--- A personal experience, 1999 - Note: Laws, regulations and costs may have changed since ---
1. Find a seller and agree on the price and decide, who pays shipping and other fees. If you pay everything, your final cost will be 50%-100% higher than the selling price, depending mostly on quantity. (If you just import one gun, your final cost will be around twice the selling price) Firearms must be in Canada 5 years before they can be imported. (BATF rule)
2. Find the right importer (it took us 6 months to find one), we can recommend:
Leroys Big Valley Gun Works
200 1st Avenue North
Glasgow, Montana USA 59230
Contact Denise Tiffany
3. Send the following info with the copy your FFL/C&R, and the importer's fee to the importer: Make, model, caliber, length of barrel, serial number, price in US$
4. Importer will complete a BATF Form 6A, and send it to BATF for approval.
5. Wait 2-3 months (normally)
6. Importer will call you and the seller when approval is received. Pay seller (if you did not pay him yet - it's a good idea to withold the payment or just pay a deposit first, until BATF approval - just in case you are refused). I purchased a Certified Check at a bank during my business trip in Canada. You will have to pay an additional $25 to $75 (or so) if you buy a Cert. check or Money order in the U.S. in Canadian funds. I believe the importer has to send some paperwork to the seller to include in the box with the firearms - but I am not sure.
7. Wait again. Shipping firearms inside Canada is more restricted and expensive. The seller can shop around for the best price. My seller found a trucking company to ship to the border. It was about 25% cheaper than UPS.
8. The customs people will inspect and play with the firearms. Minor damages can be expected. I got one bolt jammed, loose pieces (bolts, handguards, and a dustcover were mixed and packed with the wrong rifles, but nothing significant. ;-)
9. The importer will pickup the firearms from customs.
10. The importer (Leroy's) stamps a very tiny import mark on the receiver in the slot under the bolt in the tang. The lettering height is less than 1/32 of an inch - almost totally invisible. I wish other importers would do it the same way.
11. Pay the importer the customs fees and the shipping to you. Wait some more.
12. The importer will ship to you (or to your FFL)
The cost of my purchase and importation:
(These costs were for 8 rifles, importing a smaller number of rifles will result in a higher per rifle costs. Customs fees vary, based on the value of the firearm, and the country of origin.)
I purchased the following 8 'Curio and Relic' rifles:
Swedish Ljungman AG42B
Canadian Ross M1910 Mk3
Japanese Mukden Arisaka M38
Thailand Arisaka M38
Siamese Mauser M1902
Swedish Oberndorf Mauser M96/38
Chinese Mauser M98k
French Berthier 1907/15 Turk Orman conv.
for a Total of US$532 ($800 canadian)
Cost of shipping from British Columbia to the border near Glasgow, Montana by a Canadian trucking company (found by the seller) was about US$120
Customs fees and transportation from the border to the importer in Glasgow was about US$90
Importer's fee to Leroys Big Valley Gun Works $80 ($10 per rifle, $50 minimum)
Shipping from Montana to Ohio was about $50 using RPS
The total cost of the 8 rifles was about US$870.
I hope, this helps. It is not as difficult as it looks. Good luck.
The following comments were submitted by Ken Buch:
- No 5 yr letter required except for surplus military.
- Handguns have some additional requirements.
- There is an Excise Fee due to ATF, 11% on rifles/shotguns and 10% on handguns based on your final cost including shipping.
- The wait now with ATF is closer to 6 months but I have had it go over 1 year.
- If US Customs requires a "formal" entry add about $200 to the cost.
- My experience has been there are a million ways for this to cost more than you expect, if you are importing "cheap" guns (costing less than a couple hundred a piece) I always try and go for a 20-30 gun min. shipment. That way if/when something gets more expensive than planned you have more to prorate the cost over.
- Non-military C&R guns can be imported directly by the C&R holder.
- The Form 6 is available on-line at the ATF website.
- I use a customs broker and do formal entries, could I save some on small shipments trying to do a informal entry? Maybe but you might have 2-3 trips to the airport and waste hours of your time trying to do a informal entry on your own. Every port of entry does and treats things a little differently.
- Antiques - plan on being able to "prove" to Customs they are pre 1899 or be prepared to loose them.