. VentureUser

    VentureUser Member

    reply to thorn

    no problem using your buds gun as long as he is with you
    Guessing it would be like letting your kids shoot handguns down there
    they pretty much don't want you in our jails unless its real bad they'll kick you to the curb
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  19. thorn726

    thorn726 Well-Known Member

    well that is at least one good thing, thanks Venture. I go to NS in summer occasionally, it's been awhile but looks like soon again. Considering we were shooting BB guns way close to town and no one minded when i was younger, i was hoping a trip into the woods would be OK, i have enough friends with rifles not to need to bring. Which reminds me that Evergreen may have less trouble making some friends than he thinks ,especially if he can afford to buy some ammo and avoid a hassle.....

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