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Firearms Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL)

Region: Ontario Answer # 7806

A firearms licence – called a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) – is required to possess and use firearms in Canada. The licence indicates which class of firearms and ammunition a person can own and transport. The licence must be renewed every five years.

To qualify for a firearms licence, Canadians must be at least 18 years of age or older, pass a firearms safety course or the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course to own a restricted firearm, and pass a rigorous background check.

If an individual qualifies, they must then complete and submit the PAL application. It is illegal to possess and use a firearm without a licence. If you have been charged with a firearms or weapons related crime, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

PAL application process

Applying for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) in Canada involves a specific process that ensures individuals meet the necessary requirements to own firearms.

A number of steps are involved in the application process:

  1. Determine the licence type: The first step is to decide whether you need a non-restricted (rifles and shotguns) or restricted (handguns and certain semi-automatic firearms) PAL. This will depend on the type of firearms you intend to possess.
  2. Complete the application form: Obtain and fill out the Application for a Possession and Acquisition Licence under the Firearms Act (form RCMP 5614). This form can be downloaded from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) website or obtained from a local police station.
  3. Gather supporting documents: Along with the completed application form, you will need to provide certain supporting documents, including proof of identity, proof of residency, and two references who have known you for at least three years.
  4. Safety course completion: To apply for a PAL, you must have successfully completed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC) if applying for a restricted PAL. These courses provide education on firearm safety and responsible firearm ownership. You will receive a Certificate of completion you will need to provide with your application.
  5. Submit the application: Once you have completed the application form and gathered all the required documents, submit your application to the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program (CFP)for processing. You can submit your application online or by mail.
  6. Waiting period: After you submit your application, there is a waiting period before you receive your PAL. The processing time can vary, but it typically takes anywhere from 30-90 days. The RCMP conducts a thorough background check to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for firearm ownership.

What are the safety course requirements?

Completing a safety course is a requirement for obtaining a PAL in Canada:

  • CFSC: The Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) is a prerequisite for obtaining a non-restricted firearms licence. This course covers topics such as firearm safety, storage, transportation, and Canadian firearms laws. It is designed to ensure that applicants have a thorough understanding of the responsibilities and regulations associated with firearm ownership.
  • CRFSC: The Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC) is an additional course that is required for obtaining a restricted firearms licence. This course builds upon the knowledge gained in the CFSC and covers topics specific to restricted firearms, such as handguns and certain types of rifles. It provides in-depth information on the safe handling, storage, and transportation of these firearms.

Where do you take the safety courses?

The CFSC and CRFSC courses are typically offered by certified instructors who have been approved by the RCMP. These instructors have undergone training themselves and are knowledgeable in firearm safety and regulations. It is important to ensure that you take the course from a certified instructor to ensure that it meets the requirements for your licence application.

How long are the safety courses?

The duration of the CFSC and CRFSC courses can vary, but they generally consist of one or two days of in-person instruction. The courses include both classroom sessions and practical exercises to ensure that participants have hands-on experience with firearms safety.

How much do the courses cost?

There are fees associated with taking the CFSC and CRFSC courses. These fees cover the cost of instruction, materials, and any necessary paperwork. The fees can vary depending on the course provider, but normally range from $2-300 per course.

What are background checks?

As part of the firearm licensing process in Canada, applicants are required to undergo a thorough background check. This is done to ensure that individuals who are granted a firearms licence are not a risk to public safety. The background check includes the following:

  • Criminal Record Check: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) conducts a criminal record check on all applicants. This check includes searching for any past convictions or charges related to violence, drug offences, or firearms offences.
  • Reference Checks: Applicants are required to provide references who can vouch for their character and suitability to possess firearms. The RCMP will contact these references to gather information about the applicant.
  • Mental Health Check: The RCMP will also conduct a mental health check to determine if the applicant has any history of mental illness or instability that could pose a risk to public safety.

It is important to note that the background check is an ongoing process. After obtaining a firearms licence, individuals are subject to continuous monitoring to ensure their continued eligibility to possess firearms. This includes regular checks for any new criminal convictions or charges, as well as ongoing reference checks and monitoring of mental health.

Does a firearms licence have to be renewed?

A PAL is valid for a certain period of time and must be renewed periodically to maintain its validity. Currently, the validity period for a PAL in Canada is five years. This means that every five years, you must renew your PAL to ensure that it remains valid and you can continue to possess and acquire firearms legally.

To maintain a valid PAL, it is crucial to submit your renewal application before the expiry date of your current licence. Failure to do so may result in the expiration of your PAL and the loss of your licence.

What is a minor’s licence?

Children aged 12-17 can get a minor’s licence, allowing them to use non-restricted firearms like most rifles or shotguns for hunting or shooting competitions, and buy ammunition. A licensed minor must be under the direct and immediate supervision of someone licensed to have a handgun.

Exceptions to the licence age requirements may be made for children under 12, including indigenous children, who need to hunt to sustain themselves and their families.

More information on firearms licences, including how to apply for one or how to renew your existing licence, can be found from the RCMP. View other Firearms answers for more information on firearms law, including licensing, owning, types of firearms, importing and exporting firearms, and firearm offences.

Get help

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our preferred criminal defence expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation at 416-938-5858 .


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