Getting your FFL license from the ATF is easier than you think.
In less than a couple of hours of work, four easy steps, and less than $200, you could have your very own firearms business.
When you get your FFL from the ATF, you can become a gun dealer, firearm manufacturer, ammunition manufacturer, or even just collect a transfer fee for firearm transfers.
What is an FFL? An FFL, or Federal Firearms License, is a license issued by the ATF that allows someone to be engaged in the business of firearms (this includes making firearms and/or buying and selling guns) or be a licensed collector.
Getting a Federal Firearms License (FFL) is a good move. Depending on the FFL license type you get, you can make firearms (yes, even full-auto machine guns and silencers), you can import firearms, and you can be an FFL dealer selling weapons.
With the right steps, you can even sell them internationally. Yes, you can become an international arms dealer!
The best part is, with only two firearms sales, you could easily make back your money and never have to pay marked-up prices from gun stores or FFL dealer transfer fees. Instead, you’ll be able to buy directly from distributors and have the firearms shipped directly to you – this can save you hundreds of dollars per gun.
Even better, you can now be the FFL Dealer collecting transfer fees and charging a markup on your FFL firearms sales.
You know you want an FFL, but you’re not sure how to get one. Good news! Follow these four steps and you’ll be up and running in no time:
Step 1 – Ensure You Meet FFL Requirements
If you can possess a firearm and are at least 21 years old, then you can get an FFL from the ATF.
The requirements for getting an FFL are that easy. The ATF, and possibly your state, have minimum requirements that you and your business (if applicable) must meet before you’ll get your license to be a licensed firearms dealer or manufacturer.
There are certain classes of people who can’t possess firearms or ammunition, and therefore can’t get an FFL. These people are considered “prohibited persons” by the ATF and they include anyone who:
- is a felon
- has been convicted of any crime punishable by more than a year in prison (whether or not they were ever sentenced to or served a day in prison)
- is under indictment for any crime punishable by more than a year in prison
- is a fugitive
- is an unlawful user of any controlled substance
- has been adjudicated as a mental defective
- has been committed to a mental institution
- is an illegal alien
- has a dishonorable discharge from the military
- has renounced their U.S. citizenship
- is the subject of a restraining order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner, or
- who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- There’s a few nuances that you might need to be aware of if you think that any of these apply to you – especially the “convicted of any crime punishable by more than a year,” “unlawful user of a controlled substance,” and “restraining order” provisions. If you’d like to learn more about these prohibited person categories, see Prohibited Persons / Firearm Possession.
There are also some location requirements that may vary depending on your state of residence.
Yes, you can get a home based FFL under federal law but your state may have special rules that prohibit it.
For example, if you’re living in an apartment building in New York city, you probably aren’t going to get an FFL. But, as long as your local zoning approves of you having a firearms license at the address you choose, then the ATF will give you an FFL!
There are a few tricks to getting your FFL at your home – I share all of these and more in the Get Your FFL Guide.
Step 2 – Choose Your FFL License Type
The type of FFL you get depends on what you intend to do with it.
If you want to deal in firearms and/or be a gunsmith, then you’ll only need a Type 1 FFL.
If you want to manufacture firearms, then you’ll need a Type 7 FFL. It’s important to note that a Type 7 Federal Firearms License also lets you be a firearms dealer – therefore, if you want to manufacture and sell firearms, a Type 7 FFL covers both! The Type 1 FFL is, by far, the most popular followed by the Type 7 FFL.
Here’s a breakdown of the number of each type of FFL:
For a breakdown of what each type of federal firearm license allows, along with which class of SOT applies, see this chart:
SOT stands for Special Occupational Taxpayer (sometimes called an SOT License)and depending on which Class of SOT goes along with the federal firearms license type you choose, you can either buy/sell, make, and/or import NFA Firearms (sometimes called Class 3 firearms) like suppressors, short barreled rifles, machine guns, and more.
Here’s a table that shows each FFL type and SOT class along with the NFA business activity. If you’re wondering about the Type 09, 10, and 11 FFLs, those are required if you’re looking to work with Armor Piercing Ammunition or Destructive Devices (grenades and bombs).
If you’d like to learn more about each FFL license type and what each allows, you should sign up for our Get Your FFL course!
Step 3 – Take An Online FFL License Course
The actual process of getting your FFL License can be difficult.
Becoming a federal firearms licensee requires more than just filling out an ffl application and sending it to the ATF.
The basic process can seem easy enough, but there are many ATF rules that you’ll need to be aware of… it’s not as straight forward as filling out an ATF form and then becoming an FFL holder.
However, thanks to online FFL certification courses, it’s never been easier. However, it’s incredibly important that you take the right one.
When choosing an FFL License course, you should look to make sure that you are getting:
- legal advice from an actual firearms attorney that has the appropriate certifications,
- guidance from a true industry insider/professional who knows the ins-and-outs of both the firearms industry and the ATF,
- professional course software that helps you track your progress,
- automatic notifications of any updates in the law and ATF rules, and
- available follow-on training and certifications for both you and your employees
There are currently only a few online FFL license courses. To figure out which one is the best for you, here is a comparison chart breaking down us vs them:
Step 4 – Apply for Federal Firearm License
Upon ensuring you meet the requirements for an FFL, have chosen the right type of FFL, and taken your course, you’re finally ready to apply for your Federal Firearm License from the BATF.
The steps to this can be very difficult and may require multiple forms and extra steps depending on your location. It’s not quite as simple as filling out an ATF form.
FFL licensing also involves other things, if you’re interested in doing it the right way, like complying with the GunControl Act (GCA), National Firearms Act (NFA), your local zoning law, getting a business license in some instances, and other firearm laws.
You’ll have to meet every FFL requirement and some of the paperwork involves ensuring the correct application fee, using the correct fingerprint card.
However, if you completed the RocketFFL start-up guide, you’ll have every detail and access to all the necessary forms in order to get your own Federal Firearms License hassle free.
The ultimate guide to getting your Federal Firearms License
Getting Your FFL
So, there you have it. In four simple steps, you can become a licensed firearm manufacturer, firearm dealer, and/or international arms exporter or importer.
Even if you’re not interested in opening up a gun shop or being a full-fledged firearms business and you’d rather just collect an FFL transfer fee for conducting transfers, this may be for you.
Also, with the right type of license, you can be a manufacturer of ammunition or even just a curio and relic collector.
If you’re also wanting to sell or make an NFA item (like silencers/suppressors, short barreled rifles, armor piercing ammunition, and more), you’ll need to become a Special Occupational Taxpayer as well. Don’t worry – you can bundle our SOT course with our FFL course to save money and you’ll learn more about SOTs to see if it’s right for you in our Get Your FFL course.
An FFL is a federal firearms license that allows someone to be engaged in the business of making and/or selling firearms.
How Much Does an FFL Cost?
An FFL Costs anywhere from $10 to $66 per year depending on the type of FFL. Learn more about FFL Costs.
Can I Get a Home-Based FFL?
Yes! You can get an FFL out of your home. In fact, most FFLs in this country are home-based FFLs.
Can I get an FFL for personal use?
Yes, you can get an FFL for personal use – but, be careful. You can not get an FFL ONLY for personal use… you MUST have a business intent. But, that doesn’t mean that the FFL can’t also be used for some personal use.
What are the Requirements for Getting an FFL?
The requirements for getting an FFL are very simple: you must be allowed to lawfully have firearms, you must have a business intent, and you must get the FFL in an allowed location. Learn more about FFL Requirements.
How Many Types of FFL are There?
There are 9 types of FFLs that allow various activities from importing, making, or selling firearms. Learn more about FFL Types.
A Type 1 FFL is a dealer of firearms or gunsmith.
A Type 7 FFL is a manufacturer of firearms (who can also sell firearms and manufacture ammunition).
What is a Class 3 License?
A Class 3 License isn’t really a thing – instead it is an FFL who registered as a Class 3 SOT and who can sell NFA Firearms. Learn more about Class 3 License.
How long does it take to get an FFL?
After submitting a completed application, it typically takes 2 months to get an FFL.
The term “FFL” means Federal Firearms License.
Is getting an FFL an exemption to assault weapon laws?
Yes, most assault weapon laws that ban certain firearms or features have exemptions for FFLs.
Does getting an FFL allow me to carry a concealed handgun?
No. if you’d like to carry a handgun concealed, you’ll have to get a CCW that is valid in the state where you’d like to carry a concealed firearm.
An FFL is for buying, selling, and/or making firearms as part of a business.
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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