Responsible Person FFL

Responsible Person for FFL Guide [2023] – ATF Requirements

So, you’re either thinking about getting your FFL, or you already have an FFL license and are curious about Responsible Persons (RPs).

We get it – there’s a lot of confusion about Responsible Persons on FFLs. We hear questions about RPs like:

  • How many RPs should my FFL have?
  • How do I add a Responsible Person?
  • What is the ATF definition of a Responsible Person?
  • How do I know if someone in my company is an RP?

We’ll cover these questions in this Responsible Person Guide. Of course, the basics of setting up an FFL correctly are covered in our Get Your FFL course, and we dive into greater detail of ATF nuances in our ATF Compliance Course.

Here’s the best summary we can give:

What is a Responsible Person? A Responsible Person (RP) is someone who has the authority and power to direct firearm compliance decisions and operations for an FFL.

What are the ATF requirements for Responsible Persons? The ATF requires at least one Responsible Person (RP) and, in many cases, requires more than one RP.

Why is it important to know what/who an RP is? I’ve had more than one client come to me because they got into trouble for not having people that should have been listed as an RP properly on their FFL.

Responsible Person Defined

A Responsible Person (RP) is someone who has the authority and power to direct firearm compliance decisions and operations for an FFL.

This means that they are the ultimate person (or one of the persons) responsible for ATF Compliance of the FFL. This does NOT mean that they are necessarily the “compliance person.”

Most people think that the RP is the “holder of the FFL.” This is not correct.

Instead, the business or entity is technically the holder of the FFL (even if a sole proprietorship) and the RPs are the employees that work for the entity that has the FFL.

We have a simple method to help determine who should be a responsible person in our Get Your FFL & ATF Compliance courses.

It is VERY important to have the correct people listed as RPs on the FFL! Someone is technically an RP based on their role in the company (e.g. manager) and not whether they are listed as an RP on the FFL. This distinction matters! If someone is an RP based on their role, and NOT listed as an RP on the FFL, then you can get into significant trouble with the ATF.

The definition for a responsible person is found in the ATF regs at 27 CFR 555.11:

“Responsible person. An individual who has the power to direct the management and policies of the applicant pertaining to explosive materials. Generally, the term includes partners, sole proprietors, site managers, corporate officers and directors, and majority shareholders.”

How do You Add a Responsible Person on an FFL?

Adding a responsible person to an FFL is fairly straightforward.

There are two ways to add a responsible person:

  1. you can add an RP when you apply for the FFL by including their paperwork, fingerprints, and photos with the application, or
  2. you can add (and/or remove) an RP at any time with the ATF

To add an RP after you’ve already applied for an FFL, they must fill out the application to be added as an RP, and include their fingerprints, and photos. Also, the FFL (the entity) must also notify the ATF that they’d like the person added onto the FFL as an RP. We cover all of this in our courses.

The form for adding an RP is ATF Form 7 (5310.12A)

How many Responsible Persons should be on an FFL license?

We think it is smart to always have more than one responsible person on every FFL.

However, you must have at least one.

It is not true that the owner of a company always needs to be an RP on an FFL – in fact, we walk through how to navigate not having them as an RP (if appropriate) in our courses.

Responsible Person FAQ

What is a Responsible Person?

A responsible person is someone who has the authority to direct and control firearm operations for an FFL.

A responsible person is added to an FFL using Part B of ATF Form 7 (this is covered above).

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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11 thoughts on “Responsible Person for FFL Guide [2023] – ATF Requirements



    1. Jackie

      The ATF doesn’t charge a fee for the Part B application. Ryan covers RPs in-depth in the FFL course, but this article covers the basics: RPs for FFL Guide – 2022.

  2. Carole Williams

    Hello ,
    Question how do you remove a responsible person from an FFL ?

    1. Ryan Cleckner

      We cover how to manage RPs on an FFL in our ATF Compliance Course/Program.

  3. Jake

    Does a RP still have to be processed with a background check when purchasing a firearm?

    1. Ryan Cleckner

      If they are purchasing a firearm as an individual, they will still have to satisfy the background check requirements.

  4. Greg Derylo

    Can I add my wife as an RP on my Curio & Relic license, or are multiple RP’s just for FFL businesses? Thanks from an IL resident (so no type 01 for me).

  5. Tim

    How long does the ATF take to process adding an RP? Is the RP notified by ATF that they were added to the FFL or does the notification come to the FFL?

    1. Ryan Cleckner

      Unfortunately, there is no notification from the ATF. There should be, but I’ve never seen one.

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