Buying a Firearm – Transfer Process
Here are the steps to transferring a firearm as a buyer.
Step 1 – Find a local FFL
Whether you want to buy a gun in-person or online, you are going to need to find a local gun dealer.
If you’re buying in-person, you’ll be able to purchase or order in their store. If you’re buying online (or having it shipped from another FFL), you need to make sure that the FFL is willing to conduct the transfer.
Also, if you’re having the gun sent to the FFL dealer, you need to see if they have any special rules to follow (transfer form to fill out) and what their transfer fee is. It’s a good idea to let them know what to expect if you already know what you’ll be transferring.
If you need help finding a local FFL, we cover that below.
Step 2 – Purchase the Firearm
Before a transfer can take place, you must purchase the firearm. You can either do this in the gun store or online.
If you purchase the item online, you’re going to need to ship it to the ffl dealer you’ve found.
Step 3 – Ship the Firearm (optional)
If you purchased the gun online, or in a gun store other than where you want the firearm transferred to you, you are going to need to ship the firearm to the dealer where you want to transfer the gun.
We cover how to ship firearms below.
If the FFL you selected has a special form or process, be sure to follow it. It’s also a good idea to make sure the gun has your name and number in the package so that they can call you when the shipment arrives.
Step 4 – Transfer the Firearm
When you are on-site at the dealer’s location (or at a gun show), you start the transfer process by filling out the customer portion of the ATF Form 4473.
Take your time and answer honestly!
Common mistakes are including “USA” as the country instead of your county (e.g. Maricopa or Davidson) as required for your address and/or failing to answer all of the yes/no questions.
Once you have completed the form, you will hand the form and your government issued photo ID (don’t forget this) to the gun store employee and they’ll complete their portion of the form and run the NICS background check (unless you qualify for an exemption).
Once approved, they will give you the gun and it’s yours!
Selling a Firearm – Transfer Process
Here are the steps to transferring a firearm as a seller.
Step 1 – Sell the Firearm
The first step, obviously, is to sell the firearm.
If you sell the firearm online (like on gunbroker, for example), make sure you’ve received payment for the firearm before continuing!
Step 2 – Gather Recipient FFL details
You will need to obtain a copy of the FFL license for the destination for the firearm.
As you can see above, the buyer will need to select an FFL that will transfer the gun to them in-person (unless they are already an FFL themselves).
You should use the ATF FFL eZ Check system to confirm the validity of the FFL and address. There is a scam where they send a fake copy to get you to send a gun to a non-ffl – do not fall for this! You may only legally ship a firearm across state lines to a valid FFL.
Step 3 – Ship the Firearm
Package the firearm and include a copy of your driver’s license so that the receiving FFL can properly record where the firearm came from.
For more information on shipping firearms, see below.
Firearm Transfer Rules
The FFL needs to know where the firearm is coming from to properly log it into the FFL’s records. The ATF requires that FFLs maintain a book with all acquisitions and dispositions in a book called the, you guessed it, Acquisition and Disposition Book (A&D).
If you are an individual sending a firearm to an FFL to be transferred, then you should include a copy of your driver’s license in with the firearm so that the FFL can record your name and address. You may not like it, but it’s a requirement that the FFL knows this information.
You should also contact the FFL prior to sending the firearm. After all, the FFL will need to know what to do with the firearm once they receive it. Often, FFLs will just ask you to write the name and contact information of who it is supposed to go to but sometimes they’ll have a form for you to print and fill-in.
If the FFL is transferring the firearm to an individual (either the person buying your gun or you if the transfer is for your gun), then a ATF Form 4473 and NICS background check (with some exceptions) must be completed. This form is the paperwork you fill out whenever you buy a gun from an FFL – it includes your information and answers to questions confirming that you aren’t a prohibited person.
For long-guns (rifles and shotguns), the FFL can transfer the firearm to a resident of any state as long as it’s legal in both states. Handguns, however, can only be transferred to residents of the state where the FFL is located.
Because you can only ship a firearm across state lines to an FFL, you should ALWAYS get a copy of the recipient FFL before you ship the firearm! Once you get a copy, I highly recommend that you use the ATF’s FFL E-Z Check system It’s not a requirement but it ensures that you didn’t get a fraudulent copy, a fake address, or a surrendered FFL (after it was copied).
Finding an FFL for a Transfer
How you do this will depend on whether you are the person shipping/giving-up the firearm or the person receiving it.
If you’re making the firearm shipment to someone else, you should have them pick the FFL they want to use and have that FFL send you instructions and a copy of their FFL before shipment.
If you’re receiving the firearm, find a nearby FFL that you like working with and let them know that you’re expecting a transfer – include the description of the firearm and the sender’s information so that they can call you when your firearm arrives.
Here’s a slick resource for finding an FFL: FFLGunDealers.net
Some dealers will have a transfer form that you can fill out to make the process easier for both of you. The transfer form will usually have the serial number of the transferred firearm, the ffl information for the shipping ffl, and your personal details.
It will also typically list their transfer policy. This might include how long the firearm can wait for you before they might charge you a storage fee.
Terms and Conditions
Westcoast Firearms complies with all local, state, and federal laws with respect to the sale of firearms. Westcoast Firearms will only ship to authorized FFL dealers and not individual homes. Westcoast Firearms will not ship firearms and ammunition to states where such actions are prohibited by State or Federal laws.