If you’re looking to purchase a suppressor or any other NFA Firearm like a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) and you’re not an FFL and SOT, then you’re going to need to get a tax stamp.
In this NFA Tax Stamp Guide, we’re going to cover how to get a tax stamp for your suppressor or SBR.
First, let’s cover which firearm types require tax stamps.
Class 3 Firearms
Tax stamps are required for what many people call “Class 3 Firearms.”
The term “Class 3 firearm” is commonly used, but it is a bit of a misnomer. Technically there is no such thing as a Class 3 Firearm – instead, “Class 3” refers to the type of SOT that an FFL is, depending on their type of FFL.
- A Class 3 SOT is a dealer of NFA Firearms (where you’re buying your suppressor, SBR, or other NFA firearm).
- A Class 2 SOT is the manufacturer of the NFA Firearm sold by the Class 3 dealer.
- A Class 1 SOT is the importer of any foreign NFA firearm.
Despite the terminology technicalities, we’ll refer to them here as both NFA firearms and Class 3 firearms.
Here’s a list of all the Class 3 firearms that require an NFA tax stamp:
- Short Barreled Rifles (SBR)
- Short Barreled Shotguns (SBS)
- Machine Guns
- Destructive Devices
- Any Other Weapons (AOW)
The most common “class 3 firearms” are suppressors and short barreled rifles (SBR).
If you’d like to possess one of these and you aren’t an FFL, then you’ll need to get a tax stamp first.
A tax stamp is required for a non-FFL/SOT to possess any NFA Firearm.
For FFLs, a once a year tax is paid instead which makes the FFL a Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) and a tax stamp for each item is not required.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) regulated the “class 3 firearms” above, and required their registration along with the payment of a federal tax for each item.
To get a NFA tax stamp, an application is made with the ATF on either an ATF Form 1 or an ATF Form 4.
The approved NFA application is returned with a stamp showing that the tax has been paid – this is the literal “tax stamp.”
ATF Form 1
An ATF Form 1 is used when someone want to make their own NFA Firearm.
The Form 1 must be returned approved with a tax stamp BEFORE the NFA Firearm is made.
If you are a Type 07 FFL and Class 2 SOT, you can manufacture NFA Firearms whenever you want (no pre-approval needed) and simply submit a different ATF Form notifying the ATF that the class 3 firearm has been made – this is an ATF Form 2.
If you’d like to learn more about the Form 1, check out our ATF Form 1 Guide.
ATF Form 4
An ATF Form 4 is used when a non-FFL is buying a “class 3 firearm” either from a Class 3 FFL Dealer or another individual.
Once the Form 4 is returned with a tax stamp from the ATF, the purchaser can take possession of the NFA Firearm.
If you are an FFL, with any Class of SOT, you’d use another form, the ATF Form 3, to take possession of the “class 3 firearm.” As an individual, the wait time for a tax stamp on a Form 4 is 10 month or more. As an FFL using a Form 3, the wait time is usually only a day or two.
If you’d like to learn more about the Form 4, check out our ATF Form 4 Guide.
In some situations, a Form 4 is filled out using an NFA trust instead of as an individual.
Suppressor Tax Stamp
The most common tax stamp is for suppressors.
Suppressors, or as I like to call them, silencers, are incredibly popular and legal in most states.
Before taking possession of a suppressor, you need to have an approved ATF Form with a tax stamp.
If you’re not an FFL and looking to buy a suppressor, use a Form 4. If you’re looking to build your own suppressor, use a Form 1.
Suppressor vs Silencer
The terms suppressor and silencer are completely interchangeable.
I use the term silencer because I am an attorney that specializes in firearms law, and the laws and regulations call them “silencers”, so that’s the term I use.
However, the term “silencer” sounds scary, and the anti-gun crowd hates them. So, the term “suppressor” is often used instead to make them sound less scary. Also, they don’t actually “silence” a firearm – instead, they suppress the noise to safe hearing levels.
The ultimate guide to getting your Federal Firearms License
SBR Tax Stamp
The next most popular tax stamp is an SBR tax stamp.
SBR stands for “short barreled rifle.” An SBR is any rifle that has a barrel length less than 16 inches or an overall length less than 26 inches.
If you’re looking to put a short barrel on a rifle you have, you would apply for your SBR tax stamp with an ATF Form 1. If you’re looking to buy an SBR, you would apply for your nfa tax stamp for the SBR on an ATF Form 4.
ATF Form 4
The ATF Form 4 is used for transferring an NFA Firearm from an individual or an FFL to a non-FFL.
A purchaser fills out the Form 4 and submits it to the ATF along with photographs, fingerprints, and a $200 tax for most NFA Firearms and a $5 tax for AOW.
For more, check out How to fill out a Form 4.
ATF Form 1
The ATF Form 1 is used for making your own “class 3 firearm.”
Fill out the ATF Form 1 and submit it along with fingerprints, photos, and a check for the NFA tax stamp ($200 in most cases).
Do NOT have all of the parts to assemble your class 3 firearm (NFA Firearm) or start making it until you have an approved Form 1 back from the ATF.
How to get a Class 3 Firearm without a Tax Stamp
If you’d like to get a class 3 firearm, or NFA firearm, without a tax stamp and waiting on the lengthy approval process, you can get your FFL and become an SOT.
Once you’re an FFL/SOT, you can pay $500 once a year as your SOT registration, instead of $200 per NFA firearm for a tax stamp.
If you’d like to learn more about getting an FFL, check out our How to Get an FFL Guide.
What is a NFA Tax Stamp for?
An NFA tax stamp is required for the possession of “class 3 firearms” by non-FFLs.
How much does an NFA tax stamp cost?
An NFA tax stamp costs $200 for most “class 3 firearms” like suppressors and SBRs and $5 for AOWs.
An ATF Form 4 is used to apply for an NFA tax stamp for a class 3 firearm purchase.
An ATF Form 1 is used before a non-FFL makes a class 3 firearm (NFA Firearm).
How long does it take to get a NFA tax stamp?
If you’re purchasing a class 3 firearm, it takes 10 months or more to get your tax stamp. However, if you’re an FFL, it only takes a couple of days via a Form 3.