4473 Electronic Storage – Stop Printing And Storing 4473s

Electronic Storage of 4473 Forms, also known as digital storage of ATF Form 4473, is a big deal for dealers. 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 the 4473 is completed electronically. “Electronically” pertains to software like FastBound or the free downloadable program called eForm 4473 from ATF.
  • Digital or Electronic Storage of Form 4473 requires that you request a variance. The variance can be requested from ATF. The variance addresses the minimum standards for digital storage. FastBound’s Preferred partner, 4473 Cloud, can prepare and submit this variance request on your behalf.

4473 Cloud is the industry’s leading, ATF approved, digital storage solution. FastBound has partnered with 4473 Cloud as their Premium partner to provide ATF compliant digital storage of electronic 4473s.

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:

  1. Licensees must provide written notification to their local ATF Industry Operations Area Office 60 days before implementing a digital Form 4473 storage system.
  2. Licensees much first complete transactions using an eForm 4473. Licensees must complete entirely in a digital environment. This regulation is per ATF Ruling 2016-2 (or subsequent Rulings).
  3. Save Forms 4473 in an unalterable format. Licensees must retain the original Form 4473. Licensees may not delete, amend, replace or otherwise alter the original form.
    1. If errors are found on a Form 4473, corrections may be made to a copy of the original Form 4473. Attach this copy to the end of the original Form 4473. All changes must have initials, and dates must be visible on the corrected copy.
  4. All supplemental ATF forms for a transaction (Multiple Sales, etc.) must be electronically attached at the end of Form 4473. This allow for continuity and ease of review of all ATF forms. 
  5. 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.
  6. ATF must be provided access to the system with a minimum of one digital access point or computer terminal. This regulation applies to every 500 Forms 4473 executed over the previous 12-month period.
  7. filter that allows Licensees to store Forms 4473 for completed transactions separately from Forms 4473 must be in effect. Such a filter applies to any transactions that were incomplete, but for which a background check was complete. (i.e., NICS denied the transaction).
    1. Storage of Forms 4473 without retention requirements under 27 CFR 478.129(b) must be separate. A filter must be created by the software prior to implementation that ensures segregation. (i.e. the customer answered “yes” to a prohibiting question and the store stops the transaction before a NICS check).
  8. The system must allow Forms 4473 to be printed upon request from ATF.
  9. The system must store Forms 4473 in alphabeticalchronological or numerical order.
  10. The system must back up the storage of Forms 4473 upon completing a transaction or when a transaction is stops. The Form 4473 must be retained.
  11. The system must allow access to Forms 4473 and the acquisition and disposition (A&D) record simultaneously (toggle back and forth).
  12. The system must provide the ability to flag or set aside Forms 4473 for ATF to save for further review during inspections.
  13. The system must allow or provide sorting of Forms 4473 during ATF compliance inspections.
  14. Downloads and saves of Electronically completed Forms 4473 must be to a computer hard drive, server, Compact Disc (CD), Digital Versatile Disc (DVD), Universal Serial Bus (USB) Flash Drive. Other similar electronic storage devices are acceptable, but must be available on the licensee’s premises.
    1. Licensees may utilizes a contract host facility such as a remote server or cloud storage provider. Licensee must save all Forms 4473 to an onsite electronic storage device. Updates to the device must occur on a daily basis to protect the data from accidental deletion or system failure.
    2. In all cases, electronically stored ATF Forms must be in an unencrypted format. All required information must be readily apparent and retained on a device that is located at the licensed premises. This regulation is in accordance with 27 CFR 478.121(a) for the length of time per §478.129.
  15. 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.
  16. Upon discontinuance of business, any submission of Forms 4473 shall be done electronically to the National Tracing Center – Out of Business Records Center. Suitable imaging submission formats TIFF, JPEG, or PDF.
    1. If licensees submit a form in PDF format, the with turn off/ disable Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR).
    2. Submission of Forms shall on a media device such as a USB drive, CD, DVD, etc., per regulation. Regulation requires submission take place alphabetically, chronologically by disposition date, or by transaction serial number.
    3. The submission of electronic ATF Forms 4473 affects the requirement per ATF Ruling 2016-1. Submission of Electronic A&D records must be 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 preferred partners at 4473 Cloud can prepare and submit this variance request on your behalf. The request must include the following details:

  • The digital storage system you will be using.
  • How the Forms 4473 are 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.