U.S. Visitors to Canada: Crossing the Border With Prohibited or Undeclared Guns Can Cause Big Problems

As discussed here, I am currently representing a U.S. man who, due to an unreliable GPS, accidentally drove towards Ontario with a gun that he had forgotten was stored in the console of his car.

This honest mistake has resulted in my client facing a June trial and the possibility of a three-year jail sentence for inadvertently violating Canada’s strict gun control laws. We are vigorously fighting these charges, and my client will be here in Canada to clear his name.  But it is a cautionary tale for anyone entering Canada with firearms.

For U.S. residents coming to Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) takes a very vigilant approach to prevent the entry of unauthorized weapons into Canada. The CBSA website has a very thorough list of do’s and don’ts regarding transporting weapons into Canada, but two points are crucial to understand when crossing the border with guns:

  • Declare Your Weapons. If you are visiting Canada, have a weapon in your possession, and fail to declare it at the border with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), you are essentially smuggling a weapon into Canada, which is strictly prohibited. Not only will you lose your weapon permanently, you may face criminal charges, like my client, and your car may be seized.  U.S. citizens bringing firearms into Canada are required to fill out a Non-Resident Firearms Declaration (Form CAFC 909 EF) and pay a $25 fee. Once confirmed by a border services officer, it has the same effect as a temporary licence and registration and is valid for up to 60 days.
  • Many Firearms Are Prohibited Even If Declared. Firearms that are classified as “prohibited” cannot be brought into Canada under any circumstances. These include automatic and large-capacity weapons as well as:
    • handguns with barrels less than or equal to 105 mm (4.14 inches) long;
    • handguns designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32-calibre cartridge;
    • firearms adapted from rifles or shotguns by sawing, cutting or any other alteration, that, when adapted in this way, are less than 660 mm (about 26 inches) long or have a barrel that is less than 457 mm (about 18 inches) long;
    • automatic firearms, whether or not altered to fire in the manner of a semi-automatic firearm.

If you are visiting Canada and find yourself facing criminal charges or other issues relating to bringing firearms, other weapons, or other prohibited material across the border, it is important to speak with an experienced Canadian criminal defence lawyer who can help you through the process and minimize or eliminate the potential consequences.

Criminal lawyers Bruce Engel and Elena Davies have represented individuals and businesses charged with hundreds of different offences throughout Canada for more than two decades. From the start of a criminal investigation to the close of a trial, we will take a balanced and forceful approach to your defence. We have the experience and know-how to effectively navigate the constantly changing justice system in Canada.

This website has been prepared by Engel & Associates for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. 

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Engel & Associates
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