how to get your ffl in iowa

How to Get Your FFL in Iowa: Full Guide [2021 Update]


The firearms industry is full of people passionate about exercising their second amendment rights to the fullest extent. This includes people who want to serve their communities by becoming Federal Firearms License Holders.

A Federal Firearms License (FFL) allows you to legally sell firearms, ammo, and other NFA items (such as suppressors, short-barrel rifles, automatic rifles, etc.).

We here at Rocket FFL want to help you achieve this goal by eliminating as much guesswork as possible, giving you all the know-how you need to become the next license holder in Iowa.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • FFL Cost
  • Steps to getting your FFL in Iowa
  • Federal Requirements for an FFL
  • Iowa State Requirements for an FFL
  • Iowa Local (City/Town) FFL Requirements
  • FAQs and additional resources

FFL Cost in Iowa

How much does an FFL cost? An FFL in Iowa costs between $30-$200 for the first 3 years.

When you fill out an FFL application with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), you choose from several license types.

Each of these license types varies in price due to the different functions they allow the licensee to perform. This includes whether the licensee is just trying to sell a few handguns, incorporate gunsmithing, or handle NFA items, for example.

Each of these activities requires a different type of license for which the application fees range in price.

FFL License Cost by Type

FFL LicenseApplicationRenewalYears
Type 01$200$903
Type 02$200$903
Type 03$30$303
Type 06$30$303
Type 07$150$1503
Type 08$150$1503
Type 09$3,000$3,0003
Type 10$3,000$3,0003
Type 11$3,000$3,0003

To handle NFA items (such as silencers, short-barrel rifles, machine guns, destructive devices, etc.), you must pay additional costs in the form of an SOT license registration.

Steps to Getting Your FFL

To get your FFL in Iowa, you need to:

  1. Ensure you meet the federal and state requirements for an FFL
  2. Choose your FFL type
  3. Take an FFL course
  4. Submit your FFL application forms

Step 1: Ensure You Meet FFL Federal Requirements

First, you need to make sure that you meet all Federal and state requirements. These are the same for every state in America (more details below).

Step 2: Choose Your FFL Type

Second, make sure you apply for the appropriate type of FFL. You can choose from several types of FFLs, depending on what you are trying to do with your business. Because of this, you will need to make sure you choose the type of license that will allow you to lawfully operate your firearms business.

More often than not, you will probably need either a Type 01 license (for most firearms dealers and gunsmiths) or a Type 07 license (for manufacturing). A Type 07 license lets you both manufacture and sell firearms.

To determine what type of FFL best suits your needs, read this article, where we break it down.

Some types of firearms and accessories require you to be an SOT (Special Occupational Taxpayer). You’ll apply as an SOT after being assigned your FFL number.

You’ll need to be an SOT if you plan to sell these NFA items:

  • Silencers
  • Full-auto machine guns
  • Short-barreled rifles (rifles with a barrel shorter than 16″ or an overall length under 26″)
  • Short-barreled shotguns (shotguns with a barrel shorter than 18″ or an overall length under 26″)
  • Destructive devices (grenades, mines, bombs, etc.)
  • Any other weapons (pen guns, specific special handguns, etc.)

The table below describes each FFL License type and which SOT Class you’ll need to apply for after getting your FFL to sell firearms covered under the NFA.

We cover all of the specifics of SOT classes and the NFA in our Get Your FFL Course.

FFL License Types

FFL License TypeFFL License PurposeSOT Class
Type 01 FFLDealer/Gunsmith of Firearms3
Type 02 FFLPawnbroker/Dealer of Firearms3
Type 03 FFLCollector of Firearmsn/a
Type 06 FFLManufacturer of Ammunitionn/a
Type 07 FFLManufacturer/Dealer of Firearms and Ammunition2
Type 08 FFLImporter/Dealer of Firearms1
Type 09 FFL Dealer of Destructive Devices3
Type 10 FFLManufacturer/Dealer of Destructive Devices2
Type 11 FFLImporter/Dealer of Destructive Devices1

Step 3: Take an FFL Course

Next, take an FFL course from a qualified instructor. The logistics of getting your FFL License can be complex. That’s why I developed it based on decades of research and work as an attorney in the firearms industry to help you get your FFL hassle-free.

The below course will not only cover getting your FFL, but it also covers everything you need to know to get your FFL in Iowa.

I’m a firearms attorney that specializes in ATF compliance. I could get rich by letting people improperly apply for their FFL and charge my hourly rate to fix it for them later.

But I thought it would be better for my fellow firearms industry entrepreneurs to instead learn how to do it right the first time.

I highly recommend that you get the FFL Course and SOT Course combo. For an extra $10, learn how to apply to buy and sell silencers and Short Barreled Rifles (SBRs) in addition to standard firearms covered by just your FFL.

Step 4: Submit Your FFL Application Forms

Finally, once you’ve made sure you meet all requirements (federal and state), verified the appropriate FFL type for your business, and taken the Rocket FFL course, you are ready to “pull the trigger” and apply for your FFL!

Once you submit all the forms required by the ATF, they will start the process by completing a background check through NICS on all “responsible persons” for the business. A responsible person (RP) is the sole proprietor, a partner in the corporation, or will influence its practices and policies.

Once all application paperwork is verified as correct, your fingerprints have been verified by a law enforcement agency, and all background checks are complete, the application is sent to a local ATF field office. An industry operations investigator (IOI) will set up an in-person interview with you to make sure all information is still correct and that you are following all state and local requirements.

After the interview, the IOI will make a recommendation to either approve or deny your FFL application. Assuming you passed, the ATF field office supervisor will then submit the approved application to the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC), and you will be the next owner of an FFL!

According to the ATF.gov site, the entire process takes about 60 days from when a completed application was first received. However, depending on the state you are setting up in, the ATF may require multiple forms and extra steps before becoming an Iowa gun dealer.

This may require multiple forms and extra steps depending on your location. However, if you took the Rocket FFL course, you’ll have every detail and access to all the necessary forms to quickly become an FFL dealer.

Federal Requirements for an FFL

The federal requirements for getting an FFL are the same for every state. The only differences occur in the state laws.

To get an FFL, the federal government requires that you:

  • Are at least 21 years of age
  • Are a US Citizen or legal permanent resident
  • Are legally permitted to possess firearms and ammunition (no felony convictions, have not been a psychological patient or controlled substance user, etc.)
  • Have a predetermined location for conducting FFL activities (this includes home-based FFLs)
  • Have never violated the Gun Control Act (GCA) or related regulations
  • Do not make any false statements/claims on your FFL application

Once you satisfy all of these requirements, you can then move on to the state-specific requirements.

Iowa State Requirements for an FFL

Iowa state requirements for an FFL can be broken down into two categories:

  1. State licensing requirements
  2. Business registration requirements

Iowa State Licensing Requirements

Great news: If you’re applying for an FFL in the state of Iowa, there are no additional licensing requirements or state laws you need to be aware of! This means that your FFL is all you’ll need to be one of the distributors of handguns, rifles, ammo, and more in the state of Iowa.

However, if you move your FFL to another state, you may have state-level registration requirements in your new state.

Iowa Business Registration Requirements

Like in any other state, you’ll need to register your business with the State of Iowa.

Even if your business is registered in another state (we suggest this in our Get Your FFL course), you must maintain an official presence in Iowa.

To register your FFL business in Iowa, check out this website from the Iowa Secretary of State.

Iowa Local (City/Town) FFL Requirements

Local zoning requirements are usually one of the biggest problems when applying for an FFL. Most importantly, you must ensure the location you use as a base of operations (often a home-based FFL) allows for a business.

It’s common to inquire about an FFL for a home-based firearms business and be told you can’t operate in a residential area. But business restrictions in certain regions are frequently due to a misunderstanding about the type of business activity held there.

Talk to your local zoning department about the difference between regular retail business and heavy foot traffic and the business you’ll conduct at your home-based FFL. Most home-based FFLs don’t have retail-level traffic and only have customers stop by on occasion.

We cover this and more, including requirements for specific business hours, in our Get Your FFL course.

Iowa FFL Summary

As you can see, an FFL in Iowa is pretty straightforward.

As long as you meet the Federal and State requirements, choose the appropriate license type, take our online course, and fill in the proper forms, you’ll be on your way to going from one of Iowa’s many gun owners to one of Iowa’s newest FFL holders!

But I’ll warn you — without our course, you can expect to sink a lot of hours into trying to get it right on your own.

Instead, fill out your forms and get through the process with confidence and ease by taking our course first. Trust me — knowing that you are running your business safely and within all the confines of both federal and local laws will be a massive load off your mind.

So, if you’re ready, let’s get started!

FAQ for Iowa FFL Licensing

How much does it cost to get an FFL in Iowa?

An FFL in Iowa costs between $30-$200 for 3 years. For a full breakdown of the cost of an FFL, check here.

Do I need an FFL in Iowa?

Yes! If you plan to sell, transfer, manufacture, or do anything else for profit involving firearms, you are legally required to have an active FFL.

Does Iowa require extra licensing for FFLs?

No, there are no additional licensing requirements for FFLs in Iowa.

Do I need to register a business for an FFL in Iowa?

Yes, if you are forming a business for your FFL, it must be registered in Iowa.

Can I get an FFL to save money on guns?

No, you should not get an FFL to save money on guns. One of the main requirements for getting your FFL is “business intent,” meaning you plan to operate a firearms-related business.

However, you may wait to start your business until after you get your FFL number.

Extra Resources For Getting an Iowa FFL

US Code § 923: Code § 923 covers federal regulations for the import, manufacture, and dealing of firearms and ammunition. This is the federal law that requires those operating firearms businesses to get an FFL.

US CFR § 478.47 – Issuance of license.: This code explains how a Federal Firearms License is issued, including who must assign the license number. It requires the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) to qualify applicants based on a predetermined list of requirements and to issue Federal Firearms Licenses.

If a correctly submitted FFL application has been submitted on ATF Form 7, the Chief of the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (a department at the ATF) must issue the license and assign a serial number to the licensee.

Gun Control Act (GCA): The GCA of 1968 establishes stricter laws on the firearms industry than were already present in the NFA. New regulations regarding firearms offenses, firearms/ammunition sales to “prohibited persons,” and federal jurisdiction for “destructive devices” (bombs, grenades, mines, etc.) were created with the GCA.

Starting a Business in Iowa: Need help finding out where to start with your new business? This article from the Iowa Department of State will walk you through the process.

FFL Types: Use this guide to make sure that you choose the right type of Federal Firearms License for what you want to do.

Home-Based FFL: Don’t want to pay for a storefront but wish to operate as an FFL holder from your home? We explain how to do it from start to finish.

Ryan Cleckner is a former special operations sniper and current attorney specializing in firearms law/ATF compliance and is a firearms industry executive (former govt. relations manager for NSSF, Vice President of Remington Outdoor Company, and a SAAMI voting board member).

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