Contrary to popular belief, a business does not need a federal firearms license (FFL).
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will require you to have a business intention before issuing you an FFL license. This applies even if your FFL is based at home.
This distinction is important!
This article will discuss the differences between business intent (required to obtain an FFL) and actual business entities or companies (not required to obtain an FFL).
SUMMARY This course, RocketFFL Get your FFL Program, is the fastest and most efficient way to get your FFL.
WHY SHOULD YOU GET A FEDERAL FIREARMS LICENSE?
Before we get into how to obtain an FFL without having a business, let’s first discuss why you need a Federal-Firearm License.
Many people who obtain an FFL don’t want to be a full-fledged FFL dealer (retail shopfront). FFLs that are located in retail stores require a license. To become a firearm distributor or manufacturer, an FFL is required. However, most people are just looking for a side income from their passion – firearms.
You can save money on guns and make money by getting an FFL, even at home.
FFL dealer pricing allows you to order firearms and make money selling them. FFL transfers can also be charged at a profit.
One of the best benefits of getting an FFL is having access to firearms that you can’t legally own or make, such as full-auto machine guns and armor-piercing ammunition.
RocketFFL is a company I own and manage to assist individuals in obtaining their FFL license.
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HOW TO GET AN FFL WITHOUT A BUSINESS
A business license is not required to obtain an FFL license.
You can actually get an FFL (no company needed) from the ATF to become a gun dealer/gunsmith.
However, you may be required by your state to obtain a sole proprietorship license.
You must set up your federal firearms license with the ATF correctly to be eligible for it. You must make important decisions about how to set up your firearms license now if you want to become a SOT (class 3 firearms) agent.
HOW TO GET A FFL WITHOUT A COMPANY
Getting a federal firearms license is easy, even if you don’t have a business. Once you learn how to set it all up correctly and avoid making the most common mistakes when doing it yourself, it will be simple.
An individual can be an FFL holder (sole proprietor) or a company/corporation by forming an actual business. However, it is not necessary. You need to be cautious if you plan on dealing with NFA firearms.
This topic is covered in more detail in our course How to Get an FFL.
We’ll give you a quick overview of how to get an FFL license without having to open a business. How To Get an FFL has a more in-depth discussion.
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Step 1 – Make Sure You Meet the Requirements
Before you begin your FFL application, ensure that you have the right to obtain an FFL license from ATF.
An FFL is simply a permit that allows you to legally possess a firearm or ammunition. There are other requirements. You can read more about them here: FFL requirements.
Step 2: Choose the Correct Type of FFL
The type of firearm activity you plan to engage in will determine your license.
A Type 1 FFL is required if you are a gunsmith or firearms dealer. If you want to pawn firearms, you can also get a Type 2 FFL.
If you are looking to sell firearms, you will likely get a Type7 FFL from ATF.
For more information on which type of license is best for you, please visit our article FFL Types.
You don’t need a Curio or relic license if you are only interested in collecting Curio or Relic firearms. There is no business intent requirement since this license doesn’t permit you to become a dealer. You can only collect Curioand relics (CR firearms).
You will need to be a Special Occupational taxpayer (sometimes called a class 3 license) if you want to work with NFA firearms like suppressors or silencers (SBR) and other machine guns.
Step 3 – Complete an online FFL course.
You can certainly get your FFL by yourself – many people have!
You can learn the background information you need to make the right decisions by enrolling in an online course like RocketFFL’s Get Your FLL Course.
Many people submit their FFL applications with errors, which can lead to delays and hassles. Or worse, they receive an FFL, but it is set up incorrectly and end up in serious trouble with ATF.
You can find courses from multiple companies on how to obtain your FFL. We encourage you to check out all of them. RocketFFL is our favorite course because it’s taught by a firearms attorney, firearms industry expert, and shooting subject matter expert.
You might find that the course will change your mind about obtaining an FFL without a company. You won’t find the same advice for everyone. Your situation and needs will be unique, so you can only make informed decisions.
Step 4 – Submit FFL Application
After you are satisfied that everything is in order, even if you don’t have a business, send your FFL application (ATF Formula 7) and payment fee (the cost of the license type you choose varies) to ATF. They’ll run a background check, then issue an FFL.
RocketFFL is a great resource for any of these issues.
FFL Gun dealers don’t require a gun shop. You can become a home-based FFL gun dealer as long as it isn’t prohibited under local law.
The majority of FFLs are actually home-based.
You can still sell firearms by having a home-based FFL, but they might have to be done online if there is no retail foot traffic because of zoning restrictions.
Most people have licensed dealers operating from home and can charge for a firearm transfer.
STARTING A BUSINESS TO SUPPORT YOUR FFL
A business license is not necessary to obtain a federal firearms license from ATF. However, it’s possible to start one (there are many good reasons).
You will need to decide which type of business you want to run before you can start a business. An LLC or Corporation creates the business entity and applies to the IRS for an EIN. Finally, register the business with your state.
RocketFFL’s course will show you how to do it. It’s not difficult as you might think.
“BUSINESS INTENT” Vs. FFL BUSINESS
We now know that a business entity is not necessary for gun dealers or manufacturers. However, there is an intent requirement.
What is the difference between an actual business and one that has business intent?
Your FFL license cannot be used for personal purposes only, according to the ATF. You can get a rifle or handgun for yourself with your FFL license, but personal firearms cannot be the only reason you have one.
You must instead plan to make at most some money with your FFL, whether you charge for firearms transfers or just mark up dealer-cost firearms for your friends.
However, you can do this as an individual (sole proprietor) without having to form a bona fide company.
FFL BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS
If you want to have an FFL for your business, there are certain requirements.
You will need to register the business in your state (you will need a business license), list the business name on the FFL application to ATF, and ensure that the business is properly organized with all ownership disclosed to ATF.
This is something you should do. You can start your FFL process today – in as little as 2 months; you could get your FFL.
FAQ FFL BUSINESS
Are you a business owner to get an FFL license?
You don’t need to have a business in order to get an FFL.
How can you get an FFL with no business?
An FFL can be obtained in your own name, not through a business entity.
Is an FFL for non-business more expensive?
An FFL is the same regardless of whether or not a business uses it.
Can I sell ammunition without an FFL?
An FFL is not required to sell ammo. However, an FFL will be necessary if your goal is to make ammunition available for sale.