Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Canadian detained at USA border with approved ATF Form 6NIA

After all the years the ATF Form 6NIA has been in use you would think this would not happen.

An Ontario shooter (handguns) was detained when trying to lawfully enter the USA.

Three emails (edited):

I had an issue entering the USA on Saturday and was refused entry, despite having the correct ATF form 6 (5330.3D) For your notes, the refusal was based on their interpretation that because I, as the holder of an Alaska Small Game hunting license, was entering with the intent of other shooting lawful sport shooting activities without an invitation in hand and documented on the form 6, and not on route to Alaska to hunt, the document was not valid for the purposes of importing firearms included in the document. I am also a concealed weapon permit holder valid in several US states, but that is a state and not US federal jurisdiction at this time. As a person who has been crossing in this authorized manner for nearly ten years, I seem to be better aware of the former rules that they were, and am now better informed of the new non-visa rules thanks to your diligence

I have had an email from Kim at the ATF this morning, followed up with her
on the phone, and called the supervisor with CBP at the Wellesley Island NY
crossing, which was the point of entry which made the error. All is fine
now, that CBP station has the information for educational purposes, and I
should be ok in the future. I even have Kim's cell number.

My suggestion to all our friends in the sport shooting community would be to
have a copy of the law and new rules with them, and the specific web site US
government URL's they came from attached to their authorized form 6 NIA
5330.3D. In addition have the phone numbers for ATF in hand for them to use
at all hours. I did have a copy of the law, but not the new rules, attached
to mine, but CBP still made the interpretation they did and refused my entry
after being held in custody for about an hour and a half.

Was in custody at Queenston ON/Lewiston NY port of entry for about 4 hours before being photographed, fingerprinted, and escorted back to Canada in handcuffs. Canada handed me my firearms and all, welcomed me home and told me to go get something to eat and a hotel. Wise choice with this storm. CBP did not like my holsters and shooting gear, and seemed to be insulted that they did not know the new rules. They were polite, but unwavering.

What the law is:

Legal Nonimmigrants Aliens who don't require a VISA 

- Nonimmigrants who don't require a VISA ARE NOT required to submit documentation (Hunting License / Shoot Invitation) with ATF Form 6NIA when submitting for approval. 

- Shoot invitation / hunting license supporting documentation requirements for Nonimmigrants without a VISA changed in July 2012.

For those still using the  Hunting License Option:

An approved ATF Form 6NIA with stateside hunting license (any state), gives unlimited entry for valid reasons, not necessarily hunting.

- Hunting license option is recommended for club visits, practice, attending shoots; league, fun, charity, without the need of a shoot invitation.

- License Accepted: Non-resident shooting preserve, non-resident small game hunting, or non-resident non-game.

Form 6 NIA Guidance

The new ATF Form 6NIA is still pending publication.


For readers not familiar with the subject.  Canadians and other visitors to the USA who wish to enter with a firearm for sporting purposes, to include hunting, submit a form to the ATF approximately six to eight weeks prior to entry.  The form must include serial numbers of all firearms and any ammunition being temporarily imported.  The person undergoes an ATF background check and either receives back an approved or disapproved form.  The approved form is usable for one year.  For whatever reason, those working the border from time to time have no idea on the use of the form and at the least deny entry to the USA.  Very frustrating and when your heading to a shoot and crossing at 5am....


  1. I just went through the Queenston Lewiston port and I have to say I agree with all of you. Here is my story. I was born & raised in Toronto Canada. I married a US citizen and I am a US citizen also. I travel once a month to help my 82 year old father. well his health has declined and he needs 24 hour care. He told me to take his firearms and ammo with me cause he will not longer need it. I stopped into the US Customs on my way up to Canada and they told me just declare the ammo and have a note from your father with the information about the firearms. Well I declared the ammo (did not bring firearms this time) The US Border person made a big deal. Said you should not you can't do that. I explained that I did "know before I go" well I could not bring the ammo in I had to drive it back to the Canada Customs and I have to pick it up within 30 days. I think it depends on who you get and Due to the fact that I have dual citizenship I am a little upset. I have a sick father and trying to do the legal thing. Any answers Thanks RJ

  2. I also just had a horrible experience with CBP. Had a completed 6 NIA form, plus the documentation from the DOJ final ruling on sections 13 and 14 that no longer apply to Canadians not requiring a visa to travel in the US, and after 3 hours was turned away. Then, when I went across later that day, they had flagged me and tore my car apart for another 2 hours before letting me continue on my trip to Oregon. I realize that WA state has some issues with things, but the CBP supervisors (x2) all said you could not enter the USA ANYWHERE without the sections 13 and 14 completed. I spoke to the ATF today and they are having a 6 NIA processor get back to me.
    The issue with WA state is that in their state regs, they list the "package" of documents that the CBP officer should be looking for. The 6NIA, and the accompanying hunting license or shooting invitation. Thing is, the 6NIA doesn't require them anymore, but the state regs still say to look for two pieces of paper.

  3. Some states may require documentation other then what it takes to receive an approved ATF Form 6NIA for a visitor to enter the border state with a firearm. Just the way it is!

    Handgun and Assault weapon people for some states really have to jump through hoops and may have to skip the state all together.

    CBP in that sector must not have received the memo, as NON-VISA persons don't need said supporting documentation.

    Hopefully, the long awaited revised ATF Form 6NIA will address this issue. Changes are coming on applying procedures and I'm just assuming the application will updated when the new procedures are published.