Federal Firearms License (FFL) Application – How to Get an FFL

ffl_sealThe Federal Firearms license, or FFL, is issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (the BATF&E) to businesses engaged in the manufacture, sales or importing of guns, ammunition, destructive devices and explosives. It is intended for professionals in these areas, and is not meant to be used by individuals for the acquisition of personal firearms or to get discounted prices for friends and family members. The one exception to this rule is the type 3, or C&R (Curios and Relics) license. The C&R is designed for serious collectors to facilitate acquisitions to their personal collections and is not to be used by those in the business of selling weapons. There is, in fact a question on the application form which asks “Do You Intend to Profit from the Sale of Firearms?” If your answer to this question is no, then your application will be immediately rejected (Except in the case of the C&R, where your answer had best be “No” to this same question!).

In this article, we shall be mainly focusing on learning to how to get a ffl through a proper application process. If you need to know more about federal firearms license (ffl), you can do so by reading our other article on introduction to ffl license.

The first step is to ensure that you meet the FFL requirements in order to be eligible for filing an application for Federal Firearms License. Once you have determined that you are eligible, the application process is relatively simple. You will have to complete and file the forms listed below with the BATF&E, with all requested supporting documentation. Any omissions or inaccurate information will slow the process significantly, so read all forms carefully and understand what is being asked for before filling them out. Any intentional deception will disqualify an applicant and may result in criminal prosecution under Federal Law.


What You will Need to File with the BATF&E -

  • ATF F 5310.12 (Form 7) — Application for Federal Firearm License (FFL). This is the form used for all classes of FFL.
  •  ATF F 5330.20 — Certification of Compliance. This form certifies that the applicant is a citizen or qualified immigrant alien.
  • Two Completed FD–258 (Fingerprint Identification Card) for EACH Responsible Person (RP) obtained through a local law enforcement agency. ATF will supply the cards, local law enforcement will take your prints, both copies are to be sent in with your application.
  • Two 2″ x 2″ Photographs for each Responsible Person (RP)

ATF defines “responsible person” as “a sole proprietor, partner, or anyone having the power to direct the management, policies, and practices of the business as it pertains to firearms. In a corporation this includes corporate officers, shareholders, board members, or any other employee with the legal authority described above.”

  • Application or License Fee as follows:
    1. Collectors and manufacturers of ammunition – $30
    2. Manufacturers and importers of firearms – $150
    3. Pawnbrokers and dealers of firearms – $200
    4. Manufacturers, importers and dealers of destructive devices – $3,000


What You will Need from State and Local Officials

In addition to these filings, you must submit one copy of your form 7 to your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO). This is usually your county Sheriff or your town/city Police Chief. The CLEO is not obligated to respond to this filing, but if they have issue with your application they have the option of notifying the BATF&E of their objection, which will lead to denial of the application. To save time, you can drop off the CLEO copy while having your fingerprints taken.

You will also need to get approval of your business location from local code and zoning officials. This can be problematical at times. Some areas, generally those influenced heavily by liberal political views, frown on firearms related businesses. Zoning approval can often takes longer than the Federal end of the application process. If you intend to do business out of your home in a residential area, approval by your Local Zoning officials can easily be the deal breaker in ATF approval of your application, so it may be a good idea to get this issue resolved before submitting your application (and FEE!).

You will also need to get any state and local business licenses and a state sales tax ID. If you intend to incorporate or form an LLC, you should have this done prior to filing your FFL application.
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Industry Operations Investigator (IOI) Interview - 

Once your application has been accepted as complete, ATF will forward it to the nearest Field Office. At the Field Office, your application will be assigned to an Industry Operations Investigator (IOI). The IOI will review the application and conduct an in person interview. At the interview the investigator will confirm your compliance with local zoning ordinances, confirm all state and local licensure, review articles of incorporation/LLC, discuss firearms laws and regulations, inspect your secure storage facilities (weapons for sale MUST be stored separately from personal firearms, even in a home based business),m and clarify any remaining questions concerning your application. All indications are that the IOIs are helpful, courteous, and professional, so if all your ducks are in a row the interview process should not be onerous. Following the interview, the IOI will prepare a final report with recommendation and the license will be issued or denied at this time.


Summary of Steps

  • Confirm your eligibility.
  • Secure local approvals, licenses, etc.
  • Get finger printed and submit CLEO copy of form 7.
  • Submit BATF&E form 7 to the FFLC, including proper fee and all supporting documentation.
  • In person interview with IOI.


How Long Does it Take to Get an FFL?

ATF is required by law to act on an application within 60 days of receipt. This period generally begins when a properly completed application with all supporting documentation and proper payment is received by the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC). In practice, 3 months seems to be a fair average to complete the process, accounting for the time required to secure all state and local approvals.

If you have any questions relating to the application process, you can contact the ATF Federal Firearms Licensing Center at:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Federal Firearms Licensing Center
244 Needy Road
Martinsburg, West Virginia 25405
Voice (866) 662-2750 (Toll Free)
Fax (866) 257-2749 (Toll Free)

Hope this article was helpful as well. Let us know your feedback via comments (if any).

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