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U.S. Regulations For Non-Residents Purchasing And Importing Firearms And Ammunition

Canadian Firearms Program


This notice provides information on U.S. regulations affecting Canadian residents who will be temporarily bringing firearms and ammunition into the U.S. or who wish to purchase firearms and ammunition while there. These regulations came into force February 19, 2002.

Regulations for Purchasing Firearms and Ammunition in the U.S.

The regulations generally make it unlawful for non-residents (non-immigrant aliens) to possess and receive firearms and ammunition in the U.S.

Exceptions for purchasing firearms and ammunition include the following:

  1. Non-residents who have the firearm directly exported to Canada by a U.S. licensed firearms dealer;
  2. Non-residents who have:
    • a valid U.S. State-issued hunting licence or permit or an invitation to a U.S. competitive sports-shooting event,
    • proof of residency in the U.S. for at least 90 days, and
    • an alien or admission number issued by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS);
  3. Law enforcement officers in the U.S. on official business.

Additional Information

Non-residents who choose to have the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) export their firearm directly to Canada do not require the hunting licence/permit, the alien or admission number, or the proof of 90-day residency.

However, when selling a firearm to a non-resident who is taking possession of the firearm and who will personally export it, the FFL must see a valid State-issued hunting licence or permit (unless the non-resident falls into another exception category, such as a diplomat or law enforcement officer.) Other accepted documentation, besides the hunting licence/permit, is an invitation to a competitive target or sport-shooting event, but the non-resident must meet the 90-day residency requirement. Re-enactors and sport shooters (not invited to a competition) will need to acquire a hunting licence. Most States issue hunting licences/permits to non-residents. The hunting licence or permit can be acquired in one U.S. State and the firearm can be purchased from an FFL in a different State.

All non-residents must provide an Immigration and Naturalization Service-issued alien number or admission number when purchasing a firearm from an FFL. If not already in possession of such a number, one can only be obtained from an INS inspector at a U.S. entry point. It cannot be obtained from within the U.S.

The 90-day residency requirement remains unchanged.

Regulations for Temporarily Importing Firearms and Ammunition into the U.S.

  1. The non-resident must provide U.S. Customs with a pre-approved U.S. import permit and evidence that they fall into an exemption category (by providing a valid State hunting licence/permit or an invitation to compete in a target shooting event or to display firearms or ammunition at a sports or hunting trade show sponsored by a national, State or local firearms trade organization devoted to the competitive use or other sporting use of firearms) before they will be allowed to import firearms or ammunition.
  2. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issues the required import permit. This permit can be obtained by completing ATF Form 5330.3D (Application and Permit for Temporary Importation of Firearms and Ammunition by Nonimmigrant Aliens). It can take 6 to 12 weeks to process the application so the permit should be applied for well in advance.

*The application form for the import permit must be accompanied by a copy of a U.S. hunting licence or an invitation to a target/sport shooting competition.*

If a non-resident plans to attend numerous competitive target shooting events/sports or hunting or trade shows during the year, but does not expect to have invitations/registrations until shortly before each event, they may want to rely on the hunting licence exception. In other words, non-residents may want to provide ATF with a hunting licence along with their ATF Form 5330.3D rather than invitations/registrations.

PLEASE NOTE: Non-residents do not need a U.S. export permit to export firearms or ammunition that were temporarily imported into the U.S. for an approved purpose.


If you have any questions about the regulations, please call the ATF Firearms and Explosives Imports Branch at (202) 927-8320. Information about the regulations is also available on the ATF Web site.

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