The Types of Firearms Licences in Canada
Under the new gun laws there are various levels of Firearms Licences. You will need a licence to legally possess the firearms you already own, to acquire new ones, to purchase ammunition and to borrow firearms. All firearms owners must have a valid firearms licence. If you possess a firearm without a licence, you are committing criminal offences punishable by up to 5 years in prison and your firearm will be subject to confiscation.
Possession Only (POL)
The Possession Only Licence, which was introduced in 1998, was intended for people who already owned guns, and did not intend to acquire any firearms. This licence allowed you to purchase ammunition and keep whatever non-restricted, restricted or prohibited firearms you already legally possessed and borrow other firearms of the same legal class. POLs were only available prior to 2001, unless renewed before their expiry date. Changes to the Firearms Act on June 18, 2015, will soon convert all existing POLs to PALs.
Non-Restricted Long Guns: Possession & Acquisition
If you have no interest in restricted firearms (e.g. many handguns, some military looking semi-automatic rifles) but you still wish to be able to acquire typical sporting long guns, you will need this Possession & Acquisition Licence (PAL).
You will be required to pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course exam. The fee is $60 for a 5 year licence. At present the processing time for this licence is typically a couple of months. You can download the licence application form here.
Restricted Firearms: Possession & Acquisition
This licence will allow you to purchase non-restricted and restricted firearms, plus any classes of prohibited firearms that you are eligible to acquire.
You must pass both the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Exam and the Canadian Firearms Safety Exam. If you completed the old Canadian Firearms Safety Exam (the full one which included long guns and handguns) between 1993-1999, you will not have to write the current exams. The fee for this licence is $80 for five years. Quebec residents need to bring a separate form to their local police when applying for this type of licence. These licences are available to Americans (or any foreigner) but they must meet the same conditions as Canadian citizens.
Minor's Firearms Licence
A minor's licence permits someone under the age of 18 to possess non-restricted firearms for the purposes of: target practice, competition, hunting, or instruction in the use of a firearm. The application forms for this type of licence can be obtained from the Chief Firearms Officer in your province as they are not available online.
Minors who are not sustenance hunters must take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and pass the exam in order to get a possession licence. Minors who are sustenance hunters, just like any adult, may simply challenge the exam. Minors in Ontario who wish to hunt will want to check out the "One Stop Shopping" course which combines the Hunter Safety Course and the CFSC into one extended training session.