How Do You Register a NFA Firearm with the ATF?
The first step toward registering your NFA firearm with the ATF is finding the NFA firearm that you want. It is helpful in thinking about the registration process to look at the application to the ATF itself, which explains all of the requirements. The vast majority of people registering their NFA firearm with the ATF will use ATF Form 5320-4 - which is an application for tax paid transfer and registration of an NFA firearm. It is important to note that every time a NFA firearm changes ownership from one person to another (or one entity to another), a transfer tax must be paid ($200), and the intended recipient of the firearms must be approved by the ATF. Approval occurs by the intended recipient filling out the proper ATF form, sending it in, and then receiving a certificated application in return that certifies that the recipient has been approved for ownership of the firearm and a ATF transfer tax stamp. A tax stamp will look something like this:
Filling Out Form 4
ATF's Form 5320-4 requires the following information to be filled out: (1) The Transferee's Name and Address - if you are registering with a gun trust, then this is the gun trust name. If you are registering as an individual, then this is your name and address. However, even if registering with a trust, you will need to provide your address so that you can receive you certified application and tax stamp back in the mail. (2) The Transferor's Name and Address - this is the person that you are buying the NFA firearm from (a Class 3 dealer). (3) The Name and Address of the manufacturer of the firearm, along with the type of firearm, caliber, gauge or size, model, and serial number - this information will depend on whether you are having a NFA item specifically manufactured for you or whether you are purchasing it at a store. (4) Transferree's Special (Occupational) Tax Status Employer Identification Number (EIN) - if you purchase a gun trust, it is wise to obtain a EIN for the trust in order to set up a bank account for the trust and make your NFA purchase with trust funds rather than individual funds. If you go this route, then enter your trust's EIN here.
Requirements to Be Able to Legally Own a NFA Firearm
The second page of your Form 4 application will ask a series of Yes/No questions. These questions are intended to determine whether you are legally entitled to own a NFA firearm. Whether you are buying the NFA item through a trust or not, these question are required to be answered by the Grantor (creator) of the trust. If you answer yes to any of the questions then you must provide a written explanation. However, under the Gun Control Act of 1968, it is unlawful for any person or entity to sell a NFA firearm to any person who has answered Yes to any of the following questions.
(a) Charged by information or under indictment in any court for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year? Y/N
(b) A fugitive from justice? Y/N
(c) An alien who is illegally or unlawfully in the United States? Y/N
(d) Under 21 years of age? Y/N
(e) An unlawful user of or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Y/N
(f) Subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child of such partner? Y/N
(a) Been convicted in any court of a crime for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if the judge actually gave you a shorter sentence? Y/N
(b) Been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions? Y/N
(c) Been adjudicated mentally defective or been committed to a mental institution? Y/N
(d) Renounced your United States citizenship? Y/N
(e) Been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence? This includes any misdemeanor conviction involving the use or attempted use of physical force committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, or by a person with a similar relationship with the victim? Y/N
If an applicant answers yes to any of these questions then that applicant is not allowed to own or be in possession of a NFA firearm, regardless of whether they own the firearm as an individual or in a trust.
Other Requirements to Register an NFA Item
ATF Form 5320-4 contains a few other requirements that vary depending on whether you are registering as an individual or through a trust. If you are registering with an individual, then you will have to affix a recent passport-style photograph (taken within 1 year) and you will have to notify the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) of your application for a NFA item by forwarding a copy of the completed ATF Form 5320.4 (Form 4) to the CLEO. A CLEO is any of the following: your local chief of police, county sheriff, head of state policy, or state or local district attorney or prosecutor.
An individual applicant must also include FBI Form FD-258, which is a fingerprint card.
If you are applying with your gun trust, then all "responsible persons" affiliated with the gun trust will have to submit passport style photographs, 2 fingerprint samples, and notify the CLEO that you are registering a NFA firearm with the ATF. The notification requirement can be satisfied by simply mailing a copy of your completed ATF form to your local CLEO.
Additionally with a NFA Gun Trust, each "responsible person" (the grantor, trustee, or a beneficiary if the beneficiary has access to the firearms) must fill out and submit ATF Form 5320.23 (A "responsible person" questionnaire). The ATF Form 5320.23 - Responsible Person Questionnaire must be submitted along with all other application materials to the ATF. If you are planning on using your NFA Gun trust so that multiple people can operate the NFA firearms, then you ultimately save money on the transfer tax fee by simply filling out Form 5320.23 for each "Responsible Person" rather than have each person register as an individual.
Whether applying as an individual or with a gun trust, the applicant must include a check or money order for the amount of the transfer tax. The transfer tax is $200 for most items, and only $5 for what is classified as "Any Other Weapon" (AOW).
If the applicant is applying with a gun trust, then a COPY of the gun trust must be included with the application.
Submission of Application
All applications must be submitted to the address listed on the form. As of 2018, this address is:
National Firearms Act Branch Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives P.O. Box 530298 Atlanta, GA 30353-0298
If E-File is available, then you should e-file the application, as this is a faster route. Otherwise, these applications sometimes take from 3 - 6 months to process. You can check on the status of your application by calling (304) 616-4500 or visiting www.atf.gov.
Penalties for NFA Violations
Any person who violates or otherwise fails to comply with the requirements of the NFA is, upon conviction, subject to a fine not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 10 years.
You must keep your certified NFA application and tax stamp with the NFA firearms AT ALL TIMES or you could be at risk of violating the NFA.
If an applicant is eligible to receive an NFA firearm, but then subsequently becomes disqualified (by a subsequent answering of 'Yes' to any of the above questions), then the applicant, or NFA firearm possessor must notify the ATF and receive instruction on the proper disposal of the firearm. In this instance, the possessor of the NFA firearm must notify the ATF by writing to the following address:NFA Branch Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 244 Needy Road Martinsburg, WV 25405