ITAR and Canada – How to import guns and ammo from the US

ITAR and Canada
It’s that time of the year again and where deals are aplenty and often some of the best are happening south of the border. Let’s talk about ITAR, and how to get that gun home.


Naturally, with the Christmas/Boxing Day and New Years sales that are coming up in the next week or even taking place right now, there are a lot of questions regarding what we can or can’t import into Canada. The reality is that the Canadian side of things is very simple (provided you have the appropriate license for that class of firearm and the firearm isn’t prohibited); the problem actually lies on the American side.

In the United States there are very stringent export laws regarding firearms, ammunition, or anything else considered to be defense- or space-related technologies. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) control the exportation of any goods or services described in the United States Munitions Lists including but not limited to guns, ammo, military electronics (including night vision), optics and sights, body armour, military vehicles, and even nuclear and biochemical weapons and equipment.

According to ITAR, no person may export any of these kinds of items out of the United States without authorization – which is not something they just hand out to Joe Schmo. While you theoretically could apply for the permits, it is a very long and expensive process – and this is even before you start considering the goods you wish to bring home. There are exemptions for ITAR and Canada, but in most cases you’ll be subject to regulation.

“So how do I go about buying a gun in the US and bringing it home?” you ask. Simple, you get someone else to do it. There are several Canadian companies who are authorized by the US government to export certain ITAR-controlled goods. Examples of these companies include most distributors, but one such service exists solely to import guns from the US at the request of customers. I’ve never worked with them, but I’ve heard plenty of great things about the aptly-named IRunGuns.  They handle all the paperwork and applicable fees to get that gun you just have to have from the US across the border and into your hands. This isn’t a free service, of course. In most cases it will cost you a couple hundred dollars on top of the actual purchase cost. For some goods it could cost much more. You just need to answer this question: can you get it in Canada for less? If the answer is no, then perhaps it’s worth the trouble. If you can, maybe it’s just best to keep looking.