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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 07/11/2018 in FFL Business

Your FFL Transfer Fee

Your FFL Transfer Fee

What is the FFL transfer fee when buying a gun from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder? 

The short answer is, it depends. The FFL transfer fee depends on the FFL holder and state and local regulations for background checks.  However, typically we see FFL transfer fees between $15-25 per firearm; NFA items may be double that fee.

The federal government does not charge for background checks to buy a firearm. Background checks are not done by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF). The BATF only regulates firearms and license holders. The FBI does the background checks and does not charge an FFL transfer fee. "The FBI does not charge a fee for conducting NICS checks. However, States that act as points of contact for NICS checks may charge a fee consistent with State law," says the BATF. 


So why does an FFL holder charge for a background check if they do not have to? 

Profit is a main reason. “Gun profit margins are thin, yet guns are important to have in a full line store, and vital in a gun shop. On top of that, the cost of maintaining a gun inventory is not cheap!” says an article at AmmoLand. The gun selling business is highly competitive.  

An FFL holder has to make money to stay in business; that means turning a profit. So, just like a doc fee when buying a car, the FFL transfer fee is a way for the dealer to make some money on the transaction.  

A lot of people are now buying guns online through auction sites and places like Buds. These guns have must be transferred through an FFL when sent out-of-state. By charging an FFL transfer fee, the receiving gun shop manages to make some money off the deal since they did not sell the actual gun.  

Why do states and local governments charge? Revenue is the most likely answer. “The governor's public state budget plan anticipates $1.4 million in additional revenue from the sale of firearms…” says a report NJ.Com.  

States may charge an FFL transfer fee for accessing the state’s version of the criminal records network computer system.  


Outdoor Life reports, "21 states and many counties/cities conduct their own beyond-NICS checks for all gun sales, issue their own permits, compile their own gun registries and levy their own fees… In fact, in five states, it can cost anywhere from $5 to $100 (or more) just to be 'eligible' to purchase or possess a firearm. In states with weak pre-emption laws, such as Illinois, New York, local governments can impose layers of permissions or licensing fees on residents before they can legally own any type of firearm, including long guns." 

Here is a breakdown of state and state fees. Smaller community fees are too numerous to list. 

California - A $25 handgun safety certificate. 

Connecticut - The current fee is $50, but lawmakers are looking at raising it. 

Hawaii - A $42 permit for all firearms. 

Illinois - A $10 Firearms Owners Identification card (FOI). It is good for 10 years. Local governments, like Chicago, may have additional fees 

Iowa - The law is changing, but as of the latest requirements, a $5-$25 five-year permit is needed to buy handguns. The permit is issued at the local level. 

Massachusetts - A $100 FOI is good for six years. 

Michigan - Free 30-day license. 

Minnesota - Free permit good for a year to buy handguns and "military-style assault weapons." 

Nebraska - $5 permit to buy a handgun. 

New Jersey - A $5 lifetime FOI for any gun. $2 for each handgun purchase. This may change very soon. 

New York - Permit needed to buy a gun. This varies by county. 

New York City - $140 permit to purchase a long gun. A $340 fee for a handgun license and $87 for fingerprinting to get a handgun license, both of which are required to buy a handgun in The Big Apple. 

North Carolina - A $5 permit to buy a handgun or a CCW. 

Minnesota - Permit needed to buy a handgun. The state does not charge for this, but gun dealers may. 

Rhode Island - The handgun purchase card is free, but a person must take and pass a firearms safety exam to get it. 


Buying a firearm from an FFL holder means filling out a BATF form 4473. A full background check is not needed if the buyer has a state-issued firearms license. A background check is not needed when transferring a firearm from one FFL holder to another. 

Some dealers do not charge an FFL transfer fee for customers who have a CCW. Some do. 

The FBI’s background checks are mandated by federal law. "The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is all about saving lives and protecting people from harm—by not letting guns fall into the wrong hands. It also ensures the timely transfer of firearms to eligible gun buyers," says the agency web page on background checks. "Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 230 million such checks have been made, leading to more than 1.3 million denials."

  1. How to Get an FFL
  2. FFL Application Process and Procedures
  3. Your FFL Transfer Fee
  4. Gun Wholesalers for FFL Dealers
  5. What Can You Do With an FFL?
  6. The FFL eZ Check System
  7. The NFA and Owning NFA Items
  8. Offline Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan
  9. Online Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan
  10. Pawn Shops and the Type 02 FFL
  11. FFL Responsibilities and Regulations
  12. BATF Will Approve Home Based FFLs
  13. Customer Service in Your FFL Business

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