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A meeting today with Canadian Customs

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Old October 1st, 2007, 22:45   #1
WarChild7
 
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A meeting today with Canadian Customs

We get a large volume of Canadian customers cross the border to shop at my store. I certainly appreciate the business, and we do our best to treat our Canadian friends well.

I've spent many hours reading old threads on this forum regarding the legality of bringing Airsoft guns back into Canada. I've also read all applicable sections of the Canadian Criminal Code and the Firearms Act.

Today, I decided to travel across the border and speak with a Customs agent first hand. I brought with me copies of the following documents:

1) Replica Firearms: Special Bulletin for Businesses #19, from the RCMP
2) Imitation Firearms Regulation Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 37, from the Canadian Legal Information Institute
3) Air Guns: Fact Sheet, from the RCMP
4) How the Firearms Act applies to you: Special Bulletin, from the RCMP
5) Criminal Code of Canada: Part III, Firearms and Other Weapons

I met with Customs Officer #13951 at the Rainbow Bridge Customs Office in Niagara Falls. We spoke for about 45 minutes.

I explained that I was a business owner in a suburb of Buffalo, NY, and that my retail store primarily sells airsoft and paintball guns and equipment. I said many of my customers visit from Canada, but that there is some confusion regarding the legality of importing airsoft guns into Canada.

I further explained that after examination of Canadian laws, that airsoft guns shared characteristics of both "imitation firearms" and "replica firearms". Replica firearms are prohibited items while imitation firearms have less restrictions.

I showed him the passage from the Replica Firearms Bulletin #19 that states "Some devices known as airsoft guns may qualify as replica firearms", and also "...various makes and models may have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis." I also showed him the Air Guns Fact Sheet that states under category "3. Air guns that are replica firearms" that "in particular, some air guns that are commonly called air soft guns may fall into this category." (Emphasis mine.)

I asked him what characteristics exactly would they be looking for to distinguish whether a particular airsoft gun would be deemed to be prohibited or not.

He opened a folder in Microsoft Outlook on his PC called "Firearms Info" and brought up on the screen three additional bulletins which I did not have copies of. He turned the screen so we could both see and we read together many passages from all three documents. One document in particular was very interesting and infomative as it was several pages and showed pictures of many different airsoft guns along with photos of real firearms and made distinctions as to why certain airsoft guns would be permitted and why certain ones would not.

He said they would permit airsoft guns into Canada if the following conditions were met:

1) must shoot under 500 FPS.
2) must have a plastic body
3) must not have any trademarks that match a manufacturer of real firearms
4) must be able to demonstrate that the magazine could not be capable of being used to load real ammunition
5) must have a orange muzzle tip
6) must be declared at the border and a 15% duty paid
7) must be transported in the trunk of the vehicle

He also indicated, indirectly, that the attitude, appearance and "air of responsibility" of the person crossing the border would play a factor.

Ultimately, however, they could still reject an airsoft gun meeting the above criteria. Sole discretion lies with the Customs Officer to make the call.

I asked what would happen if a particular airsoft gun which was declared was later found to be prohibited upon inspection. He said they would not seize the item, but rather would give the person the opportunity to return to the US, and return the item to my store for a refund. (Provided it was within a reasonable period after leaving the store that the item was returned, and it was obvious that the gun was still new and unused, of course we would issue a refund.)

So, despite the fact that most airsoft guns are classified as replica firearms and are prohibited, it appears that a small, but definable, category may sometimes be acceptable to bring into Canada.

Recently, a group of four Canadian patrons stopped by Canada Customs on their way back home after visiting my store. They also had a conversation with a Customs official who told them the same thing: plastic body, <500 FPS, no trades and orange tip would be okay.

So, now we have two meetings with Customs officials along the Buffalo-Niagara/Ontario border, within the past few weeks, with positive discussions regarding certain guns.

Thus, it may now be reasonably cool to purchase some brands of guns such as most JG's and Echo 1's (excluding the few newer models with metal bodies), and perhaps some G&G's that have the nylon fiber bodies.

While the restrictions limit the importation to a small handful of perhaps 2 or 3 dozen models of decent guns, anything is better than nothing.

I'll keep looking for good guns that meet these criteria and keep them in stock for my friends up North. I think this is good news for everyone. Let's be sure that everyone is polite, responsible and considerate with the Customs agents when returning home.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 22:52   #2
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This is excellent news indeed, thank you for sharing the info. Now, all that one outta do is get it in writing just in case. Perhaps I may be stopping by your store sometime in the future.

I take it that this is only for crossing the border, not for shipping over?

Thanks,
Cheers,
Alex
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Old October 1st, 2007, 22:53   #3
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Interesting, thanks for the info.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 22:54   #4
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Sounds like you had a good meeting however you have not uncovered anything new...especially this part:

Quote:
Ultimately, however, they could still reject an airsoft gun meeting the above criteria. Sole discretion lies with the Customs Officer to make the call.
but keep up the work if you want to

cheers!
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:00   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarChild7 View Post
2) must have a plastic body ???
5) must have a orange muzzle tip ???
I almost tried to make sense of this, but then I remembered not to bother. Obviously some kind of an extension of our firearms laws, so it shouldn't make sense.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:04   #6
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so whats allowable?

good job

can you post a list of what guns would meet the criteria?

its eems any TM would pass as they are 280 fps stock but then a m16 is a replica...no?
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:15   #7
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Well Done

Well Done. Very interesting. Have to print this one out and talk to some friends about a trip to Buffalo.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:21   #8
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Originally Posted by ancorp View Post
I take it that this is only for crossing the border, not for shipping over?
I didn't ask about shipping, only bringing things back in person, in a vehicle. It seems, based on everything I've read here, that the Post is fraught with danger. Bringing them back in person does allow for the possibility of a face-to-face discussion, and, provided you're not a douche-bag, hopefully a good chance of success.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SINN View Post
Sounds like you had a good meeting however you have not uncovered anything new...especially this part:

but keep up the work if you want to

cheers!
I agree that not much new was discovered here, compared to what I've read of others' efforts in the past. However, I don't mind trying to fight the good fight for both sides and do my part too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by combat View Post
good job

can you post a list of what guns would meet the criteria?

its seems any TM would pass as they are 280 fps stock but then a m16 is a replica...no?
Well, one of the documents I brought specifically calls out TM's as being replicas, so TM's would not pass. Why exactly they made that determination, who knows? We know that TM's have about the lowest FPS of any brand-name guns, and all but a few models have plastic bodies, so maybe it was the trademarks, as most TM's do have full trades.

I'll put together a list within the next few days of what guns I think may pass inspection, based on what I was told today. However, just remember that just because I think it'll go, doesn't mean it will for sure. It's still totally up to the fellas at the border. I do think the best news was that they won't seize them outright, but would allow you to turn around and come back.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:26   #9
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Thanks very much for posting your findings WarChild7! Good stuff!
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:27   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarChild7 View Post
I do think the best news was that they won't seize them outright, but would allow you to turn around and come back.
Well if you choose not to enter the country, they can't take anything can they? I would think it's kind of like flying. If you don't want to be searched, you can choose not to get on the plane. Or maybe I'm wrong?
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:29   #11
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Good news for JingGong and other project guns, which are missing the trademarks. Seems that if tried and true, I may go down for some project weaponry sometime.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:34   #12
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what if you take guns that fit the criteria but dont have an orange tip and place one on at a little extra cost?
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:37   #13
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:39   #14
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wow, very wow ...
I think we are starting to get a little upper hand on the customs, hopefully one day we can share peace and serenity between the customs officers and greet each others in arms and praise one another...

...and then 5 mins later yeehaa it up with our guns we got across the boarder.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 23:44   #15
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Did you get any of this info from Customs in writing?

I have made several attempts to get something like this in writing, but CBSA has not obliged.

Hell, there are enough cases where people transport real firearms where there are specifically worded guidelines, and have them seized by police who don't have a clue what the laws are.



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