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.

  • chris

    And this is Pertinent in helping us how? If this is an attempt to drum up business it is feeble and fruteless and has led no where.

    • Brian

      What a charming personality you have.

  • Apex

    Not to mention a lack of mastery of spellcheck and basic grammar…

  • Hey Brian, great article. I think a lot of us Canucks wonder about this. Any chance I could have your permission to reprint the article in our gun club newsletter? Thanks.

    • Brian

      As long as it’s properly attributed to myself and the No-Nonsense Canadian Firearms Blog, by all means! I’ll send you an email just in case you don’t automatically get a notification that I replied to you here.

  • bruno

    can i come back to canada with a 80% lower receiver since its not regulated in canada?

    • Brian

      It doesn’t matter if it’s a completed firearm or a piece of a firearm, it’s still ITAR-controlled. If it goes on a firearm, is part of a firearm, or is to be used in conjunction with a firearm then it is most likely controlled. I’m also not sure what you mean by “not regulated in Canada”. Technically a lower receiver (completed or stripped) is the only part of an AR15 that is regulated under the Firearms Act.

  • Phil

    This service is also offered by Questar and Prophet River gunshops.

  • Wendell
  • Hendrik Kiliaan

    Now I want to sell a Browning super posed in 20 gauge through a seller in the USA.
    What is involved for me sending it across to the USA

  • Roger

    Useful information… of course, we now have nearly a 40% X/C premium on top of any US price, plus the fees mentioned!


    I have brought back shotgun powder from skeet shoots in the US.
    Is this against US law, if so I could have been in trouble if I was stopped before the border.

    • Brian

      As far as I understanding ITAR, yes, that would technically have been illegal. If the American border agent knew about it had suspected it was purchased in the US you could have landed in hot water. It would definitely have been confiscated. One it passes on to Canadian soil where the Canadian agents are even if they inspect you belongings they woukdbhave allowed it in because as far as they’re concerned the US side cleared you and their laws no longer applied. It would have already been exported.

  • Tim

    Hey Brian I have used IRG to import a couple of rifles in the past just because I couldn’t get them here at the time it was an easy process but the $ exchange takes the fun out of it now

    • Brian

      No kidding! We’re starting to see the price increases in stores on our side of the border now that old stock brought in while our dollar was still relatively strong is starting to dry up.

  • Lllyd Litwin

    I have used the services of a gun shop in Glasgow Montana twice for a couple of shotguns. most sporting guns dont have a cost for the permit to export. The gunshop that does it needs a licence to offer the service. It was a 100 dollar charge for me a few years ago. He delivers to the border when he is going that way to a gun show or something or you pay his time on a specific day. So its not bad for Sask and Alberta guys.
    The IIC you need from Canada is also free.
    You buy the gun and have it sent to Glasgow to the gunshop. ( call and arrange that first) You then send make model serial number to ottawa and get the canadian import permit. When you get that – send it to Glasgow and a month later they call you and tell you its all ready to go.
    Fairly painless once you know

  • Allen Scantland

    Would the same be true for air rifles shooting above 495fps?

    • Brian

      Good question. From my cursory Google search I don’t see anything that suggests air rifles are ITAR controlled regardless of their muzzle velocity (the only thing I’ve seen thus far is the Canadian requirement for a PAL for air rifles over 500fps), but I would definitely ask a distributor or approved exporter before trying it.