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Firearms Left in an Estate

If you are the executor . . .

While the Firearms Act states how firearms may be transferred and who may have them, estate laws, which may vary in each province, determine the role of the executor.

The executor of an estate with firearms is responsible for ensuring the firearms are transferred to a properly licensed individual or business, or disposed of in a safe and lawful manner within a reasonable length of time.  In addition, any restricted or prohibited firearms that the executor, as transferor, transfers to another individual or business must be registered to the transferee. Until such time as the firearms are transferred or disposed of, it is the responsibility of the executor to ensure that the firearms are safely stored.

The executor must also determine if the deceased held a firearms licence, and, for any restricted or prohibited firearms, registration certificates. Should either document not exist at the time of death, the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) can assist the executor to resolve this situation.

Please note, if the executor is prohibited by a court order from possessing firearms, he or she cannot take possession of firearms left in an estate. However, he or she is able to act as executor in transferring the firearms to someone who can lawfully acquire them.

For information on a firearm that is registered to someone else, or to transfer a firearm to someone else, the executor must provide documentation that he or she are in a lawful position to do so.

If you are the heir

To acquire a firearm through inheritance, an individual must be 18 years of age and hold a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) with the appropriate privileges for the class of firearm
(non-restricted, restricted, prohibited). Individuals who have a Possession-Only Licence (POL) cannot acquire the firearm(s) until they upgrade their licence to a PAL. Businesses must have a firearms business licence to acquire firearms.

When a restricted or prohibited firearm is transferred to a new owner, a specific process is followed. This ensures that the new owner is eligible to have the firearm, the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) for the province or territory and the Registrar of Firearms are notified and approve of the transfer, and the restricted or prohibited firearm is registered to the new owner.

Unwanted Firearms

If there is no eligible heir, or if the heir does not wish to inherit a firearm, the estate may:

  • sell or give the firearm to any individual, museum or business with a licence to acquire that particular type of firearm through the official transfer process; or
  • export it to a country that allows it: please call the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade at 1-800-267-8376 (toll-free in Canada), or 613-944-4000 (in the National Capital Region and outside Canada) for information on requirements for an export permit; or
  • have the firearm permanently deactivated so that it no longer meets the definition of a firearm, and therefore, is exempted from the requirements of the Firearms Act; or
  • turn the firearm in to a police officer or firearms officer for disposal. Please call first to arrange for disposal.

Additional Information

Should you require more information, please contact the CFP by phone at:
1-800-731-4000 or visit the CFP Fact Sheets Section.

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