Individuals who posses or wish to acquire a prohibited firearm should consult this information regarding the legal requirements under the Firearms Act.


According to the criminal Code, a prohibited firearms is;

a. A handgun that,

  • has a barrel equal to or less than 105 mm in length, or

  • is designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 caliber cartridge, but does not include any such handgun that is prescribed, where the hang\gun is for use in International sporting competitions governed by the rules of the International Shooting Union.

b. A firearm that is adapted from a rifle or shotgun, whether by sawing, cutting or any other alteration, and that, as so adapted,

  • is less than 660 mm in length or

  • is 660 mm or greater in length and has a barrel less than 457 mm in length.

c. an automatic firearm, whether or not it has been altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger, or

d. any firearms that is prescribed to be a prohibited firearms.


Individuals are allowed to possess certain prohibited firearms if they had on registered in their name when it became prohibited, and they have continuously held a valid registration corticated for that type of prohibited firearm from December a, 1998, onward. The Firearms Act refers to this as being "grandfathered".


A Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) allows an individual to acquire only prohibited firearms in the same categories as the ones currently registered to them, and only if the firearms they wish to acquire were registered in Canada on December 1, 1998.

As general rule, a PAL will indicate what prohibited firearms the licence holder is licensed to acquire by showing the section of the Firearms Act that grandfathers , as follows;

  • s.12(2):  full automatics

  • s.12(3):  converted automatics

  • s.12(4):  firearms prohibited by former prohibition or No. 12

  • s.12(5):  firearms prohibited by former prohibition or No. 13

  • s.12(6):  handguns with a barrel length of 105 mm or less or that discharge .25 or .323 caliber ammunition. On licences issued on or after April 10, 2005, these firearms will be referred to as 12(6.1) firearms.

Eligibility to acquire a particular prohibited firearm will be confirmed during the transfer process. Grandfather status allows the possession and acquisition of prohibited firearms that are already registered in Canada, but not the new importation of prohibited firearms into Canada.


To stay grandfather for a particular category of prohibited firearm, an individual must have continuously held a registration certificate for a firearm in that category from December 1, 1998, onward. To be able to hold a registration certificate for a firearm, an individual needs a licence allowing them to possess that class of firearms. It is therefore essential that firearms licences be renewed before they expire.

All registration certificates issued under the former law (prior to December 1, 1998) expired on December 31, 2002, so it was important to registered the firearms (s) under the Firearms Act before the old certificate expired.


If a person in not grandfather, the only prohibited firearms they may possess or acquire are handguns with a barrel length of 105 mm or less or that discharge .25 or .32 caliber ammunition, and only if all of the following criteria are met;

  • the handgun was made before 1946, and

  • the handgun was registered in Canada on Dec 1, 1998, and

  • the individual is the child, grandchild, brother, sister or spouse of the lawful owner, and

  • the individual is acquiring it for an approved purpose such as target shooting or as part of a collection.

Under these circumstances, the individual can lawfully acquire and possess the handgun in question, but they are not grandfather or authorized to acquire more prohibited handguns.

For the following go to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website (Prohibited Firearms) to obtain the information on these topics.

  • Selling, giving, or lending

  • Transporting prohibited firearms.