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How to get FFL in Illinois (IL)?

How to Get FFL in Illinois - FFL123Do you want to know how to get your Illinois FFL? Have you been intimidated by the ATF paperwork and restrictive state regulations and requirements designed to make selling guns hard in Illinois? Don’t worry. Not only is it possible to get an Illinois FFL, we’ll show you a few basic requirements on how to get one and what you need to do to get started! Are you overwhelmed by the seemingly heavy-handed government regulations and confusing laws and rules about being an FFL in Illinois? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone!

As of June 2021, the ATF reported that there are a total of 4,444 FFLs in Illinois! Illinois is a tricky state, with some places being gun-friendly and others being rabidly anti-gun. That means you have to tread carefully when getting your Illinois FFL and you need to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row in order to get into – and stay in – business.

That’s where we come in. FFL123 is here to make sure you can get that Illinois FFL you want and deserve!

Do You Need an FFL in Illinois?

The very simple answer is: yes. If you plan on running a business that deals with firearms, you need to have an FFL. This isn’t a state requirement, but rather a Federal requirement. Speaking of which…

Federal Requirements

The ATF has pretty basic requirements to get an FFL. So basic, in fact, we’ll only glance at them.

To get an FFL, the ATF requires that you be a law-abiding US citizen or permanent resident over 21 years of age who can legally own a firearm. Pretty simple stuff, really. The paperwork is annoying, and you have to demonstrate you are planning to operate a business, but that’s not too hard.

Do I Need to Register as a Business for an FFL in Illinois?

Yes, you must be registered with the state as some kind of business to get an FFL in Illinois. You must be successfully licensed with the state and the local area in which you are doing business. You also have to operate in a correctly zoned area that matches the type of business you are doing.

To get an FFL, you have to satisfy Federal, state and local requirements for background checks, zoning, business licenses, and any other requirements imposed by local or state jurisdictions. Illinois is a gun owner’s nightmare of heavy handed regulation and state imposed dealer licensing, plus restrictive zoning and local attacks on what can and cannot be sold. So let’s take a look and see how to get an Illinois FFL.

The ATF will not even consider issuing an FFL without a few basic criteria being met. You have to be able to conduct the kind of business you want to operate at your chosen location (basically be properly zoned and have the right business licenses), and meet a few other basic requirements.

  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Be a US citizen or legal permanent resident.
  • Not be convicted of any felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
  • Not be a user of illegal drugs (including marijuana)
  • Never have been dishonorably discharged from the US Military.
  • No outstanding arrest warrants.
  • No pending criminal charges.

In other words, as long as you are a legal US citizen with no criminal record, the ATF will actually take your application seriously. However, you also have to jump through Illinois specific hoops.

Illinois (IL) State Requirements

In recent months, about half of all FFL’s in Illinois have closed due to heavy-handed state restrictions and added licensing imposed on them. Many of these FFL’s are a small home based and part-time dealers who cannot or have no interest in complying with these brutal business crushing requirements.

Fully explaining Illinois’ highly restrictive (and let’s face it, likely punitive) Illinois Firearms Dealer License Certification Program would take an extensive article by itself. Not content with the Federal FFL requirements, Illinois now requires FFL holders to take a certification training online, purchase and install state approved video surveillance systems, pay extensive fees, post certain signs, and more.

Small home based FFL’s that operate by appointment are especially targeted by this law, as they are required to pay a $1500 licensing fee every three years, as opposed to the $300 fee for three years paid by retail establishments with fixed hours.

Illinois doesn’t make compliance simple either. They only accept digital payment by e-check, will only accept digital documents, and only offer the training materials online. While it is true this is the most efficient means of operation for them, it puts up a barrier to entry to people who for whatever reason may not be comfortable with an all digital licensing and compliance interface.

The end result is most small, part-time home FFL’s in Illinois have simply chosen to no longer do business there. They have been regulated and priced out of operation.

If you are looking to get an Illinois FFL, understand that the state has stacked the deck against you. You’ll need a strong business plan and a willingness to jump through hoops if you want to succeed. However, fortune favors the bold, and it’s possible with the drop in complying FFL’s in Illinois, you might be able to find a niche.

Once your FFL has been approved and it’s in your hands, you will then need to apply for a Firearms Dealer License Certification (FDLC) from the Illinois State Police. According to 430 ILCS 68, there are several requirements that you must follow during the application process, and subsequent years following initial licensing in order to remain operational.

Before we briefly discuss some of the state requirements for Illinois, know that all information in its entirety is available on the Illinois State Police website.

According to 430 ILCS 68 (signed into law on Jan 18, 2019), there are several requirements you must meet in order to receive your FDLC and to remain licensed. These include, but are not limited to:

  • 2 hours of annual training for every license holder and employee of a license holder, covering all legal requirements for business operations
  • A business Firearms Owner Identification Card (FOID card) — you must register for this
  • Determine whether you plan to operate in a retail or non-retail space
  • Follow all appropriate signage requirements
  • Follow all video surveillance and alarm system requirements (including an alarm system that notifies local law enforcement of “unauthorized intrusion” into anywhere firearms inventory is stored
  • Maintain a digital record of every firearm that has ever been received or sold by the licensee
  • Have a signed and notarized affidavit certifying the status of your FFL
  • Have all application documents, affidavits, licenses, etc available in a digital, uploadable format

Again, this is a partial list of the state requirements of Illinois to receive and maintain your FDLC. The complete pre-application checklist, FAQ page, training programs, and all other necessary information is available on the Illinois State Police website.

Local Requirements in Illinois

Did we mention that Illinois is very unfriendly to gun owners and FFL’s? Well, the same holds true for a lot of local jurisdictions. Because Illinois is a very changing situation when it comes to how local jurisdictions issue business licenses for gun dealers, we can’t say what problems you might face in a given location when trying to set up shop.

The ATF will require that you be able to conduct business in your chosen location before issuing an FFL. Depending on where in Illinois you are, you should expect local government to make it very hard for you to set up your business. You may be restricted from selling guns in certain areas of the city or town you live in. Home based FFL’s will likely face the most scrutiny and resistance from local authorities, as we’ve already seen on a state level.

Navigating the harsh local restrictions you might face seems hard, even impossible. But, FFL123 customers have an advantage!

Because of the wide variety of localities and their different policies and procedures, it’s best to check directly with your local government to find out how much they charge for business licenses, handling of zoning restrictions, etc.

How Much Does an Illinois FFL Cost?

On the Federal level, it costs between $30-$200 to get an FFL for the first three years. Each license type’s cost varies due to the different responsibilities they allow the licensee to perform. There are different kinds of licenses for selling a few handguns versus handling or making NFA items.

In Illinois, there are also state fees that are different depending on the operating location of your FFL. For retail locations, it is a $1,200 fee, whereas non-retail locations (including some Home-Based FFLs) will only require a $300 fee.

Illinois Home Based FFL

Is it possible to still be an Illinois home based FFL? Well, yes but as you’ve seen things are now very expensive and difficult. Because Illinois FFL’s now have to have cameras on their premises, use very specific software, and are subject to unannounced local and state police inspections, having an Illinois home based FFL can be really uncomfortable for some.

Only you can decide if you want to try and open a home based FFL under these circumstances. Illinois FFL laws now basically open your home up to warrantless and unannounced inspections by entities who are often openly hostile to your business and civil rights. They will be looking for any excuse to shut you down, and to penalize you.

We tell you this now to be frank and upfront. Many of our customers come to us looking to start a nice small home based FFL and we love to see another “kitchen table” FFL open up. But it is going to be tough in Illinois.

If you want to start an Illinois home-based FFL we suggest a few simple things to protect your privacy and rights.

  • Do your business in your garage or a detached building. In other words, keep your business out of parts of your residence whenever possible.
  • Carefully comply with the law concerning cameras and other security measures.
  • Consult with a local firearms attorney to learn how to best protect the privacy of your family and home apart from where you conduct business.
  • Don’t get discouraged by oppressive laws.
  • As you can see there are some real hurdles to overcome with getting an Illinois FFL, especially if you want to be a home based FFL in Illinois. But not to worry…

Additional Business Resources

Illinois Department of Revenue: The website for the Illinois Department of Revenue will answer most of the questions you may have about starting a business in the state.

Illinois State Police Website (FDLC Page): This page from the Illinois Police Department lists all requirements that you will have to meet in order to receive your FDLC. It includes an FAQ page, lists all required documentation, shows what forms you will need to fill out, and more! Between our course and this page, you should be able to complete everything with no problem!

430 ILCS 68: The Illinois “Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act” details the requirements you must meet in order to become a legal gun dealer.

How to Become a Federal Firearms Licensee in 10 Easy Steps: This is the ATF’s own guide to getting your FFL.

US Code § 923: Federal US Code § 923 covers regulations for the import, manufacture, and dealing of firearms and ammunition. This is the law that requires firearms businesses to get an FFL.

US CFR § 478.47 – Issuance of License: This explains how a Federal Firearms License is issued, including who must assign the license number. It requires the ATF to qualify applicants based on a predetermined list of requirements and to issue Federal Firearms Licenses. If a correct FFL application has been submitted, the Chief of the Federal Firearms Licensing Center must issue the license and assign a serial number to the licensee.

Gun Control Act (GCA): The GCA of 1968 established stricter laws on the firearms industry than were already present in the NFA of 1934. This included new regulations regarding firearms offenses, firearms/ammunition sales to “prohibited persons,” and federal jurisdiction for “destructive devices” (bombs, grenades, mines, etc.) These are just some of the things that were created with the GCA.

The FFL123 Way

Anyone who can fill out paperwork can apply for an Illinois FFL, but there is more to applying than just filling out forms. In a state like Illinois, you need expert assistance in navigating the brutal anti-gun minefield that is local and state regulation of gun dealers. FFL123 offers our customers exactly that kind of assistance. Our team of industry insiders and legal experts will personally work with you to not only understand the Federal paperwork, but also the increasingly difficult and restrictive state and local regulations you have to comply with.

FFL123 customers enjoy the benefits of decades of industry experience getting our customers the FFL they want and deserve. We will assist you on every step of the way, from choosing the FFL that is right for your business plans, to dealing with restrictive laws.

Are you ready to get your Illinois FFL? With FFL123’s proven guides, you are on your way to getting your FFL the moment you purchase them. Rest easy knowing our expert legal and gun industry insiders are here, on your side to help you with any problems you might encounter with your FFL application process. No other FFL application guide comes with our level of lifetime support and assistance.

Don’t lose out on the chance to get an FFL. Remember, FFL’s often are able to access guns that are otherwise inaccessible during gun bans, and can turn good profits with today’s world of online sales and transfers. Let FFL123 show you how to get your Illinois FFL today!

The FFL123 Advantage

Truth be told, we’d like a world where any law-abiding American could easily get into the gun business. But we don’t live in that world. We know this, and so does our staff of industry insiders and legal experts. FFL123 has assembled a staff that is dedicated to helping our customers cut through the red tape of getting an FFL.

When you purchase an FFL123 guide, you aren’t just buying a comprehensive step-by-step guide to applying for an FFL. You are also getting decades of combined industry and legal experience that is there when you need it the most.

Every FFL123 customer is entitled to direct, one-on-one customer support for their specific problems in getting an FFL. When you do business with FFL123, we back you up until you get your FFL. In fact, we go beyond that, and keep backing you up for as long as you are in business! Our customers get ongoing support for everything from finding suppliers to keeping abreast with the latest changes in gun laws and regulations.

Start Today!

With just a couple of easy clicks, you can start your journey to your Illinois FFL today. Rest easy knowing that you aren’t cast adrift with confusing federal and state paperwork, or left alone to figure out how to fill out and file seemingly conflicting forms. FFL123 is here for you along your entire journey from choosing the FFL that’s right for you, to your first day of business and everything in between.

Are you ready to get your Illinois FFL? Choose the guide that is right for you. Not sure which one you need? No problem! Just ask and we’ll help you with that too. What are you waiting for? The sooner you start, the sooner you can enjoy all the benefits of an FFL!


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