Tighter holds from many states on gun sales and nationwide ammo shortages have led to a growing population of people wanting to become Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders.
Many people become FFL dealers, in addition to carrying their concealed pistol license, to serve their local communities. By federal law, an FFL holder is allowed to sell and distribute firearms
In the state of Washington, there are just a few requirements to follow to get your FFL. We hope to make this process easier for you by teaching you how to make the process hassle-free.
We’ll make sure that you understand the following by the end of this article:
FFL Cost in Washington
How much does an FFL cost in Washington state?Currently, an FFL in the state of Washington costs between $30 and $200 each year. Surprisingly, getting your FFL license in Washington is not more or less than in other states.
When you fill out an FFL license application with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), you choose from several types of FFL licenses, depending on what your business will need.
Each of the firearms license types varies in price. This is because different FFL types allow more or fewer functions, including whether the federal firearms licensee is just trying to sell a few handguns and curios or become a custom retail gun dealer.
Depending on what kind of sales you plan to take part in will determine which application and fees you pay.
You can usually pay for these application fees during the application process with either a credit card or money order.
FFL License Cost by Type
There is an additional cost called an SOT license registration you will need to sell and distribute NFA items like silencers, short-barrel rifles, machine guns, and destructive devices.
Steps to Getting Your FFL
Getting your FFL in Washington is pretty straightforward:
- 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
Before you do anything, research and make sure that you can meet all the Federal requirements, which are the same in all 50 states. We go into more detail on those below.
Step 2: Choose Your FFL Type
After you have checked to make sure you are eligible for an FFL, research the different types of FFL to make sure you apply for the appropriate one for your business. The goal is to make sure that you are lawfully operating your firearms business.
The most common types of FFL most businesses need are either the Type 01 license that allows you to be a firearms dealer and gunsmith or a Type 07 license for manufacturing customized firearms. The value of a Type 07 license is that it will enable both the manufacturingandselling of firearms.
We’ve broken down the different types of FFL for you to determine what kind of FFL best suits your needs in this article.
As we mentioned before, some types of firearms and accessories require you to be an SOT (Special Occupational Taxpayer). After receiving your FFL number, you can then apply for your SOT, which is a requirement from the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA).
NFA items that require you to have your SOT:
- 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.)
We have provided a table below which describes each FFL License type and the corresponding SOT class needed to sell NFA items. In addition, you can find all the required SOT classes for NFA through our complete Get Your FFL Course.
Step 3: Take an FFL Course
Your next step is actually taking an FFL course from a qualified instructor. This is an important step that many try to skip, but because getting your FFL license in certain states is so complex, it must be done!
When I got my FFL, I understood the complexities due to my many years of research and work as an attorney in the firearms industry.
It’s why I created the course below, which not only covers getting your FFL but everything you need to know about state laws to get your FFL in Washington state.
As 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. It’s better for my fellow firearms industry entrepreneurs to instead learn how to do it right the first time.
I put in the extra work for you by providing a combo of classes that includes both the FFL Course and SOT Course. This combo of courses is only an additional $10 and teaches you 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
After verifying that you meet all FFL federal and state requirements, have verified and chosen the appropriate FFL type for your business, and have taken my Rocket FFL course, you are ready to finally apply to be an FFL dealer!
The ATF begins the process after you have completed all the required forms and submitted to a background check and fingerprinting. Both of these are required for all of your business’s “responsible persons” (RP), which includes sole proprietorship as well as any partners that have a say in your business practices and policies.
After your background checks come back clear and the paperwork is approved, your application will be sent to a local ATF field office. Here, an industry operations investigator (IOI) will require you to submit to an in-person interview so all information can be verified and check that you follow all Washington state and local requirements.
Your interview with the IOI will determine whether your FFL application will be approved or denied. If you are approved, the ATF will then submit the approved application to the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC), and you will be assigned an FFL number.
The ATF website says that from start to finish, the process takes about 60 days. This timeframe can fluctuate depending on the state you are setting up since the ATF in Washington may require multiple forms and extra steps during the process.
This is why I created the Rocket FFL course! You’ll have every detail and access to all the necessary forms to quickly apply for your Federal Firearms License in Washington state.
Federal Requirements for an FFL
The federal requirements to get your FFL are the same for every state.
The federal government requires all FFL holders:
- Are at least 21 years of age
- Are a US Citizen or legal permanent resident
- Are legally permitted to possess firearms and ammunition, meaning no felony convictions, have not been a psychological patient, or be a controlled substance user
- Have an established location for conducting FFL activities, including 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 all of these requirements are satisfied, you can then focus on Washington state-specific requirements.
Washington State Requirements for an FFL
Washington state requirements for an FFL break down into two categories:
- State licensing requirements
- Business registration requirements
Washington State Licensing Requirements
While getting your Washington FFL isn’t too difficult, the process is redundant, and it can take longer than in other states.
The big difference Washington demands that some other states don’t is the annual cost is $125 since there is no renewal for a state Firearms Dealer License. This means that each year, you must submit to and pay for fingerprinting and do a background check with each new application.
Be sure to submit your application more than 30 days before the expiration date of your current license to ensure you receive your new license before the current one expires. Each year, it can take between 30-60 days for your new FFL license to go through the entire process again.
As a potential Washington State FFL dealer, something to be aware of is the recent initiative named I-1639, which declared that any semi-auto rifles were to be listed as an “assault weapon.” According to this new law, anyone under the age of 21 can’t even purchase a Ruger 10/22.
In addition, I-1639 also imposes additional paperwork and compliance efforts on FFLs. This means that FFLs would be responsible for verifying that a firearms buyer has completed a safety training course and submits specific Washington state paperwork to local law enforcement before each sale.
As an FFL holder in Washington, it is also essential to know that gun dealers must hold “assault weapons” for 10 business days. NFA items such as machine guns can not be owned or sold unless they were in the state of Washington before 1994.
Short barrel shotguns are wholly prohibited, but silencers, AOW’s, and SBR’s are legal and sold throughout the state.
Unfortunately, Washington State requires redundant local background checks on personal handguns and semi-auto rifles. Due to this redundancy in their system, the FBI has been trying to release them from using the NICS background check system and force Washington to become a full or partial point of contact state.
This means that all handguns, NFA firearms, and semi-auto rifles will be subject to a background check conducted by the State of Washington.
Washington FFL holders need to be aware of this and be prepared for the many issues that will come up because this means customers will have to pay an additional background check fee for each firearm they purchase.
Due to COVID-19, the plans for Washington to become a full or partial point of contact state have been put on hold, and we are not yet sure what and when Washington will handle all backgrounds and stop using NICS.
Washington Business Registration Requirements
You’ll need to register your business with the State of Washington and gain a business license. Even if your business is registered in another state, you’ll still need to have an official presence in Washington state. We outline all the steps required for this process in our Get Your FFL course.
To register your FFL business in Washington, you should check out the steps to starting a company by the Washington Department of Revenue. They also provide all the requirements to register your Washington business.
Washington Local (City/Town) FFL Requirements
If there are local zoning requirements for more highly populated areas, this is where you might see the most significant problems when you apply for your Washington FFL.
First and foremost, make sure the location you use as your business address, especially a home-based FFL, allows for a business.
It’s not uncommon for a home-based firearms business to be told you can’t operate in a zoned residential area. Thankfully, most restrictions are frequently due to a misunderstanding about the type of activity that will take place.
While many zoning departments will mistakenly believe an FFL means heavy foot traffic, much like a retail store, this is not true for most home-based FFLs. The reality is most FFL dealers only have customers who stop by on occasion.
Issues like this and how to navigate them are included in our Get Your FFL course.
Washington FFL Summary
With the proper guidance, managing to get your FFL in Washington does not have to be scary. 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 a Washington FFL holder soon!
We’ve already done the work for you, so you don’t have to sink a lot of hours into trying to get it right on your own.
With our course, you can fill out your forms and get through the application process with confidence. The confines of the Federal and Washington Laws can have anyone nervous, but with our help, you can trust you are running your business safely.
Let’s do it together!
FAQ for Washington FFL Licensing
How much does it cost to get an FFL in Washington?
An FFL in Washington costs anywhere from $30 to $200 each year. For a full breakdown of the cost of an FFL, check here.
Do I need an FFL in Washington?
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 Washington require extra licensing for FFLs?
No, there are no additional licensing requirements for FFLs in Washington, but there is redundancy in the process.
Do I need to register a business for an FFL in Washington?
Yes, if you are forming a business for your FFL, it must be registered in Washington, even if you are an established business in another state.
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 Washington 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 Washington: Need help finding out where to start with your new business? Check out this Webinar from the Washington Department of Revenue showing you how to do just that!
Washington Department of Law Enforcement Firearm Purchase Program Firearm Dealers Manual: Firearms dealers in Washington can use this guide to properly handle firearms sales.
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.