ATF Form 1: Everything You Need to Know

The ATF Form 1 (Form 5320.1) is the application that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms requires from any citizen of the United States who constructs a firearm. In addition to applying for a permit to make firearms, ATF Form 1 also allows you to register the form.

According to the ATF, Form 1 is an application “requesting approval to make an NFA firearm.” The form is 3 pages long and in triplicate and filling it out correctly is essential. There is a fee involved of $200, but certain applicants may request tax-exempt status under certain conditions. For example, the weapon smith is making the weapon for the United States – generally for one of the armed forces, police organization, etc. Regardless of the purpose of the manufacturing of the weapon, ATF Form 1 must be filled out and submitted. Errors on the form will cause the form to either be:

  1. Denied
  2. Delayed for clarification

A rejected form is often met with the requirement to start the process over with a new form and possibly a new $200 fee. ANY NFA item in the design phase must have an approved form before it is manufactured. The purpose of the form is not to let the NFA or ATF know that you have constructed a weapon, but to ask for permission to do so before the manufacturing begins.

Under normal circumstances, the manufacturing of a firearm would fall under the Federal Firearm License type 06 and type 07. Form 1 is for the responsible persons.

Why Does Form 1 Exist?

Form 1 is the result of the creation of the Federal Firearm License (FFL) program. It is specifically for those people who want to make a firearm that would fall within the NFA category that requires an FFL. FFLs are for businesses and Form 1 is for an individual. The application for an FFL to manufacture a firearm would be a burden on someone who wants to design a single gun or NFA-qualifying device. Form 1 solves that problem by limiting the number of firearms you can submit on the form. The process is very similar to the FFL process but opens up the option of designing new equipment or firearms while remaining compliant with ATF and National Firearms Act code. There are also exemptions to the tax stamp fees for those who design weapons for the US Government. Form 1 also helps to plug holes within the National Firearms Act by allowing the same FFL process to be applied to an individual.

NOTE: – While we discuss the manufacturing of a firearm, Form 1 also applies when you want to modify a firearm, so that it falls within the NFA categories requiring registration.

What is ATF Form 1?

ATF form 1 provides the ATF with the information needed to ensure that the person submitting the application is approved to own a firearm, notifies the ATF that the applicant is either manufacturing a firearm or part, and provides information on the manufacturing process. Form 1 also helps the ATF to separate applications into fee-based or tax-exempt,

In short, Form 1 documents the process of creating an NFA-listed (title 2) gun or part from material that is otherwise a title 1 gun. Two examples would be adding a pistol grip to an AR pistol or shortening or replacing a rifle barrel with one that is short enough to make the rifle a short barreled rifle (SBR.)

What Does ATF Form 1 Do?

One of the first things that ATF Form 1 does is ensure that an applicant is a responsible person. A US citizen that meets the responsible person profile is one that is free of felony convictions that involve violence or drug use or trafficking. That process means undergoing an NFA background check and sending in a fingerprint card with the application.

ATF Form 1 also uses the serial number of the gun or applies for a serial number so that the government or law enforcement can track the gun.

The Legal Requirements for Filling Out Form 1

Form 1 is an application to manufacture an NFA weapon or product, such as a silencer. An approved Form 1 keeps the process of making or converting a firearm legal and the process transparent. Failure to register a firearm or comply with the rules of the NFA and being convicted of such, is a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to ten years, or both.

The specific information that must be included on Form 1

There is a LOT of information that must be provided. The process works like this:

  1. Application type – Are you required to pay a fee or are you exempt? Exempt applicants will need to prove that they are exempt.
  2. Your Identity and contact information – For a person, that is your basic identifying data – legal name, physical address, mailing address, email, and telephone number. For applications from some entity other than a person like a corporation, trust, government organization, etc., you must prove that identity. This could be responsible parties, leadership, etc. For law enforcement, a CLEO notification and contact information are required in another part of the form.
  3. A complete description of the firearm – including the original manufacturer, type of firearm resulting from the manufacturing or modification, and gun details such as caliber, barrel length, size, and serial number. Plus, a description of the changes or details.
  4. Determine if you are making a gun or an explosive device – and the details of each. They also want to know information about whether the unit is being reactivated – a destroyed weapon that is being modified or if you are making something from scratch.
  5. FFL number, employer, and special occupational tax (SOT) information if needed.
  6. Chief Law Enforcement Officer Notification (CLEO notification) – This is page two of the application and a questionnaire. It will ask if the piece is to be sold or for private use, if you have convictions that might bar you from owning a firearm, if you have a history of drug use, etc. This information goes to the Chief Law Enforcement Officer who will review it and may provide information to the ATF if you fail the responsible person test.
  7. Page three of the form is where you put your full name and provide any payment information, such as a credit card number for paying your application fee. It will also provide a mailing address.

How to Fill Out ATF Form 1

Under the gun trust, Form 1 helps to ensure that people register any firearm they manufacture or modify – including add-on parts, such as a silencer – into an NFA-listed weapon

Step 1 – Print out and read the form from top to bottom.

Step 2 – Gather all of the information you will need. – Refer to page 6 – Complete the form – which goes over each question and provides information and instructions on how to fill out the form correctly. For example, if you are modifying an existing firearm, the ATF will want to know the data on that gun including its serial number, caliber, barrel length, etc.

Step 3 – Fill out your practice form and add additional pages of information as needed.

Step 4 – Review the practice form. Make sure that the information contained is accurate.

Step 5 – Make any corrections needed to the practice form.

Step 6 – Transfer the data from the practice form to the second form for submission. Be sure to go slowly and print each answer neatly. The ATF will not try to decipher handwriting that it cannot read.

Step 7 – Review the application for errors and fix any you find. Any type of missing information or unreadable handwriting will result in delays.

The ATF has an eForms process that allows you to file ATF Form 1 electronically. You will have to access the form from the ATF’s site and apply for a User ID.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Submitting incomplete data – Make sure each question is answered. If you do not know the answer you can call the ATF.
  2. Misrepresenting data on the form – Federal Law requires that you fill out the form correctly and truly. If you are not a person, but a legal entity, you will need to prove who you are. If you have a federal firearms license, you will need to provide that data. Make sure that manufacturer code information is correct – refer to the manufacturer for more information.
  3. Gun information – If you are converting a non-NFA weapon into a firearm that meets the definition of an NFA weapon, then you need to convey that – Examples would be converting a shotgun into a short barreled shotgun or a rifle or handgun into a short barreled rifle. If you are manufacturing your own suppressor or modifying one, you need to fill out form 1 completely.
  4. Trying to get around the law – The law is clear, and it requires that modification of manufacturing of an NFA-defined firearm undergo the permitting process before the start of the project. This includes making or modifying a firearm silencer, short-barrel shotgun, or short barrel rifle.

The Process for Submitting the Form

The form is not overly difficult to fill out. It requires that you gather all of the information ahead of time. The best way to fill out the form is to print out two copies and use one copy as your guide to assembling information. In spots where more information is needed a second sheet of paper is required. You will add any information to the additional pages as needed. it is helpful to label each additional sheet with the page number, question number, or letter so that the added information is clearly identified and matched to the question. The ATF will not go out of its way to decipher additional pages of information.

It is also helpful to go through your working copy of the form and make a list of any additional information areas where you think you will need to provide further documentation. The remaining pages of the form are very helpful for informational purposes.

ATF Form 1 Wait Time

The current wait time for Form 1 applications is 30 days for eForms and 45 days for written forms. The process can be a LOT longer – upwards of a year – if there are issues with the form. So, it’s important to make sure that you fill it out correctly the first time. Follow the steps and advice listed above, and you should make it out fine.

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