A Federal Firearms License (or FFL) can sometimes seem like a mythical creature to people who don’t fully understand what it is or how it works. People think they’re hard to find, difficult to describe, and allow its captors to harness special powers. In reality, an FFL couldn’t be more different. They’re actually quite common, relatively easy to understand, and allow its holders to engage in perfectly legal arms-related business practices.
What is an FFL?
Simply put, FFL stands for Federal Firearms License, and when you tally up all the different types available, there are almost 135,000 of them in the United States.
Depending on the kind of FFL you get, you can do anything from non commercial collecting of certain vintage guns, to manufacturing or importing military grade weapons for government clients. In between, there are a number of other FFLs for retail operations.
FFL dealers have one of the several FFLs that permit retail sales. The most common ones are an 01 FFL for general retail of non NFA firearms, and the 07 FFL which is a manufacturer of non NFA firearms.
FFL dealers can also choose to become an SOT which when paired with the proper FFL will permit the retail sale or manufacture of NFA devices.
Who Can Get an FFL?
The first step in getting your FFL is making sure you’re eligible and meet the necessary requirements. Essentially, if you can legally buy a gun, then you can more than likely get an FFL. People who do not meet the requirements are referred to by the ATF as a “prohibited person.”
A “prohibited person” is someone who:
- is a felon
- is an unlawful user of any controlled substance
- has been adjudicated as a mental defective
- has been committed to a mental institution
- has been convicted of any crime punishable by more than a year in prison (whether or not they were ever sentenced to or served a day in prison)
- is under indictment for any crime punishable by more than a year in prison
- is a fugitive
- is an illegal alien
- has a dishonorable discharge from the military
- has renounced their U.S. citizenship
- is the subject of a restraining order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner, or
- who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
If none of the above can be used to describe you, then you are not a “prohibited person” and you can have an FFL!
Determining State & Local Eligibility
States and some localities within states have restrictions about where you can and cannot have a home-based FFL. These restrictions differ based on where you live, so make sure your business plan is compliant with all state and local requirements. For example, some neighborhoods or apartment complexes are forbidden from operating as an FFL under certain state or local laws.
Choosing the Right Type of FFL
Believe it or not, there are actually nine different types of FFLs, but the majority of them do not apply to the average person reading this article. The three most common ones are Type 01, Type 03, and Type 07.
Type 03 FFL
As of January 2021, there are a little more than 53,000 Type 03 FFLs in the US.
Type 03 is specifically for collectors who want to acquire “curio & relic” pieces for private purposes. We won’t be going into this type of FFL in this piece because it does not relate to the actual business-aspect of an FFL.
The others – Type 01 and Type 07 – are the ones we’ll focus on here. They pertain to dealers, manufacturers, gunsmiths, etc.
Type 01 FFL
As of January 2021, there are just under 53,000 Type 01 FFLs in the US.
The Type 01 FFL is the basic FFL that lets you buy, sell, and repair most guns. It is somewhat limited in scope, but is very popular as it addresses the most common forms of commercial transactions in the gun world. You cannot, however, sell NFA items like suppressors, machine guns, short-barreled rifles, or short-barreled shotguns.
It costs $200 to apply for the Type 01 (good for three years), and then it costs $90 every three years for however long you retain your FFL.
Type 07 FFL
As of January 2021, there are just under 15,000 Type 07 FFLs in the US.
The Type 07 FFL is by far the most useful and versatile type for most people. Not only can you buy, sell, and repair guns, you can also manufacture guns and ammo, plus sell NFA items. If you add on a Class 03 SOT, you can also legally manufacture NFA items as well as sell them!
It costs $150 to apply for the Type 07 (good for three years), and then it costs $150 every three years for however long you retain your FFL. This does not include the SOT costs, which vary depending on the specific one(s) that may be most applicable to your business needs.
Getting Your FFL the Easy Way
By far, the easiest way to navigate the FFL application process is with our online guides. They’re available for standard FFLs and Class 03 which covers NFA items.
Our guides cover step-by-step instructions, all necessary forms, multiple helpful checklists, ATF visit prep tips, wholesale info, software to manage your firearms inventory, and access to our members only website and online forum with 80,000+ members for you to connect, collaborate, and bounce ideas off of one another.
With updates being made multiple times a week, our guides will always be as current as possible to keep you abreast of any changes in laws or processes that can impact your FFL business.
Upgrade to Video
We also offer video companions to our guides to provide you with even more information. The regular FFL video option includes 44 videos with more than five hours of material. The Class 03 video option includes 15 videos with more than two hours of material.
Apply for Your Federal Firearms License
After utilizing the guides from FFL123.com, you’ll be completely prepared to actually apply for your FFL. If you follow our guides, there shouldn’t be any unexpected questions, forms, situations, etc.
Get Your FFL and Start Your Business
After you apply, the ATF will approve your application and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running! You’ll hold that FFL in your hands and wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner.
In the grand scheme of things, the costs associated with getting your FFL are pretty low. The amount of money you can make on just your first few sales will pay for the license(s) and our guides. From then on, it’s all profit!
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