Vital travel information for hunters crossing the border

SONY DSCPhoto by leasmithphotography-com

Story by Tania Moffat

Last year, four Mexican big game hunters were apprehended in Winnipeg trying to export three polar bear hides, skulls and narwhal tusks without proper permits. The bears were hunted legally but the men failed to procure the proper export permits to take their bounty out of the country. It cost them their hides,skulls, tusks and a whole lot of dough; they were fined a total of $80,000, and plead guilty to the charges. Even with the proper export permits they could have lost everything as it is illegal to import mammal hides into Mexico.

Their expensive lesson should serve to remind hunters about the importance of obtaining the proper registrations, permits and licences when transporting weapons and bounty over international borders. With so many rules and regulations how can hunters be sure to have everything in order?

Here are a few helpful tips on airline travel, permits and helpful resources for hunters travelling into or out of Canada this hunting season.

Don’t get fired up at the border.

Here’s what you need to know about transporting firearms, weapons and ammunitions:

  • Upon entry into Canada all firearms and weapons must be declared at the CBSA agency office. You must be 18 to transport a firearm. If you fail to declare them, your items will be seized and you could face criminal charges. Be prepared with proper documentation and ensure items meet transport safety requirements. Agents may check to see that the weapons have been stored correctly and verify that the item matches the firearm in your documents. They must be satisfied you have a valid reason for importing the weapon.
  • Firearms are classified as nonrestricted, restricted or prohibited. Non-restricted firearms include semiautomatic rifles and shotguns with barrels that are at least 470 millimetres long and do not otherwise fall into a restricted category. Single-shot or manual repeating rifles and shotguns of any length are also allowed as long as they have not been designed or adapted to be fired when reduced to a length of less than 660mm by folding, telescoping or other means. Restricted firearms include most handguns and firearms restricted by regulations. Prohibited items (for example, switchblades, silencers, and replica firearms, etc.) cannot be imported for any reason. For a full list of prohibited weapons consult If you plan to import grandfathered prohibited firearms that were temporarily exported, check with CBSA regarding the required documentation.
  • Proper documentation is mandatory; non-restricted firearms imported to Canada by Canadian residents require both a possession and acquisition licence. Restricted firearms will also require a Firearm Registration Certificate and an Authorization to Transport or ATT.
  • Sporting and competitive ammunition and reloading components for personal use are allowed to be transported to Canada. If you are uncertain consult with the Explosives Regulatory Division at Natural Resources of Canada to determine if the ammunition you wish to import is authorized and approved

for importation and use in Canada. Within these limits, non-residents can import 200 rounds duty free for hunting purposes, or up to 1,500 rounds duty free for use at a recognized competition.

  • While exportation does not require speaking with a CBSA agent, you will need an import permit for the country you are visiting. It is recommended that you contact the appropriate authorities of the country you are visiting to determine what requirements must be met prior to leaving Canada. For information on exportation of firearms to the United States visit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at or phone 304-616-4550.
  • Hunters should be aware that firearms are forbidden in many national and provincial parks, game reserves and adjacent areas. These areas are governed by federal, provincial and territorial laws, so if you plan to hunt must have a licence from every province or territory you plan to hunt in.
  • Antique guns do not require registration but are subject to the same safe storage and transport requirements.
  • Canadian law states that all firearms must be unloaded for transport.

Special thanks to the Canadian Border Service Agency, CBSA, for their assistance with Border Basics.


Where to get more information:

For more detailed information on importing a firearm into Canada call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999 or 204-983-3500

Visit for more information about airline firearm transportation regulations.

Contact the Explosives Regulatory Division of Natural Resources Canada for information about obtaining written authorizations and permits to bring explosives, fireworks and certain types of ammunition into Canada at or call 663-948-5200.

For information on applying for a Canadian Firearms Licence or a Firearms Registration Certificate, or to obtain an application for an Authorization to Transport Restricted Firearms in advance please contact: Canadian Firearms Program 1-800-731-4000 1-506-624-5380 Email or visit

Contact the Canadian Firearms Program 1-800-731-4000 for any questions regarding Canada’s firearm laws, fees or information regarding a specific firearm or weapon.