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Pistol crossbows are strictly controlled in all Australian states due to their concealable nature. Crossbows can be bought and owned by adults over 16 years of age in some states such as Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia, while in most of the eastern states crossbows can only be owned with a special licence, for instance for members of an official sporting club. Control on transport of crossbows between states has increased to prevent unauthorised use of imported crossbows.
Recent changes to laws in Western Australia to prohibit crossbow ownership require applications to legally possess a crossbow by July 2, 2011 before they became illegal to possess. 
In Canada, it is legal to own a crossbow and has a similar designation as an airgun. Weapons of a projectile velocity under 500 FPS may be owned by any person 18 years of age or older. No licence is required to purchase a crossbow. Though older PAL cards say that one is allowed to acquire one, the laws designating them as firearms were struck down before they could be implemented. Crossbows designed to be fired with one hand and crossbows measuring less than 500 mm in length are prohibited.(Canadian Firearms Program FAQ)
Hunting in Canada is regulated at the provincial level, therefore the legality of crossbow hunting vary from province to province.
In Finland hunting with crossbow is not allowed. However, hunting small game with a hand-held bow is allowed. Possession of crossbows and other bows requires no licence. (Finnish law) In other legal aspects the crossbow is parallel to an air gun.
In German law on weapons, crossbows and firearms are equated in their legal status as weapons (WaffG Anlage 1 1.2.2), but in contrast to guns, acquisition, possession, trade or production of crossbows requires no license (WaffG Anlage 2). Because of their definition as weapons, but without further restrictions, any crossbows can be used by minors under custody of competent adults. Fishing and hunting with crossbows is prohibited.
In the Netherlands crossbows are regulated by the "wet wapens en munitie" (law on weapons and ammunition). Crossbows and crossbow bolts are placed in category 4, along with bows, swords, spears, etc. It is legal to possess weapons from this category providing that the individual is over 18. It is not allowed to carry those weapons in public. When transporting, the weapon should be packaged in a way that one has to perform at least 3 actions before the weapon is ready for use (this does not include the steps required to actually load and fire the weapon). Only on special occasions such as re-enactment events this is not strictly enforced. Crossbows should be used only for collecting, re-enactment or sportive purposes. Hunting with crossbows (or bows) is strictly prohibited in the Netherlands under animal cruelty laws.
In Poland, crossbows are considered equivalent to firearms, and possession requires a license (Ustawa o broni i amunicji z 2003 roku). Hunting with crossbows is technically legal, however due to may-issue policy, crossbow licenses are usually issued for collecting purposes only.
In Sweden, crossbows are considered equivalent to firearms, and possession requires a license (Vapenlag (1996:67)). Hunting with crossbows is not allowed. Swedish law dictates that any weapon that stores it's energy, ie weapons with a firing mechanism, that produces more than 10 joules at the muzzle are illegal without licence. Thus very weak crossbows are sold in toy stores as well as low powered air rifles (not sold to minors) while sale or possession of normal bows of any strength are not regulated.
No licence or registration is required to own a crossbow in the United Kingdom. Under the Crossbows Act 1987, crossbows cannot be bought, hired or sold in England, Wales or Scotland by those under 18, even under adult supervision. The act states that crossbows may be used by persons under 18 years of age only when supervised by a person aged 21 years or over. Similar prohibitions for Northern Ireland are made in the Crossbows (Northern Ireland) Order 1988. Section 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prevents their use for hunting birds. In Scotland, section 50 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982  makes it illegal to be drunk in a public place in possession of a crossbow.
Section 44 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 raised the age limit from 17 to 18 in England and Wales, with effect from 1 October 2007. The Scottish Parliament made similar changes in section 62 of the Custodial Sentences and Weapons (Scotland) Act 2007, also with effect from 1 October 2007.
Like many other laws on weapons and hunting in the United States, laws on crossbows vary a great deal by state. Purchase, private ownership, and use for target shooting is legal in all states, and most laws are only with regard to hunting.
For crossbow hunting in the US, many states require a person to have a disability or special license to use one, and they can only be used for certain game. For example, in Georgia a crossbow may be used in hunting feral hogs and any other game except waterfowl. Ohio permits crossbow hunting of deer, turkeys, hogs and other game. On the other extreme, Oregon, for example, has a complete ban on crossbow hunting.