I Am Involved in Living History Re-Enactments

The phasing in of the Firearms Act December 1, 1998 could mean some changes for many Canadians and visitors taking part in living history re-enactments.

Although the registration and licensing requirements do not apply to antiques and reproductions of antique flint-lock, match-lock and wheel-lock long guns (muskets), there are still aspects of the new law that affect you.


The Firearms Act requires all firearms be registered, except for antiques and some reproductions of antiques. You donít need a licence to own or use these excluded firearms.


A firearm is an antique if it was manufactured before 1898 and was not designed or adapted to discharge rim-fire or centre-fire ammunition. Additional firearms are prescribed as antiques by regulation. (A list of prescribed antiques by Criminal Code regulations is included at the end of this bulletin.)


Reproductions are copies of the original and are meant to be fired as the original when it was made.

Reproductions of most pre-1898 "black powder" firearms are considered antiques. However, reproductions of all percussion-cap, muzzle-loading firearms like American Civil War Enfield and Springfield rifles are not considered antiques under the new law. If you own or use these firearms, contact the Canadian Firearms Centre for a copy of "I Own a Firearm", a fact sheet which contains information on registration and licensing requirements.


Although replicas are also manufactured to look like firearms, they are distinct from reproductions of antiques. They may look the same, but replicas are different because they were never manufactured to be fired.

Under the Firearms Act, replicas of firearms made after 1898 are prohibited devices. As of December 1, 1998, you can still own and export replica firearms, but their import, manufacture, transfer and sale in Canada will be strictly regulated and largely confined to selected businesses.

Living history re-enactors should know that replicas made to look like antique firearms are exempt from the prohibition which affects replicas of modern firearms.

If you require more information about antiques, reproductions and replicas, including licensing and registration requirements for firearms not exempt from the provisions of the Firearms Act, contact the Canadian Firearms Centre at 1 800 731-4000.

Visiting Re-Enactors

Most of the provisions of the new law will not affect visitors coming into Canada for living history re-enactments since most of the firearms used for these activities are considered antiques and do not fall under the new law. However, if you bring firearms into Canada that are not considered antiques, there are changes that will affect you.

Most Canada Customs procedures will remain the same until January 1, 2001. At present, you have to declare all firearms, including antiques and reproductions, at the border and be at least 18 years of age to bring them into Canada. Under the Firearms Act, beginning January 1, 2001, you will still be required to declare all firearms. However, for firearms not considered antiques, you will have to get a confirmed firearms declaration from Canada Customs, by calling the Canadian Firearms Centre at 1 800 731-4000, or by downloading forms from this web site.

The confirmed firearms declaration will act as a temporary licence authorizing you to possess the firearm during your stay in Canada. As well, it will serve as a temporary registration certificate for the firearm you are bringing into the country. When you leave Canada with your firearm there will be procedures for informing Canada Customs.

A confirmed declaration will be valid for 60 days. You must declare your firearms each time you cross the border, but you pay the fee of $50 (Canadian funds) only once in a 12-month period. The declaration may be renewed and extended beyond the 60 days by contacting the Chief Firearms Officer in the province or territory you plan to visit.

If you are bringing restricted firearms like handguns into Canada, you will need an Authorization to Transport before you can enter or travel within the country. It is important that you obtain this authorization in advance from the Chief Firearms Officer of the province or territory you will be visiting. You can obtain the address and contact numbers for the Chief Firearms Officer by calling 1 800 731-4000.

Licensing Options for Visitors

Possession and Acquisition Licence

If you are a frequent visitor to events, you may wish to obtain a Canadian firearms licence, which is valid for five years and costs $60. The licence not only allows the holder to possess firearms in Canada, but enables the holder to acquire firearms while in Canada by purchase, trade, barter or gift. You must pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course test before you can get a possession and acquisition licence.

Licence for Borrowed Firearms

Visitors are able to obtain a sponsored, non-residentsí 60-day possession licence to borrow a non-restricted and non-antique firearm such as an Enfield percussion-cap, reproduction rifle for their event.

The application for a borrowing licence has to be supported by the organization sponsoring the re-enactment. The licence fee will be $30. There will be no charge if you need to renew your licence once within a 12-month period. It can be renewed by telephone from within Canada.

You should apply for the licence well in advance of your arrival at the Canadian border. The application should be sent to the Chief Firearms Officer in the province or territory you intend to visit.

Storage, Transportation and Handling of Firearms

Whether you bring firearms, including antiques and reproductions, into Canada or you borrow them while you are in the country, you are responsible for knowing and abiding by the laws that regulate the safe storage, transportation and handling of firearms. There are a few basic rules you should know that apply to antique firearms:

  • You must store, display or transport an antique firearm unloaded.
  • When transporting an antique firearm it should not be left in an unattended vehicle unless the firearm is locked in the trunk or a similar compartment. If the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk or similar compartment, the antique firearm should be locked inside the vehicle and placed out of view.
  • If the antique firearm is a handgun it must be transported in a locked container that cannot be seen through, readily broken into or opened accidentally.

Prescribed Antiques

The following is a list of antiques prescribed by Criminal Code regulations, all of which must have been manufactured before 1898 unless otherwise specified:

  • a black powder reproduction of a flintlock, wheel-lock or matchlock firearm, other than a handgun, manufactured after 1897;
  • a rifle that is capable of discharging only rim-fire cartridges, other than 22 Calibre Short, 22 Calibre Long or 22 Calibre Long Rifle cartidges;
  • a rifle that is capable of discharging centre-fire cartridges, whether with a smooth or rifled bore, having a bore diametre of 8.3 mm or greater, measured from land to land in the case of a rifled bore, with the exception of a repeating firearm fed by any type of cartridge magazine;
  • a shotgun that is capable of discharging only rim-fire cartridges, other than 22 Calibre Short, 22 Calibre Long or 22 Calibre Long Rifle cartridges.
  • a shotgun that is capable of discharging centre-fire cartridges, other than 10, 12, 16, 20, 28 or 410 gauge cartridges;
  • a handgun that is capable of discharging only rim-fire cartridges, other than 22 Calibre Short, 22 Calibre Long or 22 Calibre Long Rifle cartridges;
  • a handgun that is capable of discharging centre-fire cartridges other than a handgun designed or adapted to discharge 32 Short Colt, 32 Long Colt, 32 Smith and Wesson, 32 Smith and Wesson Long, 32-20 Winchester, 38 Smith and Wesson, 38 Short Colt, 38 Long Colt, 38-40 Winchester, 44-40 Winchester, or 45 Colt cartridges.

Coming Into Force

The Firearms Act is being phased in from December 1, 1998 to January 1, 2003.


For more information, or to order a copy of the Firearms Act, its regulations, application forms and other CFC publications, contact us at:

1-800-731-4000 (Toll Free)
e-mail: cfc-cafc@cfc-cafc.gc.ca

This fact sheet is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Firearms Act and its Regulations.

Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.



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