National Firearms Act (NFA) — Firearms
- The types of firearms that must be registered in the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record are defined in the NFA and 27 CFR, Part 479. What are some examples?
- How can an individual legally acquire NFA firearms?
- How do I identify myself or my company when completing a National Firearms Act application?
- What is the tax on making an NFA firearm?
- How is this tax paid?
- What is an unserviceable firearm?
- What happens when a State acquires an unregistered NFA firearm through seizure or abandonment?
- May a private citizen who owns an NFA firearm which is not registered have the firearm registered?
- What can happen to someone who has an NFA firearm which is not registered to him?
- What should a person do if he or she comes into possession of an unregistered NFA firearm?
- Are there any exemptions from the making or transfer tax provisions of the NFA?
- How does a person qualify to import, manufacture, or deal in NFA firearms?
- When must firearms special (occupational) taxes be paid and how much are the taxes?
- Does a single special (occupational) tax payment entitle a person or firm to import and manufacture firearms?
- May a licensed collector obtain NFA firearms in interstate commerce?
- What are the required transfer procedures for an individual who is not qualified as a manufacturer, importer, or dealer of NFA firearms?
- How does an individual obtain authorization to make an NFA firearm?
- Are parts which would convert a firearm into an NFA firearm subject to registration?
- What law enforcement officials’ certifications on an application to transfer or make an NFA weapon are acceptable to ATF?
- Is the chief law enforcement officer required to sign the law enforcement certification on ATF Form 1 or ATF Form 4?
- If the chief law enforcement official whose jurisdiction includes the proposed transferee’s residence refuses to sign the “law enforcement certification,” will the signature of an official in another jurisdiction be acceptable?
- Does the registered owner of a destructive device, machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle need authorization to lawfully transport such items interstate?
- If an individual is changing his or her State of residence and the individual’s application to transport the NFA firearm cannot be approved because of a prohibition in the new State, what options does a lawful possessor have?
- May a transferor submit an application to transfer an NFA firearm prior to the date on which the transferor receives the weapon?
- If a person has a pistol and an attachable shoulder stock, does this constitute possession of an NFA firearm?
- Does the owner of a registered NFA firearm have to have any evidence to show it is registered lawfully to him or her?
- What is the status of unloaded or dummy grenades, artillery shell casings, and similar devices?
- Are muzzleloading cannons classified as destructive devices?
- Are grenade and rocket launcher attachments destructive devices?
- What is a “conversion kit?”
- Are Paintball and/or Airgun Sound Suppressers NFA firearms?
- Which agency collects the special (occupational) tax from persons who wish to import, manufacture or deal in National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms?
- Who is liable for the tax?
- How is the special tax paid?
- When is the special tax due?
- What are the classes of special tax and the rates?
- What do I get to show I paid the special tax?
- Does payment of the tax qualify me to import, manufacture, or deal in NFA firearms?
- Does a single payment entitle a person to import and manufacture NFA firearms?
- Do I need an Employer Identification Number and, if so, how do I get one?
- What if I change my business structure?
- Can I use a trade name?
- What if I change my address during the tax year?
- How do I claim a refund of special tax paid?
- What is the process for renewing the tax payment for the next Tax Year?
- If I discontinue business as an importer, manufacturer, or dealer in NFA firearms must I dispose of my inventory of NFA firearms?
Some examples of the types of firearms that must be registered are:
- Machine guns;
- The frames or receivers of machine guns;
- Any combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting weapons into machine guns;
- Any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for converting a weapon into a machine gun;
- Any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if the parts are in the possession or under the control of a person;
- Silencers and any part designed and intended for fabricating a silencer;
- Short-barreled rifles;
- Short-barreled shotguns;
- Destructive devices; and,
- “Any other weapon.”
A few examples of destructive devices are:
- Molotov cocktails;
- Anti-tank guns (over caliber .50);
- Bazookas; and,
A few examples of “any other weapon” are:
- H&R Handyguns;
- Ithaca Auto-Burglar guns;
- Cane guns; and,
- Gadget-type firearms and “pen” guns which fire a projectile by the action of an explosive.
[26 U.S.C. 5845]
Basically, there are 2 ways that an individual (who is not prohibited by Federal, State, or local law from receiving or possessing firearms) may legally acquire NFA firearms:
- By transfer after approval by ATF of a registered weapon from its lawful owner residing in the same State as the transferee.
- By obtaining prior approval from ATF to make NFA firearms.
[27 CFR 479.62-66 and 479.84-86]
The tax is $200 for making any NFA firearm, including “any other weapon.”
A money order or check made payable to the Bureau of ATF together with the application forms are to be mailed to the Bureau of ATF, NFA Branch.
When completing an NFA application as a licensee under the Gun Control Act of 1968, the license name and trade name used, if any, must be consistent with what is shown on your Federal Firearms License (FFL). The license name and trade name also must match what is shown on your Special Occupational Tax (SOT) stamp, if any. When a business changes or adds trade names, notification should be made to both the National Firearms Act (NFA) Branch (for SOT purposes) and the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (for FFL purposes).
If a licensee utilizes a trade name, either the trade name or both the trade name and licensee name must be shown on the NFA application. If a licensee does not utilize a trade name, the business should be identified on an NFA application by the name under which the FFL is held. Applications submitted to the NFA branch not in conformity with this policy may be returned for correction.
When completing an NFA application as an unlicensed legal entity (i.e., trust, corporation, LLC , partnership), an applicant should identify itself using the full name of the legal entity. If completing an NFA application as un unlicensed person you should identify yourself on the application using both your first and last names.
Applicants lacking FFLs and/or tax stamps held by the same person or legal entity may not be eligible to have their NFA applications approved without first meeting the eligibility requirements applicable under the law.
An unserviceable firearm is defined as one which is incapable of discharging a shot by means of an explosive and which is incapable of being readily restored to a firing condition.
An acceptable method of rendering most firearms unserviceable is to fusion weld the chamber closed and fusion weld the barrel solidly to the frame. Certain unusual firearms require other methods to render the firearms unserviceable.
An unserviceable NFA firearm is still subject to the controls of the NFA, but may be transferred tax free as a curio or ornament.
[26 U.S.C. 5845(h) and 5852, 27 CFR 479.11and 479.91]
When a State wants to keep such NFA firearms for official use, they must be registered by filing ATF Form 10 (5320.10) with the Bureau of ATF, NFA Branch.
Since approval of the Form 10 is conditioned on an “official use only” basis, subsequent transfers will not be approved except if the transfer is to another government agency for official use.
[27 CFR 479.104]
No. The NFA permits only manufacturers, makers, and importers to register firearms. Mere possessors may not register firearms. An unregistered NFA firearm is a contraband firearm, and it is unlawful to possess the weapon. The possessor should contact the nearest ATF office to arrange for its disposition.
[26 U.S.C. 5861(d)]
Violators may be fined not more than $250,000, and imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both. In addition, any vessel, vehicle or aircraft used to transport, conceal or possess an unregistered NFA firearm is subject to seizure and forfeiture, as is the weapon itself.
[49 U.S.C. 781-788, 26 U.S.C. 5861 and 5872]
Contact the nearest ATF office immediately.
Yes. These are noted below, along with the required form number, if any, to apply for the exemption. Completed forms must be approved by the NFA Branch prior to the making or transfer:
- Tax-exempt transfer and registration of a firearm between special (occupational) taxpayers: ATF Form 3 (5320.3).
- Tax-exempt making of a firearm on behalf of a Federal or State agency: ATF Form 1 (5320.1). Tax-exempt transfer and registration of the firearm on behalf of a Federal or State agency: ATF Form 5 (5320.5).
- A licensed manufacturer under contract to make NFA firearms for the U.S. Government may be granted an exemption from payment of the special (occupational) tax as a manufacturer of NFA firearms and an exemption from all other NFA provisions (except importation) with respect to the weapons made to fulfill the contract. Exemptions are obtained by writing the NFA Branch, stating the contract number(s) and the anticipated date of termination. This exemption must be renewed each year prior to July 1.
- Tax-exempt transfer and registration of an unserviceable firearm which is being transferred as a curio or ornament: ATF Form 5 (5320.5).
- Tax exempt transfer of a firearm to a lawful heir: ATF Form 5.
- Tax-exempt transfer by operation of law (e.g., court order).
[26 U.S.C. 5851-5853, 27 CFR 479.69, 479.70 and 479.88â91]
The person must be licensed under the GCA and pay the required special (occupational) tax imposed by the NFA. After becoming licensed under the GCA, he or she must file ATF Form 5630.7 with the appropriate tax payment in the entire amount with ATF. In addition, an importer (except importers of sporting shotguns and shotgun ammunition) must also be registered with ATF under the Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
[26 U.S.C. 5801, 18 U.S.C. 923, 27 CFR 447.31, 478.41 and 479.34]
These taxes must be paid in full on first engaging in business and thereafter on or before the first day of July. The current taxes are set out in the following table.
Special (Occupational) Tax Rates Under The NFA Class of Taxpayer Annual Fee 1. Importer of Firearms (Including “Any Other Weapon”) $1000.00 2. Manufacturer of Firearms (Including “Any Other Weapon”) $1000.00 3. Dealer of Firearms (Including “Any Other Weapon”) $500.00 1. Importer of Firearms (Including “Any Other Weapon”) REDUCED* $500.00 2. Manufacturer of Firearms (Including “Any Other Weapon”) REDUCED* $500.00
REDUCED = Rates which apply to certain taxpayers whose total gross receipts in the last taxable year are less than $500,000
No. A separate special (occupational) tax payment must be made for each of these activities. However, Class 1 (importer) and Class 2 (manufacturer) special (occupational) taxpayers are qualified to deal in NFA firearms without also having to pay special (occupational) tax as a Class 3 dealer.
[27 CFR 479.39]
Only if the firearms are classified as curios or relics, are registered, and are transferred in accordance with the provisions of the NFA. See also “What are the required transfer procedures for an individual who is not qualified as a manufacturer, importer, or dealer of NFA firearms?”
ATF Form 4 (5320.4) must be completed, in duplicate. The transferor first completes the face of the form. The transferee completes the transferee’s certification on the reverse of the form and must have the “Law Enforcement Certification” completed by the chief law enforcement officer.
The transferee is to place, on each copy of the form, a 2-inch by 2-inch photograph of the transferee taken within the past year (proofs, group photographs or photocopies are unacceptable). The transferee’s address must be a street address, not a post office box. If there is no street address, specific directions to the residence must be included.
If State or local law requires a permit or license to purchase, possess, or receive NFA firearms, a copy of the transferee’s permit or license must accompany the application. A check or money order for $200 ($5 for transfer of “any other weapon”) shall be made payable to ATF by the transferor. All signatures on both copies must be in ink.
Fingerprints also must be submitted on FBI Form FD-258, in duplicate. Fingerprints must be taken by a person qualified to do so, and must be clear and classifiable. If wear or damage to the fingertips do not allow clear prints, and if the prints are taken by a law enforcement official, a statement on his or her official letterhead giving the reason why good prints are unobtainable should accompany the fingerprints.
Forward the completed application and appropriate tax payment to the Bureau of ATF, National Firearms Act Branch, P.O. Box 530298, Atlanta, GA 30353-0298.
Transfer of the NFA firearm may be made only upon approval of the ATF Form 4 by the NFA Branch. If the application is approved, the original of the form with the cancelled stamp affixed showing approval will be returned to the applicant. If the tax application is denied, the tax will be refunded.
Upon approval of the ATF Form 4, the transferor should transfer the firearm as soon as possible, since the firearm is now registered to the transferee.
[26 U.S.C. 5812, 27 CFR 479.84-86]
Prior to making a firearm, the individual must submit ATF Form 1 (5320.1), Application to Make and Register a Firearm, to the Bureau of ATF, NFA Branch, and receive approval. The applicant must follow the procedures described in the question “What are the required transfer procedures for an individual who is not qualified as a manufacturer, importer, or dealer of NFA firearms?” concerning photographs, fingerprints and certifications. The applicant must forward the original and a duplicate of the form along with a check or money order for $200 made payable to the Bureau of ATF, National Firearms Act Branch, P.O. Box 530298, Atlanta, GA 30353-0298. If the application is approved, the original of the form with the cancelled stamp affixed showing approval will be returned to the applicant. If the application is denied, the tax will be refunded.
Applications to make a firearm will not be approved if Federal, State, or local law prohibits possession of the firearm.
[26 U.S.C. 5822, 27 CFR 479.61-65]
- An M-2 conversion kit (See lso What is a “conversion kit?”;
- Any part designed and intended solely and exclusively to convert a weapon into a machine gun. See “The types of firearms that must be registered in the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record are defined in the NFA and 27 CFR, Part 479. What are some examples?” for examples.
As provided by regulations, certifications by the local chief of police, sheriff of the county, head of the State police, or State or local district attorney or prosecutor are acceptable. The regulations also provide that certifications of other officials are appropriate if found in a particular case to be acceptable to the Director. Examples of other officials who have been accepted in specific situations include State attorneys general and judges of State courts having authority to conduct jury trials in felony cases.
[27 CFR 479.63 and 479.85]
No, law enforcement officers can be compelled to sign the law enforcement certification under Federal or State law. However, ATF will not approve an application to make or transfer a firearm on ATF Forms 1 or 4 unless the law enforcement certification is completed by an acceptable law enforcement official who has signed the certification in the space indicated on the form. See “What law enforcement officials’ certifications on an application to transfer or make an NFA weapon are acceptable to ATF?” for more information.
No. But see “What law enforcement officials’ certifications on an application to transfer or make an NFA weapon are acceptable to ATF?” for the list of acceptable chief law enforcement officers.
Yes, unless the owner is a qualified dealer, manufacturer or importer, or a licensed collector transporting only curios or relics. Prior approval must be obtained, even if the move is temporary. Approval is requested by either submitting a letter containing all necessary information, or by submitting ATF Form 5320.20 to the Bureau of ATF, NFA Branch. Possession of the firearms also must comply with all State and local laws.
[18 U.S.C. 922(a) (4), 27 CFR 478.28]
NFA firearms may be left in a safe deposit box in his or her former State of residence. Also, the firearm could be left or stored in the former State of residence at the house of a friend or relative in a locked room or container to which only the registered owner has a key. The friend or relative should be supplied with a copy of the registration forms and a letter from the owner authorizing storage of the firearm at that location.
The firearms may also be transferred under the procedures referred to in “What are the required transfer procedures for an individual who is not qualified as a manufacturer, importer, or dealer of NFA firearms?” or abandoned to ATF.
Yes, unless the barrel of the pistol is at least 16 inches in length (and the overall length of the firearm with stock attached is at least 26 inches). However, certain stocked handguns, such as original semiautomatic Mauser “Broomhandles” and Lugers, have been removed from the purview of the NFA as collectors’ items.
[26 U.S.C. 5845, 27 CFR 479.11]
Yes. The approved application received from ATF serves as evidence of registration of the NFA firearm in the owner’s name. This document must be kept available for inspection by ATF officers. It is suggested that a photocopy of the approved application be carried by the owner when the weapon is being transported.
Unloaded or dummy grenades, artillery shell casings, and similar devices, which are cut or drilled in an ATF approved manner so that they cannot be used as ammunition components for destructive devices, are not considered NFA weapons.
Generally, no. Muzzleloading cannons not capable of firing fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898 and replicas thereof are antiques and not subject to the provisions of either the GCA or the NFA.
[26 U.S.C. 5845, 27 CFR 479.11]
Grenade and rocket launcher attachments for use on military type rifles generally do not come within the definition of destructive devices. However, the grenades and rockets used in these devices are generally within the definition.
[26 U.S.C. 5845, 27 CFR 479.11]
A conversion kit is any part or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun. A conversion kit is a machine gun for purposes of the NFA. See also “Are parts which would convert a firearm into an NFA firearm subject to registration?” for additional information.
[26 U.S.C. 5845, 27 CFR 479.11]
The terms “firearm silencer” and “firearm muffler” mean any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, and any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.
Numerous paintball and airgun silencers tested by ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch have been determined to be, by nature of their design and function, firearm silencers. Because silencers are NFA weapons, an individual wishing to manufacture or transfer such a silencer must receive prior approval from ATF and pay the required tax. See also “What are the required transfer procedures for an individual who is not qualified as a manufacturer, importer, or dealer of NFA firearms?” and “How does an individual obtain authorization to make an NFA firearm?” for application details.
If you have any further questions as to the classification of a paintball or airgun silencer, please send a written request to ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch.
[18 U.S.C. 921(a)(24), 26 U.S.C. 5845(a), 27 CFR 479.11]
ATF collects this special tax. ATF, specifically the NFA Branch, assumed the responsibility for the collection of the special tax imposed on NFA importers, manufacturers, and dealers during Tax Year 2005. Questions should be directed to the NFA Branch, 244 Needy Road, Suite 1250, Martinsburg, West Virginia 25405 or by telephone at (304) 616-4500. The Tax and Trade Bureau of the Department of Treasury remains responsible for administrating the collection of special tax relating to the alcohol industry.
Any person who engages in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in NFA firearms is required to pay special tax. Special tax must be paid for each location at which business is conducted.
The tax is paid by filing ATF Form 5630.7, Special Tax Registration and Return – National Firearms Act (NFA), to:Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and ExplosivesNational Firearms Act BranchP.O. Box 403269
Please make the remittance payable to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and write the taxpayer’s Employer Identification Number on the remittance.
Payment of the tax is required on or before the date of commencing business and on or before July 1st for following tax years. The tax is not prorated, so the full amount must be paid when commencing business.
Class 1 is for an importer of NFA firearms. Class 2 is for a manufacturer of NFA firearms. Class 3 is for a dealer in NFA firearms.
The current tax rates are shown in the table in the question “When must firearms special (occupational) taxes be paid and how much are the taxes?”.
ATF will issue you a special tax stamp as a receipt as evidence of payment of the special tax. The stamp will show the Tax Year for which paid, the class of tax paid, and identify the taxpayer.
No, the taxpayer must also have the appropriate Federal Firearms license (FFL). In order to import NFA firearms, the person must have an FFL as an importer of firearms under the Gun Control Act (GCA). Similarly, to manufacture NFA firearms, the person must have an FFL as a manufacturer of firearms under the GCA. To deal in NFA firearms, the person must have an FFL that allows him/her to deal in firearms under the GCA (see next question, too). Please note that importers may also be required to register under the Arms Export Control Act. For further information, please refer to the FAQs dealing with the importation of firearms (Section L).
No, a separate special tax payment must be made for each activity. However, a person who has paid the special tax to import NFA firearms or to manufacture NFA firearms is also qualified to deal in NFA firearms without paying an additional special tax.
Persons who pay the special tax must be assigned an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and it must be shown on the special tax return. An EIN is obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Information may be obtained from your local IRS office or the IRS website (www.irs.gov).
A change to the business structure may result in a new entity, thus creating a need for a new FFL, a new special tax liability, and a transfer of any inventory of NFA firearms. For example, a change from operating as a sole proprietor to an LLC incurs special tax liability for the LLC. The change will also require that any NFA firearms to be used in the LLC business must be transferred to the LLC from the sole proprietorship. Both the sole proprietorship and the LLC must be special taxpayers for the same Tax Year in order for the transfer of the NFA firearms to be made tax exempt on Form 3.
Yes, and it should appear on the special tax stamp, which means you will need to include it on the special tax return. If you use a trade name, it must also appear on your FFL. If you add (or delete) a trade name during the Tax Year, you are required to file an amended return (ATF Form 5630.7) with a letter request for the amendment of your special tax stamp. You must also amend your FFL.
You are required to file an amended return (ATF Form 5630.7) with a letter request for the amendment of your special tax stamp. You must also amend your FFL. Business cannot be commenced at the new address until the change of address is noted. You will also need to amend your FFL.
You will need to file a claim with the NFA Branch. Please note that the fact that you did not make any acquisitions or dispositions of NFA firearms during the Tax Year does not mean that you can claim a refund of special tax. A refund can only be made if you were not in the NFA business at all during the Tax Year.
ATF will automatically send you a renewal return on ATF Form 5630.7R, NFA Special Tax Renewal Registration and Return, six to eight weeks prior to the end of the Tax Year. This return allows the taxpayer to confirm the taxpayer information, make corrections to the preprinted taxpayer information, and to note any change in ownership status. The renewal package also includes ATF Form 5630.5RC, Special Tax Location Registration Listing, on which the taxpayer verifies the business location.
If you are continuing in business, sign the return and send it with the remittance to the address on the renewal form. If you are discontinuing business, note that on the renewal form and return it to the address on the form.
For more detailed information on this matter, please refer to item 10(f) of the General Information section of ATF P 5300.4, Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide 2005, which has been provided to all FFLs and may also be found on the ATF website (www.atf.gov).
In general, any NFA firearm in inventory may be retained by the taxpayer upon the termination of the NFA business (meaning the person no longer pays the special tax and/or no longer has an FFL to import, manufacture, or deal in firearms) except for a machinegun for which its possession is restricted by the provisions of Title 18, U.S.C. § 922(o). A machinegun with this type of restriction on possession is commonly known as a ‘post-1986’ machinegun. As provided by 27 CFR § 479.105(f), a ‘post-1986’ machinegun must be disposed of prior to the discontinuance of the business as an importer, manufacturer, or dealer.
However, if the business structure was other than a sole proprietorship, such as, for example, a corporation or partnership, and the corporation or partnership dissolves, then the NFA firearms in inventory must be transferred prior to the dissolution. A corporate officer or director or partner cannot retain the NFA firearms registered to the corporation or partnership without proper transfer.