Canada resident traveling to USA

First off, hello to all of the IAA community.

I am a realativly new cartridge collector, and this is my first posted topic on the IAA Forum. So without further ado, here is my question:

Being a cartridge collector in Canada, Ontario specifically, cartridge shows just don’t seem to exist like they do in the good old USA. The only place to really find cartridges are at gun shows, or if you get lucky at an estate sale.

If a licenced, Canadian resident, P.A.L. holder wanted to go to the upcoming cartridge show in Pennsylvania, and like any collector, make some purchases to add to my collection, would I be hassled at the boarder on my way back to Canada after declaring my goods?

The cartridges I would be focused on would be antique rimfire and pinfire. No centerfire. They would also be singles… No box fulls.

Thank you,

I have a good friend who is from Montreal (but lives in NY with a green card). He goes to Quebec a lot to visit his parents and hunt. He brings his hunting guns with him. Every time he asks the same question at the border, he gets a different answer and a different set of papers to file. So my take on this, just put your ammo where it is not very obvious and forget the regulations, especially since you already are 100% legal in Ontario. I myself was given several WWII .303 British rounds in Montreal, and look, I am here alive.

If you are a non-US citizen (Non Immigrant Alien or NIA) you need a From 6 NIA from the ATF to allow you to come into the US. This requires a hunting license or an invitation from a trade show or exposition. The IAA can provide a valid invite as they do for SLICS. To buy ammo in the US you need a hunting license.

Best approach is to go on the ATF website and/or contact the organizers of the show.

Good Luck,

PS: There is also some info on the IAA web site, which may be dated and I haven’t kept up with all the changes. Still it gives you some references.

Hi Dave,

There are a lot of good people with the border patrol, however the consistency with which regulations are enforced is potentially all over the place at times. Add to this the chance of having your vehicle randomly picked apart, or the potential of there being a dog sniffing for explosives who might pick up on propellent (though drug dogs are more common), and you might have an issue, albeit a small chance. Your best bet for total safety is doing the paper work that Lew mentions above. You wouldn’t want to end up like these American Boy Scouts who were interrogated, held, searched, and harshly handled by U.S. border patrol at Alaska:

Dave, I believe your question was whether you’d be hassled on your RETURN to Canada.

As a Canadian resident (P.A.L. holder) who travels from Ontario to the US cartridge shows I have never had any problem returning to Canada with cartridges when I have declared them as I enter Canada on my return. We are talking cartridges which are for your personal use - not for resale - and certainly not in amounts that would make you appear to be a dealer. If you get an inexperienced person on the booth, you may get sent in for secondary inspection but with the P.A.L. you are unlikely to have any problems. Obviously the amount you spent on the cartridges is subject to the duty-free allowance dependant on the length of time you have been away.

If you have any questions send me an email - cpunnett [at] or I’ll see you at the Orangeville guns show on Sunday!

Chris P.

Thank you to everyone for your quick responses!

And yes, I would rather be safe than sorry. I’m sure glad I never had anything like that happen to me as a Boy Scout… It might have been a little traumatizing for those youngsters.

And that is good to know that with the P.A.L. and a nice boarder inspection officer everything should be hunky dorie.

I just wasn’t sure if it was possible or not. I know now that it definitely is.

Thank you all once again! It’s greatly appreciated!


As a Canadian, Canada does not care what you bring back as long as you have a PAL or PAL. I have had cartridges taken MANY times coming back to the Canada when the US customs decides to do checks on people going back…been spot checks that way ever since 911…why makes no sense but it has happened. It turns out as a non resident of the USA unless you have form 6 you re restricted from having ammo as a Canadian on US soil…is what I have been told. I even petitioned the last one and lost. All I can say is beware…the rules in the USA are stricter than Canada…

I see. Just as Lew had mentioned. The Form 6 NIA does sound like a good idea after all. I figured there would be something to fill out as Big Brother is always watching no matter what country your in.

Your explanation sounds totally reasonable as well cartridgecorner. Because I can see some customs officers wanting to confiscate anything they possibly can for any reason.

There could be a chance your Form 6 can be rejected also I suppose?

Yes. As a Canadian in The USA you are a foreign National and they can reject what ever they want. I even had a form 6 for some antique rounds (and it was a lot of work to do and get)…they still took them. I got the answer from the agent… that these are no covered…yeah OK…BS. Most customs agents are OK on both sides, but they each interpret the laws in their own way and it is a huge lost of you spend any kind of cash on cartridges to be taken and worse…destroyed… I have had many difficulties with US customs doing their spot “reverse” checks, but never an issue with Canadian customs…few even ask to see your POL or PAL if mixed rounds has been my experience. Remember as well that many US customs agents have also done time on the Mexican border which is a tough job…so may be a little harsher than others, as they deal with so much there.

That is completely correct cartridgecorner. People do interpret laws in their own way, even tho it’s the same law, it’s tweaked from person to person. I would have been fairly upset if I was in your shoes at that time of confiscation. And you even had the proper paperwork…

For all you know, the customs agent who delt with you has his own cartridge collection and he liked what he saw…

And yes, the Mexican border would be a tough job. I’m sure they get lots of practice with confiscation over there!

So all in all, Form 6 isn’t really your “safe” ride through… But having some good luck is!