A Federal Firearms License (FFL) is a license issued by the federal government’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) agency.
In a broad sense, a FFL is a license relating to firearms and gives the holder the authority to perform a number of tasks including buying, selling, manufacturing, importing, and repairing guns.
The type of license will more closely specify which of those actions may be legally completed by the holder.
Types of FFLs
There are eight different types of FFLs which are available.
- Type 01- Dealer in Firearms/Gunsmithing
- Type 02- Pawnbroker
- Type 03- Collector of Curios and Relics
- Type 06- Manufacturer of Ammunition of Firearms
- Type 07- Manufacturer of Firearms/Ammunition
- Type 08- Importer of Firearms/Ammunition
- Type 09- Dealer in Destructive Devices
- Type 10- Manufacturer of Destructive Devices
- Type 11- Importer of Destructive Devices
Each different license serves a unique purpose in the firearms industry. Some of the abilities of the licenses do overlap, such as with a Type 01 and Type 07. A Type 07 allows the licensee to do everything a Type 01 can plus manufacturing and assembly.
They also range in application and renewal fees. The application fee begins at $30 and ranges up to $3000 for the last three licenses listed. The licenses are renewed every three years.
The renewal fee also depends on the type of license and is either as much or less than the application fee. Most licensees hold either a Type 01 or Type 07 license, which cost $200 and $150 to apply for, respectively.
Applying for the FFL
To apply for a federal firearms license, you’ll need to fill out a few forms. The first of these is the ATF F 5310.12 (Form 7). This form is the actual application for the license. The second form is ATF F 5330.20 Certification of Compliance.
You’ll also need to complete 2 FD-258 fingerprint cards (also known as the FBI blue fingerprint cards) and have 2- 2” x 2” photographs to include with your application. This goes for each person you’d like to list on your license as a responsible party. Finally, you’ll need to include your application fee.
The process is fairly straightforward, but if you desire a little help or some insight into the procedure, help is out there. There are a couple different FFL help websites, but the most popular one appears to be FFL123.com.
The website provides access to guides to help you fill out your application forms and help you navigate any local issues you may run into. It also provides a list of wholesalers licensees can contact once they receive their license.
Receiving your License
After you and your responsible parties have passed the FBI background check and successfully met with the ATF, you will receive your license in the mail. Your FFL will contain a 15-digit number which will be specific to you. It is set up as #-##-###-##-#X-#####. The numbers are based on where in the United States you are located and when your FFL expires.
The ATF requires that you display your license in a location visible to others, much like many other businesses display their licenses as well. You’ll also need to make copies of your license that you can use for sales and transfers and purchases from wholesalers.
There are wholesalers who provide products to fit every avenue of the firearms market, so it gives you a lot of options for a business venture.
Holding a FFL is a great way to make money in addition to your regular income with a small side business or become a whole new adventure by opening up a fully stocked gun store. Either way, if being a gun dealer is a dream of yours, you’ll need to obtain a federal firearms license.