How to Get FFL License

How to Get an FFL License [2023] Step-by-step Guide

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:

FFL Licenses by Type

For a breakdown of what each type of federal firearm license allows, along with which class of SOT applies, see this chart:

FFL License Types

FFL License TypeFFL License PurposeSOT Class
Type 01 FFLDealer/Gunsmith of Firearms3
Type 02 FFLPawnbroker/Dealer of Firearms3
Type 03 FFLCollector of Firearmsn/a
Type 06 FFLManufacturer of Ammunitionn/a
Type 07 FFLManufacturer/Dealer of Firearms and Ammunition2
Type 08 FFLImporter/Dealer of Firearms1
Type 09 FFL Dealer of Destructive Devices3
Type 10 FFLManufacturer/Dealer of Destructive Devices2
Type 11 FFLImporter/Dealer of Destructive Devices1

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.

SOT Class Activity

ActivitySOT ClassFFL Types
Buy/Sell NFA FirearmsClass 31, 2, and 9
Make NFA FirearmsClass 27 and 10
Import NFA FirearmsClass 1 8 and 11

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).

FFL Types and SOT Activities

FFLSOT ClassSell NFAMake NFAImport NFA
Type 1 FFL3XX
Type 02 FFL3XX
Type 03 FFL-XXX
Type 06 FFL-XXX
Type 07 FFL2X
Type 08 FFL1X
Type 09 FFL3XX
Type 10 FFL2X
Type 11 FFL1X

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:

RocketFFL vs Others

Online Course
Step-by-Step Instructions
Satisfaction Guarantee
Created and Taught by Firearms AttorneyX
Hours of Video in LessonsX
Free Compliance Tools
One-on-One Legal Counsel AvailableX
Follow-On Advanced Training AvailableX
Course CertificationsX
Discounts on Software and Services
Automatic Notifications on Changes in LawsX
Employee-Level Training AvailableX

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.

Free Download

The ultimate guide to getting your Federal Firearms License

FFL Guide Book

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.

FAQ – Getting Your FFL

Q: What is an FFL?

An FFL is a federal firearms license that allows someone to be engaged in the business of making and/or selling firearms.

An FFL Costs anywhere from $10 to $66 per year depending on the type of FFL. Learn more about FFL Costs.

Yes! You can get an FFL out of your home. In fact, most FFLs in this country are home-based FFLs.

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.

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.

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).

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.

After submitting a completed application, it typically takes 2 months to get an FFL.

The term “FFL” means Federal Firearms License.

Yes, most assault weapon laws that ban certain firearms or features have exemptions for FFLs.

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).

Recommended Posts


Minnesota Handgun Carry Permit No Longer Alternative to NICS Background Check

When this article was first written in 2017, the Minnesota Handgun Carry Permit had just been approved by the ATF as an alternative to the normally required FBI NICS background check prior to the transfer of a firearm from an FFL to a customer. As of then, Minnesota Handgun Carry Permits with expiration dates of […]

FFL Transfers

FFL Transfer – How to Transfer a Firearm [2023]

Have you ever tried to send or receive a firearm but weren’t sure how to do it? Maybe you just bought a firearm online, or you need to ship a gun, and you’re wondering how to transfer it. You might have looked into transferring the gun and you learned that transfers the gun through an […]

Home-Based FFL Guide

Home Based FFL [2023] – How to Get License

Contrary to popular belief, getting a home based FFL is perfectly legal, easy to do, and very common. Unfortunately, there are many myths about getting a home based FFL from the BATF. Myth #1: The ATF doesn’t allow home-based federal firearms licenses. You can absolutely be an FFL dealer as a home-based business. Myth #2: […]

148 thoughts on “How to Get an FFL License [2023] Step-by-step Guide

  1. Best FFL Software for A&D Records – RocketFFL

    […] that you’ve got your FFL, you’re going to need a way to manage your Acquisition and Disposition (A&D) […]



    1. Ryan Cleckner

      You must have a legitimate intent to be engaged in the business of selling firearms. Yes, you can get them for yourself too, however, that may NOT be your sole intent.

      1. Derek

        Hi Ryan,

        Id like some clarification on your statement. Whats the reasoning behind not being able to have an FFL solely for personal use? For example, itd be nice not to have to pay another fee because the weapon I want to purchase (a handgun for example) has to be shipped to an FFL holder.. usually a gun shop of some kind, and the purchaser gets charged a storage or handling fee (at least where Im from). I know some states have restrictions for shipping firearms, so is that the main reason or is it more of a federal regulation type deal? Thanks for everything!

        1. Ryan Cleckner

          It is a federal law (and it’s even a question on the FFL application). I explain the nuances of this in our Get Your FFL course (including how occasional business use isn’t “solely” personal use).

          1. Derek

            Awesome! Thanks for the information Ryan, its most appreciated.

          2. Dan Dobogai


          3. Jackie

            Hi Dan! No specific sales requirement and yes, the intention of running a business with your FFL is required. Ryan covers this in the Get Your FFL guide and also gives insight on what’s needed for the hours of operation at your business activity location.

        2. Jorge Flamengo

          After signing up and paying for your ffl course, do we receive some sort of certificate stating we took and passed the course and how can I tell this is a legitimate course?

          1. Ryan

            Jorge, there is no requirement to having taken a course and therefore no certificate to send to/show anyone.

            You can absolutely get your FFL on your own – this is a course to help teach people about the process and help them to make sure they set it up the right way.

            If you’re unhappy with the course, let us know and we’ll refund your money. No questions asked.

            Here’s what I can offer, I am a firearms attorney and have helped thousands of people be successful with a firearms business. If you let me help you, that’d be great!

      2. Tony Bunn

        I am going to school to be a Gunsmith, should I wait on getting my FFL?

        1. Ryan Cleckner

          No – but you should apply at least two months before you’d like to get stared as a gunsmith.

          1. Corey W


            Do you HAVE to get certified gunsmith skills in order to become FFL?

          2. Ryan

            Absolutely not.

      3. Ernest Watts

        Was reading your website pages and have a question about NFA items. I understand you can get them quicker, but are you allowed to possess and use them? Things like full auto weapons and silencers? Can you possess and use them without needing NFA paperwork? Like now without FFL I need to apply for a NFA and create a trust to own and use a silencer, SBR, or full auto weapon. I know I only need a trust if I intend to share or pass down NFA items to family or friends. Or would I still require an NFA and trust? Thanks for your time.

        1. Ernest Watts

          What do SOT license cost?

          1. Jackie

            You can learn about the costs in the Become an SOT course or read the blog post – FFL License Cost.

      4. William Mashburn

        Can you tell how to get FFL LICENSE

        1. Jackie

          Hi William. He can, and he does, in the Get Your FFL guide which walks you through the entire process from start to finish. 🙂

      5. John l keys

        I am a retired Vietnam veteran always have liked guns would like to buy and sell guns as a hobby

        1. Ryan

          That’s awesome – we hope we can help you Get Your FFL!

          1. Joe

            If I want to start a home based FFL business with buying and selling guns along with ammunition which is the best license to apply for?

          2. Ryan

            A type 01 is the most basic type that will get you what you need. In our Get Your FFL Course, we cover the pros and cons of other types that will give you more abilities and will even save you money up front.

      6. Shannon M Dunlevy

        Can you get a “blanket” FFL? I have 2 businesses in the same location that are separate entities. An auction business and a vintage resale business.

        1. Ryan

          No. Each business would need its own FFL.

    2. James Smith

      Does a home based FFL holder who sales a few guns to friends, have to do background checks? And what is the process to do a background check?

      1. Jackie

        If background checks are required, and how they’re handled, depends on the state you live in – NICS vs POC and possible Brady alternatives. Ryan explains all of this in more detail the Get Your FFL start-up guide!

    3. Travis Brown

      Lol, did you even read the article

      1. Tony Alcantar


    4. Frank Hewes

      A Type 03 FFL allows you to buy any rifle, handgun or shotgun that is not an NFA item for your personal collection/use IF it qualifies as a curio or relic (generally over 50 years old).


    Ryan Cleckner,
    Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the firearms community. Seeing that you are on board with RocketFFL I will surely be using them for my FFL application, you have clearly explained and helped me understand many aspects of long distance shooting via your YouTube videos and I have no doubt that the FFL process will be just as thorough. Once again, Thank you for your service and all you continue to do.

    1. Ryan Cleckner

      Thanks for the support, Danny!

  4. Cody

    Hey Ryan,

    I’m looking at obtaining my FFL licence and would like to know a little more about your course. I already have the forms to fill out, tho there’s some information on there that I’m not sure how to get, for example, the police commissioner’s contact info and address, do you go over this sort of thing in your course? Do you go through the application possess with people? I would like to be able to buy for personal use and to sell as well.



    1. Ryan Cleckner

      Sorry for the delay – I think there’s a lot of helpful stuff in the course. Only one chapter is dedicated to the application itself. The rest of the course is everything that you need to know to do it right. 🙂

  5. TROY

    does having an FFL give me any more conceal carry rights than my current CCL?

    1. Jackie

      Hey Troy! It does not. FFLs are licenses to engage in the firearms business (ie. selling or making them). Federal firearms licenses and concealed carry permits are completely separate things – sorry!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ready to start making money with guns?

Get Your FFL Now!
You’re protected by our 60-day money-back guarantee