How to get your PAL license?

First, assess your eligibility (you need to live 5 years in Canada before applying, you cannot have criminal records or prohibitions to own firearms etc.) Then - take PAL course (CFSC and/or CRFSC safety training). Upon successful completion of your safety training you may fill in application form (5592 if you are 18+ or 5485 for minors) and send it to RCMP. More precisely:

  1. Take a safety course and get certificate;
  2. Fill out an application form 5592 or 5485 (for minors);
  3. Include photo as described in the form;
  4. You will need a Photo Guarantor sign the photo (validating that the person on photo is you);
  5. References - 2 people should sign your application (and, yes, RCMP will definitely call them);
  6. Your spouse should sign it as well (tough problem in case of separation or divorce);
  7. Pay an application fee (described in the form);
  8. Send the paperwork to RCMP.

I can't download form 5485 (Minors License application form).

Yes, that is done on purpose. You have to call the Chief Firearms Office to obtain the form.

Can you take PAL course online?

No. It is somewhat like your driving license - you need to demonstrate practical skills to a certified instructor. That is why it cannot be done online. All what you can do online is to find the course, enroll and to prepare to the course. The course and exam(-s) are always in person.

Is there an exam at the end of the PAL course?

Yes. The exam in case of CFSC will contain one quiz of 50 questions plus practical exam. In case of CRFSC there will be 2 quizzes 50 questions each.

What kinds of licenses available?

At the moment of writing, the only license type available for new applicants is PAL (restricted or non-restricted).

What do CFSC/CRFSC exams contain of?

CFSC contains 1 theoretical test (50 questions) and 1 practical exam. CRFSC as well contains 1 theoretical test (50 questions as well) and a practical exam. At practical exams you will have to identify the types of firearms (you will be asked to pick up, say, semi-auto shotgun) and ammo. Also - to demonstrate that you can operate firearms safely. For example, you are told to pick up a semiautomatic shotgun. You should take the correct firearm and then ACTS&PROVE it. You are told to cross a fence with it, or to put it on the table. Every operation should incorporate ACTS&PROVEing the arm. Also you will be asked to show stances and you will be asked questions and tasks about transporting and storing your firearms.

What is the success pass rate in PAL course?

80%. But please bear in mind, that the questions are equal only in written test(-s). At least at the moment of writing, there is no such thing as must-questions (can be changed by RCMP at any moment, though). So, you have to get 40 out of 50 right answers to pass. But questions and tasks are unequal in the practical exam(-s): say, you get one point if you successfully identify a FMJ cartridge (that's a minor question), and, say, up to 5 points if you successfully show how to cross a fence with a gun (that's a bigger question). Also, some of your actions (for instance, if you point a gun at someone) will automatically mean a failure. In case of such failure you will have to retake written tests as well.

What events should I notify Chief Firearms Office about?

You should contact Chief Firearms Office if you licence card is lost, stolen or physically damaged. Also, you have to notify Chief Firearms Office when your address has changed (within 30 days - at the moment of writing) and if you privately sold or bought a firearms (as soon as possible). And if you change your name as well.

RCMP sent me a duplicate licence with a slightly different number. Why?

According to bill C-42, your ATT is associated with your licence. After you buy your first restricted firearm, RCMP will issue an updated licence for you and automatically attach ATT to your new licence. Say, your licence had a number 99999999.0001. After you purchase the first restricted arm, they will issue a licence with a number 99999999.0002. This updated licence should be used instead of the original one (which invalidates automatically).

Recently I became a Canadian citizen. But live for less than 5 years in Canada. Can I still get my PAL without applying to the Local Police of the country where I lived previously?

Yes, that's doable: since all the background checks have been already done when processing your Citizenship Application, all what RCMP needs is the proof of your citizenship.

How long is PAL license valid?

Each licence card has an expiration date on it. Normally, PAL Licence is valid for five years.

I'm interested in handguns only. Can I get a restricted PAL without non-restricted course?

No, it is implied that to own restricted firearms you also have to know how to operate non-restricted firearms as well. So, to get your restricted PAL, you have to complete both CFSC and CRFSC.

If your PAL expires do you have to write test all over again?

No, your CFSC/CRFSC certificates are good forever. Theoretically you may even lose your safety training certificate, RCMP will still have that in their records. But you will have to use 5592 form instead of 5614.

What kind of firearms is Minor's Licence valid for?

Non-restricted rifles and shotguns.

My son has a Minor's Licence. Can he shoot my handgun?

Yes, he can provided that he is under your supervision. The legislation stipulates that the supervision must be direct and immediate, so you have to be at the port with him, close enough to guarantee safe use of the handgun.

What are restricted firearms in Canada?

There are 3 legal classes of firearms in Canada: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Generally speaking, restricted are handguns, non-restricted are shotguns and rifles. Mnemonic rule: long word - long gun. But there are some exceptions apply: some handguns are prohibited; if a barrel is shorter than 470mm or if a long gun is shorter than 660mm (or can be folded so), that long gun is restricted. Plus some guns are restricted because of RCMP decision. Prohibited category includes: fully automatic firearms, handguns designed for concealed carry (shorter than 105mm or in .25 and .32 calibre), sawed-off rifles and shotguns. Similar to restricted, RCMP stipulated some firearms to be prohibited (rule of thumb: the more scary and aggressive firearm looks, the more chances that it is prohibited).

FAC vs PAL. What's the difference?

FAC stands for Firearms Acquisition Certificate, and its name speaks for itself: it was a permissive document you needed to acquire firearms (owning of firearms was absolutely legal without any permissions at that time).
FAC was substituted with PAL in mid-90s, so FAC does not exist anymore. But many elder people still refer to their licenses as to FAC, which is technically incorrect. Please refer to How to get your PAL license?

How to notify RCMP about a change of address?

Today, probably, the best way is to use their online Change Of Address Service. Alternatively, you still can do that on the phone.

How long does it take to get your PAL?

By law, for a first time applicant the minimum waiting period is 28 days. RCMP recommends you to wait at least 45 days before querying your application status. The actual timespan will depend on their workload, and may be 3 to 5 months easily. And, please don't be disappointed too much: they actually did a great job and speeded it up very significantly!

Is there any deadline to file paperwork to RCMP after completing Safety Training?

No, you are good to apply for your license at any time regardless of how long ago you got your safety training certificate.

What do I need to know about calibre for CFSC?

In brief, you should know the definition (it is distance between the lands or between the grooves of the rifling inside the barrel), how the calibre is measured and that normally you cannot use a cartridge in a firearm with different datastamp no matter that it fits. Read more about Calibre.

In case I fail my test, how quickly can I redo it?

In one week. There is a minimum 1 week waiting period (stipulated by CFP) before you can retest.

My ATT is now incorporated into my PAL license. But what does it actually allow?

Now you can transport your restricted firearms:

  • to and from certified shooting ranges and clubs (target practice);
  • to and from gunsmiths and dealers (appraisal, repair);
  • to and from the border of Canada;
  • to and from a gun show;
  • to your home after purchase;
  • to and from firearms officer (disposal, registration, verification).

Can one challenge written tests and practical exams?

No, since 2015 nobody can eliminate firearms safety course to get PAL license.

Can a minor take both CFSC and CRFSC courses?

Yes and no. Since minor's license implies non-restricted arms only, there is no problem with the CFSC. And when the minor turns 18, it can be converted into a full-fledged PAL licence. Restricted course, though, can be taken by a minor only for personal interest: it doesn't count when you apply for your licence.

For hunting only, can I stick to just hunting licence, since non-restricted arms don't require registration anymore?

Unfortunately, no. Even though long-gun registry disestablished, it is still required to pass firearms safety training and get at least a non-restricted PAL license. It is not just a red tape: otherwise RCMP cannot guarantee that you can use firearms safely.

What should you know to get your hunting license?

In brief, you should know when you can hunt specific game, where you can hunt and shoot (and where you are not allowed to shoot), where to aim, how to choose appropriate ammo, some legal matters of specific province, where you can find all such information; also how to butcher etc. - i.e. everything what makes your hunt 100% legal and 100% safe.

What should I bring to the CRFSC classes?

A government issued photo ID is the only must. If you prefer to make some notes down the road, please bring a pen and a notebook. And, goes without saying, don't bring any firearms and/or ammo to the classes.

Where could I get a manual for the course?

Either from your instructor (which typically costs $20) or you can download a soft copy of both CFSC and CRFSC manuals from here. Alternatively, you can use the previous version of the manuals: CFSC and CRFSC. It is highly recommended to familiarize yourself with the manuals before attending classes.

What is the best way to prepare to the course?

1. Download the manuals here. Pay attention to ACTS and PROVE (you should remember it by heart!), action types of firearms, firearm terminology, types of ammunition, shooting stances, storing and transpotation. 2. Check yourself by quizzes at crfsc.safetyquizz.com.

Why the safety training courses duration may vary from one instructor to another?

CFP and CFOs stipulate only the minimum amount of hours for tuition and the maximum price for courses.

What do you need to get a firearms acquisition certificate?

Since FAC does not exist starting mid-90s, because it was substituted by PAL, you are asking about PAL and should refer to How to get your PAL license?

Can I carry a handgun while hunting to protect myself from wild animals?

Yes, in remote places, but you need an ATC, i.e. your occupation implies and requires such a protection. For example, if you are a licensed professional trapper.

What is ATC?

ATC stands for Authorization To Carry. It can be issued, provided that you reside in Canada, your work requires wildlife protection (typically in remote locations, please refer to Can I carry a handgun while hunting to protect myself from wild animals? for more information) and you have a restricted PAL.

What is CORE PAL?

CORE stands for Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education (i.e. British Columbia's Hunter Education Program). Thus, you are referring to one-stop hunting course, which combines hunting training with CFSC safety course.

Where could I find a sample PAL test?

Just try to pose different questions to what you read in the manuals. Also to get the hang of exam questions you may use these quizzes.

How to obtain a hunting licence if I already have a restricted PAL?

On top of your firearm licence you also need to pass a hunting training. Upon successful completion of your hunting course, you go in person to ServiceOntario (if in Ontario, of course) to obtain the card.

Do I need a firearms license for biathlon?

Yes, you need a PAL licence for biathlon. A gun used in biathlon is .22LR, and to legally use it you have to have a firearms license.

Canadian Gun License Quizzes