Sometimes It Isn’t Easy Getting An FFL

Sometimes It Isn't Easy Getting An FFL - FFL123

Many people regard an 03 Curio and Relics FFL as the easiest one to apply for and get. In reality, this is pretty much the case. The 03 FFL does not require fingerprinting, business and professional licenses, or even a meeting with an ATF examiner. Because it is a limited purpose item intended to make procuring guns 50 years old or older and certain other guns determined to be primarily of interest to collectors, the 03 FFL uses a simplified application process. And yet, as you will see, even that process can go completely haywire and take months to resolve!

What is an 03 FFL? 

We’ve written about the 03 FFL or C&R license before. In a nutshell, it’s a special type of FFL that allows private parties to more easily purchase guns for the purpose of building a collection. It does not allow for any kind of commercial activity, or the acquisition of modern guns. Some states even have laws that do away with most of the usefulness of a C&R and compel 03 FFL holders to still transfer guns through regular, commercial FFL holders.

That aside, for most Americans, an 03 FFL with it’s $30 price tag is an easy way to build a collection of guns and dodge dealer fees for transfers.

A great many gun collectors use their C&R FFL to buy guns shipped directly to them from importers or online auctions, or to engage in trade with other collectors of vintage and military surplus arms. For those people an 03 FFL is a very handy thing, and quickly pays for itself in convenience and elimination of transfer fees.

Of course it is still and FFL, and you have to fill out the same FFL application as any other FFL does, although with some slightly modified steps. And whenever you deal with Federal forms, things can get weird fast.

Filling Out Forms Can Be Strange 

There are a great many plain language step by step guides online to filling out an 03 FFL. In fact, the ATF even provides it on the FFL application form you download from them. And by and large it is pretty simple. You give a full legal name, you skip over a few parts related to business activity, skip bits about fingerprints and business partners, answer some basic background check questions provide some payment information, and the name and address of your local chief law enforcement officer (typically a county sheriff or city chief of police), sign, date, and mail the form. Good to go right?


In my case, I should have taken a moment to bug FFL123 founder Brandon Maddox about this I thought “naw, I got this, I have written hundreds of thousands of words for FFL123, I’m good.”

Plot twist. I wasn’t.

Download an FFL application real quick. Go the the 4th page, question 38. As a US citizen I answered 38A, and as the application clearly stated 38B did not apply and should be left blank, I left it blank and kept going.

45 days after I sent in my application, I got it returned with instructions to mark N/A on 38b. Also that my debit card had been unable to be charged for some reason. Had I taken the time to consult with FFL123 experts on this, I wouldn’t have missed the petty detail and had my application processed faster.

Round 2 Commences

So I sent my corrected application back in, along with a money order this time and waited. And waited. After about 30 days I called the FFL Licensing Center in West Virginia to inquire about my application. They couldn’t find it at all. A few days later my money order showed cashed. Still nothing Then I started getting emails about FFL related topics from the ATF. Clearly I’d made it into some database. But nobody could find my application.

Finally somebody put me through to the examiner in my state. Turns out whoever entered my application into the ATF computer goofed up on my social security number and entered the last digit wrong. Now at this point, it’s worth noting that while the ATF has some pretty messed up elements to it, the folks pushing paper around and running background checks aren’t the same people shooting puppies or burning buildings with tanks. In other words, it pays to be courteous and polite to the people handling paperwork, because paperwork errors happen and a nice attitude goes a long way, and you can save the ire for the puppy killing faction.

In this case, the examiner promised me they’d push the correct background check and application through as quickly as they could. That was on a Friday, my 03 FFL was issued the following Monday and reached me in the mail a week after my phone call. Government actually did it’s job, and after a journey that started near Thanksgiving, I’d finally managed to get my 03 FFL.

Lessons Learned

No Federal form is so simple that it cannot be screwed up by bureaucratic processes. In this case, I failed to anticipate that the Feds cannot handle a blank question even when they say it should be left blank. And in turn, somebody goofed up a single number on their end. Paperwork errors happen, but had I taken the time to consult with experts, I could have spared myself pretty much all of this petty annoyance.

Now you might think a simple 03 FFL isn’t worth the bother to buy one of the online FFL guides from FFL123. It is in fact the simplest FFL to apply for and the one with the lowest cost and effort to get. However, sometimes time is money and it might well be worth your while even for a C&R license to get some expert help.

On the other hand, you’ve seen how such a simple process turned into a nearly four month long ordeal. Imagine if you’d been trying to get an 01 FFL. Or an 07 FFL and an 02 SOT. What could go wrong? Well the answer is lots, but that’s where FFL123 is here to help.

FFL123 has been helping tens of thousands of Americans just like you get the FFL they want and deserve. In fact, they have such a perfect process, they guarantee you’ll get your FFL if you follow their system, or you’ll get 150 percent of the purchase price of the online FFL guide back. Who else is so sure of their methods that they’ll take a loss if you don’t get your FFL?

Click here right now to get started on your own FFL journey, and take part in one of the hottest and fasted growing businesses in America today!

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