Across the nation, a surge of people wants to serve their communities beyond having their concealed carry as Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders. FFL holders are permitted by federal law to handle the selling and distribution of firearms and ammo as a gun dealer.
Getting your FFL has only a few requirements in Wisconsin. At Rocket FFL, we desire to make the process quick and easy, so you can efficiently and wisely open your own local gun shop within Wisconsin state laws.
This article aims to be a step-by-step guide to explain:
FFL Cost in Wisconsin
How much does an FFL cost? An FFL in Wisconsin costs between $30-$200 for the first 3 years.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) requires you to choose from several firearms license types and license applications.
The different functions of each license type determine the license price. For example: If a licensee is just trying to sell a few handguns from a curio, this is a much different function than gunsmithing or becoming an importer of NFA items, such as suppressors.
There is a different type of license for each activity, in which the application fees range in price.
FFL License Cost by Type
To import NFA items (such as silencers/suppressors, short-barrel rifles, machine guns, destructive devices, etc.), you must also pay for an SOT license registration.
Steps to Getting Your FFL
To get your FFL in Wisconsin:
- Ensure you meet the federal 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
Federal requirements must be met for all FFL holders. These are the same for every person and state in the USA (more details below).
Step 2: Choose Your FFL Type
The most common mistake is not applying for the appropriate type of FFL needed for your business. Double-check that you choose the type of license that will allow you to lawfully operate your firearms business anywhere in the US.
It is typical for most businesses to need either a Type 01 license (for most firearms dealers and gunsmiths) or a Type 07 license (for manufacturing). The beauty of the Type 07 license is it lets you both manufacture and sell firearms.
This article breaks down the differences between all the different license types.
NFA items require you to be an SOT (Special Occupational Taxpayer). You can apply for your 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.)
Which SOT Class you’ll need to apply for after getting your FFL to sell firearms covered under the NFA can be found in the table below. 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 an instructor qualified in ATF compliance.
Your FFL License journey can be complex. It’s for this reason that I developed a course 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 Wisconsin.
I’m a firearms attorney with decades of knowledge and experience in ATF compliance. My aim is to teach you how to get your FFL license the right way the first time.
Don’t miss out, and opt to get the FFL Course and SOT Course combo for an extra $10. The combo of courses will teach you how to apply to buy and sell NFA silencers and Short Barreled Rifles (SBRs), in addition to standard firearms covered by just your FFL.
Step 4: Submit Your FFL Application Forms
Finally, you are ready to “bite the bullet” and apply for your FFL!
Once you submit all the forms required by the ATF, including a fingerprint card, and have paid the appropriate fee with your credit card, they will start the NCIS background check on all “responsible persons” for the business. By definition, a responsible person (RP) is either the sole proprietor, a partner in the corporation who 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 check you are following protocols for both state and local laws.
The IOI will make a recommendation to either approve or deny your FFL application after your interview. The ATF field office supervisor will then submit approved applications to the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC), where FFL numbers are assigned to each FFL licensee.
According to ATF.gov, the entire process takes about 60 days. The ATF may require multiple forms and extra steps during the process in some states. Our Rocket FFL course gives you every detail and access to all the necessary forms to quickly apply for your Federal Firearms License.
Federal Requirements for an FFL
Each state has identical requirements for getting an FFL.
The FFL requirements are as follows — you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be a US Citizen or legal permanent resident
- Be 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 no violations of the Gun Control Act (GCA) or related regulations
- Make no false statements/claims on your FFL application
Once you satisfy all of these requirements, you can then move on to the state-specific requirements for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin State Requirements for an FFL
Wisconsin state requirements for an FFL can be broken down into two categories:
- State licensing requirements
- Business registration requirements
Wisconsin State Licensing Requirements
While Wisconsin does not have a separate license for FFL holders, they do require all registered firearms dealers to call the Crime Information Bureau (CIB) — Handgun Hotline before each FFL transfer of a handgun.
The CIB has 5 business days to complete a background check. The FFL dealer receives a “call confirmation number” they must use to verify that the check was initiated. FFL dealers are then given an approval or a denial number for the FFL transfer of the handgun based on the determined eligibility or non-eligibility of the potential new gun owner.
Wisconsin Statute 175.35, effective December 1, 1991, requires all Wisconsin ATF FFL firearms dealers to conduct a mandatory NICS background check for any person attempting to purchase a firearm (or a handgun and a long gun) in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Business Registration Requirements
All FFL businesses must register with the State of Wisconsin, even if it is registered in another state. An official presence in Wisconsin is required, which we go over in our Get Your FFL course.
To register your FFL business in Wisconsin, you should check out the steps to starting a company by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. They also provide an excellent resource for How To Register your Wisconsin Business.
Wisconsin Local (City/Town) FFL Requirements
Local zoning requirements are sometimes an issue when applying for an FFL.
I can not stress enough the importance of making sure the location you use as a base of operations (often a home-based FFL) allows for a business. It’s common for a home-based firearms business to be told you can’t operate in a residential area.
When a zoning department hears “FFL,” they assume retail-level traffic and do not know most FFLs only have customers stop by on occasion. We cover this and more, including requirements for specific business hours, in our Get Your FFL course.
Wisconsin FFL Summary
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, getting your Wisconsin FFL is relatively straightforward!
You can expect to sink a lot of hours into trying to get it right on your own without our educational course.
Fill out your forms with confidence and get through the process with ease. Take a massive load off your mind knowing that you are running your business safely and within all the confines of both federal and local laws.
It’s time to “lock and load.” Let’s get started!
FAQ for Wisconsin FFL Licensing
How much does it cost to get an FFL in Wisconsin?
An FFL in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin?
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 Wisconsin require extra licensing for FFLs?
No, there are no additional licensing requirements for FFLs in Wisconsin.
Do I need to register a business for an FFL in Wisconsin?
Yes, if you are forming a business for your FFL, it must be registered in Wisconsin.
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 approved license.
Extra Resources For Getting a Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin: Need help finding out where to start with your new business? Check out the one-stop business portal!
Wisconsin Justice Department Firearms Unit: Firearms dealers in Wisconsin can use website 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.