4473 Electronic Storage – Stop Printing And Storing 4473s
Electronic Storage of 4473 Forms, also known as or digital storage of ATF Form 4473 is a big deal for dealers. The most significant benefit is that you no longer have to print and store every 4473.
Many people confuse E4473 (Electronic Form 4473) and Electronic Storage of Form 4473.
- E4473 means that the 4473 is completed electronically by software like FastBound or the free downloadable program called eForm 4473 from ATF.
- Electronic Storage of Form 4473 requires that you request a variance from ATF that addresses the minimum standards for digital storage. Our friends at FFLGuard can prepare and submit this variance request on your behalf.
Minimum Standards For 4473 Electronic Storage
The ATF has published a list of minimum standards that your software must meet to store your 4473s electronically:
- Licensees must provide written notification to their local ATF Industry Operations Area Office 60 days before implementing a digital Form 4473 storage system.
- Transactions must first be completed using an eForm 4473 and must be completed entirely in a digital environment, per ATF Ruling 2016-2 (or subsequent Rulings).
- Forms 4473 must be saved in an unalterable format. The original Form 4473 must be retained and may not be deleted, amended, replaced, or otherwise altered.
- If errors are found on a Form 4473, corrections may be made to a copy of the original Form 4473. This copy should be attached at the end of the original Form 4473, and all changes must have initials, and dates must be visible on the corrected copy.
- All supplemental ATF forms for a transaction (Multiple Sales, etc.) must be electronically attached at the end of Form 4473 for continuity and ease of review.
- ATF must be provided uninterrupted access to the system to facilitate a compliance inspection. ATF access during inspections must be in a read-only capacity.
- ATF must be provided access to the system with a minimum of one digital access point or computer terminal for every 500 Forms 4473 executed over the previous 12-month period.
- A filter must be created to store Forms 4473 for completed transactions separately from Forms 4473 for transactions that were not completed, and a background check was initiated (i.e., NICS denied the transaction).
- If Forms 4473 without retention requirements under 27 CFR 478.129(b) are stored, a filter must be created to ensure they are segregated from Forms 4473 that are required to be retained (i.e. the customer answered “yes” to a prohibiting question and the store stops the transaction before a NICS check).
- The system must allow Forms 4473 to be printed upon request from ATF.
- The system must store Forms 4473 in alphabetical, chronological or numerical order.
- The system must back up the storage of Forms 4473 upon completing a transaction or when a transaction is stopped and the Form 4473 must be retained.
- The system must allow access to Forms 4473 and the acquisition and disposition (A&D) record simultaneously (toggle back and forth).
- The system must provide the ability to flag or set aside Forms 4473 for ATF to save for further review during inspections.
- The system must allow or provide sorting of Forms 4473 during ATF compliance inspections.
- Electronically completed Forms 4473 must be downloaded and saved to a computer hard drive, server, Compact Disc (CD), Digital Versatile Disc (DVD), Universal Serial Bus (USB) Flash Drive or other similar electronic storage device located at the licensed premises.
- If the licensee utilizes a contract host facility such as a remote server or cloud storage provider, all Forms 4473 must also be electronically saved to an onsite electronic storage device that is updated on a daily basis to protect the data from accidental deletion or system failure.
- In all cases, electronically stored ATF Forms must be downloaded in an unencrypted format with the required information readily apparent and retained on a device that is located at the licensed premises in accordance with 27 CFR 478.121(a) for the length of time prescribed by §478.129.
- All previously completed hard-copy ATF Forms 4473 must be retained on the licensed premises in the manner and for the length of time prescribed by the regulations.
- Upon discontinuance of business, Forms 4473 shall be submitted electronically to the National Tracing Center – Out of Business Records Center in a format suitable for imaging such as TIFF, JPEG, or PDF.
- If Forms will be submitted in a PDF format, the licensee shall ensure that Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) are turned off/disabled.
- The Forms shall be submitted on a media device such as a USB drive, CD, DVD, etc. and shall be stored per regulation (alphabetically, chronologically by disposition date, or by transaction serial number).
- The submission of electronic ATF Forms 4473 does affect the current requirement per ATF Ruling 2016-1 to submit electronic A&D records in a text format.
Onsite evaluation & inspection
Your local ATF office may need to do an onsite evaluation before they can approve your variance request. They may also conduct a mock compliance inspection to ensure that your system can pass complete inspections in the future.
Variance Request For 4473 Electronic Storage
When using FastBound, our friends at FFLGuard can prepare and submit this variance request on your behalf, which must include the following details:
- The digital storage system you will be using.
- How the Forms 4473 will be filed.
- How investigators can gain access for purposes of a compliance inspection.
- The electronic format of Forms 4473.
Remember that the alternate method or procedure outlined in your variance request must comply with the conditions outlined in 27 CFR 478.22.
If this all sounds confusing, don’t worry — we are here to help. Schedule a call and FastBound will help you navigate the process from start to finish.