Home-Based FFL Guide

Home Based FFL [2021] – 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: It’s near impossible to become an FFL holder from home.

As long as there isn’t a zoning/HOA issue, and you know the right steps, the process to submitting your FFL application to the ATF for a home-based FFL is fairly straightforward.

Myth #3: A home-based FFL is rare.

In fact, they are so common, most FFL dealers in the country are home based FFLs. This means that the ATF approves MORE FFLs every year for home-based applicants than they do for retail locations for a gun shop.

So, what does all of this mean? It means that you can be an FFL holder from your home, as long as you know the right way to apply for your FFL license and you meet all of the requirements.

We cover all of this, and more, in our Get Your FFL course.

Home Based FFL

We’ve seen a giant increase lately in the number of people getting their home-based FFL (even more than usual). We think that it is due to a couple reasons:

  1. American gun owners are getting more and more nervous about anti-gun legislation, and they’ve realized that FFLs are almost always exempt from new gun bans, and,
  2. The increase in online gun sales, and the ease of internet sales, are encouraging Americans to start a side-business from their home to make some extra money (and save money on their own guns).

So, why are most of the FFLs in our country home-based?

Easy… Although a home-based FFL is not a customary home-based occupation, many Americans have realized that they can start their own firearms business with their license as a dealer or manufacturer, without the cost and trouble of starting an actual gun store or needing a brick-and-mortar location.

With a home-based FFL, you can use your license to conduct many forms of business with firearms. You can purchase firearms as a dealer to list and sell online, conduct retail sale to customers in your home as a gun dealer, or even conduct the occasional FFL transfer of a firearm with your house being the licensed premise.

For example you could have a friend who purchased a gun, ship it to your home, where you could transfer it for a small fee (this includes something as simple as a handgun like a Glock, or any other pistol, and even an NFA firearm like a silencer, short barreled rifle, or full-auto machine guns.)

We cover this in-depth in our Get Your FFL course, where we cover the pros and cons of each option that you can do with your license. You don’t even need to start a business if you don’t want to – you can be a sole proprietor.

Want to know how to get your home-based-FFL? We’re here to walk you through the entire process!

Are Home-Based FFLs Allowed?

You might be thinking, “Wait, I thought I read online that the ATF won’t give a license to home-based FFLs anymore.”

Well, bluntly, that’s what you get for believing what you read in forums and on social media. 🙂

The ATF actually approves more home-based FFLs, than licenses at commercial locations!

In fact, the majority of current FFLs in this country are home-based. Yep, that’s right – currently, most FFLs are home-based FFLs.

Now, this just means that ATF will approve the license to allow you to be a dealer or manufacturer – it isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be able to get an FFL in your home. There’s a couple nuances that might affect you (we’ll discuss these more below).

These potential hurdles, including our tips and tricks on how to overcome them and get your own home based FFL, are covered in our Get Your FFL Course.

Is a “Business” Required for a Home-based FFL?

Well, yes and no.

In order to get any type of FFL, you must have a business intent! You can get a personal firearm for yourself with your license, but you’ll need to at least have some business intent in order to get your FFL application approved.

So yes, a “business” is required for a home-based FFL according to the Gun Control Act, but not in the way you might think.

Although we recommend forming an actual business and getting a business license, you may apply for an FFL in your name as a sole-proprietor.

Either way, there must be some sort of “business” intent even though you may not be operating an actual gun store-front or firearm manufacturing facility.

What Would Keep You From Getting an FFL in Your Home?

The two biggest hurdles to getting a home-based FFL in most areas are zoning and landlords.

There are, of course, some cities that have a local law prohibiting this but there aren’t many (NYC for example).

Home-Based FFL Zoning

You don’t need to be in “commercial” nor “manufacturing” zoning to have a home-based FFL.

However, if you are in a residential zoned area (likely), you’ll need to work with your local zoning department to make sure that they understand that your FFL business will be a home business and that you will not be a typical storefront with regular customer traffic (if true).

The easiest home-based FFL to get is for testing, sales at gun shows only, sales online only, or even gunsmithing. This is because it is a common zoning requirement to not have public customer foot traffic.

It’s not that tricky to get zoning approval. In fact, in our FFL course , we walk you through this process and even give you a sample letter to use as you explain the issue to your local zoning office. It may also come in handy if you need to get a permit from your business office.

Home-Based FFL Landlords

If you rent your home (or apartment/condo), you’ll need to get approval from your landlord.

The landlord’s contact information will need to be listed on your FFL application and the ATF will contact your landlord prior to issuing you your federal firearms license.

If you’ve been concerned about whether home-based FFLs are allowed and you’ve been wondering how to get an FFL from your home, I hope that this information helped!

How to Get a Home Based FFL

After you’re sure you’ve met the basic FFL requirements to get your license, you’ll need to set up your business intent and plan, and ensure that you make the right choices when completing your FFL application.

We walk you through all of this in our course.

Step 1 is to enroll in the course.

Step 2 is to follow the course and learn the right way to set everything up.

Step 3 is to enjoy making and saving money with guns shipped straight to your home!

Common Uses for an FFL at Home

If you’re still reading this far, perhaps you’re still wondering why anyone would get a federal firearm license out of their house.

Well, the reasons to get an FFL in general are the same: make money with guns, save money on guns, and become the go-to person in your circle of firearm loving friends.

Now, getting your FFL at home can be even an even better option if you’re looking to have guns shipped directly to you at your home instead of having to go down to the local gun shop and paying for a transfer.

Also, it’s a great side-business!

Making Money with Guns from Your House

There are many ways to make money with guns from home.

The most popular are internet sales, occasional in-person firearm sales, and conducting transfers for a fee.

Internet Gun Sales from Home

Because most zoning rules will prohibit retail customer foot traffic to your home gun business, it is very common to sell guns online.

With your FFL, you can buy guns from distributors, have them shipped straight to your home, and then you can list them online for sale. You can either have your own online store or you can list them on an online auction site like GunBroker.com

Then, when someone purchases the firearm from you online, you can ship the firearm from your home to their preferred FFL where they can have it transferred to them.

Although an FFL is not required to sell ammunition, it is popular to order ammo along with firearms from distributors. And, most distributors won’t set you up to purchase (even ammunition) without a federal firearms license.

If you’re going to do this, be organized! A spreadsheet helps keep things organized to manage your listings, when they end, where to ship things, etc.

Occasional In-Person Sales at Home With an FFL

The word “occasional” is there on purpose.

No, it’s not an ATF requirement for your license at home. However, if you live in a city or neighborhood, it is very hard to get away with a steady flow of customer traffic to your home. Therefore, it’s best for sales every once in a while.

I’ve seen this work best with “VIP” sales or friends of friends.

They key here is only to advertise this option to buy a firearm from your home to people that you’re actually willing to have come to your home.

If you teach concealed carry classes, this is a popular business add-on to sell firearms to your students.

Conducting Transfers for a Fee

Conducting transfers for people is a great way to make some extra cash with your license.

Many people shop for guns online and need an FFL to transfer the gun to them. Typically, they’d choose a local gun shop, but it can be very convenient for them to swing by your house to pick it up after the transfer paperwork and background check. It’s not uncommon to charge anywhere from $20 to $50 for this service.

Home Based FFL FAQ

Are Home Based FFLs Allowed?

Yes, home-based FFLs are allowed – in fact, they are the most common types of FFLs in the country.

No, the ATF doesn’t shut down “kitchen-table” FFLs. Years ago the ATF did make a push to limit them, however, they are currently the most popular type of FFL available.

There is no limit to which type of FFL you get from your home – you can have anything from a dealers FFL to a manufacturing FFL. However, your local zoning restrictions will have an effect here.

No, a home-based, or kitchen-table, FFL is exactly the same as a regular FFL. The only difference is that teh licensed location is your home instead of a business address.

The requirements for a home based FFL are mostly the same as for any FFL. The only difference for having a license at home is ensuring that you meet any zoning requirements and that your business intent fits having your license from your house.

No – the FFL will let you have any type of FFL from your home. A Curio and Relic (C&R) License, or a type 3 FFL, is just one type of FFL. The C&R license is ONLY for collectors of a certain class of firearms (mostly antiques). So, you can have a C&R license from home, but you can also have a dealer’s license or even a manufacturer’s license too.

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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