If you’re thinking about getting a Federal Firearms License (FFL) in California so that you can be a gun manufacturer or firearms dealer (even from your home) in the golden state, then you’re in the right place.
Most of the requirements for getting your FFL License are federal rules and regs, however, each state also has its own requirements for getting an FFL. Unfortunately, California isn’t exactly gun friendly…. but, there are many gun owners and customers and the FFL process in California isn’t that hard if you know how to do it. As we’ll explore more later, local zoning laws can be tricky and can cause a problem for getting your FFL (especially if you don’t know the right way to navigate them).
Let’s take a quick overview of the basic federal requirements and then dig into everything that is required to get your FFL in California.
In this “Getting Your FFL in California Guide” we’ll cover:
- Federal FFL License Requirements
- California State Requirements for Getting an FFL
- Local (city/town/county) FFL License Requirements
- California FFL Summary
Federal FFL License Requirements
Even though you’re looking to get your FFL while living in California, the first requirements to look at are the federal FFL License requirements.
Thankfully, the federal FFL Requirements aren’t that burdensome.
In over-simplified terms, if you are at least 21 years old, lawfully able to possess firearms and ammunition, and have a location and business-intent, then you qualify for an FFL.
FFL License Requirements:
- Be a U.S. Citizen
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be legally allowed to possess firearms and ammunition
- Have a location for conducting FFL activities (home-based FFLs are the most popular FFLs in the country)
- Ensure that your business activity at that location meets zoning requirements
- NOT have violated the Gun Control Act (GCA) or its regulations
- NOT lied on your FFL application
If you’d like to learn more, check out our article on FFL Requirements.
Once you meet the the federal FFL Requirements, it’s time to move on the California FFL Requirements and then apply for your FFL.
California State Requirements for Getting an FFL
State requirements for an FFL can be broken down into two categories:
- State licensing requirements, and
- Business registration requirements
California requires many extra licensing and registration steps for FFLs and, like all states, it requires business registration.
California FFL Licensing Requirements
Unfortunately, California requires quite a bit to get an FFL. There are two specific FFL Requirements in the CA Penal Code and a few business registration requirements (below).
The FFL requirements in CA are:
- Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
- A valid listing on the DOJ Centralized List of Firearm Dealers
A CA Certificate of Eligibility is a certification from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) that the recipient is not prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms. The Certificate of Eligibility application process involves a criminal background check by the CA DOJ.
To get a CA COE, applicants must apply for the COE online and register annually. Additionally, employees must also have their own COE. The cost for the initial COE is $71 and COE renewals are $22.
Applicants for an FFL in California must also be listed on the CA DOJ Centralized List of Firearm Dealers. This allows CA FFLs to be listed when a shipping FFL uses the California Firearms Licensee Check (CFLC) system. To get listed, FFLs in California must apply by filling out the Centralized List of Firearms Dealers Application and submit it to the CA DOJ Bureau of Firearms.
California Business Registration Requirements
In addition to the FFL registration requirements in California above, there are also special business registration requirements in addition to the standard business requirements for any other state.
- A license granted by the duly constituted licensing authority of any city, county, or city and county
- State Board of Equalization Seller’s Permit
California FFLs must get a business license from their local municipality and also a State Board of Equalization Seller’s Permit. FFLs can apply for their permit online on the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration system. You can learn more about obtaining a seller’s permit on this CA Seller’s Permit FAQ page.
Just as with any other state, you’ll need to register your business with the State of California.
If you register your business in another state (we suggest this in our Get Your FFL course), you’ll still need to have an official presence in California.
Registering a business in California is, you guessed it, complicated. Thankfully, the California Secretary of State (SOS) has a register a California business guide.
California Ammunition Vendors License
In order to sell ammunition in California, background checks are required and the FFL must have a valid Ammunition Vendor’s License. To learn all about the extra California requirements for FFLs, please check out the California Firearm and Ammunition Seller requirements.
We also cover each of these requirements in our course.
California Local (City/Town) FFL Requirements
Local zoning issues can be one of the biggest hang-ups for people applying for their FFL.
Getting around zoning issues is not that hard once you know a few tricks.
But, you MUST ensure that the location you have chosen (most often a home-based FFL) allows for a business.
Unfortunately, too many people are told that they can’t have an FFL in a residential area and they give up. Very often, the restrictions on business in certain areas are due to a misunderstanding about business activity.
For example. zoning departments hear “FFL” and they assume heavy foot traffic and retail activities, But, most home-based FFLs are only occasionally having a customer stop by and aren’t going to be having retail-level traffic.
We cover this and more, including business hour requirements, in our Get Your FFL course.
California FFL Summary
Getting your FFL in California is one of the most difficult states to get your license. However, it’s not impossible and we’re here to help you.
There are extra state FFL registration and business requirements for getting an FFL License and the local zoning requirements are the same as any other state.
If you’re ready, get started with your California FFL today.
California Federal Firearm License FAQs
Q: Does California require extra licensing for FFLs?
A: Yes, California FFLs must have a Certificate of Eligibility for the owner and every employee.
Q: Do I need to register a business for an FFL in California?
A: Yes, if you are forming a business for your FFL, then it must be registered in California.
Q: How much does an FFL cost in California?
A: An FFL in California costs anywhere from $30 to $200 for 3 years. For a full breakdown on the cost of an FFL, check out How Much Does an FFL Cost?.