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FFL Transfers
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Whether you bought a gun online, need to ship your gun for sevice or just want to gift a family member or friend a gun.  You'll need an FFL dealer to complete the transfer.

Worry not! Transferring a firearm is easy…. once you know the firearm transfer rules, you’ll be set. 

Firearm Transfers

A firearm transfer, simply speaking, is the change in possession of a firearm from an FFL to another FFL or a person/customer (non-FFL).

Technically, any changing of possession of any item is transferring the item, however, the term “transfer,” when used with firearms, almost always means processing the gun through an FFL.

Since the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), firearms that travel interstate (across state lines) must be transferred using a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). This means that firearm transactions (gift, loan, sale, etc.) that happen within the same state don’t require an FFL.

NFA Firearms, like silencers, short barreled rifles, etc. need to be transferred to an FFL that is also an SOT. Despite a lot of people using the term, there is really no such thing as a Class 3 License but rather an FFL dealer (usually a type 1 FFL) with a Class 3 SOT.

NOTE: This is only under federal law – your state may require that all transactions go through an FFL.

So, if you want to loan/gift/sell a firearm to your friend while you are both residents of the same state (and while you’re both in that state), you don’t need to use an FFL under federal law. This is true even if you’re shipping the firearm within the same state! However, see our guide on shipping firearms to see how it can still be problematic.

When is a Firearm Transfer Required?
Disposition In-State Out-of-state
Personally-owned firearm FFL transfer NOT required* FFL transfer
FFL-owned firearm FFL transfer FFL transfer
*no requirement under FEDERAL law – your state may require all transfers to go through an FFL

 

When an FFL is used to transfer a firearm, the FFL will acquire (receive) the firearm onto the FFL’s records from an individual (seller) or another FFL (manufacturer or another dealer). Then, the FFL will dispose (give) the firearm to another FFL or to an individual. That entire transaction is a “firearm transfer.”

You should also contact the FFL prior to sending the firearm. After all, the FFL will need to know what to do with the firearm once they receive it. Often, FFLs will just ask you to write the name and contact information of who it is supposed to go to but sometimes they’ll have a form for you to print and fill-in.

If the FFL is transferring the firearm to an individual (either the person buying your gun or you if the transfer is for your gun), then a ATF Form 4473 and background check (with some exceptions) must be completed. This form is the paperwork you fill out whenever you buy a gun from an FFL – it includes your information and answers to questions confirming that you aren’t a prohibited person.

For long-guns (rifles and shotguns), the FFL can transfer the firearm to a resident of any state as long as it’s legal in both states. Handguns, however, can only be transferred to residents of the state where the FFL is located.

Because you can only ship a firearm across state lines to an FFL, you should ALWAYS get a copy of the recipient FFL before you ship the firearm! Once you get a copy, I highly recommend that you use the ATF’s FFL E-Z Check system. It’s not a requirement but it ensures that you didn’t get a fraudulent copy, a fake address, or a surrendered FFL (after it was copied).

Check below on how to ship a firearm USPS

How to ship a firearm

May a nonlicensee ship a firearm through the U.S. Postal Service?

A nonlicensee may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensed resident of another State. A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of his or her own State or to a licensee in any State. The Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms. Handguns are not mailable. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun.

All handguns must be shipped from FFL holder to FFL holder.