There a different types of FFL to choose from. Make sure you understand which FFL type is best for you.
FFL eZ Check is a free system run by the ATF to help confirm the validity of a Federal Firearm License (FFL).
The eZ Check system is a great tool for what it is designed for: to make sure that an FFL is legitimate.
In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the ATF’s system.
The FFL eZ Check system is a tool provided by the ATF for an FFL dealer to look up a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to ensure that it is valid (not expired/revoked) and to confirm shipping information.
An FFL is a Federal Firearms License. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) regulates the interstate commerce of firearms and an FFL is required under federal law in order to be engaged in the business of firearms.
This means that if you want to be a firearms dealer or manufacturer, you’re going to need to get your FFL.
Depending on the type of business activity you’d like to engage in with firearms, you’ll need a particular type of FFL. And, contrary to popular belief, home-based FFLs are perfectly legal and are, in fact, the most common type of FFLs in this country.
The ATF eZ Check system is for checking on FFLs by looking up their FFL number only – it is NOT for running gun background checks (federal background checks or NICS background checks).
If you are already an FFL holder, there are many things you must be aware of to be compliant. We cover all of these in our ATF Compliance Course.
One of the requirements under federal law is that before you transfer a firearm to another FFL, you must obtain a copy of their FFL. We also strongly recommend that you use the ATF eZ Check system to confirm the validity of the copy of the FFL you receive.
Why should you confirm the validity of an FFL?
You should confirm that an FFL is valid because using a fraudulent FFL copy is a method of that some criminals use to unlawfully get firearms.
You see, when a non-FFL (a regular citizen) wants to purchase a firearm from an FFL, they must appear at the licensed location (or an authorized event) to fill out paperwork (Form 4473) and satisfy the background check requirements to have the firearm properly transferred to them.
If you sell a gun to someone in another state (like on GunBroker for example), you’ll need to ship the firearm to an FFL in their state who can then transfer it to them.
As a non-FFL, you should insist on getting a copy of the FFL you are sending to. As an FFL, it is a REQUIREMENT.
How do you know that the FFL you are shipping to is actually a legitimate/valid FFL? After all, the paper copy of the license you’ll receive from the FFL holder is just that…. a piece of paper (likely a poor quality photocopy).
Well, you could use their website and do some research. But, even if it’s a valid company name, someone could take the paper copy of the real FFL and then just put their address on it. Or, the FFL could have been revoked from the ATF.
In either of these cases, you might believe it is a real FFL (company) but you’d be sending the gun to a non-FFL.
This is a crime.
Hopefully, you can see why it is important to use the FFL eZ Check system.
With FFL eZ Check, you can enter the FFL number and see a current record from the ATF for that FFL. This will show the actual company name, whether the FFL is still valid, and the accurate shipping information for the firearm(s).
Let’s walk through each of the steps for using ATF’s eZ Check tool.
The first step is to get an actual copy of the license for the FFL dealer that you are going to be using. You are the requesting licensee of another FFL. The license copy must be a signed copy. It does not need to be a “certified copy” – a photocopy is fine. In fact, it is technically a certified copy once signed.
There is not much of a standard here: a photocopy of the license is fine, and often it is only part of the FFL and may have something like “for firearm transfers only” written on it. Many Federal Firearms Licensees do this, so you don’t take their copy of their FFL and try to use it for a firearm transfer to get a gun in a gun store in person.
As long as the copy is a signed copy of the FFL, you’re good.
This step is easy: open the FFL eZ Check tool on the ATF website by visiting: https://fflezcheck.atf.gov/fflezcheck/
Enter the first 3 digits and the last 5 digits of the FFL number from the licensee into the FFL eZ Check tool, and then click the submit button.
If you’d like to learn more about what each section of numbers of an FFL license stand for, check out our article on FFL Numbers and what they mean.
After entering the FFL information (the FFL number) and selecting the submit button, you’ll see the ATF’s record for that Federal Firearms Licensee.
You’ll see the FFL name, address, FFL type, and whether it is a valid FFL (not expired or revoked).
If the FFL is expired, you can still use it IF that Federal Firearms Licensee has a valid Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the ATF for that license. A LOA will allow an FFL to still be used if the renewal is in process. If there’s a valid LOA, it will be shown in the results along with the date for which it can be used.
If you’re not clear about what address you can ship a firearm to based on the addresses on the FFL, we cover this in our ATF Compliance Course.
If you receive an error message from the ATF FFL eZ Check system, confirm the licensee’s information and try again. If you continue to get an error message, you may be dealing with a fraudulent copy of a license.
|ATF Data||FFL Results|
|License Name||Joe Bob's Guns, LLC|
|Trade Name||Joe Bob's, Joe Bob's Guns|
|Premise Address||123 Any Street, Nashville, TN, 37211|
|Mailing Address||123 Main St, Nashville, TN 37211|
|LOA Issue Date||n/a|
|LOA Expiration Date||n/a|
You should use the ATF’s eZ Check system for FFLs whenever you are shipping a firearm to an FFL (gun dealer or gun manufacturer). If you’re doing a firearm transfer to another FFL, use the system!
We recommend this both for private citizens and current FFLs. You do not need to be a requesting licensee.
By using the ATF’s free tool, you can confirm that the FFL you are using is valid and that you are not falling for an FFL scam and shipping the firearm somewhere you shouldn’t.
Once you’ve confirmed the information, you can send off your shipment.
Do not try to use the eZ Check system for background checks – that is NOT what the system is for.
It can not be used (it won’t work) for federal background checks (NICS check) for gun purchases. A NICS Check is completely different and should only be done for a firearm transfer for a customer at your licensed premises (or a qualifying event).
Also, the system is only going to be used for firearm shipments for FFLs that are NOT Type 06 or Type 3 FFLs. You can easily see the FFL type by looking at the FFL number (we show you how here: FFL Numbers, what they mean)
Type 06 FFLs are for manufacturing ammunition only. Type 06 licensees are for an ammunition manufacturer only. Type 06 licenses can NOT be used for any firearm activity – never ship a firearm to Type 06 licenses.
Type 03 FFLs are for curio and relic collectors (type 03 Licensees). These can be handy, but they are NOT for regular firearms, and they can not be used to be engaged in the business of buying or selling (transferring) firearms. A type 03 licensee can only collect – not deal or make.
You do not need to use ATF’s FFL eZ Check for firearm transfers to law enforcement agencies.
The system is NOT to be used for explosives.
Every so often, we get a question about an ATF account (username and/or password) for using the FFL eZ Check system.
NO ACCOUNT IS NEEDED!
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) provides eZ Check as a free tool on the ATF website for anyone to use – you do not need anything to be a user of the system. The ATF does this to help with their law enforcement function.
If you’re interested in becoming an FFL, you really should check out our Get Your FFL Course.
In our course, we walk you through how to set up your license the right way. Anyone can figure out how to complete the application on their own (heck, we’ve done it numerous times before RocketFFL existed). However, as an attorney, I found myself repeating MANY TIMES all the tips and tricks to help set everything up correctly so that you don’t get into trouble with the ATF later. Because of this, I knew I had to make a course to make it easy for everyone.
We also help you learn the basics so that you can make the right decisions along the way. For example, knowing which FFL type to get depends on what you want to do as a licensee. Also, we cover the various cost differences between licenses and explain what it takes to become an SOT so that you can work with NFA firearms.
No, the ATF FFL eZ Check system can be used by anyone. There is no need to be a registered user. We recommend using it before making a shipment to an FFL.
No, the FFL eZ Check system can not be used for background checks.
The ATF’s eZ Check system is for looking up information about an FFL to ensure that it is a valid license and to confirm the shipping address for firearms.
ATF’s FFL eZ Check system is 100% free.
You can use the FFL eZ Check system by visiting the ATF’s website (above) and entering an FFL number.
No, ammunition manufacturers may not work with firearms. The system is only for shipping to a gun dealer or gun manufacturer.
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