Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations: SOR/2023-255

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 157, Number 26

SOR/2023-255 November 30, 2023


P.C. 2023-1171 November 30, 2023

Whereas the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is of the opinion that the change made to the Firearms Marking Regulations footnote a by the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations is so immaterial or insubstantial that section 118 of the Firearms Act footnote b should not be applicable in the circumstances;

And whereas the Minister will, in accordance with subsection 119(4) of that Act, have a statement of the reasons why the Minister formed that opinion laid before each House of Parliament;

Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations under section 117footnote c of the Firearms Act footnote b.

Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations


1 Section 6 of the Firearms Marking Regulations footnote a is replaced by the following:

6 These Regulations come into force on December 1, 2025.

Coming into Force

2 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.


(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)


The Firearms Marking Regulations (the Regulations) are currently set to come into force on December 1, 2023. However, additional time is required to ensure Canadian manufacturers and importers are prepared to comply with the regulatory requirements. The amendment defers the coming-into-force date of the Regulations until December 1, 2025, to allow for engagement as well as adequate preparation by industry.


Currently, there is no legislative or regulatory requirement to mark firearms in Canada, although most manufacturers imprint a serial number and other information identifying the make, model, manufacturer, and country of manufacture as a common business practice. The marking of firearms is a critical element in the process of tracing crime guns and combatting illicit activity, including the trafficking of firearms. Firearms tracing is the practice of determining the history of a recovered or seized firearm from the point of manufacture or importation, through the supply chain, until they become illicit. Tracing is a best practice undertaken at the outset of an investigation and can assist in focusing investigations and offering early investigative leads. It can also help return a stolen firearm to its lawful owner and contribute to cost efficiencies by linking crime guns to businesses in Canada rather than overseas.

Without sufficient information on the origin of firearms, reducing firearms smuggling and diversion to the illicit market remains challenging. The marking of firearms would support law enforcement investigations in tracing firearms to the last legal owner. In addition, firearms marking and tracing is an essential tool for international firearms investigations involving Interpol and the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among others.

In addition to investigative benefits, the marking of specific information on firearms is one of several requirements of the United Nations Protocol Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (the UN Firearms Protocol) and the Organization of American States Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (OAS CIFTA). These international treaties seek to counter the illegal production and movement of firearms by enabling crime guns to be traced in order to combat terrorism, organized crime and other criminal activities. Canada signed the OAS CIFTA in 1997 and the UN Firearms Protocol in 2002 but has not yet ratified either of these treaties. In addition, the obligation to implement firearm markings were reflected in the 2005 UN International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons [also known as the International Tracing Instrument (ITI)], which was adopted to enable States to quickly and effectively identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. The ITI is not a legally binding instrument but remains an important international political commitment as part of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

Markings regulations overview

In 2004, the Governor in Council made the Regulations in response to the marking requirements outlined in the UN Firearms Protocol and OAS CIFTA. The Regulations stipulate that (a) the markings need to be permanently stamped or engraved on the frame or receiver of all firearms manufactured in, or imported into, Canada; (b) domestically manufactured firearms must bear the name of the manufacturer, the serial number and “Canada” or “CA,” while imported firearms must be marked with “Canada” or “CA” and the last two digits of the year of import, e.g. “20” for 2020; and (c) the markings must be of specific dimensions to prevent obliteration of the data and allow for tracing. While introduced in 2004, the coming-into-force date has previously been deferred and, therefore, the Regulations have yet to take effect.

The Regulations apply to firearms manufactured domestically, as well as imported firearms. Firearms importers would have up to 60 days after import or before transfer of the firearm, whichever is first, to apply import markings. The Regulations do not apply retroactively, and therefore are only required for firearms manufactured within Canada, or imported into Canada, on or after the coming-into-force date, December 1, 2025.

The Regulations contain exemptions for certain firearms that have been identified as exempt from the marking requirements. These include firearms temporarily imported into Canada by a non-resident (as defined under section 35 of the Firearms Act), a specially imported firearm (i.e. a firearm imported on a temporary basis by a business that holds a firearms licence), a protected firearm (i.e. a firearm recovered into custody of law enforcement), and firearms initially exported from Canada by an individual, business, or public service agency as long as the same ownership was maintained while the firearm was outside of Canada.

Exemptions regarding the visibility of a firearm’s markings may be granted, upon application to the Registrar, for the following: firearms that do not provide a visible space suitable to apply markings; rare firearms; firearms with an unusually high value that would be significantly reduced if a marking were visible without disassembly; firearms imported for use in a motion picture, television, video, or theatrical production or publishing activities; and firearms that are marked in a place that is visible only by disassembling the firearm, consistent with current practices of the manufacturer of the model of firearm.

Markings regulations deferral

In response to requests by firearms businesses for additional preparatory time, the coming into force of the Regulations, initially set for April 1, 2006, was changed to December 1, 2007, and subsequently deferred another nine times, as other elements of the legal regime governing firearms continued to evolve in ways that impacted the viability of the Regulations. The most recent deferral in 2020 changed the coming-into-force date of the Regulations from December 1, 2020, to December 1, 2023.

The efficiencies of tracing are realized when a record of the most recent legal owner can be linked to a specific combination of information (serial number, name of manufacturer, etc.) marked on the firearm. As the Regulations were established on the premise of a universal record keeping system, the ending of the long-gun registry in 2012 significantly reduced the effectiveness of the markings regulations. While records are still maintained by the Firearms Registrar and Chief Firearms Officers for restricted and prohibited firearms, the ending of the long-gun registry resulted in the destruction of approximately 90% of the records for non-restricted firearms in Canada.

On June 18, 2019, Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to Firearms, received royal assent. As part of the implementation of Bill C-71, regulations requiring firearms businesses to maintain sales records of non-restricted firearms for 20 years came into force on May 18, 2022. Law enforcement may access information held by firearms businesses either with the consent of the business or by obtaining a judicial warrant.

Additional time is now required to ensure industry is prepared to implement the regulatory requirements. The deferral in 2020 stated that time was required to develop amendments to the Regulations in order to ensure they add value to law enforcement efforts in the absence of a registry for non-restricted firearms. With the implementation of business record-keeping requirements in May 2022 for non-restricted firearms, Canada is now in a position to bring the Regulations into force as a foundation for a comprehensive marking regime. A deferral of two years will provide time to engage with industry and impacted stakeholders on the requirements and ensure domestic firearms manufacturers and importers are prepared to comply. To do so, impacted stakeholders will need to source the necessary equipment or enter into third-party contracts, in advance of the coming-into-force date.


The objective of this amendment is to defer the coming-into-force date of the Regulations for Public Safety Canada to undertake an engagement campaign to impacted businesses and stakeholders and provide preparatory time for Canadian firearms manufacturers and importers to meet the marking requirements. Engagement will allow Public Safety Canada to determine the state of readiness, gather information and data on market trends, and provide technical briefings to industry on the regulatory requirements.


This amendment defers the coming-into-force date of the Regulations for two years, from December 1, 2023, to December 1, 2025.

Regulatory development


Firearms advocates have expressed, and continue to express, an interest in working with Government to develop the markings regime and avoid the business uncertainty resulting from deferrals. Likewise, industry stakeholders identified that approximately 6 to 12 months could be sufficient to ensure importers are prepared to comply with the Regulations, but have also expressed concerns regarding particular requirements. Law enforcement partners and stakeholders generally support the Regulations coming into force, given the value of markings for firearms tracing and criminal investigations and, in turn, the associated benefits to public safety and national security. Firearms control advocates have also expressed support for the Regulations, particularly in regard to increasing compliance with international obligations.

The proposed deferral of two years is based in part on industry recommendations and the department’s assessment regarding the time required to engage on the requirements and for industry to prepare. As there is no additional regulatory burden imposed on stakeholders by this deferral, a prepublication comment period in the Canada Gazette, Part I, was not undertaken for this amendment.

Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation

The deferral of the coming-into-force date of the Regulations is not expected to impact Indigenous peoples, their rights protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, modern treaties or international human rights obligations.

Instrument choice

A regulatory amendment is necessary to defer the coming-into-force date of the Regulations to December 1, 2025. This deferral provides sufficient time for Public Safety Canada to engage with industry and impacted stakeholders and for manufacturers and importers to prepare.

Considerations of whether to bring the Regulations into force as currently scheduled were undertaken but it was determined that an additional deferral is required to ensure adequate time for engagement and industry preparation and compliance.

Regulatory analysis

Benefits and costs


This amendment, with its further deferral of the coming-into-force date, will result in small societal costs and reputational risks. As impacted stakeholders are not required to apply import markings until December 1, 2025, any new firearms introduced to the Canadian market will not meet the regulatory requirements. This delays the benefit of firearms markings to assist tracing efforts by law enforcement. In addition, continuous deferrals of the Regulations, despite their introduction in 2004, carry certain reputational risks from an international perspective. As a signatory to the UN Firearms Protocol and the OAS CIFTA, and an adopter of the ITI, Canada is expected to take steps towards compliance with the requirements outlined in these instruments.


A deferral of the coming-into-force date by two years benefits industry by providing additional time to engage on the requirements, as well as to prepare business processes, manage existing supply, and ensure regulatory compliance.

Small business lens

Analysis under the small business lens concluded that the amendment will impact small businesses. In the context of additional regulatory requirements placed on small businesses for record keeping on non-restricted firearms in 2022, an additional two years will allow impacted small businesses to manage their supply and more efficiently utilize limited resources to comply with the amendment.

One-for-one rule

The one-for-one rule does not apply to this amendment, as there is no incremental change in administrative burden on business and no regulatory titles are repealed or introduced.

Regulatory cooperation and alignment

In order to comply with the marking requirements set out in the UN Firearms Protocol and the OAS CIFTA, Canada is required to develop a markings regime to effectively trace the origin of firearms imported to and manufactured in Canada. Canada also adopted the International Tracing Instrument in 2005, which is an important international commitment as part of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. The coming into force of the Regulations would bring Canada into compliance with the marking requirements of the Instrument. A comprehensive markings regime would aim to support domestic law enforcement in tracing crime guns to their point of entry into the illicit market and would allow Canada to ratify the international treaties. Combined with the business record-keeping requirements achieved via recent regulatory changes made under Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to Firearms, the Regulations will meaningfully support domestic tracing and serve as a foundation for Canada to build a comprehensive markings regime. While the Regulations would ensure baseline compliance with the markings requirements of these international instruments, gaps would remain that would need to be addressed for Canada to fully implement international obligations under the UN Firearms Protocol and the OAS CIFTA.

Strategic environmental assessment

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.

Gender-based analysis plus

No gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) impacts have been identified for this amendment.

Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards


This amendment to the Regulations comes into force upon registration.

Compliance and enforcement

As of December 1, 2025, failure to implement the marking requirements as outlined in the Regulations could place manufacturers and/or importers out of compliance with the requirements of their business or firearms licence.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Canadian Firearms Program will inform firearms businesses and law enforcement stakeholders of the deferral of the coming-into-force date through the RCMP’s website. In addition, Public Safety Canada will conduct an outreach campaign to ensure Canadian manufacturers and importers are aware of the December 1, 2025, coming-into-force date and are prepared to comply with the Regulations.


Firearms Policy Division