The processing time for NFA applications varies depending on the type of application submitted. Certain applications require the processing of making or transfer taxes while others are tax-exempt. Some applications require the prospective transferee to pass Federal background checks based on both name and fingerprints while transferees such as law enforcement agencies or foreign military agencies are exempt from background checks. ATF also must ensure that a proposed transfer would not violate State or local law in the transferee’s place of residence. The time needed to research and verify State and local requirements can vary greatly depending on the legal complexity of laws governing the type of firearm sought or the business structure and status of applicants other than individuals.
In addition, the sheer volume of applications submitted for ATF review has dramatically increased in recent years. In fiscal year 2005, for example, ATF processed 41,579 NFA applications of all types. By FY 2011 that number had increased to 105,373, with a 25% decrease in the number of NFA examiners available to process the work. Currently, ATF’s customer service goal is to process an Application to Make and Register a Firearm (Form 1) and an Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm (Form 4) within 6 months of ATF’s receipt of a correctly executed application. The customer service standard for processing all other types of NFA applications (i.e., those which don’t generally require tax processing or background checks) is within one month of ATF’s receipt of a correctly executed application. It is important to keep in mind that incomplete or incorrect applications slow ATF’s ability to take final action. If you wish to confirm receipt of an application by ATF or obtain a status check on a pending application, you should call the NFA Branch at 304-616-4500. It will help the NFA Branch locate your application more quickly if you have the serial number of the firearm sought for transfer and the name of the prospective transferee.