FFL – Federal Firearms License – Here’s Everything You Need to Know

For intending firearms dealers, a federal firearms license is a must-have. Just as the name spells, an individual cannot manufacture, sell, buy, or transfer firearms without an FFL.

However, there are certain conditions that a prospective firearms dealer must meet to access this legal right to deal with firearms. The ATF is saddled with the responsibility to ensure that these items are sold under safe conditions.

More so, getting an FFL follows a clear procedure that looks simple but may end up taking months. This article contains the information a prospective firearms dealer may need.

What is a Federal Firearms License?

As the name implies, a federal firearm license is a license that permits individuals or corporations to manufacture, buy, sell, transfer or import firearms. It gives arms dealers the legal right to conduct their business.

The FFL ensures that the sales of firearms and ammunition are done with utmost safety conditions. There are several types of FFL depending on the type of business activity prospective dealers intend to conduct; manufacturing, selling, or facilitating the trade of guns (transfer).

Aside from business purposes, an individual can also request an FFL for personal usage. However, although this request may still be granted under certain business conditions, the ATF rarely grants an FFL for strictly personal usage.

Types of FFL License 

The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) spells out 8 types of FFL license. They include:

  • 01 FFL: This is a generic retail license, mostly for Firearms dealers or gunsmiths.
  • 02 FFL: A special type of FFL for Pawnbrokers.
  • 03 FFL: FFL for collectors of curios and relics. Note that this license does not permit the sale of firearms.
  • 06 FFL: License for manufacturing of ammunition only.
  • 07 FFL: This license allows the manufacturing of non-NFA guns and ammunition.
  • 08 FFL: FFL for importing non-NFA guns and ammo
  • 09 FFL: For people who deal in destructive devices and explosives. They will also need a federal explosive license.
  • 10 FFL: Similar to the 09 FFL, the type 10 FFL is for manufacturing destructive devices and ammunition. It may also require Federal explosives licenses.
  • 11 FFL: For those who import destructive devices, explosive ammo, armor-piercing ammunition, and the likes.

Why Do People Consider Getting a Federal-Firearm License

There are several benefits of obtaining an FFL:

  • Currently, the firearms industry is growing and blooming, selling firearms, guns, and accessories can be a lucrative source of income.
  • Direct access to manufacturers of firearms to buy at a reduced price and make a profit from sales.
  • Permits operating from the house rather than the store alone can be an extra source of money
  • Firearms businesses require overhead costs to operate when it is done following the law.
  • There are no excessive procedures involved in purchasing guns.
  • Access to the gun market and shows.

Requirements for Getting a Federal Firearms License 

Before one begins the process of applying to get an FFL, one has to pass certain qualifications. An applicant is eligible for the federal firearms license if they:

  • Are 21 years of age and above
  • Are not an illegal alien or a fugitive
  • Are not felons
  • Not violated the laws of the federal firearms law
  • Have a physical address for business
  • Reside in the state where they are conducting or intend to conduct business.
  • Are U.S citizens and have never renounced their U.S. citizenship.
  • Don’t have any record of mental illness
  • Do not have a commitment with a mental institution 
  • Have never spent more than a year in prison. 
  • Weren’t expelled from the Armed Forces due to any dishonorable act.
  • Have not been convicted of domestic violence
  • Are not addicted to any controlled substances.

Also, applicants must certify that:

  • They have the permission of the law to ship, receive, transport, or possess firearms and ammunition, or accessories for a profit
  • They will comply with the requirements of state and local law within 30 days after their application has been approved.
  • The business will meet all the requirements of the business conduct before it performs any transaction under license.
  • The chief law enforcement officer is aware of their intention to obtain a license
  • There will be a safe place to store guns as well as safety devices on the business premises 

Any applicant who fails to meet these requirements may not get the license. The reason is straightforward, they are not eligible for the federal firearms license.

How to Get an FFL

Upon meeting the above requirements, anyone who intends to get an FFL can follow these steps:

  • Fill out the application and provide all necessary information that the ATF requires. This includes a passport-sized photograph, fingerprint, and other requirements.
  • Mail the completed application to the ATF and a copy to the Chief Law Enforcement officer
  • Await an inspection: this will require all documents, both state and local business licenses, and permits to be available.

The ATF examines and certifies that the applicant meets all requirements, understands the relevant laws and rules, and has a suitable location to conduct business. After this, the applicant can await their license.

For those who Intend to operate from their homes, there may be some other requirements by the ATF, but that’s based on the state of residence.

How Long Does the Process Take to Get a Federal Firearms License?

The process of getting a federal firearms license is often not as simple as it sounds and may take longer than expected. The ATF asserts that it takes about 90 days, on average, from when they receive a proper application, to issue a license. 

This perhaps is because they have to carefully follow all required procedures – screen documents and make proper verifications, so an applicant may expect to get the license around the fourth month after application.


As the firearms industry is booming, the business is promising for intending dealers. However, the business is risky at the same time so it is necessary to get a certification from the ATF before launching into it. Aside from the legal right to sell firearms, one can also take advantage of other benefits that come with the license.

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