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
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
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.
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.
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
The following is a list of antiques prescribed by Criminal Code
regulations, all of which must have been manufactured before 1898 unless
- 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
- 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
- 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)
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.