Many gun owners look for ways to share their passion with other people around them. This may take the form of taking their friends shooting, teaching people about firearm safety, or simply talking about it in conversations.
But for many, the epitome of this passion is opening up their very own gun store.
To do this, you must apply for a Federal Firearms License (FFL). An FFL allows you to legally sell guns such as handguns, long guns, ammo, and other NFA items. This would also allow you to sell at special events, such as gun shows, and handle FFL transfers!
As great as this may sound, several requirements must first be met on both a Federal and State level. Here at Rocket FFL, we are determined to help you meet these requirements with all the proper knowledge to make the process as easy as possible, helping you become the newest gun dealer in Pennsylvania.
In this article, we will discuss:
- FFL Cost
- Steps to getting your FFL in Massachusetts
- Federal Requirements for an FFL
- Massachusetts State Requirements for an FFL
- Massachusetts Local (City/Town) FFL Requirements
- FAQs and additional resources
FFL Cost in Pennsylvania
How much does an FFL cost? An FFL in Pennsylvania 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
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 Pennsylvania, you need to:
- Ensure you meet the federal and state requirements for an FFL
- Choose your FFL type
- Take an FFL course
- Submit your FFL application forms
Step 1: Ensure You Meet FFL Federal Requirements
First, you need to make sure that you meet all Federal requirements for FFL holders. 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. Depending on what you are trying to do with your business, choose the license type that allows 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). Type 07 license holders may 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. These requirements are from the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), later updated with Title II of the Gun Control Act.
You’ll need to be an SOT if you plan to sell these NFA items:
- 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.
Step 3: Take an FFL Course
Next, take an FFL course from a qualified instructor.
FFL license logistics can be complex. I developed this course based on decades of research and work as an attorney in the firearms industry to help you get your FFL hassle-free.
It covers the federal-level information you need to apply for your FFL and everything you need to know to get your FFL in Massachusetts.
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. Select the course add-on at checkout for both courses.
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 on all “responsible persons” for the business. A responsible person (RP) is either the sole proprietor, a partner in the corporation, or will influence the business’s practices and policies.
Once all application paperwork is verified as correct 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 website, 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 during the process.
This may require multiple forms and extra steps, depending on where you live. However, if you took the Rocket FFL course, you’ll have every detail and access to all the necessary forms to quickly apply for your Federal Firearms License.
Federal Requirements for an FFL
The federal requirements for getting an FFL are the same for every state.
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.
Pennsylvania State Requirements for an FFL
Pennsylvania state requirements for an FFL can be broken down into two categories:
- State licensing requirements
- Business registration requirements
Pennsylvania State Licensing Requirements
In the state of Pennsylvania, after you are successfully licensed as an FFL Dealer from the ATF, you must then go to your local county sheriff to apply for a state dealer license to sell firearms. The Pennsylvania State Police Department offers a website that provides links to all county sheriffs (including their phone numbers) in the state.
Different counties will have varying requirements and licensing fees associated with the application, so make sure to research your county’s requirements.
Pennsylvania Business Registration Requirements
Whether you’re opening a gun shop, an auto shop, or a restaurant, you always need to register your business with the state before officially opening your doors.
Even if your business is registered in another state (we suggest this in our Get Your FFL course), you’ll still need to have an official presence in Pennsylvania.
To register your FFL business in Pennsylvania, you should check out the steps to starting a company by PA.gov.
Pennsylvania 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 allows for a firearms business.
In Massachusetts, this strictly excludes home operations. It is required by state law that all firearms businesses operate in a brick-and-mortar location of some kind, not in a residential area. The only slight exception to this is a Type 03 FFL (a Curios and Relic License).
We cover this and more, including requirements for specific business hours, in our Get Your FFL course.
Pennsylvania FFL Summary
As you can see, getting your Pennsylvania FFL is straightforward with the proper guidance!
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 being the newest owner of a Pennsylvania FFL.
But I’ll warn you — without our course, you can expect to sink many hours into trying to get it right on your own.
With our course, you can, with confidence, fill out your forms and get through the process with ease. 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 Pennsylvania FFL Licensing
How much does it cost to get an FFL in Pennsylvania?
An FFL in Pennsylvania costs anywhere from $30 to $200 for 3 years. For a full breakdown of the cost of an FFL, check here.
Do I need an FFL in Pennsylvania?
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 Pennsylvania require extra licensing for FFLs?
Yes, you are required to apply for a state dealers license through your local county sheriff.
Do I need to register a business for an FFL in Pennsylvania?
Yes, if you are forming a business for your FFL, it must be registered in Pennsylvania.
Can I get an FFL to save money on guns?
No, you should not get an FFL just to save money on guns. One of the main requirements for getting your FFL is “business intent,” meaning you intend 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 a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania: Need help finding out where to start with your new business? Check out this article from the Pennsylvania state department showing you how to do just that!
Pennsylvania State Police Department Firearms Information: This website provides information on how to become licensed to sell firearms, carry firearms, their state background check system, and much more! You can also find the contact information for all county sheriffs in the state for when you are ready to apply for the state dealers license.
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).