ATF eForms – Getting Started with Electronic Import Technology


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We live in a world of evolving technology. It embodies most of what we do from email to regulatory forms processing. Not only does technology eliminate the need for paper-based processes but it allows us to process transactions at a greater pace and with increased accuracy – much to the aid of electronic internal controls.
Demand for Electronic Information Processing via ATF eForms

Demand for this technology is evident, as has been documented by the growth in the number of FFL users and forms submitted in an electronic format.

Per their eForms website “ATF has seen the number of registered eForms users climb from 673 in 2013 to over 10,000 today, and the number of eForms submitted exceed 50,000. Just since January 2014, approximately 50% of NFA applications have been submitted via eForms. This surge in demand has created the need to enhance eForms to handle greater capacity now and in the future.

To accommodate this unanticipated and substantial increase in application volume, ATF must enhance the eForms initiative to ensure that we can continue to meet the industry’s needs, as the volume of applications continues to exceed growth expectations.

Our goal is to decrease our processing time and to continue to support industry and NFA availability without any impact from the significant application spikes or volume increases that we have seen in the last few years.”

Current Electronic Form Offerings

If you weren’t aware already, technology has been provided to process the most commonly used forms, amongst others.

  • Federal Firearms Transaction Record, Form 4473
  • Importing (Form 6, 6a)
  • NFA (Forms 1, 2, 5, 9, 10 and 5630.7)

The following helpful links should get you started:

A Little More On Imports eForms Processing (ATF “eForm 6”)

As noted above, import forms processing is one of the active areas of the eForms system. The system not only reduces processing time but aids in the reduction of more common errors found during violations, which include:

  • Incomplete Federal firearms License number.
  • Attempted import from multiple countries at once (a separate Form 6 is required for each country of export).
  • The description of products in the Form 6 section called “Implements of War (IOW)” is not consistently accurate (ex: firearm frames and receivers must be listed as firearms, not IOW).
  • The U.S. Munitions List Category is omitted or incorrect.
  • Certificate of Origin is not complete.

Over time ATF enhanced the capabilities of the eForm 6 system to now accept attachments including photographs, spreadsheets, and scanned documents. Previously, attachments could only be filed by mail.  In addition, the eForm 6 system also accepts up to 999 line items for each of its categories:

  • Firearms;
  • Ammunition, and
  • IOW.

Also, each line item will accept up to 10 attachments.  Importers may also save an incomplete permit in their eForm account (up to 10 incomplete permits for 30 days).

ATF’s Firearms and Explosives Import Branch, which processes eForm 6, has published helpful hints to further reduce processing times;

  • “All items in a parts kit must be entered as separate line item entries. 
  • Licensee’s Armed Export Control Act (AECA) association request must be separately from your Federal firearms licensee (FFL) and Employer identification number (EIN) association requests.
  • When submitting an eForm 6 application, licensees should make sure and select both AECA and FFL number, if applicable, from the drop down menu when completing the form.
  • If a permit application is submitted for numerous line items of firearms parts and the manufacturer is not associated to that product type, ATF should be contacted by email  (Ask the Expert)  so it can make the entry into their tables before the permit application has been entered.”

To learn more about ATF eForms processing, or if you have specific questions on the eForms 6 contact the ATF or Orchid Advisors today. Let’s get processing!