ATF Fingerprint Cards

ATF fingerprint cards

The subject of ATF fingerprint cards comes up fairly often. But only in a particular subset of firearms transactions. After all, millions of American gun owners go their entire life without ever seeing, let alone using an ATF fingerprint card.

But what are they? When and why do you use them, and how do you fill out an ATF fingerprint card? Fortunately, the answers are very straightforward and simple, so let’s take a look at ATF fingerprint cards! 

What Are ATF Fingerprint Cards?

ATF Fingerprint cards are the cards used to submit fingerprint information to the ATF when required. Usually this is when you apply for an FFL or purchase or register various NFA devices.

Because all FFL applications and NFA purchases or registrations require an extensive background check, fingerprints are part of that process. Fortunately there is no requirement that law enforcement or other professionals take your fingerprints and fill out the card. You can fill out an ATF fingerprint card at home, and you can even buy a kit with everything you need in it to correctly fill out the card and take your fingerprints! 

When Do I Need To Use ATF Fingerprint Cards?

ATF Fingerprint cards are an important part of submitting any application to purchase, make or register an NFA firearm. FFL applications, ATF Form 1 and ATF Form 4 are the most common uses for ATF fingerprint cards, but other ATF forms may require the use of a fingerprint card.

Because the ATF form and ATF fingerprint card is submitted by mail to the ATF, it is important that all aspects of an application to make or register an NFA firearm be consistent and uniform. That means you can’t just use any sort of fingerprint card you feel like. You must use the fingerprint card created and used by the ATF. 

How to Fill Out ATF Fingerprint Cards

Did you know improperly filled out ATF fingerprint cards are one of the leading reasons for delays and denials on NFA applications?

Delays and even denials can lead to some serious costs and wasted time. At worst you’ll have to file an appeal on an improper denial and that can take ages. You’ll also lose months and months of processing time, and we already know NFA wait times are hideously long!

In order to fill out an ATF fingerprint card you need to do a few things correctly. Let’s start from the beginning.  Some law enforcement agencies might fill out the card for you. If you can do this, it might be best. You’ll usually have to pay a fee, which varies from agency to agency. Just call and ask them. But if you can’t get a law enforcement agency to fill the card out, here is how you do it.

You MUST provide all of the following information on the form. If you leave any of it, you’ll be denied.  Some fields like hair and eye color and race use unique FBI codes. To see which code to use, click here.

  • Name – Enter your full legal name here.
  • Signature of person being fingerprinted – Sign your full legal name. If you sign differently than your full legal name, enter that name in the “alias” box.
  • Residence of person being fingerprinted – Your complete home address including ZIP code. Do not use PO Boxes. You must use your actual physical address.
  • Date – The date you filled out the card.
  • Signature of official taking fingerprints – This is your signature if you take your own fingerprints, otherwise that of the person who took your prints.
  • Reason for being fingerprinted – Enter “ATF Form 1 or ATF Form 4, or whatever other type of ATF form you are having processed. “ATF Application” is also acceptable
  • Any aliases – Enter any maiden names or other names you may be known by.
  • Citizenship – The country of your citizenship.
  • Social Security Number – Enter your Social Security Number here.
  • ORI – This stands for “Originating Agency Identifier” and is used to identify which agency is processing the fingerprint card. In this case use “WVATF1100; ATF-FFLC, MARTINSBURG WV” as the OIR when getting an FFL License.
  • Sex -enter your sex here.
  • Race – enter your race here.
  • Height – enter your height here.
  • Weight – enter your weight here.
  • Eye Color – enter your eye color here.
  • Hair Color – enter your hair color here.
  • Date of Birth – put the month, day and year you were born.
  • Place of Birth – put the state you were born in here.

As you can see this is a somewhat complicated but fairly straightforward form to fill out.


ATF Fingerprint cards are an absolute necessity when purchasing any NFA item. When buying from a local dealer, you can get them filled out there. But if you are filing a Form 1 to build your own NFA device, or engaging in say a mail order silencer purchase from Silencer Central, then you’ll need to fill out the ATF fingerprint card yourself, or have a law enforcement agency do it for you. Failure to properly fill this card out will cause you a lot of headaches and delay an already slow and complex transaction, so it is best to get it done right the first time!

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