Congress passed the National Firearms Act in 1934. This law regulates weapons by imposing specific taxes and registration standards on them.
The NFA enforces taxes on firearm manufacture and transfer. Anyone who sells, purchases or creates NFA-regulated items must apply for and pay “tax stamps.”
U.S. citizens who follow state laws and application procedures can legally own these products. Some NFA-regulated firearms, also known as Title II weapons, include:
- Machine guns
- Silencers or suppressors
- Short-barreled shotguns and rifles
- Destructive devices like explosives, grenades and mines
- Any other weapons, like cane guns, knife guns and pen guns
The NFA defines “transfer” as the selling, giving away, loaning, leasing, pledging or otherwise disposing of an NFA-regulated firearm. This guide will explore the regulations and procedures for transferring NFA items.
Can You Transfer an NFA Item?
Yes — you can lawfully transfer an NFA item by filing legal paperwork with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. If you buy an NFA item from an individual or dealer, you must notify the ATF of the purchase and transfer and fill out ATF Form 4. You can only legally transfer firearms registered with the ATF.
ATF Form 4 is for NFA transfers from individuals to dealers and vice versa. Private citizens should also submit Form 4 when transferring an NFA firearm to a legal entity, such as a gun trust. However, a dealer would instead fill out ATF Form 3 when transferring an NFA item to another dealer or a government agency.
If you purchase an NFA item before submitting Form 4, you can only legally possess it once the ATF approves your application and issues the tax stamp. The NFA firearm remains in the original owner’s possession during the application process.
What Is a Class 3 Transfer?
A Federal Firearms License dealer must hold a Class 3 Special Occupational Tax permit to lawfully sell Title II weapons. That’s why you may hear Title II weapons called “Class 3 weapons.” A Class 3 transfer involves transferring any NFA-regulated or Title II weapon, like a machine gun, destructive device or short-barreled rifle or shotgun.
Anyone purchasing a Class 3 firearm should meet all the legal requirements for doing so, including being a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old and lives in the state where they buy the weapon.
How Much Is an NFA Transfer?
You can apply for two types of tax stamps with Form 4.
- AOWs: If you transfer an AOW, you’ll only have to pay a $5 tax.
- All other NFA firearms: If you transfer a silencer, short-barreled rifle or any other NFA-regulated item, you’ll pay a $200 tax.
When filling out the form, you’ll specify which tax stamp you’re applying for. You’ll also enter information about the firearm, including its make, model, caliber and serial number. Each NFA item requires a separate form.
Where to Submit ATF Form 4
There are two ways to submit ATF Form 4.
- Mail: The first option is filling out a physical form and mailing it to the ATF’s NFA division. Form 4 provides the submission instructions and mailing address. If you choose this route, we suggest using certified mail to confirm successful delivery. You can also call the NFA at 304-616-4500 for your Form 4 transfer status.
- E-file: The second option is submitting your form electronically through the ATF’s website. You’ll only need to create an account and provide some basic information beforehand. Most people prefer e-filing, as it’s faster and more convenient than mailing a paper form. You can also track your application’s approval status through the ATF’s eForms system.
How Long Does It Take for the ATF to Approve Form 4?
The ATF is notoriously slow to approve paperwork. While processing times can vary depending on a few factors — such as the time of year you apply and your state of residence — it could take several months. The ATF will use this time to review your application, conduct a background check and perform any necessary investigations.
The ATF’s introduction of e-filing should cut down these wait times. You can also check the ATF’s website to view the current processing times for different forms.
Can You Transfer Your Individual Tax Stamp Into a Gun Trust?
Yes, it’s possible to change your individual tax stamp to a legal entity, like a gun trust or corporation. However, you’ll have to pay the $200 ATF tax stamp again since you’re transferring the NFA item from one entity — yourself — to your legal entity.
You can still lawfully use the firearm while you wait for the ATF to approve the transfer. Remember that until the ATF approves the tax stamp, any co-trustees in your gun trust or corporation can only possess, use, store or transport the NFA item while in your presence.
What if I Have an NFA Firearm and I’m Moving?
If you aren’t FFL- or SOT-licensed, you’ll need written approval from the ATF before you can legally transport your NFA item. There are two ways to obtain this:
- Submit a written request to the ATF’s NFA division.
- File ATF Form 5320.20.
Keystone Shooting Center Is Your One-Stop Shop for All Your Firearm Needs
Though purchasing an NFA firearm takes time, it’s worth the extra effort and patience. Many firearm providers understand the long wait times and high costs associated with NFA-regulated items, offering options to make purchases as simple as possible.
Keystone Shooting Center is your source for all things firearms, whether you’re looking to purchase or rent a gun, enroll in a class or test your skills at the range. You can find various NFA items through our online store, including suppressors and short-barreled rifles. We are proud to be your go-to NFA dealer in Pittsburgh. We also have a kiosk where you can scan electronic fingerprints to submit to the NFA, saving you a trip to the courthouse.
While you await ATF approval, feel free to reserve a bay at our facility to hone your marksmanship. Our world-class indoor shooting range features 24 climate-controlled lanes, a state-of-the-art HVAC system and a full-service firearms superstore. By signing up for a membership, you’ll receive the highest priority when booking online, securing the first available lane upon your arrival at the range. We also accept walk-ins.
Whatever your firearm needs, Keystone aims to provide a comfortable and personalized experience for every shooter. Browse our firearm selection or become a member to reserve range time today!
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