How to Get an FFL: Overview of the Process

  • George Demopoulos
Photo Courtesy of Thayne Tuason

Many firearm enthusiasts dream of owning their own business in the gun industry. But to do that, you’re going to need a few things. First and foremost, you’ve got to lock down a killer product or service. But arguably more important is getting your Federal Firearms License (FFL). In this post, we’ll look at what an FFL is and how to get one. If you’ve ever wanted to open your own gunsmithing shop, this one’s for you.

What is an FFL?

Before we go into how to get an FFL, let’s answer one main question: what is an FFL? Simply put, it is a license from the federal government to legally work in the firearms industry. Several different types of FFL exist. They include:

  • Type 01: Firearms dealer (non-Destructive Device).
  • Type 02: Pawn Broker.
  • Type 03: Collector of curios and relics.
  • Type 06: Ammo manufacturer (non-Destructive Device or armor piercing).
  • Type 08: Firearm manufacturer (non-Destructive Device).
  • Type 09: Destructive Device dealer (think grenades and artillery).
  • Type 10: Destructive Device manufacturer, or a manufacturer of Destructive Device or armor piercing ammo.
  • Type 11: Importer of Destructive Devices , Destructive Device ammo, or armor piercing ammo.

If you want to run multiple firearm businesses, you’ll need multiple types of licenses. For example, a firearm dealer that also manufactures guns would need both Type 1 and Type 8 licenses.

How to Get Your FFL in 10 Steps

Photo Courtesy of Shoop73

While getting an FFL can definitely be an arduous process, the ATF itself has some recommendations. They break down how to get an FFL in 10 steps. They include:

  • Step 1: Decide to Become an FFL. You’ll also need to consider what kind of FFL you want to apply for from the options above.
  • Step 2: Request the Necessary Forms from ATF.gov.
  • Step 3: Complete the Paperwork and Mail it to the ATF. You’ll also need to include your application fee as well.
  • Step 4: Federal Firearms Licensing Center Receives Your Information. They’ll also review it to make sure everything’s correct.
  • Step 5: Federal Firearms Licensing Center Runs a Background Check. They need to complete one on every “responsible person” listed on your application.
  • Step 6: Federal Firearms Licensing Center Sends Your Application to Your Local ATF Field Office.
  • Step 7: An ATF Industry Operations Investigator (IOI) Will Interview You.
  • Step 8: The IOI Files a Report About Your Interview. They’ll also recommend whether you should or shouldn’t get your FFL to their Area Supervisor.

According to the ATF, this entire process usually takes about 60 days from start to finish. That’s less time than most people wait to get a silencer!

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