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Pre-Order Revised Form 4473 - 2020

The Office of Management and Budget recently approved the revised ATF Form 4473 and associated continuation sheet. All federal firearms licensees (FFLs) must begin using this form on November 1, 2020. After that date, you may no longer use the previous edition (Oct 2016) of the Form 4473 as it will be obsolete.

ATF intends to begin shipping the new form to FFLs in late July 2020. The initial shipment will contain 50 ATF Form 4473s for each FFL. Additionally, to assist FFLs with an efficient transition for use of the revised Form 4473, ATF will be accepting preorders for the new form. Please note you may only order a maximum of 3,000 forms. To place a preorder for the revised Forms 4473 and continuation sheets in both English and Spanish, please fill out the form below.

Your preordered ATF Form 4473s and continuation sheets will be processed and shipped by the ATF Distribution Center beginning in late July 2020. Do not place duplicate preorders with the Distribution Center, as duplicate orders will cause shipment delays.

For additional information or questions, please contact your local ATF office or email [email protected].

Our complimentary Training Videos have been created to provide you with answer to FFL questions from around the country.  Share these videos with your staff members to improve ATF compliance, profitability,  operations, security and marketing for your firearms business.  Have additional video training needs?  Drop us a note with your request at [email protected].

Click: "Sell More Ammo" Training 

This report details the significant economic impact the firearm and ammunition industry has on the nation’s and each state’s economy.

The economic growth America’s firearm and ammunition industry has experienced in recent years has been nothing short of remarkable.

Over the past decade, the industry’s growth has been driven by an unprecedented number of Americans choosing to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms and purchase a firearm and ammunition.

Download HERE the most recent Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Report for 2020


Frequently Asked Questions About ATF Compliance and firearm transactions. - Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and the responses about ATF compliance and processing firearms transactions.


Firearms Transactions

Is a United States-issued passport a valid form of identification for a firearms purchaser to provide to an FFL?
Yes. An FFL may accept a United States Passport as part of a combination of valid government-issued documents to satisfy the identification document requirements of the Brady Act. A required valid government-issued photo identification document, such as a United States passport, which bears the name, photograph and date of birth of the transferee, may be supplemented by another valid, government-issued document showing the transferee’s residence address. [18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(1)(C); 27 CFR § 478.124; and ATF Rul. 2001-5]

Someone with whom I am acquainted wishes to buy a firearm. I know that during his divorce proceeding, a restraining order was placed against him. I know that in my State such an order prohibits the possession or acquisition of a firearm.  He has checked No to Question 11h (Are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking or threatening your child or an intimate partner or child of such partner?) and explains to me that after the settlement, the order was lifted. Should I ask for written corroboration?

Generally, if the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) has reasonable cause to believe that the transferee is disqualified by law (e.g., subject to a restraining order), the FFL may not complete the transaction.  A prohibition as a result of a domestic violence restraining order exists only as long as the restraining order is in force. However, if the purchaser provides documentation showing the FFL that such order was lifted and is no longer in effect, the buyer is no longer prohibited and the FFL may transfer the firearm. The FFL needs to be aware that he or she may be held liable (administratively/criminally) if the purchaser indeed was prohibited from receiving and possessing such a firearm. Also, the purchaser needs to be advised that any information (including supplemental documents) is subject to penalties of perjury.

May a parent or guardian purchase firearms or ammunition as a gift for a juvenile (under 18 years of age)?
Yes. However, possession of handguns by juveniles (less than 18 years of age) is generally unlawful. Juveniles generally may only receive and possess handguns with the written permission of a parent or guardian for limited purposes (e.g., employment, ranching, farming, target practice or hunting), and that permission slip must be carried by the juvenile while possessing the handgun. [18 U.S.C. 922(x)]

A customer brought in a firearm to my gunsmithing shop with only the serial number present on the firearm. I know the make and model of this firearm. Should I enter what I know in my repair bound book, or should I put "Unknown"?
Even if the identifying information is not legible, if the licensee knows the manufacturer and model of the firearm, he or she is expected to record such information in the A&D record. Documenting all firearm identification information enhances the traceability of the firearm. It is important that the identifying information of firearms is accurately and fully recorded in the acquisition and disposition records retained by FFLs for tracing purposes. However, the ATF understands that licensees can only be expected to record identifying information marked on a firearm. If the licensee cannot determine the manufacturer or other information due to defaced or missing markings, he or she can enter “Unknown” or “Not Marked as applicable in the appropriate column of his A&D record. If firearms markings have been defaced, we encourage licensees to notify their local ATF office. In fact, if the serial number is defaced, it is a crime to receive it or possess the gun; you must notify the ATF immediately. [18 USC 922(k)]

A law enforcement officer comes into my store holding a certification letter on letterhead signed by his supervisor stating that the officer will use this firearm in performance of his official duties. Is there anything else that I need at the store in order to sell him a firearm?
No, as long as the law enforcement officer has a certification letter signed by Chief of Police or Sheriff or a designated person in authority within his/her agency stating the officer will use the firearm in the performance of his/her official duties and that the officer has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

The licensee is not required to prepare a Form 4473 covering this particular sale, as the certification letter is evidence of the transaction. However, disposition of the officer is to be entered in the licensees permanent records and the certification letter kept in the licensees files.


A licensee special-orders a firearm for a customer. The firearm arrives at the store on Monday afternoon, and the customer picks it up on Monday night. Can the licensee wait until the following business day to enter the firearm in his/her acquisition and disposition book?
Generally, licensees are required to enter the acquisition of a firearm by the close of the next business day after the acquisition and shall record sales or other dispositions within seven days. However, if commercial records containing the required information are available for inspection and are separate from other commercial documents, dealers have seven days from the time of receipt to record the receipt in the bound book. If a disposition is made before the acquisition has been entered in the bound book, the acquisition entry must be made at the same time as the disposition entry. We recommend that the A&D record be entered at the same time as the Form 4473 is being completed or as soon as possible afterward.

I have an elderly customer who cannot leave his home. I have a gun in my store that he wants to buy. Can I go to his house, have the Form 4473 completed, call for a background check and deliver the gun to him, providing that all the background checks clear?
Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) are required to conduct business from their licensed business premises. The Form 4473, Part 1, is for an over the counter transaction.  The buyer must appear in person at the FFL premises. Licensees may not conduct firearms transactions from locations other than their licensed premises, with the exception of gun shows or other events dedicated to the sporting use of firearms and held in the state where the FFLs premises is located. Thus, an FFL who locates purchasers by other means must complete the transaction and all required paperwork at the business premises indicated on the FFLs license.


Upon the transfer of a gun to a resident in another state, I have to ship the firearm to a licensed dealer in that state. When completing the transfer, should the Acquisition and Disposition book have the customers name in it or the dealer to whom I sent it?
For sales requiring the firearm to be transferred to another FFL in the purchasers state of residence, the name and 15 digit license number of the licensee to whom the firearm was shipped should be recorded. The instate FFL would then have the purchaser complete an ATF Form 4473 and conduct a background check in compliance with the Brady Law. Upon approval of the background check, the purchaser will take delivery of the firearm from that dealer.

Can a licensee transfer a firearm to an individual who answered yes to a prohibitive question in Block 11 of the ATF F 4473, even if the individual passes a NICS check?
No. If a prospective purchaser answers yes to any of the questions relating to prohibited categories of persons, the licensee has reasonable cause to believe that the customer is in fact prohibited from possessing a firearm and the transaction should be stopped. No NICS background check should be made.

A person whom I've known very well for years no longer drives and does not have a valid drivers license. He uses his Social Security card for his official ID, for he no longer has government-issued photo identification. Can I sell him a firearm with only his Social Security card for identification?
No, a Social Security card does not contain sufficient information to identify a firearms purchaser. A purchaser may be identified by any combination of valid government-issued documents that together establish all of the required information: Name, residence address, date of birth and photograph of the holder. [27 CFR 478.11 and 478.124(c)]

Is a NICS background check valid for 30 days from when the check was initiated, or from when a "proceed" is issued?
The NICS check is valid for 30 calendar days from when the check was initiated, as long as it applies to a single transaction.

EXAMPLE: A NICS check is initiated on March 21. The FFL receives a “proceed” response from NICS on March 23. The purchaser does not return to pick up the firearm until April 22. The FFL must conduct another NICS check before transferring the firearm to the purchaser.

EXAMPLE: A NICS check is initiated on March 21. The FFL receives a “delayed” response from NICS; no further response is received. The purchaser does not return to pick up the firearm until April 22. The FFL must conduct another NICS check before transferring the firearm to the purchaser. [27 CFR 478.102(c)]

A customer filled out a form 4473 on a shotgun. The NICS background check reply was delayed, but the following day NICS approved the purchase. The customer could not get back to my store during open hours, however, so he sent his wife to pick it up. May I transfer the shotgun to her?
The shotgun may not be transferred to the customers wife, as she is not the intended transferee. The customer must return to the store himself and complete the ATF Form 4473 to receive the firearm. He must recertify that his answers in section A are still true, correct and complete by signing and dating Section C on the ATF Form 4473.

A customer leaves a firearm for repair. When it is ready, he is unable to pick it up, but he does want it for a hunt the next day. So he sends an adult (over 21) family member to pick it up. May I issue it to that person, and if so, do we have to complete a 4473?
Once the FFL has verified that a family member of the person who dropped the firearm off for repair is picking it up, the family member must complete Section A of Form 4473 and must be the subject of a NICS background check. Please be aware that in such cases the family member would not answer question 11a on Form 4473 and could enter n/a. Additionally, it is recommended that the licensee indicate that the Form 4473 is for a repair pick-up in block 31 of Form 4473.

I operate a firearms retail business in a very small town, where everybody knows everybody else, and I know all of the members of our police department very well. a member of that department comes in to buy a firearm for official use, but he does not have a letter of authorization. Considering I know him so well, do I have to do a NICS background check?
You must conduct a NICS check, as well as complete an ATF Form 4473, and follow all additional applicable laws. For the law enforcement officer to satisfy the exemption from the Brady Law, he or she must provide a certification on agency letterhead, signed by a person in authority within the agency (other than the officer purchasing the firearm), stating that the officer will use the firearm in official duties and that a records check reveals that the purchasing officer has no convictions for misdemeanor crimes or domestic violence (otherwise known as the Lautenberg Act statement). [27 CFR 478.134]

Is it unlawful to sell a Saiga rifle that comes with a 10-round magazine and includes a larger-capacity magazine with the sale in a state where such a magazine is legal?
It is unlawful for any person to assemble from imported parts any semi-automatic rifle or any shotgun that is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) of the Gun Control Act as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes except that this subsection shall not apply to: the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for sale or distribution by a licensed manufacturer to the United States or any department or agency thereof or to any state or any department, agency or political subdivision thereof; or the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Attorney General.

The installation of the larger-capacity magazine would be assembling a rifle that is non-importable under 925(d)(3) as being nonsporting. If the rifle is otherwise importable and it does not contain more than 10 of the listed imported parts, its assembly is not prohibited under 18 U.S.C. section 922(r). Refer to the parts listed under 27CFR 478.39 to determine the number of imported parts of the particular Saiga rifle you possess. [18 U.S.C. 922(r) & 27 CFR 478.39]

If a Federal Firearms Licensed-retailer, while exhibiting at a gun show within that FFL's own state, is doing NICS checks for firearms being sold at the show by unlicensed sellers to other persons, can the licensed FFL holder just do the NICS check without logging the firearms in his books? Or must the FFL log the firearms in his books after doing the NICS check and "releasing" the firearm to the buyer?
Under the GCA and ATF regulation 27 CFR 478.100 an FFL may temporarily extend its premises to a gun show or other qualifying event in the state where its premises are located. Therefore, the provisions of ATF Procedure 2017-1 could be employed to facilitate a Private Party Transfer at a gun show. A background check would have to be conducted in all cases and FFLs would need to make sure that all firearms involved in PPTs are properly logged into and out of its firearms acquisition and disposition records.

My state has a concealed carry permit. Are there any special compliance considerations to take into account when selling a handgun to a person who is permitted to carry a concealed firearm?
If the concealed weapons permit issued in your state has been qualified by ATF as an alternative to a background check under the provisions of federal firearms laws, you must comply with the following requirements when transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person pursuant to this permit alternative:

Have the transferee complete and sign ATF Form 4473, Firearms Transaction Record.
Verify the identity of the transferee through government-issued photo identification (for example, a driver’s license).
Verify that the permit was issued within the past five years by the state in which the transfer is to occur, that the permit is valid and that the permit has not expired.
Record on the Form 4473 any identifying number from the permit, its date of issuance, and its expiration date.
A listing of permits that qualify as an alternative to a background check under the provisions of federal firearms law may be found at atf.gov/content/firearms/firearms-industry/permanent-brady-permit-chart

Can a licensed FFL, while in another state, purchase legally owned handguns and/or long guns from any individual and/or company?
Yes, an FFL may acquire firearms from any FFL in any state and from any non-licensed individual, provided that the state that the FFL is visiting allows the transfer.

Can a licensee return a consigned firearm to a family member of the person who originally consigned the firearm if that person was a prohibited individual?
Yes a family member of a prohibited individual who placed a firearm on consignment with a licensee may pick up the firearm subsequent to a background check and completion of a form 4473. However that family member may not transfer the firearm to the prohibited person. In addition, the family member may not live in the same household where a prohibited person could gain constructive or actual possession of the firearm.
Please note that if the licensee is returning the firearm to the same individual who placed the firearm in consignment, a 4473 form needs to be completed and a background must be conducted.

Does ATF consider a family member picking up a pawned firearm for another family member a straw purchase?
No, under certain situations, family members may pick up a firearm for a family member.  For example ATF has held that a pawn ticket can be transferred to a family member or any other individual as long as it complies with all state and local laws.  However if the person who pawned the firearm was a prohibited person, it would not be lawful to return a firearm to that person.

When purchasing a firearm from a licensee is an approved Request and Approved for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) form sufficient for an active duty member of the Armed Services to prove their state of residency after the reporting date stated on this form?
Yes as long as the PCS form has been signed and authenticated by the approving official stated on the form.  A member of the armed services on active duty is a resident of the state in which their permanent duty station is located.  However military orders approving only temporary duty (TDY or TAD) at another location are not sufficient state of residency when it comes to member of the military when trying to purchase a firearm.   Also a valid picture Military Identification must accompany the PCS orders. It establishes the identity of the military service member. When PCS orders are presented to establish state residency as described above, the PCS orders should be documented in Box 18.b as supplemental government issued documentation. The address listed on the PCS orders should also be used for Box 2 - current address.  Box 18.a should describe the actual government -issued photo ID presented. 

Frequently Asked Questions About ATF Compliance and the ATF F 4473 - Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and the responses about ATF compliance and the ATF F 4473.

ATF F 4473

What should a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) do when it finds it has lost a completed Form 4473 and a thorough search of the premises fails to locate it? If you have lost a Form 4473, we recommend the following actions:

If you find that you are missing a single Form 4473, you should conduct a thorough and diligent search of your premises and make a call to the customer to verify that he did not mistakenly take it with him.

If you still cannot locate it, contact your local ATF field office immediately. As best you can, reconstruct the missing Form 4473, identify it as such and attach a statement concerning the loss of the original form. File the form in your normal 4473 files.

In cases where all of your files of Forms 4473 are missing or stolen, you should promptly notify your local ATF field office of the loss or theft and get guidance on record reconstruction.

If information is contained on a state firearms transfer document, do I still have to enter the same information on the ATF Form 4473?

Yes. ATF Form 4473 is required by Federal law regardless of any state documentation required by the state in which the licensees business premise is located.  With the exception of the return of a repaired firearm to the person from whom it was received, a licensee shall not sell or otherwise dispose of, temporarily or permanently, any firearm to any person, other than another licensee, unless the licensee records the transaction on a firearms transaction record, Form 4473.

If a person who is unable to complete a 4473 form because of illiteracy or a physical disability wishes to purchase a firearm, how may the transfer be legally completed? May an accompanying person complete the form for the purchaser?

The buyer must personally complete Section A of the ATF Form 4473 and certify (sign) that the answers are true, correct and complete. However, if the buyer is unable to read and/or write, the answers (other than the signature) may be completed by another person, excluding the seller. Two persons (other than the seller or his employees) must then sign and date the form as witnesses to the buyers answers and signature in blocks 14 and 15. [Instructions on ATF F 4473, page 3, Section A]

Is the transferee required to provide his or her Social Security Number on the ATF Form 4473?

No. This information is optional. However, providing this information will ensure the lawfulness of the sale by avoiding the possibility of the transferee being incorrectly identified as a felon or other prohibited person. It may also help NICS process the transaction more quickly. Furthermore, inclusion of the Social Security Number will differentiate the transferee from any other person with the same name who might come under ATF investigation. [27 CFR 478.124(c)(2)]

If a customer innocently answers a question on the 4473 form incorrectly or omits an entry and the licensee notices the error after the transfer, what is the correct procedure to rectify the error?

If the licensee discovers that a Firearms Transaction Record, ATF Form 4473, is incomplete or improperly completed after the firearms have been transferred, the licensee should photocopy the inaccurate form.  The buyer should return to the store and make changes to errors or omissions in Sections A and/or C on the copy and date and initial it. In cases where the licensee made an error or omission to sections B and/or D the person  who made the errors should make the changes and should initial and date them. The corrected photocopy should be attached to the original ATF F 4473 and retained as part of the licensees permanent records.

If a customer lies on Form 4473 regarding a question that would prohibit the transfer of a firearm to him, the licensee is not aware that it is a lie or that the purchaser is ineligible and that ineligibility is not picked up by NICS, has the FFL violated any federal firearms laws or ATF regulations by completing the transfer if that lie or ineligibility is later discovered?


During compliance inspections, can the inspecting officer physically take all of the dealers Forms 4473 back to his office for further review at his convenience?

The Forms 4473 are the property of the licensee until that licensee goes out of business and submits the records to the ATF Out of Business Records Center. ATF may, with the licensees consent, take the Forms 4473 off premises. If done, ATF will issue a receipt for the forms, which the licensee is expected to retain in his permanent records until the forms are returned. The receipt, at a minimum, should contain the date the forms are being removed from the premises and the total number of forms involved. For more information, read When You Are Inspected.

I understand that FFL holders are required to maintain Form 4473 records for 20 years and that the records are to be sent to ATF if the FFL goes out of business. If an FFL remains in business beyond the 20-year holding period, does it still have to maintain the records?

No. The only requirement is to keep the Forms 4473 for 20 years. (See NSSF Factsheet.) The federal firearms regulations allow for licensees to dispose of forms that are older than 20 years. Disposition includes submission of those records to the ATF National Tracing Center (NTC). Submission of these records will allow ATF to more effectively trace crime guns. The NTC requests that licensees enclose a copy of the Active FFL and appropriately indicate that the records are over 20 years old. Records are to be sent to ATF, Out of Business Records Center, (OOBRC), 244 Needy Road, Martinsburg, WV 25405. It is recommended to send your records in a manner that can be tracked, i.e., via Federal Express, U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service or any service that provides delivery confirmation. Contact the NTC, Industry Records Branch, at 800-788-7133, with additional questions on this topic.

How would question 11(a) on the 4473 be answered for redemption of a pawn ticket?

Question 11(a) should be answered “yes,” to reflect that the person completing the form is the actual purchaser or original owner of the firearm.

Line 2 of Form 4473 states that U.S. Postal abbreviations are accepted. Are state abbreviations also accepted on Lines 3, 13 and 19? If so, does it matter whether it is in postal format (e.g., MS) or Associated Press style (e.g., Miss.)?

27 CFR 478.124(c)(1) and the Notices, Instructions and Definitions on pages three through six of the Form 4473 do not specifically address whether postal abbreviations can be used in Blocks 3, 17 and 21. It is the responsibility of the licensee to obtain a Form 4473 from the transferee with complete and accurate answers in Section A. This includes obtaining a Form 4473 with recognizable and interpretable state abbreviations. The use of abbreviations is permissible throughout the form, where applicable. However, the ATF recommends that standard U.S. Postal abbreviations are used for all relevant blocks of the ATF F 4473. [27 CFR 478.124(c)(1)]

I have a customer who has commissioned me to special-order a firearm I do not have in stock. By special-ordering the gun I will be invoiced, and the firearm will become part of my inventory when it arrives at my business premises. To prevent the possibility of not being able to sell it to this customer if he does not pass the NICS check, may I conduct a NICS inquiry at the time that he orders the firearm?

No.  The licensee may conduct the NICS check only after the transferee (buyer) has completed Section A of the ATF Form 4473, including signing question 14 and indicating the date of certification in question 15.

May we as an FFL use a customer's name and address information from Form 4473 for our advertisement mailing? We would not be selling the information or otherwise distributing it in any form, but, rather, simply sending a postcard about an upcoming gun-safe sale.

The information and certification on the ATF Form 4473 Firearms Transaction Record are designed so that an FFL may determine if he or she may lawfully sell or deliver a firearm to the person identified in Section A (transferee/purchaser). The form should only be used for sales or transfers of firearms. We suggest that the FFL seek private legal counsel to inquire about privacy issues and lawful marketing practices.

Someone with whom I am acquainted wishes to buy a firearm. I know that during his divorce proceeding, a restraining order was placed against him. I know that in my State such an order prohibits the possession or acquisition of a firearm.  He has checked No to Question 11h (Are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking or threatening your child or an intimate partner or child of such partner?) and explains to me that after the settlement, the order was lifted. Should I ask for written corroboration?

Generally, if the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) has reasonable cause to believe that the transferee is disqualified by law (e.g., subject to a restraining order), the FFL may not complete the transaction.  A prohibition as a result of a domestic violence restraining order exists only as long as the restraining order is in force. However, if the purchaser provides documentation showing the FFL that such order was lifted and is no longer in effect, the buyer is no longer prohibited and the FFL may transfer the firearm. The FFL needs to be aware that he or she may be held liable (administratively/criminally) if the purchaser indeed was prohibited from receiving and possessing such a firearm. Also, the purchaser needs to be advised that any information (including supplemental documents) is subject to penalties of perjury.

How should a Licensee respond to a police officer's request for an original 4473?

Generally a Licensee should not surrender an original Form 4473.  However under special circumstances, a law enforcement agency may insist upon an original form for a criminal investigation.  In those cases, the licensee should make a copy of the form to maintain for their records. In addition, the licensee should record the requesting officer’s name and badge number and a contact name for the agency in case ATF requests that information.  The licensee should also obtain a receipt, even a hand written one, for the Form 4473 from the officer.

How would question 11(a) (Are you the actual buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form) on the 4473 form be answered if the person is picking up a firearm that was being repaired for another person?

If the person picking up a repaired firearm for the individual who brought it to the licensee, a Form 4473 must be prepared and question 11(a) should not be answered with "yes" or "no", but rather should be indicated in space 11a as  “N/A”. Neither "yes" or "no" should be checked. A background check must also be conducted on the individual picking up the firearm. It is a good business practice for the licensee to contact the person who dropped the firearm off to verify that they want the person to pick the firearm up for them. Box 31 should also be noted with terminology such as "repair pick-up".

Frequently Asked Questions About ATF Compliance and Acquisition & Disposition Record Keeping - Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and the responses about ATF compliance and maintaining your Acquisition and Disposition Records.

Acquisition & Disposition Records

I have received a firearm on trade. It was made before 1968 and has no serial number. I must note the physical markings on the firearm in my records. What do I do in this case?

Unfortunately, marking requirements that existed before 1968 did not apply to all firearms. Many of the firearms manufactured and imported prior to 1968 bear no serial numbers or other markings. Licensees who receive these firearms should note in each descriptive column in the acquisition record the physical markings that appear on the firearms. If no serial number was placed on the firearm, it should be specifically noted that “Firearm has no serial number” or recorded “NSN.” Remember, however, it is illegal to remove or alter a firearm’s serial number, and a licensee should report such a firearm to the nearest ATF office. Refer to the ATF P 3317.2, Safety and Security Information for Federal Firearms Licensees.


I started keeping my records of acquisition and disposition on loose sheets of paper. Can I three-hole punch the sheets and put them in a binder or get them spiral-bound and satisfy the bound book requirement?

You may maintain records of acquisition and disposition in a binder or spiral-bound format, as long as the holes that are punched do not remove or obstruct any required information. The format must follow that prescribed in the regulations, and the pages must be numbered consecutively. [27 CFR 478.121 and 478.125]


What information should be placed in the A&D Record with respect to the heading "Manufacturer and/or Importer"?

When applicable, the A&D records need to reflect the names of both the foreign manufacturer and domestic importer, which are both required to be marked on imported firearms. The entry would appear as foreign manufacturer/US importer. If either the foreign manufacturer or the United States importer cannot be located on the firearms, you should record “None Marked” as appropriate.


What importer should be entered into the A&D book when the foreign manufacturer and the importer have the same company name?

Imported firearms are required to be marked with the name of both the foreign manufacturer and the domestic importer. Therefore, whichever name is marked on the firearm as manufacturer and importer, should be entered into the A&D Book.


What information should be entered into the A&D records in regards to the heading "Type" under "Description of Firearm."

The information required to be entered refers to the “types” of firearms as defined per 27 CFR 478.11 and 479.11 – such as pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, frame or receiver, silencer, any other weapon (AOW) etc. You should not enter the type of action of the firearm.

Frequently Asked Questions About ATF Compliance and FFL Business Operations - Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and the responses about ATF compliance and FFL Business Operations.



I would like some clarification concerning employee eligibility/background checks.  There seems to be a lot of gray area in the regulations specifically, Section 478.32, concerning whom we can hire. We always do background checks (always post-offer, in accordance with the law) and always operate with a great deal of caution, but we dont want to be overly exclusive of people with pasts. Clarification of specific rulings, examples and such from the ATF would be helpful.

There are no federal laws or regulations that require an FFL to run background checks on employees, and you are prohibited from using NICS to conduct a background check on an employee unless you are disposing of a firearm to the employee. However, if you learn, as a result of running a background check or otherwise, that one of your employees is prohibited from possessing or receiving firearms, you must not allow this prohibited person to receive or possess firearms. Doing so would be a felony.

If you are unable to determine whether a criminal conviction or other event has made a person prohibited from possessing or receiving firearms, we recommend that you contact your local ATF Area Office for further guidance. You can find contact information for your local ATF Area Office at atf.gov under the heading Field Divisions.

Please Note: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and, possibly, state consumer privacy laws, can become relevant if an employer takes an adverse employment action, such as firing or refusing to hire or promote based on a background check (e.g., hiring a firm to conduct a background check or running a credit history report). Under the FCRA, the employer must provide certain pre- and post-notice and information to the job applicant or employee. As noted above, you can only run a NICS background check when transferring a firearm, not for the sole purpose of screening current or prospective employees. However, a lawfully conducted NICS check, which could potentially result in your learning that an employee is a prohibited person, does not trigger the FCRA or other privacy laws. Before putting in place employee-screening procedures, consult with your attorney.


As a Federal Firearms Licensee, what is my responsibility to respond to a request to trace a firearm?

A licensee must provide the requested information immediately, and in no event later than 24 hours after receipt of a request by the ATF. Failure to respond to the request for trace information can result in monetary fines and/or imprisonment, or revocation of the licensees Federal Firearms License. [18 U.S.C. 923(g) (7), 27 CFR 478.25a]


Typically, who are categorized as nonimmigrant aliens?

In large part, nonimmigrant aliens are persons traveling temporarily in the United States for business or pleasure, persons studying in the United States who maintain a foreign residence abroad and certain foreign workers. Permanent resident aliens are not nonimmigrant aliens. Permanent resident aliens often are referred to as people with green cards


I have a firearm hanging on the wall of my office, which adjoins the sales floor of my store. It is of sentimental value, and thats why I have it hanging there. It is listed in the A&D book and on the computer, though it is not for sale. At our last inspection, it was counted as part of the inventory, and no comments were made. Another dealer was told that any firearm on the premise must have a sales tag on it. What is the official ruling?

A presumption exists that all firearms on a dealers business premise are for sale and accordingly must be entered in the dealers required records. If a dealer wishes to keep personal firearms on his or her premise that are not intended for sale, ATF recommends that he or she tag the personal firearms indicating that they are not for sale.


I've reported a lost firearm. I've done all the necessary paperwork and notifications. Now, I've found the firearm. What is my course of action?

FFLs who report a firearm as missing and later discover its whereabouts should advise the ATF, as well as their local law enforcement agency, that the firearms have been located. The ATF can be contacted at 888-930-9275. In addition, once the firearms are located, they must be re-entered into the Acquisition and Disposition (A&D) record as an acquisition entry.

Frequently Asked Questions About ATF Compliance and Firearm Manufacturing - Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and the responses about ATF compliance and the manufacturing of firearms.



What are the requirements for a markings variance?

To seek a variance you must submit a letter to the Firearms Industry Programs Branch (FIPB) outlining the request with regards to the markings. This letter must include a description of the receiver or frame, along with the proposed model designation, caliber, client identification (ID) and serial numbers. You will need to include a copy of your FFL and that of your client and illustrations depicting how the markings will appear on the receiver with your request for variance. Here is a link to the ATF website on this issue: https://www.atf.gov/files/firearms/guides/marking-variances.pdf.


How long is a marking variance good for?

A variance, once granted, will remain in force indefinitely as long as there are no further changes to the markings granted in the variance.

Frequently Asked Questions About ATF Compliance and Applying for Class III NFA licensing - Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and the responses about ATF compliance and the application process.


New Application for Class III NFA Process Overview

Follow the procedures listed below if you are interested in proceeding with expanding your license to Class III status.

The form may be filled out electronically or printed, filled out manually and sent to the address listed, along with your check for $500 (Class III – Dealer in NFA). SOT licenses are valid from July 1 through June 30 of the next calendar year. However, the $500 tax you pay to receive your license is not prorated. You must renew your SOT every year and, just as it is when your Federal Firearms License (FFL) is about to expire, you will receive a renewal notice in the mail from ATF.

In order to process the forms necessary for application visit; https://www.atfonline.gov/default.htm, select eforms and complete the registration process.  

Paperwork and Record Retention Planning

  • You will need a bound book (Acquisition and Disposition Record Book), ATF Form 4473s and NFA Forms 3 and 4.
  • Form-3 is used between SOT dealers (i.e., between manufacture and distributor and between distributor and dealer).
  • Form-4 is used for transferring an NFA product to the qualifying consumers.

There are other forms you could come across when dealing in Class III merchandise, but for initial application purposes this will be what is needed to get started.

The NFA Forms 3 and 4, as these are the ones you will use most often as a Class III dealer.

NFA Forms 3 and 4 Details

At the core of your new NFA business, the Form 3 for inbound product from your supplier and the Form 4 for product you sell, are the two pieces of paperwork you need to be most familiar with to be successful in your compliance with the NFA regulations.

How to manage the processes required that are associated with these forms:

  • Retain all Form 3s both by supplier and in chronological order by the date approved by ATF.
  • Retain all Form 4 copies (customers receive and maintain the originals), along with their corresponding completed ATF form 4473s.
    • These two should be filed together as a complete record of the consumer transaction and will be assigned a unique Transaction Serial Number.
  • While not required by the regulations, it is recommend that you treat your NFA business as a business within your business. This means your Class III products and transactions should have their own dedicated bound book specifically for NFA acquisitions and dispositions, i.e., separate bound books for FFL Type 01 or 02 (Gun Control Act or GCA) transactions. It is also strongly recommended that the physical storage of Class III products be separate from GCA merchandise, and that you maintain separate files that document in-process Form 4s.

NFA Form Approval Times

Perhaps the most common question asked by retailers considering expanding their business to include NFA products is how long it takes the NFA forms 3 and 4 to be approved. While the times do vary, on average NFA Form 3s typically take between six to eight weeks and NFA Form 4s between four and six months before you’ll receive ATF approval to proceed. (These delays are a result of an increased and high volume of NFA transactions currently taking place across the country, something that ATF’s NFA branch is working diligently to reduce with the resources it has available to it.)

This is vitally important to understand and embrace in the form of establishing proper paperwork trails during the waiting process, written store policies for employees handling these transactions through their various checkpoints and in the creation of literature and other information important to helping your customers know what to expect when acquiring suppressors or other Class III firearms and related products.

None of the above is complicated. Compliance efforts are not difficult and should only build on existing processes and procedures already in place. There will be questions that arise as you traverse this new product space. Any questions you may have please feel free to reach out to me at any time to discuss Class III NFA compliance concerns, business operations related to NFA devices and/or any marketing questions you may have. You can feel free to contact me via email at [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions About ATF Compliance and Licensing - Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and the responses about ATF compliance and the Licensing process.



Does the federal firearms law require licensees to comply with state laws and local published ordinances when selling firearms?

Yes. It is unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer or licensed collector to sell or deliver any firearm or ammunition to any person if the persons purchase or possession would be in violation of any state law or local published ordinance applicable at the place of sale or delivery. [18 U.S.C. 922(b), 27 CFR 478.99(b)(2)]


I am an FFL in Washington State, where my business is incorporated. Business-owned firearms are for sale at our store and at private gun shows, where only members who have had an FBI check can privately trade (Question:  Who does this FBI background check and when?  A NICS check can only be used in connection with the immediate transfer of a firearm.), buy and/or sell firearms under state law. At these gun shows, I'd also like to sell firearms from my private collection, which are not part of the business.


In the scenario you described, the corporation holds the Federal Firearms License. You, as an individual, do not. As an FFL, the corporation must comply with all the legal requirements pertaining to FFLs, such as maintaining an A&D Book, completing ATF Forms 4473 and conducting NICS checks. These requirements do not apply to you as an individual non-FFL.


Can I display my private collection for sale or trade next to my business inventory? Can I sell from my private collection without doing NICS checks and completing Form 4473s?

As a non-FFL, you may make occasional sales or sell all or part of your personal collection of firearms. However, if you otherwise devote time, attention and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, you would be engaging in the business as a dealer in firearms. In this case, you would be required to obtain a Federal Firearms License. [18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(1); 921(a)(21)(C); 922(a)(1)(A); and 27 CFR §478.11]


May a person obtain a dealers license to engage in business only at gun shows?

No. A license may only be issued to an applicant who has a permanent premises at which the license the applicant intends to do business. A person having such a license may conduct business at gun shows located in the state in which the licensed premises is located and sell and deliver curio or relic firearms to other licensees at any location. [18 U.S.C. 923(a) and (j)]


My FFL is going to expire soon. What steps do I have to take in order to renew my license in a timely manner?

An application for renewal of a Federal Firearms License (FFL) must be filed with the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC) every three years prior to the expiration of the license. It is very important to timely renew the FFL in order to avoid a lapse in the active status of the license. A renewal notice is generated three months prior to the expiration of the license. If a renewal notice is not received at about this time, you should notify the FFLC to ensure your information, including your mailing address, is accurate. If your mailing address has changed, you should immediately update this information with the FFLC. A returned renewal notice to the FFLC may result in an untimely renewal and subsequent expiration of the license. The FFLC can be contacted at 866-662-2750.

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Teamwork Drives Success

Based in Denver, CO, JC, Karrie and JB joined forces to create a supportive consulting team to fill the need for small and mid-sized FFL's that was supportive, knowledgeable, confidential and available, especially in times of crisis.  They recognized the need to organize and simplify the many regulations, resources and training tools that were needed by a very mature but diverse community of firearms dealers, distributors and manufacturers. The end result is FFL Consultants!

Why We Created FFLC

Several years ago and after supporting hundreds of FFL's with their compliance, security and training challenges, we recognized that the success of an FFL is dependent on their ability to access, comprehend, understand and train to the requirements of both federal and state oversight organizations.  The skills and tools available to keep up with regulatory notices, to decipher federal updates and maintain current compliance requirements was a challenge.  We set out to simplify and organize the resources and tools to help FFL's navigate this process, gain confidence and drive their own personal success.


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