How do I get a Firearms License in Canada?

Having a firearms license in Canada is privilege afforded to those who are willing to undertake the responsibilities of ownership.

Qualifying for a gun licences is similar to getting a drivers licence, both require a commitment to safety training and an understanding of the rules that govern the privileges these licences afford you.

Not everyone is eligible for a firearms license. You must be a responsible Canadian citizen, who does not have a criminal record and is mentally stable.


Step One

The first step in the process is to take a Firearms Safety Course. The course(s) you take are dictated by the licences you are intending to apply for. There are two different licenses that you can apply for, a PAL and an RPAL.

The first licence is called a Possession Acquisition License (PAL) and is a basic firearms license which allows you to buy and possess the types of firearms primarily used for hunting purposes. For example, Rifles and shotguns.

The second licence is called a Restricted Possession Acquisition License (RPAL), this type of license allows you to buy and possess any type of firearm that is permitted by law for sporting or hunting purposes in Canada. For example, pistols and some semiautomatic rifles require a RPAL.   You must take the PAL course before taking the RPAL course. Many instructors will offer them one after another on over a weekend.

Each course has a written and practical exam that you must score 80% or better to pass. Each course focuses on the safe handling of firearms and the responsibilities of ownership. These courses are the same across the country. 


Step Two

Once you have passed the courses, you can submit your license application to the RCMP for review and processing. This process generally takes about 6 to 8 weeks. Applications are usually supplied by the PAL and RPAL instructors; however a copy can be downloaded from the RCMP Firearms Program site – (here) and your application can be filed on-line or sent in by mail.


How do I find a Firearms Safety Course in my Area?


The fastest way to find an instructor is to use Google. Search the words “Firearms Safety Instructor” and include your general location. Not all instructors are created equal – so you may want to contact a few before choosing one.

The second method is to visit the RCMP Firearms Program Website which provides the contact information you need to find Instructors in your Province. (

If you are having difficulty, please do not hesitate to contact us directly – we would be happy to help:

24hr Ans. Service – 800.749.3108

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I want to try shooting first.

 That makes perfect sense and there are several ways to go about this.

You don’t have to be licensed to shoot a gun in Canada, however you will be given a safety orientation and be instructed and monitored closely to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you when you try it.

Shooting is challenging and fun and like any other sport requires an understanding of the rules. Unlike most sports, it is one that can be enjoyed throughout your entire lifetime.

If you know someone who currently enjoys our sport – just ask them to share it with you. Most firearms owners are excited to share their enjoyment and will take you out to a range and let you try it.

If you don’t know someone – then you need to find a Shooting Club or Range in your area.

Many times using Google to search for one in your area is the simplest method.

Some Clubs are non-profit organizations which require you to be a member or to be accompanied by a member in order to shoot at the club. However, if you contact them directly (usually be email), they will generally make arrangements to have one of their members take you to the range – or let you know which times they allow the public to visit and try shooting at little or no cost.

 Other Clubs or Ranges – operate as for profit organizations and there are many different ones across the country. These clubs allow the general public to try shooting for a fee.

 If you are having difficulty finding a place to try shooting or someone to take you, please do not hesitate to contact us directly – we would be happy to help you out:
24hr Ans. Service – 800.749.3108

Via our FB page –


The Canadian Firearms Institute is a national non-profit, member driven advocacy and resource organization for the Firearms Community in Canada. Our purpose is to Save, Support and Celebrate our heritage and our sport. We promote and support the safe handling and responsible ownership of firearms in Canada.

If you have any questions, or would like our assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our office either by email – , our 24hr answering service – 800.749.3108 or leave us a message on our FB page –