With the New Year upon us, for many it is time for change or an opportunity to refine our bucket list; Perhaps you’ve started that house project that’s been in limbo for months, joined a gym to exercise, or maybe you’ve decided its time you get an FFL License. While, we can’t do much about the first two on your list, we certainly can assist you with the third!
In order to import, manufacture, deal or pawn firearms you must be licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). To start the process we would recommend you first decide what operations specifically you plan to do when licensed. There are 7 basic FFL types:
01/02: Dealer, Including Pawn, in Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
06: Manufacturer of Ammunition for Firearms Other than Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition
07: Manufacturer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
08: Importer of Firearms other than Destructive Devices or Ammunition for Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices, or Ammunition Other Than Armor Piercing Ammunition
09: Dealer in Destructive Devices
10: Manufacturer of Destructive Devices, Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition
11: Importer of Destructive Devices, Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition
Let’s say you were opening your first store and plan to specialize in dealing new or used firearms, a Type 01 FFL would be best suited for that practice. If you plan to connect with an overseas firearms business and routinely bring their product into the U.S., then a Type 08 FFL would be required.
Again, first decide exactly what you want to do with your license once you get it. A few things to keep in mind are that some FFL types allow you to participate more than one operation. Some examples are as follows: a Dealers FFL (01) allows you to occasionally import, an Importer of firearms FFL (08) allows you to sell firearms, and a Manufacturers of firearms FFL (07) allows you to occasionally import and sell.
Be mindful however that some license types don’t grant permission for other operations. For example: a Manufacturer of Ammunition FFL (06) does not allow you to also manufacture firearms and a Dealer FFL (01) does not give one authority to manufacture.
Once you’ve decided the best license type for you, its time to start the application process. First select your location for the business and check with your local Zoning Official to ensure the location’s compliance with the zoning laws or ordinances. Before you sign a lease or open a storefront, be sure to check and see that you are authorized to run a firearms business from that location. This is also important to those who are attempting a firearms business from your home, even an online business. ATF will contact your local Zoning Official as part of their application inspection process so it is better that you handle this with your town proactively. A condition of having an FFL is that you must have a licensed premises. Do your research to find the best spot and make sure it is in compliance.
Next, its time to apply with the ATF! You will first need to complete the ATF Form 7 (5310.12), Applications for Federal Firearms License found on ATF’s website. Be sure to take your time and carefully read each question, if mistakes are made on the applicant’s end, it may delay the processing. Once you have selected the license type, you must pay the corresponding fee listed on the form. You can enclose a personal check, a cashier’s check/bank order, or use a debit/credit card to cover the application fee. These fees range anywhere from $30 for a Manufacturer of Ammunition FFL to $3000 for a Dealer in Destructive Devices FFL. You can apply for more than one FFL on the same application, be sure to click the boxes that you are applying for and include all of the payment. You must also complete the ATF Form 5330.20, Certification of Compliance with 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B). This form attests to your citizenship.
Once you have submitted the ATF Form 7 application, the ATF Form 5330.20, and included your photograph, fingerprints, and payment; now its waiting time. The Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC) will process the application. Here they review the paperwork and initiate the background checks on the applicant and any responsible people listed. Once the application has been processed and the payment collected, the FFLC forwards the application information to the closest ATF Industry Operations Field Office for further review.
The ATF Area Supervisor assigns each application to an Industry Operations Investigator (IOI) who will then contact you, the applicant, to schedule an in-person application inspection at the proposed licensed premises. The IOI will also contact the local Zoning Official as well as the local Chief Law Enforcement Officer to make sure that the local law enforcement has received a copy of the application. Next, the IOI will sit with the applicant and review the application to address any corrections if needed. They will also review the pertinent firearm laws and regulations that each FFL will be responsible for following. Both the ATF IOI and the applicant will sign an Acknowledgement of Federal Firearms Regulations attesting to the fact that the IOI explained the regulations.
After the IOI has completed the onsite visit, they compose a narrative report outlining their findings from the application inspection. Finally, they make a recommendation on whether the FFL should be issued or not and the report is forwarded back to the Area Supervisor for review.
The entire process often takes several weeks to complete. According to 27 CFR 478.47(c), “The Chief, National Licensing Center, shall approve or the Director of Industry Operations shall deny an application for a license within the 60-day period beginning on the date the properly executed application was received.” If you are nearing your 60-day deadline and haven’t head back from ATF, feel free to call the local IOI for a status.
Your Federal Firearm License will come in the mail and is valid for a three-year period. Once it comes close to the time to renew the FFLC will send you a renewal application. If you need to make a change to your FFL such as a change in address, you will need to complete an ATF Form 5300.38, Application for an Amended Federal Firearms License.
We hope this New Year brings health, happiness, and possibly new adventures as a FFL! Good Luck!