ATF Form 4: A Complete Guide

If you’re interested in buying certain types of firearms covered by the National Firearms Act (NFA) then you’ve probably heard of the ATF Form 4…but what exactly is it?

We’re going to take a look at what the form is, how it works, and what you should expect (and what to avoid) when filling one out. Trust us, you don’t want to get a call about a mistake on your form. It could cost you months on your approval wait time.

Speaking of wait times, we’ll also go over those, and how long you’ll probably have before you get everything stamped and approved.

Background on ATF Form 4 

The ATF Form 4 is an important part of buying certain types of firearms covered by the National Firearms Act. In its modern incarnation, it is typically completed online for the fastest turn-around times, but you can also mail in a paper copy, though this can take much longer.

The form itself is an “Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm” and must be submitted along with the tax amount for the type of firearm you are transferring and registering ($200 for everything except AOWs, which are $5). 

What is ATF Form 4?

The ATF Form 4 is for transferring devices and firearms covered by the National Firearms Act to someone without an FFL license. If you want to buy a suppressor, fully-automatic gun, machine gun, short barreled shotgun, short barreled rifle, any other weapon (AOW, a specific legal term), or a destructive device, then you’ll need to fill out a form 4. 

Transferring these NFA items requires a special tax to be paid to the federal government, and then for an application (the Form 4) to be approved by the ATF. 

You’ll need to provide your name, address, and other personal information, as well as pass a background check. Also, it should be noted, that a Form 4 is solely for transferring an existing firearm and cannot be used to manufacture one. 

How to Fill Out ATF Form 4

Filling out a Form 4 is best done online, where you can use a PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat to fill the fields out quickly. 

This is by far the best option as Acrobat will automatically fill in the information you’ve already put in, so you only have to fill out the first three pages of the form and won’t need to re-input the same information again on the following pages. Make sure to sign in blue or black ink on the paper forms.

As far as filling out the form, here are some notes for most of the relevant sections. 

1. Type of Transfer: $200 for anything but an AOW, which is $5.

2a. Transferee’s name and address: Your name or the name of your trust, plus the appropriate address.

2b. County: County, not country. This is the county or parish where the firearm is being purchased.

Sections 3-4: These sections will be done by the NFA dealer.

5. Transferee’s Federal Firearms License: If the buyer is an individual, list FFL info here. Not used for trusts.

6 a/b. Transferee’s Special Tax Status: The individual buyer’s federal EIN or social security number. Not used for trusts.

7. Transferor’s Federal Firearms License: This will be filled out by the dealer. 

8 a/b. Transferee’s Special Tax Status: Dealer’s EIN or SSN, also provided by the dealer.

9. Signature of Transferor: Dealer’s signature.

10. Name and Title of Authorized Official: This is filled out by the dealer.

11. Date: This is filled out by the dealer.

12. Law Enforcement Notification: This is the agency, agency official, and address that you’re sending the CLEO copy of this form to. This is defined as “The chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) is considered to be the Chief of Police; the Sheriff; the Head of the State Police; or a State or local district attorney or prosecutor [of your county].”

13. Transferee Necessity Statement: Your name and title, or the name and title of the settler trustee. For “Reason” you can list “Investment and All Other Lawful Purposes” or “Any Lawful Purpose” or “Investment and All Other Lawful Purposes”.

14 – 17. Transferee Questions: For individuals only. Answer all questions honestly and attach a passport photo.

“CERTIFICATION”: For individuals, sign and date with your name, as shown in box 2a. For gun trusts, include your signature, as well as your title (ex. Trustee), and the date.

18. Number of Responsible Persons: Only for trusts. List the number of responsible persons in the gun trust or legal entity, including the settlor and co-trustees. Do not include successors or beneficiaries.

19. Responsible Person Name(s): Also only for trusts. You can list up to 8 people in this section. 

*For each responsible person listed, a completed ATF Form 7 – Part B must also be submitted.

20. Method of Payment: Choose your method of payment. If your application is denied, this fee will be refunded. 

Form 4 Wait Times

Form 4 wait times vary based on whether you file electronically for mail in a paper application. In general, the electronic application, or “e-filing” is significantly faster. In other words, if you don’t have years to wait, go with the e-file option. 

Right now, Form 4 wait times are longest for those mailing in a paper application on behalf of a trust, and the ATF is currently processing forms from Q4 2021. E-file forms are currently being processed from Q1/Q2 of 2022. 

So if you were to file today with E-file, you could expect to have your paperwork completed by this time next year, with the average being about 270 days to receive E-file approval.

Recent Blogs


How To Get an FFL in Virginia

Virginia stands as a prominent destination for firearm enthusiasts, where the legalities of firearm sales

August 2023 Updates: Unpacking the New ATF Form 4473

A Comprehensive Look at the Revised ATF Form 4473: What FFLs Need to Know The

What You Should Know About ATF Form 5

ATF Form 5 is a critical document when it comes to navigating the intricacies of

A Guide To ATF Form 2

Navigating the intricacies of the ATF Form is pivotal for any individual or entity engaging

How To Get an FFL in Pennsylvania

In recent years, there’s been a surging interest in firearms, not only as a means

What is ITAR Compliance?

In an interconnected world where the exchange of defense articles and services forms a significant

What is 922r Compliance?

Navigating the complex maze of gun laws in the United States can be a daunting

How to Get an FFL in Illinois

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on securing a Federal Firearms License (FFL) in the state

Everything You Need to Know About ATF Form 3

Are you a firearms enthusiast in the United States? If so, you’ve likely encountered ATF

How to Get an FFL in Arizona

The United States has a long-standing tradition of firearms ownership, with Arizona playing a significant

FastBound Wins the Summer 2023 Top Performer Award in Compliance from SourceForge

FastBound is proud to win the Top Performer award from SourceForge, the world’s largest software

FastBound’s Latest Release: Streamlining FFL Software with SSO and Enhanced 4473 Form Functionality!

We’re elated to announce the launch of our latest SaaS release, packed with customer-requested features