The list of what knives are illegal in Canada is quite long compared to some countries. Since 2017 the Canadian Border Agency has cracked down on the importation and possession of many common types of knives, such as the butterfly knife.
If you’re planning to travel to Canada, you’ll want to review this list carefully so as not to have your knife confiscated at the border.
1. Gravity Knife
The blade of a gravity knife is contained in the handle and opens by force of gravity. The blade requires either gravity or a spinning motion to propel it from the handle. The main purpose of the gravity design is to allow for one-handed opening in case the other hand is occupied.
Gravity knives use a fulcrum lever, trigger, or button for both the open and closed blade positions.
Originated in Germany in World War II, paratroopers used the gravity knife to cut themselves free of parachute lines. It went on to become a common tool for a variety of tradespeople.
2. Push Dagger
A push dagger has a T-shaped handle and a short-bladed dagger. The blade does not fold away, and the wielder holds it in his or her fist. It may also be known as a push knife, punch knife, or punch dagger.
This dagger originated in the early 19th century as a close-combat weapon predominantly used by civilians. The push dagger was also used during World War I and hand-to-hand combat in trench warfare.
3. Centrifugal Knife or Butterfly Knife
Also known as a balisong, fan knife, or Batangas knife, the butterfly knife is considered to be a kind of pocketknife or centrifugal knife. Centrifugal knives open automatically with the use of centrifugal force. These can be opened by the flick of the wrist in a circular motion away from the body.
Originating in the Philippines, these knives were primarily used as pocket utility knives or for self-defense. They are also used to perform tricks for both amusement and artistically.
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4. Automatic Knife
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Automatic knives can also be known as switchblade knives, pushbutton knives, ejector knives, or spring knives. The blade is housed in the handle and opens automatically by a spring when the button, lever, or switch on the handle is pushed.
The first automatic blades were invented in Europe mid-18th century and were used as folding spike bayonets on guns. They became notorious in the 1950s for their popularity with gangsters in American culture.
5. “Constant Companion” or Belt Buckle Knife
A belt buckle knife is any kind of knife held in a belt and withdrawn for use. Butterfly knives, push daggers, etc., could all be considered a belt buckle knife.
The main takeaway about the belt buckle knife is that it is concealed. Canadian law does not allow for concealed weapons because if you are hiding them, you must have a nefarious purpose in mind.
6. Concealed Blades Under 30 Centimeters
This includes any type of knife or device with a blade of 30 cm or less and made to appear like a harmless object but is actually a concealed blade or knife. Penknives, knife combs, lipstick knives, etc., are all examples of concealed blades that are banned.
7. Spiked Wristbands
Any wristband, typically made of leather, with spikes coming out of it. Some spiked wristbands can have spikes over an inch long. They are mainly decorative and are popular among people who like punk rock and gothic styles.
8. Throwing Stars
Also known as shuriken, literally ‘hidden hand blade’, throwing stars are considered a supplementary throwing blade originating from Japan.
Typically in a flat, circular design with sharp blades on the outer edges, these are made, as the name suggests, for throwing.
Why are Canadian Knife Laws so Strict?
In November 2017, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) dismissed an appeal of T. LaPlante v. President of the Canada Border Services Agency, which looked to reclaim a seized shipment of knives. This ruling made it possible for the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ban all but the most innocuous knives, such as multitools.
To see a complete list of banned weapons in Canada, click here.
These strict knife laws aim to prohibit the importation of knives whose use is viewed to have no utilitarian value but seen more as a weapon. Although many tradespeople would disagree with this assessment.
What Types of Knives are Legal in Canada?
Many people struggle to understand exactly what types of knives are legal because it is not completely clear. The basics are:
- Multitools/card tools – Small multitools with multiple functions as a compass, tweezers, or scissors. These almost always carry some kind of small blade; however, as long as it is not designed as a weapon, for example, the blade is dull, it is okay.
- Sword canes/umbrella daggers – A sword contained in a cane/umbrella and must be longer than 30 cm.
- Any kind of non-folding knife with a utilitarian purpose – for instance, hunting or fishing knives- is okay to have. There are no limitations on blade length. But remember, this law reflects intention, so if you walk into a bar with a concealed hunting knife and are stopped by a policeman you could be charged with an illegal weapon.
Are There Age Restrictions to Carry a Knife in Canada?
There are no age restrictions to possess a knife in Canada although some retailers will only sell to eighteen years old and over customers.
Can I Bring My Knife Across the Border into Canada?
As long your knife is a utilitarian knife, is not on the banned weapons list, and you have declared it at the border you should be okay. If you don’t declare your knife or try to bring an illegal knife in you could be arrested or refused entry into Canada.
Can I Fly Into Canada with My Knife?
If your knife is legal, you can fly into Canada with your knife. The knife must be in checked baggage. Never try to fly with a knife or any other kind of weapon in your carry-on luggage.
Don’t forget to declare the knife also, or Canadian officials may suspect that you are trying to sneak the knife in.
Can I Mail My Knife to Canada?
Shipping legal knives to Canada is okay when properly done. Some companies specialize in shipping items considered to be dangerous if you need assistance mailing your knife. Visit the Canada Post website to learn more about what is legal and not legal to ship.
What is the Penalty for having an Illegal Knife in Canada?
You could face a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in jail for possessing an illegal knife in Canada. Your knife will also be confiscated.
When trying to decide if your knife is legal in Canada, you’ll definitely want to make sure that your knife does not fall under the eight different knife types listed above.
Even if you believe your knife is legal, it’s not a good idea to carry it on you in a concealed fashion that could be misinterpreted by law enforcement as having an intent to use your knife as a weapon against another person.