Friday, September 12, 2014

The Little RV Gets Kicked out of Canada

Let me just start by saying I was diligent about doing my homework and preparing for our border crossing this morning.  The only problem was, I was wrong. This is a bit embarrassing but I want to share it because the information may be useful to someone else.

When we started researching our Alaska trip we had heard we couldn't bring any firearms into Canada.  Then we heard we could bring some but not others.  In order to make sense of all the rules I went to the official Canadian Welcomes You website for more information. Basically it said if you want to bring in firearms you have to declare them to customs using one of their forms and you have to pay $25. These are the definitions stated on the form:
Firearm Definitions
A non-restricted firearm is:

  • An ordinary rifle, shotgun or combination gun that is not described below as being restricted or prohibited.
A restricted firearm is:
  • A handgun that is not a prohibited firearm.
  • A semi-automatic, centre-fire rifle or shotgun with a barrel length less than 470 mm (18.5 inches) that is not prohibited.
  • A rifle or shotgun that can fire when its overall length is reduced by folding, telescoping or some other means to less than 660 mm (26 inches).
  • Any firearm prescribed as restricted (including some long guns).
A prohibited firearm is:
  • A handgun with a barrel length of 105 mm (4.1 inches) or less.
  • A handgun designed or adapted to discharge 25 or 32 calibre ammunition.
  • A rifle or shotgun that has been altered to make it less than 660 mm (26 inches) in overall length.
  • A rifle or shotgun that has been altered to make the barrel length less than 457 mm (18 inches) where the overall firearm length is 660 mm (26 inches) or more.
  • An automatic firearm and a converted automatic firearm.
  • Any firearm prescribed as prohibited.

The form even shows how to measure your firearm to make sure it meets their requirements.
Copied from Declaration Form, RCMP GRC 5589e (2014-02-04) 

We both grew up with guns and travel with our handguns. We also both have carry permits. 

Yesterday we decided to take a shortcut through Canada to New York so we downloaded the form and filled it out. 
Port Huron Border / Bridge to Canada

When we arrived at the border crossing and presented them with our passports and the form we were pulled aside to go to the inspections office.  Once we were parked in the inspections area an agent came to each of our doors.  They told Rob to put the keys on the dash and said we should get out of the vehicle and bring our identification.  One of the agents came with me to get our guns out of the RV. They took the guns inside the office while we talked to the other agent.  We were informed that is it illegal to being any handgun into Canada and that we had three options.  We could leave the guns with the border agents for up to 40 days, go back into the US and ship the guns somewhere and continue back into Canada or we could take a different route and stay out of Canada.  

We choose to take a different route.  The agents took the guns out of their cases and put giant zip ties through the barrels then locked them into a lock box and sent us back across the border to go through US Customs.  The Canadian border agents were absolutely polite, respectful and very helpful the whole time we were there.  

The US Customs side was far less cordial. They weren't rude but they were extremely cool and just a bit cranky. The whole process took 2 1/2 hours and we were right back where we started this morning.

We got an education we won't soon forget. I'm sure I just misunderstood the instructions or the form or something but there it is.  We got kicked out of Canada. 

Right now we are in Ohio parked for the night.  We'll continue our trip in the morning.  It'll be just a bit longer.  


  1. Some states have really tough gun laws. I figure my motorhome is my "home" and I am allowed firearms in my home. Not all law enforcement feels that way. If they don't allow guns, that is a slap in your face and I wouldn't ever want to go back. That makes my blood boil. Thanks for the information.

    1. Dizzy, we'll go back across when we get to New York but only with the truck. We want to see the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.