Over the years that we have been instructing the CFSC and CRFSC courses, we have interacted with many hundreds of students from every walk of Canadian life. We have worked with them – and they have worked with us – to figure out the best practices for making your application to the CFO and to obtain the shortest possible processing time for any given set of circumstances.
This information is hard-earned and we share it privately with students of On Point Training that have successfully passed the courses as a token of our gratitude that you chose us as your service provider for your training.
Tips & tricks for reducing PAL approval times
CFC is the Federal Canadian Firearms Centre
CFO is the Provincial Canadian Firearms Officer
- There is a minimum 28-day waiting period
- statutory and starts upon receipt of the application
- RCMP require a minimum 45-days to process the application
- RCMP conduct background checks & confirm you have passed the CFSC/CRFSC with the required pass mark
- For those applying for PAL/RPAL it is considerably cheaper to apply for both licenses at the same time.
- Even though you have passed the course you are not permitted to purchase firearms or ammunition until you receive your license in the mail.
Stage 1 – Complete Paperwork
If using a landline CFC will use this to contact you. If you are unreachable they will leave a message but do not usually disclose who is calling. Your case will remain unprocessed until you return their call. Use a number where they can reach you at first attempt.
CHOOSE YOUR REFERENCES WISELY!
- The application form for the PAL/RPAL licence requires submission of personal references that will be contacted by CFC.
- References should not have any criminal record. This will not be discovered until later, at which point CFC will ask you to re-submit new references and the process will start over.
- References WILL be contacted by CFC. Until these interviews have been completed your case will not progress. It is therefore prudent to submit proactive references who are easily reachable and, if possible, are willing to phone CFC without waiting to be contacted.
- Whenever possible, use cell phone numbers for references
- The CFO will usually attempt to contact your references once and if they are unsuccessful, will leave a message simply asking the reference to contact a phone number. No further processing will take place on your application until these interviews are complete so for timely processing you will require active references that are willing to make first contact with CFO in order to initiate the interview. This strategy can reduce the processing time by months.
- CFC will also contact your spouse/common-law partner or any other person you live with or have lived with in a similar relationship within the last 2 years. If this person is likely to submit an unfavorable interview with RCMP/CFO (bad divorce etc) it is necessary to manage that situation prior to applying. If you have lived with a conjugal partner for a year or more they should also sign the application as a spouse. In this case CFC is unlikely to contact for interview.
- If you are applying for a restricted licence endorsement (RPAL), it is essential that you inform your references why you are doing so. The only acceptable responses are ‘target shooting’ or ‘collection’ as they will be asked this question during the interview. There have been instances where the reference has been asked to speculate why the applicant is applying for a restricted licence and whether it is for self-defence. Your references must answer with either target shooting or collection as these are the only legal reasons for obtaining a RPAL in Canada.
- The formal difference between ‘target shooting’ and ‘collection’ is not insignificant. A firearms owner that is listed as a ‘Collector’ will not be granted an Authorisation To Transport for the purposes of attending a range facility. In our view, unless you have no intention of ever shooting your restricted firearms, it is prudent to apply for ‘target shooting’ status.
- Once an RPAL endorsement is granted for ‘target shooting’ purposes, you will be required to show evidence of membership on an approved range before any transfer of a restricted firearm is approved by CFO.
Stage 2 – Managing the Process
- Submit your application using registered mail.
- A mail method requiring a delivery receipt
- Check delivery status. Once you have delivery confirmation you can check your application online.
- Your application will not normally appear for approximately 2 weeks on the RCMPs online system.
- Wait 2 days following successful delivery notification and call the CFO on 1-800-731-4000; the purpose of this call is to ask them to check your application to confirm that there is no missing information on the form.
- Having them check the form requires them to enter it into the system. They may or may not do this for you on this call. If they do not, wait one week and call back on a different day at a different time and repeat until they confirm that there is no missing information.
- If this strategy is unsuccessful you will need to wait until the application is visible online.
- Once the application is viewable online it will show as ‘processing’ which means it is waiting for the CFC to review the application looking for any missing information.
- We try and pre-empt this with the above phone call.
- If you have been unsuccessful, now is the time to try again. At this stage you may be offered your applicant interview; if so, conduct the interview and when complete ask them for your file number.
- Once that is completed it will show as ‘in progress’ which means it is waiting for the reference interviews to be scheduled. Have your references proactively call CFC on 1-800-731-4000, give the file number to complete their reference interviews. Have your references call you to advise when this is complete.
- At this point, processing switches from Federal CFC to your Provincial CFO who is responsible for actual approval. It is possible to immediately call your Provincial CFO although it is prudent to wait 48 hours to ensure the case transfer has taken place. BC CFO can be contacted on 1-800-731-4000 ext 9530.
- Your call to the Provincial CFO is to ensure they have no missing information and in many cases it will be approved during this call.
- At this point you are watching online for the application status to change to ‘Current Status: Your application has been processed and your licence has been issued. If you have not received your licence within 2 weeks please contact the Canada Firearms Centre, Toll Free number. (1-800 731-4000)’.
- Congratulations! Printing and mailing is normally done on a Friday and you can expect your licence to appear a short period after then.
- BE POLITE AND HELPFUL EVEN IF YOU DO NOT GET RESULTS FROM YOUR PHONE CALL
- It is not unusual to have processing take 6 months or more but with active management of the process and good references this can be reduced substantially. We understand the frustration within this waiting period and the overwhelming desire to check the mailbox each day however, patience will definitely be required. The most that you are able to do is to speak with CFC to ensure they have received all paperwork after you have received confirmation of delivery of your application and ensure that they have everything they need to process it. You can then ask your references to proactively call CFO to conduct the interviews although this is not always successful. You should ask your references to inform you once the interview has taken place.
It is helpful to us if you record the date you sent in your application and the date you receive your license and then send us a text or email with the information. This allows us to keep a fairly accurate tally of processing times during the year.