Basic Mechanics of NFA Transfers

 Form 3 versus Form 4

Transfers of NFA items such as suppressors, machine guns and short-barreled rifles must be documented by the appropriate ATF forms. Dealer to dealer transfers are documented by ATF Form 3’s. These may be telefaxed to ATF and do not require a $200.00 transfer tax. Individual to dealer, dealer to individual or individual to individual transfers must be documented by ATF Form 4’s. A form 1 is used to register a short barreled rifle by an individual or an entity (such as a trust or a corporation). Transfers involving individuals require the $200.00 transfer tax to be paid. The exception involves transfers of NFA items to a decedent’s heirs. This type of transfer is tax free.

Timing of Transfers – Be Prepared to Wait

In 2010, depending on who your examiner may be, Form 4 transfers run approximately 4 months from date of submission. During this period the buyer may not take possession of the NFA item purchased until the Form 4 is actually received by the seller (transferor).

Out of State Purchases – Double the Tax – Double the Wait

If you are not an NFA dealer and you purchase an NFA item from out of state, be it from an individual or a dealer, the NFA item must be shipped to a dealer in your state. Once your in-state dealer receives the executed Form 3 or Form 4 he can then fill out a Form 4 from he to you and the waiting period begins again. Where you purchase an NFA item from an individual out of state, the $200.00 transfer tax must be paid even if the transfer is to your in-state dealer. A second $200.00 transfer tax must be paid on the transfer from your in-state dealer to you. This is “double tax” issue which arises from interstate transfers.

This process applies even if you pay a manufacturer directly and ask it to ship the NFA item to your dealer. For example, you select a Gemtech suppressor, pay by check or credit card and ask doc Dater to ship it to your in-state Class 3 dealer on a Form 3 after providing his SOT (Class 3) information. Gemtech must issue a Form 3 and transmit it to ATF for approval before it can ship the suppressor to your dealer. Once your dealer receives the approved Form 3, only then can it fill out a Form 4 transferring the same suppressor to you. You still must bear the wait of two transfer periods which could be up to 8 months! Remember you cannot take possession of the suppressor until the second transfer (from your dealer to you) has been received.


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