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Transferring Firearms from Estates

Canada has extensive regulations regarding the use and ownership of firearms. In situations where an owner of firearms passes away this can create tricky issues for the estate to navigate.

Role of the Estate’s Personal Representative

When an executor or administrator deals with an estate that has a firearm, they have the same rights that the deceased had, while the estate is being settled. The executor does not need a licence to have a firearm during the time that the firearm is left in an estate while that estate is being settled.[1]

If the executor has a license, they can take possession of the firearm once the estate has been settled. If the executor is prohibited from possessing a firearm, does not have a licence to possess a firearm, or does not wish to possess the firearm, they can transfer the firearm to anyone who can lawfully take ownership.

While acting as the executor, one can access information about the firearm by providing the following documents to the Canadian Firearms Program:

  • a completed form RCMP 6015 Declaration of Authority to Act on Behalf of an Estate;
  • confirmation that the registered owner is deceased by providing a death certificate, letters of probate, or a document on letterhead from a police department or coroner.[2]

The executor also has the responsibility of determining if the firearm was licenced and if a registration certificate exists. If these documents cannot be located, the executor can contact the Canadian Firearms Program and they can assist in validating the firearm.

While the individual acts as the executor, it is their responsibility to ensure that the firearm is safely stored.

Inheriting a Firearm

Ownership of the firearm can be transferred to a beneficiary of the estate, provided that the beneficiary is eligible to possess a firearm under Canada’s firearms laws. To inherit a firearm from an estate, the individual must:

  • be 18 years of age or older
  • hold a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) with the correct privileges (non-restricted, restricted, prohibited)[1]

Disposing of Firearm

If the heir does not want to inherit the firearm or if there is no heir to inherit the firearm, the executor may:

  • use the phone transfer process to sell or give the firearm to any person, museum, or business with a licence to have that particular type of firearm
  • export it to a country that allows it (call Global Affairs Canada for information)
  • call the Canadian Firearms Program to get an approved gun smith to deactivate the firearm or
  • call to make an appointment to bring the firearm in to a police officer or firearms officer for disposal.[2]

Transferring Ownership of a Firearm

The chief firearms officer must approve all transfers of restricted firearms before it can take place.

A transferee must inform the chief firearms officer of and meet the following conditions:

  • their reason for needing the restricted firearm or handgun to either protect the life of the individual and others or for the use in connection with their lawful profession
  • their reason for wishing to acquire the restricted firearm or handgun for use in target practice or a target shooting competition under the specified authorization of a shooting club or shooting range
  • their reason to acquire the restricted firearm or handgun as part of a gun collection in which case the following criteria must be met:
    • information regarding the transferee’s knowledge of the historical, technological or scientific characteristics that relate to or distinguish the restricted firearms or handguns that they posses
    • the transferee’s signed consent to the periodic inspection, conducted in a reasonable manner, of the premises in which the firearms or handguns are to be kept and
    • details of the transferee’s understanding of the requirements set out in the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations respecting the secure storage of restricted firearms or handguns.[3]

It is the responsibility of the transferor to take reasonable steps to confirm the identity of the transferee by comparing their license with a piece of government issued photo ID.

The chief firearms officer will only approve the transfer if it is determined to be in the interest of the safety of the transferee or any other person.

To transfer to a police officer or firearms officer, the following information must be provided:

  • the transferor must provide their name and license number
  • the date of the transfer
  • the number of the registration certificate for the firearm and its firearms identification number and
  • the name and public agency identification number of the transferee.[4]

The transferor must obtain a receipt from the police or firearms officer that identifies the date of the transfer and describes the firearm transferred.

It is of utmost importance for those in possession of firearms to ensure that the firearms are properly and safely stored whether they are transferring or retaining possession, as failure to do so can result in regulatory or even criminal charges.


This is an area where estate representatives must tread carefully, and understand the rights and duties at play.

For more detailed information please visit the RCMP website and the Firearms Act or call our office and we can assist you.

[1]  https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/firearms/executors-and-heirs

[2] https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/firearms/executors-and-heirs

[3] https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/sor-98-202/FullText.html

[4] https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/sor-98-202/FullText.html

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Notice: The articles on our website are provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or opinion. They reflect the current state of the law as at the date of posting on the website, and are subject to change without notice. If you require legal advice or opinion, we would be pleased to provide you with our assistance on any of the issues raised in these articles.