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FFL Dealer FAQ

Your FFL Dealer Questions Answered!

What is a Federal Firearms License (FFL)? 

 A federal license to be in business to buy, sell, and make guns and ammunition, depending on the license type.

What does FFL mean?

FFL is an abbreviation for Federal Firearms License. It is a license from the federal government to buy and sell guns within a state, across state lines and sometimes to import firearms. One type of FFL allows you to make and sell ammunition. One type allows you to buy and sell antique guns only. The federal government has several different FFL types. Read here for more information. 

An FFL is not a state or local business license. You may need one of those depending on your state and local laws.

When is an FFL required?

Any time a firearm is sold and has to cross a state line to get to the buyer. For example, if you live in Georgia and buy a gun online in Alabama, it has to ship to a Georgia FFL holder. If you go in person to Alabama to buy the gun, then you buy direct from the FLL holder.

California has special rules, currently being tested in court, that require any ammunition purchases also go through an FFL.

An FFL is also required to be a gunsmith.

Building your own gun from parts does not require an FFL.

Who can have an FFL?

Any American citizen over the age of 21 who has not committed a felony, is not addicted to drugs and has never been in a mental institution. Federal law says handguns and ammo can only be sold to adults over 21. In short, if you can legally buy a gun from an FFL holder, you too can have an FFL.

What types of FFL are there?

The federal government has set up 9 different FFLs.

  • Type 1) Dealer/gunsmith - This is the basic license allowing you to buy and sell any gun that is not regulated as Class 3 weapon. Another permit can be added to any gun retailer license to sell Class 3 fireams. We discuss Class 3 below. You cannot make guns for sale. You can assemble guns from parts, provided you buy the BATF-regulated part from a gun manufacturer. Cannot import guns or make guns for sale.
  • Type 2) Pawnbroker - Same as Type 1, but for pawnshops. Many places regulate pawnshops differently than gun stores. Cannot import guns or make guns for sale.
  • Type 3) Collect of Firearms - This is often called a Cruffler. It lets you buy & sell antique and curio guns across state lines for your personal collection. This is not a license for a business. No Class 3. Cannot import or manufacture guns.
  • Type 6) Ammo maker - Yes, it jumps from 3 to 9. Government. Go figure. Anyway, this is a license to make and sell ammunition and only ammunition. If you reload ammo for sale, you must have this license. Cannot import or make guns. No Class 3.
  • Type 7) Manufacturer - Make guns, including the BATF regulated part of the gun, and ammunition for sale. Cannot import guns. Can make Class 3 guns with the add-on license.
  • Type 8) Importer/dealer - You can import guns from other countries and sell them to other FFL holders to sell them yourself.
  • Type 9) Destructive devices dealer - The BATF describes some firearms as "destructive devices" (DD). These are not machine guns, but some of them can be full-auto like a belt-fed grenade launcher. DDs have no legitimate sporting or hunting use, according to the BATF. Some examples are 20mm rifles, mortars, grenade launchers and more. BATF explains more here. We put it simpler language here. No manufacturing, no importing.
  • Type 10) Maker & Dealer of destructive devices - You can make and sell anything listed as a destructive device. No importing.
  • Type 11) Destructive Device Importer - You can import destructive devices and sell them. You cannot make them.

How much does an FFL cost?

An FFL costs from $30 to $3,000 every three years, depending on the type. The most common FFL, Type 1 and 2, have a $200 application fee and a $90 renewal fee every three years. Types 9, 10 and 11 have a $3,000 application fee and cost $3,000 to renewal every three years.

The cheapest are a Type 3 and 6 which are $30 to apply and $30 every three years to renew.

How long does an FFL last?

 Three years.

Which FFL should I get?

  • If you just want to buy and sell guns or do transfers for Internet orders and/or be a gunsmith, Type 1. If you plan to run a pawn shop operation, Type 2.
  • Collect antique guns, like military weapons, Type 3.
  • Make new ammo or reload ammo and sell it, Type 6.
  • Make and sell guns, Type 7.
  • Import guns, Type 8
  • Sell "destructive devices," Type 8
  • Make "destructive devices," Type 10.
  • Import "destructive devices," Type 11.

A Special Occupation Tas (SOT) can be added to several of these licenses. Visit What can you do with an FFL for more information.

What FFL does a gunsmith need?

To just repair guns, Type 1 or Type 2.

What are FFL Fees?

An FFL fee is the application cost, between $30 and $3,000 depending on the license type. See above for an explanation of the license types. Renewals are then $30 to $3,000 every three years depending on the type.

Can FFL do private sales?

Yes. The BATF actually encourages this

Can FFL transfer to themselves?

Yes. If you move a gun from your for-sale stock to your own collection, you must wait a year before selling it to a non-FFL holder.

Can FFL deliver firearms?

BATF does not make this one clear. See Question 7 in this document."It is unlawful for any Federal firearms licensee (FFL) to sell or deliver any firearm or ammunition to anyone he knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than eighteen years of age. It is unlawful for an FFL to sell or deliver a firearm other than a rifle or shotgun or ammunition for a firearm other than a rifle or shotgun to any individual who he knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than 21 years of age." It's best to only hand over a gun at the place where the FFL is based or a gun show.

Can an FFL buy a gun anywhere?

Within the United States, yes, provided the FFL holder has the proper license.

Can an FFL refuse to sell a gun?

Yes. BATF encourages FFL holders to not sell a gun if they believe something is wrong or the sale should not go through. The FFL holder is not required to say why the sale will not go through.

Can any FFL sell suppressors?

Yes, if with the proper license type and a SOT of Class 3 license addendum. SOT or Class 3 firearms are fully automatic weapons, short barrel shotguns and rifles and a few other items like suppressors.

Do FFL dealers do background checks?

No. The FBI conducts the background checks. FFL holders gather information and provide that to the FBI.

Do FFL collect sales tax?

Depending on the sale, yes. If it is a retail sale, state and local sales taxes should be collected. Depending on the state and locality, a transfer may or may not need to collect sales taxes. Check your state laws and local ordinances.

Do FFL holders get discounts?

Depends on what you mean by a discount. Lee, the reloading company, offers an FFL discount even to Type 3 license holders. FFL holders can buy guns at a wholesale price and then add on enough to make a profit through a retail sale.

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