Getting a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL)

This article is about how to go about getting your Canadian Possession and Acquisition license (also known as a PAL), which is required for purchasing and owning any guns and firearms in Canada.

Before applying for a PAL, you have to take and pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC). I have written an earlier article specifically on the CFSC, so you can read more about the course there.

When your course is completed, you will get the paperwork to apply for the PAL but you can't apply right away. You have to include your certificate proving you took the CFSC and that actually comes to you by mail, NOT at the end of the course. It takes a few weeks for that to be returned to you. Once you have your course papers, then you can submit your PAL application.

The application is pretty extensive, and will require a few other signatures besides your own. You'll need to provide your address and contact information, as well as contact details for 2 other references who have known you personally for at least 3 years. If you are married, you are required to have your spouse sign as well, though a spouse CANNOT be a reference.

A headshot photo is also included in your application. A passport-type photo will work, though I got mine at a photo booth at the local mall (at the suggestion of my CFSC course instructor). It was a bit smaller than the guideliness said, but it was accepted just fine. You will have to have someone sign the back of the picture and your application, confirmnig that the photo is actually of you. You can get one of your earlier references to do that, it doesn't need to be a new person.

Aside from all the references and signatures, you also have to answer some questions about your criminal record and state of mind (history of emotional breakdowns, or depression). You also need to include your fee. At the end of 2008 (when I wrote this article) the cost was $60. And don't forget the papers proving you took the safety course. Send the originals, and keep a copy for your own records.

That's about it. Not too bad, eh?

I neglected to take note of when I got my course paperwork, and how long it took to get my permit after mailing in the application. Shame on me, but I took my CFSC at the end of September and got my PAL card at the end of December. So overall, the whole process took about 2 months. Roughly a month to get the course papers back, and another month for the actual PAL. It took me around a week in the middle to get my reference signatures together.

You can see a PDF file of the application at the government firearms website

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Comments 58 comments

Erin Sandhals 7 years ago

Please email me if you happen to know at

Last Legend 7 years ago

lucky, passed both the canadian firearms saftey course and restricted course, and I been waiting 5 months!!!!

is alberta really this hardcore????

jesse 7 years ago

how old do you need to be to optain the pal

JB 7 years ago

Min age to take the CFSC is 12 which give you a "minor" permit

brian 7 years ago

if you haven't heard back from them in 45 days call them there is probally something wrong with your paperwork 5 months is crazy

Mark 6 years ago

I've been waiting 90 days in Alberta. Called them at 45 and they said all paperwork was fine and it was now waiting with the chief firearms officer for final signature.

Last Legend 6 years ago

They told me my paper work is with the chief firearms officer. what I don't understand is why it takes over 2 months to review it.

dan 6 years ago

it take sover 2 months to review it because u gotta wait bout a month for your papers to get back and another month to receive ur pal and theres lots off ppl taking tests so it takes time to go through them. and theres only 1 chief of firearms per province so hes got alot of signatures todo

666kkk666 6 years ago


peteypablo 6 years ago

well i sent mine in for renewal in oct and never got mine back until feb. That's 4 months and the chief firearm's officer said if i hadn't of called him it probably would have been another 2 months, so keep calling every 2 weeks and stay on it.

Triggerhappy 6 years ago

Where did you take your course. Cause where I live they gave us our proof that we took the course the hot second we passed them. When I took the Saftey course, and when I took my restricted.

Bg 6 years ago

It took me 8 months. I received the phone call in regards to verifying your info and reference calls about 3 weeks of sending in the application. Just checked my online status and after 8 months of it saying 'In process, check back at a later date' it finally says 'You will be receiving your license in 2 weeks and if not to call'. 8 MONTHS!!!!

Last Legend 6 years ago

Yeah,finally over a year later,I get a call and then a "if not recived in 2 weeks call"situation.It's about time they issue my liscence.Now I have to wait for it through the mail,hope it's in within a week.

Alex 6 years ago

My course results took 1.5 months or more than 6 weeks to arrive. After a month, I called the special number at RCMP to find out if they had my documents at all or lost them and what their fate was. I was told that they're running busy and it will be more like 6 weeks before I get my exam results back.

Don't know how long it will take them to deal with PAL application. Just sent out the app. Judging from my experience, it'll take them up to 3 months to issue a PAL. How is that? First of all, RCMP web site tells me that PAL cannot be issued sooner than 45 days after they receive and register the application. Plus, there is a mandatory waiting period of 28 days or so. So, 1.5 months + 1 months = 2.5 months. Knowing RCMP, it'll take them more like 3 months to deal with the flow with their limited resources.

fred 6 years ago

wow I was hoping for faster then 3 months!!

owen 6 years ago

this is why i bow hunt

paul 6 years ago

Actually the 28 day mandatory waiting period is included in the 45 day processing time. So fastest you can expect to get the PAL is 45 days after they receive your app not 45 + 28.

Alex 6 years ago


I took CFSC and Restricted over the weekend, the following week, the instructors mailed out the results to RCMP. They took 6 weeks to stamp those and 1 week to mail the stamped results back to me.

Then comes the application. I prepared the app well in advance, collected all the signatures, got my photo taken as per the guidelines, attached additional documentation as required. So all was ready by the time the stamped results came back to me.

The next day after I got my results, I mailed out the app by Express post. About a month after that, they called me to confirm the details in the app and ask me if I'm a drunkard or crazy, or take drugs, or am thinking of suicide, or plan on killing anyone, or lost job, etc. Then they asked me why I apply for restricted. Remember, the only valid reason to to apply for restricted is target practice or competition or collector's items. No other reason, such as self defence or hunting is valid. You're not allowed a possession of a handgun without a valid reason and the only valid reason is sports of target shooting. Period. Then the same day they called my references. They called RCMP back the following day.

Still waiting for my PAL... Will update you when I finally get it.

So, the timeline so far looks like this:

October -- took CFSC

December -- received stamped test results from RCMP

December end -- received a call from RCMP regarding my app.

In my opinion, the PAL may or may not arrive in February-March. So, realistically, you're looking at 5-6 months waiting time, which is reasonable.

rabuol 6 years ago

This waiting time is all a's only to discourage you from owning can you justify the huge financial burden....1 firearms chief per province...what efficiency !!!

reprise 6 years ago

i dont know why we have to wait at all, we need the NRA in canada

Prince  6 years ago

wow just checked the application status on the rcmp website..your licence has been issued. ITS BEEN ONLY 3 weeks!! :D

prince 6 years ago

I had to check the website 3 times just to believe my eyes. Thank you god

albertaboy 6 years ago

iv been waiting since dec 2nd...i finally called and they said the paperwork is fine they are just waiting for the firearms officer to sign it... all my friends and family that have it said it takes about 5 months(which sucks)My older brothers took 11 months(for non-restricted only) which is down right stupid...if he had not called it woulda been over a year for keep calling every 2 weeks just so they stay on top of it or new apps will just get throwin on it... Alberta chief firearms officer also does northwest territory to so that's why it takes so long in alberta!

Amir 5 years ago

I got mine just after my 28 days waiting period was passed

Prince 5 years ago

seems like there issuing them fast now, amir are you from the toronto area?

REQUIN006 5 years ago

Do you need to send in the original copies of the CFSC and CRFSC, if you do would you receive them back through the mail?

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ForSaleToday 5 years ago

Two comments here. First for REQUIN06, you can send in copies of your STAMPED originals. Secondly, I just applied for my FIRST PAL licence and I am from Ontario. I mailed in on February 16, 2011 and my licence was issued on March 16, 2011. It was exactly 28 days to complete the process. After reading the horror stories above I was leary of how long the process would take. If I could suggest to all of you that are completing the application, pay attention to details. The application itself is quite simple but I would go over it a few times to make sure that you have filled everything in correctly. A good second opinion could be had by asking your references to check over the application. Good luck!!!

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ForSaleToday 5 years ago

Just an update, from the day I sent my application in until the day I received my actual PAL card in the mail was 38 days.

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Kator 5 years ago

I was speaking to RCMP at the centre in New Brunswick and they are running 5-6 days behind on getting initial data into the computer system. I expect it will be more than 45 days before we hear anything. I'm calling every two days until I get confirmation that it's at least in the system.

Adam 5 years ago

They received my application Feb 3rd. on their website it only says intal process completed. check back later. So i just past the 45 day mark. Will call on day 50 if nothing has changed.

mike 5 years ago

who and what # do i call to see where my paperwork is? for ontario.

doomsday party 5 years ago

i just had mine approved after 28 days non restricted only. say 2 weeks till i have it and if not to call them.

Kator 5 years ago

I also received approval - 28 days after they posted initial receipt of application. The 28 day cooling off period is mandatory. One way to speed things up is to call the centre to see of your app is complete and to have your interview and also to have your reference folks call the centre for the interview rather than wait for them to call. If they can't contact

ppl they will mail a note and that can really delay things. Good luck!

Nelly 5 years ago

question: how do i get another copy of my hunter training papers? i took the course in like 1995, but lost my copies

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IrishOx 5 years ago

I've been hunting and shooting for years and never agreed with any of this registration stuff but it is what it is, I guess? My MAIN issue now is, that I've sent in my PAL renewal paperwork back in August and my birthday is Oct 14th, which is my expiry date as well, and I don't have it yet?? I've checked their website and it states that it's in process and when I called, I was told that I just have to wait!! WAIT??? I sent it as soon as I got it and it's still in process??? If I don't have it by Oct 15th, am I NOT breaking the law and then they can come and take all my firearms and charge me? How is that fair to a Law Abiding Citizen??? Doing exactly what I'm supposed to do and now I suffer because they have a backlog?? Something fishy about that stuff if you ask me. I don't even want to call them now, to put myself on their radar. I'm hoping it'll show just show up and their website is just behind but I'm doubtful about that. I'm sure they'd love to take my 5 long guns and 5 handguns from me and there's nothing I can do about it either. I've searching their FAQ's section for some info and found nothing, so does anyone have any info or knowledge that they can pass on to me? It would be appreciated so I can at least get some in advance.

3+ 5 years ago

wow two (2) months...its been three (3) years + here.

Kriss 5 years ago


I actually had an assault conviction about 12 years ago, however, a subsequent pardon was granted later and this was the ONLY bad record in my whole life. What could be my chances of acquiring a PAL? Probably less than zero, right?

Commments requested.

Thank you.

ErnieS 5 years ago

This is called the rcmp dragging there feet. really folks in the age of computer technology do you really think it takes months to get a reply on wether or not you passed an exam?

If the RCMP had their way we wouldn't have any guns at all. Hunting rifles included.

Guest 5 years ago

Been waitn since the end of September for my PALS. They called two weeks ago and asked me a series of crazy questions. They called my references too, which is a good idea but others I spoke to said no one called them when they applied. Never been charged/arrested or investigated for anything (that I know of). I find it very strange that others never got a call--i'm just sayin it's a bit strange and i'm still waitn for my PALS or some decision geez

Jordan 5 years ago

Actually you do not need to take the actual course!!! But you do need to pass the test! It is recommended you take the course because you will understand firearms better, but you do not need to take the actual course

Jordan 5 years ago

Actually you do not need to take the actual course!!! But you do need to pass the test! It is recommended you take the course because you will understand firearms better, but you do not need to take the actual course

tunafish 4 years ago

My application for non-restricted PAL was received January 23rd201. I have been calling every two weeks since the 45 day waiting period ended. The only thing they tell me is they are very backed up and to call back later....the first time I called they said call back in two weeks. The next time I called they basically said don't call us we'll call you. This is in ontario. WTF is wrong with this process and how many people can possibly be applying for this license in ontario at the same time?

someone [please help me out who do I ask to talk to about the timing?

ipokerurmama 4 years ago

I sent my application out the the second week of Febuary. Made sure that all the info was correct and everything signed. Only to get a letter in the mail asking me what city I was born in. I told them I was born in "Gibraltar" and that there is no town name. They really didn tunderstand that Gibraltar is the country and the city. Its like saying Monaco or the Vatican. Its not like I left anything blank on the page. It asked country and city. I put Gibraltar, Gibraltar. You think that in this day and age they would have internet connection to look certain things up if they are not sure.

My thoughts are that the RCMP will use any excuse not to issue an applicant a PAL. The less gun owners the better, is there thoughts. Keep being persistant and call every few weeks. Mine has been about a month and no one has called my referances or myself for that matter.

My brother in-law is a former gun trainer. He allowed his PAL to expire. Although he is a catholic and born in Canada he has been put through the ringer as his last name is "Khan" Looks like ill get mine first LOL.

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Raymond1977 4 years ago

I've been waiting for over two months.I called and was told my application was with the firearms officer. After reading these comments I probably won't see my Licence for a few more months. That's the Government for you!

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Raymond1977 4 years ago

So today I called about my application again and was transferred to the CFO (Chief of Firearms Officer) of my Province. I was put on hold for about ten minutes and then finally got through only to find out that it was an answering machine. I've been waiting for almost 2 1/2 months and frustrated as hell so I decided to drive down to the CFO office( it was 30min away from my house). Once I got there i spoke with a member at the front desk asking about my application.I was very polite when i inquired about the status of my application, He looked into it for me and told me I would get it as soon as possible. When I got home from the CFO office I checked the status of my applicaton online and what do you know, my licence was processed!!!!!!!! If I didn't drive down there i would have probably waited months before i got it! It seems that these guys are in NOOOOO rush to process your licence so go down there if you can. Just google for the nearest CFO office near you! Remember to be polite when speaking to them!!!!!

Connie 4 years ago

I was told after writing my CFSC that it would take AT LEAST 5 weeks to get my test back in the mail in order to apply. I wrote my test on Feb 26th, it was stamped and dated April 10th by the govt and I received it on April 20th. Sending it back off today so we'll see how long the rest takes.... c'mon!!! :-) Patience is a virtue.

Shawn 4 years ago

My friend got his a month and a half later. Took the course from Silvercore in BC

Tom keeping 4 years ago

I took the course in 00-09-11. I never applied for the permit.Is it still valid and if so,where do I get the application form?

Jay 4 years ago

I lost my paper work and finally found it after finishing unpacking from our move about 2 years later do I need to take the course again or is my paper work still good..

Tony 4 years ago

I have been waiting for my course results to come in the mail for the past 5 weeks so I can send them off to the RCMP. Finally received them today, but I only received 2 copies of my non restricted test, even though I passed the restricted course aswell. Doesn't anyone know if they send them to you separately?

mike 4 years ago

They received my application on May 5 , and I'm still waiting to be either accepted or denied 98 days later. They hype that it only takes 45 days , but it accually takes much longer. Very frustrating.

Art 4 years ago

Don't believe that bs about a Pal application taking 45 days to process. I've now been waiting over 4 months. My app. has been with the CFO for Alberta for over 75 days and if they have'nt pulled their finger out by now, maybe they never will. It doesn't take 75 days to do anything in the real world, but that's government for you. Maybe I'll get it in a year or so but I'm not gonna hold my breath.

mornicsedem 4 years ago

i need a man as a pal

ra 3 years ago

I have been waiting 7 months. If the government is going to dis allow firearms to the public at least stop collecting fees and leaving us hang.

JohnnyRommel 2 years ago

Got my card in the mail last Monday!

noahH 2 years ago

i live in new brunswick and have a minors possesion liscence(im 15), according to federal and provicial law i am aloud to buy ammunition, whenever i go to canadian tire to buy 22. LR they say that im too young and that the law says i need to be 18. are the people working complete idiots or do i not know the laws?

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Teflon Johnny 15 months ago

OK, If one has had diagnosis of mild depression/anxiety, but it completely controlled by meds for many years, should One admit such on a PAL application?

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carlzday 15 months ago

has anyone been denied for having a bankruptcy ?

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