Section 9.1  Definition of transfer. The term transfer is broadly defined by the NFA to include   selling, assigning, pledging, leasing, loaning, giving away, or otherwise disposing of an NFA  firearm.[1] The lawful transfer of an NFA firearm generally requires the filing of an appropriate transfer  form with ATF, payment of any transfer tax imposed, approval of the form by ATF, and registration of  the firearm to the transferee in the NFRTR.  Approval must be obtained before a transfer may be made.   See Section 9.5 for a discussion of certain NFA transactions not considered by ATF to be transfers.

Section 9.2  Only previously registered firearms may be lawfully transferred.  ATF will not approve  the transfer of an NFA firearm unless it has been registered to the transferor in the NFRTR. NFA  firearms may only be registered upon their lawful making, manufacture, or importation, or upon the  transfer of firearms already registered. Generally, unregistered firearms may not be lawfully received,  possessed, or transferred. They are contraband subject to seizure and forfeiture. Violators are also  subject to criminal prosecution. However, see Sections 2.4 and 3.3 on removing NFA firearms from the  scope of the NFA because of their status as collectors items, modification, or elimination of certain  component parts.

Section 9.3  Interstate transfers of NFA firearms.  ATF will not approve the transfer of an NFA  firearm to a non‑FFL/SOT residing in a State other than the State in which the transferor’s licensed  business is located or the transferor resides. Such interstate transfers would violate the GCA. However,  See section 9.5.4 regarding the custody of firearms by employees of FFLs/SOTs.

Section 9.4  ATF forms for use in transferring NFA firearms

9.4.1  ATF Form 3.  Transfers by FFLs/SOTs to other FFLs/SOTs require the filing of ATF Forms 3,  Application for Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of a Firearm, to register firearms to the  transferees.166 See also Section  Appendix C contains a copy of the form.  In these transactions,  transferors have no liability for the transfer tax.  As previously stated, Forms 3 must be approved by  ATF before transfers may be made.

9.4.2  ATF Form 4. Forms 4, Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm, are for  use in transferring serviceable NFA firearms in the following instances: transfers by non‑FFLs/SOTs to  other such persons; transfers by non‑FFLs/SOTs to FFLs/SOTs; and transfers by FFLs/SOTs to non­FFLs/SOTs.167 Appendix C contains a copy of the form.  See also Sections through  These transfers are subject to the NFA transfer tax, so the forms must be accompanied by the  appropriate tax payment.  Forms 4 transferring firearms to individuals other than FFLs/SOTs must also  be accompanied by transferees= fingerprints and photographs on FBI Forms FD‑258.  If the individuals  receipt or possession of the firearm would violate Federal, State, or local law, the form would be  disapproved.  In addition, an individual transferee must have an appropriate law enforcement official  execute the certification on the form.168 See Section 9.8 for more information on law enforcement  certifications.  Forms 4 must be approved by ATF before the transfers may be made.  The completed  Form 4, in duplicate, with fingerprint cards, photographs of the transferee, and payment of the  applicable transfer tax should be mailed to:

National Firearms Act Branch

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives  P.O. Box 530298  Atlanta, GA 30353‑0298

Payment of the transfer tax is to be in the form of a check or money order payable to the Bureau of  Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Copies of transferees State or local licenses or permits.  If State or local law requires  the transferee to have a State or local license or permit to possess the firearm and the requirement  is imposed upon the person prior to receipt, the Form 4 application should also be accompanied  by a copy of the license or permit.  Transfers of NFA firearms to persons other than an individual or an FFL and  special (occupational) taxpayer.  Section 479.85 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires  the ATF Form 4 or Form 5 application to properly identify the transferee.  Although transfers to  natural persons (individuals) must include a recent photograph, duplicate fingerprint cards, and a  certification from law enforcement, the NFA also defines a person to include a partnership,  company, association, trust, estate, or corporation.  The requirements for fingerprints,  photographs, and the law enforcement certificate specified in ‘ 479.85 are not applicable for  transferee who is not an individual.

When an ATF Form 4 or Form 5 application is submitted to transfer a firearm to a partnership,  company, association, trust, estate, or corporation (collectively, an entity), the transferee entity  must be identified on the Form 4 using the complete, formal name of the entity, along with the  entitys street address, city, and state.  The Form 4 or Form 5 must not include an individuals  proper name, unless the proper name is a part of the entitys name (e.g., The Irrevocable Trust of  John Doe, John Smith, Inc., etc.).  ATF requires that the Form 4 or Form 5 include  documentation evidencing the existence of the entity.  This documentation would include,  without limitation, partnership agreements, articles of incorporation, corporate registration, a  complete copy of the declaration of trust, schedules or attachments referenced in the trust, etc.  If  the firearm being transferred is a machinegun, short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, or  destructive device and the transfer is from an FFL, a person authorized to act on behalf of the  entity must complete item 15 of the Form 4 and Form 5.

Please see section 9.12 for information regarding the NICS background check.  .

9.4.3  ATF Form 5. Transferors of NFA firearms to government entities, Federal, State, or local, must  file ATF Forms 5, Application for Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of a Firearm, to transfer the  firearms to such entities.169 (Note: The applicant may wish to include details regarding the receiving  agency if the agency is obscure.  Note also that there are no transfers to task forces.)  Although Forms 5  are generally required to be filed and approved for transfer of firearms to U.S. agencies, firearms owned  or possessed by Federal agencies are not required to be registered.  Appendix C contains a copy of the  form.  In these transactions, the transferor has no liability for the transfer tax.  As previously stated, the  form must be approved by ATF before the transfer may be made.  As discussed in more detail below,  Forms 5 are also used to transfer unserviceable firearms tax free, transfer firearms to FFLs for repair and  for their return, and for distribution of estate firearms to lawful heirs.

Section 9.5  Conveyances of NFA firearms not treated as transfers under the NFA

9.5.1  Repair of firearms.  ATF does not consider the temporary conveyance of an NFA firearm to an  FFL for repair to be a A transfer under the NFA.  Thus, a transfer application is not required to convey  the firearm for repair or to return the repaired firearm to its owner/possessor.  Nevertheless, in order to  avoid any appearance that a A transfer has taken place, ATF recommends that a Form 5 application be  submitted for approval prior to conveying the firearm for repair.  It is also recommended that the FFL  making repairs obtain an approved Form 5 to return a repaired firearm.  If Forms 5 are not used to  convey a firearm for repair or return the repaired firearm to the owner, the parties should maintain  documentation showing that the conveyance was for purposes of repair, identifying the firearm, and  showing the anticipated time for repair.  Approved Forms 5, or the recommended documentation, will  show that an unlawful transfer did not take place and that the FFL making the repairs is not in  unlawful possession of the firearm.  A non‑FFL who proposes to transport a destructive device,  machinegun, or short‑barrel shotgun or rifle interstate to an FFL for repair should first obtain an  approved ATF Form 5320.20 before transporting the firearm.170  Repair of firearm silencers. ATF published FAQs on April 17, 2008, regarding the  repair and replacement of silencers and silencer components.  These FAQs are published on the  ATF website and are included in Appendix B.

9.5.2  Possession of firearms by employees of FFLs/SOTs for employers business purposes.  No  Atransfer under the NFA occurs when an FFL/SOT permits a bona fide employee to take custody of its  registered NFA firearms for purposes within the employees scope of employment and for the business  purposes of the FFL/SOT. Therefore, no approved ATF transfer form is required when employees take  custody of firearms under these circumstances. In addition, the interstate delivery of a firearm to the  employee and the employees receipt of the firearm would not violate the GCA.

9.5.3  Distribution of estate firearms. A decedents registered NFA firearms may be conveyed tax­exempt to lawful heirs. These distributions are not treated as voluntary Atransfers under the NFA.  Rather, they are considered to be involuntary Atransfers by operation of law. Under this concept, ATF  will honor State court decisions relative to the ownership and right to possess NFA firearms. So, when  State courts authorize the distribution of estate firearms to decedents lawful heirs, ATF will approve the  distribution and registration to the heirs if the transactions are otherwise lawful. A lawful heir is anyone  named in the decedents will or, in the absence of a will, anyone entitled to inherit under the laws of the  State in which the decedent last resided.  Distributions to heirs. Although these distributions are not treated as transfers for  purposes of the NFA, Form 5 must be filed by an executor or administrator to register a firearm to a lawful heir and the form must be approved by ATF prior to distribution to the heir. The  form should be filed as soon as possible. However, ATF will allow a reasonable time to arrange  for the transfer. This generally should be done before probate is closed. When a firearm is being  transferred to an individual heir, his or her fingerprints on FBI Forms FD‑258 must accompany  the transfer application. The application will be denied if the heirs receipt or possession of the  firearm would violate Federal, State, or local law. The law enforcement certification on the form need not be completed. The form should also be accompanied by documentation showing the  executor=s or administrators authority to distribute the firearm as well as the heirs entitlement  to the firearm. Distributions to heirs should not be made until Forms 5 are approved. Executors  and administrators are not required to have estate firearms registered to them prior to distribution  to lawful heirs.  Distributions to persons outside the estate.  Distributions of NFA firearms by  executors or administrators to persons outside the estate (not beneficiaries) are A transfers under  the NFA and require an ATF‑approved transfer form. Transfers of serviceable firearms to other  entities or persons require an approved Form 4. Form 4 applications must be accompanied by  the applicable transfer tax, and, if the transferee is an individual, the transferees fingerprints on  FBI Forms FD‑258. Applications will be denied if transferees receipt or possession of the  firearms would violate Federal, State, or local law. Also, Form 4 applications to transfer  firearms to individuals must contain the law enforcement certification of an appropriate law  enforcement official. See Section 9.8 for further information on these certifications.  Form 4  applications to transfer firearms to non‑FFLs residing outside the State in which the estate is  being administered will be denied. Form 4 transfers should not be made until the transfers are  approved.  Uncertainty about the registration status of decedents firearms In some cases, an  executor or administrator of an estate may be uncertain whether the decedents firearms are  registered to the decedent in the NFRTR. Perhaps the executor or administrator is unable to  locate the decedent=s registration documents. As discussed in Section 9.2, if the decedents  firearms are not registered to him/her in the NFRTR, the firearms are contraband and may not be  lawfully possessed or transferred. If the executor or administrator cannot locate the decedents  registration documents, he/she should contact the NFA Branch in writing and inquire about the  firearms registration status. This inquiry should be accompanied by documents showing the  executors or administrators authority under State law to represent the decedent and dispose of  the decedents firearms. Although ATF is generally prohibited from disclosing tax information,  including the identity of persons to whom NFA firearms are registered, ATF may disclose such  information to persons lawfully representing registrants of NFA firearms.  Unregistered estate firearms.  Should an estate contain NFA firearms not registered to  the decedent, these firearms are contraband that may not be lawfully possessed or transferred.  Where these are found within an estate, the executor or administrator should contact his/her local  ATF office and arrange for their disposal.  Distribution of decedents sales samples. If NFA firearms in a decedents estate are  sales samples, that is, they were imported and distributed to the decedent as sales samples or  were domestically manufactured machine guns distributed to the decedent as sales samples, the  sale sample restriction continues in effect and lawful possession of the firearms requires that the  firearms be held as sales samples@ for demonstration to government agencies.171 Therefore,  these firearms within an estate must be transferred to government agencies or FFLs/SOTs as  sales samples for demonstration to such agencies.

Section 9.6  Manufacturers use of contractors to perform work on firearms. As part of the  manufacturing process to produce firearms for subsequent sale, some manufacturers contract with other  persons to perform steps in the manufacturing process.  As discussed in Chapter 7, these contractors are  also manufacturers subject to licensing as firearms manufacturers and payment of NFA special tax.  In  addition, a manufacturers transfer of an NFA firearm to such a contractor and the return of the firearm to the manufacturer are transfers required to be approved by ATF.  These transfers require approved  Forms 3.

Section 9.7  Transfers of unserviceable NFA firearms.  Unserviceable firearms are firearms  Aincapable of discharging a shot by means of an explosive and incapable of being readily restored to a  firing condition.172 They are still Afirearms for purposes of the NFA and must be registered in the  NFRTR to be lawfully possessed and transferred.  However, their transfer is not subject to transfer  tax.173 To lawfully transfer unserviceable firearms, Form 5 transfer applications must be filed with ATF  and approved.  Appendix C contains a copy of the form.  Form 5 applications to transfer the firearms to  individuals must be accompanied by transferees fingerprints and photographs on FBI Forms FD‑258.  Applications will be disapproved if receipt or possession of the firearms would place transferees in violation of Federal, State, or local law. In the case of transfers to individuals, the transferees must have  an appropriate law enforcement official sign the law enforcement certification on the form. See Section  9.9 for further information on the law enforcement certification. A Form 5 transfer application will not  be approved if the transferee is an individual residing outside the State in which the transferor resides;  however, as previously discussed, there is an exception for FFLs over‑the‑counter transfers of rifles and  shotguns to non‑residents if the laws of the transferors and transferees States are complied with.  Transfers pursuant to Forms 5 may not be made until approved.

Section 9.8  U.S. Government‑owned firearms.  Conveyances of U.S. Government‑owned NFA  firearms to FFLs/SOTs for repair, modification, or performing other work such as incorporating the  firearms into a weapons system require no approved ATF transfer or registration.  The same is true for  the return of the firearms to U.S. Government entities.

Section 9.9  Law enforcement certifications.  These certifications on Forms 1 and 4 must be signed by  an appropriate law enforcement official when the forms seek the transfer or making of an NFA firearm to or by an individual. However, as stated in Section, the certifications are not required when  estate firearms are distributed to lawful heirs. As provided by regulations, the certificate must state that  the certifying official is satisfied that the individuals fingerprints and photographs accompanying the  application are those of the applicant and that the official has no information indicating that the receipt  or possession of the firearm would place the transferee in violation of State or local law or that the  transferee will use the firearm for other than lawful purposes. Acceptable certifying officials include  chiefs of police, county sheriffs, heads of State police, State or local district attorneys, or such other  persons whose certificates may in a particular case be acceptable to the Director.174 Examples of other  officials whose certifications have been found acceptable include State attorneys general and judges of  State courts having authority to conduct jury trials in felony cases.

If another official is proposed as an acceptable certifying official, the transferor may, in advance of  filing the transfer form, submit a written request to the NFA Branch whether the official is an acceptable  certifying official. Alternatively, the transfer form may be filed with the officials certificate. If the  certification is unacceptable, ATF would disapprove the form and return it to the proposed transferor.

9.9.1  Is a law enforcement officer required to sign the certification? In some jurisdictions, officers  whose certifications on a transfer form would be acceptable will not sign the certifications for reasons of  their own.  These officials cannot be compelled to sign the certifications.

9.9.2  Is a law enforcement certification acceptable if signed by an official outside the jurisdiction  where the transferee resides? No.  The certification must be signed by an official having jurisdiction  where the transferee resides.

Section 9.10  Transfers of imported NFA firearms

9.10.1  Firearms imported for government agencies.  As discussed in Chapter 8, NFA firearms may  be imported for sale to Federal, State, or local government agencies. For approval of these imports, the  importers Form 6 permit application must be accompanied by the agencys letter or purchase order  reflecting the purchase of the firearms. Appendix D contains a sample letter for use by an agency  ordering imported firearms. Transfer of the firearms to the purchasing agency requires an approved  Form 5. If a qualified NFA dealer received the agencys order and placed it with the importer, the  importer may transfer the firearms to the dealer on an approved Form 3 and the dealer, in turn, would  use an approved Form 5 to transfer the firearms to the agency.

9.10.2 ASales samples. As discussed in Chapter 8, NFA firearms may be imported for use as sales  samples by qualified NFA importers and dealers to demonstrate the firearms to government agencies  and generate possible future sales to such agencies. As provided by the regulations, a Form 6  application to import such sample will be approved if it is established by specific information attached to  the application that the firearm is suitable or potentially suitable for an agencys use; the expected governmental customers requiring a demonstration of the firearm; information as to the availability of  the firearm to fill subsequent orders; and letters from agencies expressing a need for a particular model  or interest in seeing a demonstration of a particular firearm.175 Appendix D contains sample letters for  use in acquiring imported sales samples, including a qualified NFA dealers letter ordering a sales  sample from an importer and an agencys letter requesting a demonstration of a sales sample. An  importers transfer of a sales sample to a dealer requires an approved Form 3.

9.10.3  Transferring multiple quantities of the same firearm model as sales samples.  As provided  by the regulations, applications to import or transfer more than one firearm of a particular model for use  as a sales sample by an importer or dealer must establish the importers or dealers need for the quantity  of samples sought to be imported.176 In the case of machine guns imported on or after May 19, 1986 (as  well as machine guns domestically manufactured after that date), ATF Ruling 2002‑5 holds that if an  FFL needs to demonstrate a particular model of machine gun to an entire police department or SWAT  team, ATF will approve the transfer of two machine guns of that model to the dealer as sales samples.  Additional quantities will be allowed if an FFL can document the need for more than two machine guns  of a particular model.

Section 9.11  Transfers of machine guns imported or manufactured on or after May 19, 1986

9.11.1  Machinegun prohibition in 18 U.S.C. 922(o). This statute makes it unlawful to transfer or possess a machine gun, except for transfers to or by, or possession by or under the authority of, the  United States or a State, or machine guns lawfully possessed before May 19, 1986 (that is, machine guns  in the U.S. and registered in the NFRTR).  Regulations implementing the statute allow domestic  manufacturers to lawfully manufacture and stockpile machine guns for future sale to Federal and State  agencies, for distribution to FFLs/SOTs as sales samples for demonstration to such agencies, or for  exportation.177 The procedures discussed in Section 9.8 for transferring imported firearms to  government agencies or to FFLs for use as sales samples apply as well to domestically manufactured  machine guns.

9.11.2  May machine guns subject to section 922(o) be transferred to government contractors? The  statute provides no exception for the lawful possession of these machine guns by government  contractors for use in testing, research, design, or other work in fulfilling government contracts. One  specific exception to this general rule appears in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, 42 U.S.C. 2201a. This  recently enacted provision allows for machine gun possession by security personnel engaged in the  protection of Nuclear Regulatory Commission facilities or radioactive materials. Note also that although  the NFA provides for the importation of NFA firearms for scientific or research purposes or for testing  or use as a model by a registered manufacturer, the prohibition in Section 922(o) contains no exception  that would permit the lawful possession of machine guns in the U.S. for those purposes; thus,  applications to import machine guns for those purposes would be denied.

Section 9.12  Are FFLs/SOTs required to initiate a background check of the transferee under the  Brady Law in connection with the transfer of an NFA firearm? No.  Although 18 U.S.C. ‘ 922(t)  requires an FFL to complete a National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) check of  the firearm recipient prior to completing the transfer, subsection 922(t)(3)(B) removes ATF‑approved  transfers of NFA firearms from the NICS requirement for individuals.

9.12.1 NFA Transfers to other than individuals. Subsequent to the approval of an application  requesting to transfer an NFA firearm to, or on behalf of, a partnership, company, association,  trust, estate, or corporation, the authorized person picking up the firearm on behalf of, a

partnership, company, association, trust, estate, or corporation from the FFL must complete the  Form 4473 with his/her personal information and undergo a NICS check.  See also, question P60  in the ATF FAQs.

9.12.2 NFA transfer with other GCA firearm. An application to transfer an NFA firearm that  includes a firearm regulated by the GCA, (e.g., silencer with a pistol, wallet‑holster with pistol,  etc.), requires the completion of a Form 4473 and NICS check prior to transfer of the GCA  firearm.  This includes the transfer of a firearm where the suppressor is permanently attached to  the firearm.  The GCA firearm can only be transferred after the required NICS check is  completed. The serial number of the GCA firearm and the permanently attached NFA firearm must be included on the ATF form 4473.  FFL/SOT payers are also responsible for and adhering  to all applicable State and local requirements for NFA transfers.  If the FFL/SOT is awaiting  ATF approval of the transfer application, the unattached GCA firearm can be transfer prior to the  completion of the NFA transfer, however, an additional NICS check may be necessary if the  transfer is to a non‑individual.

Section 9.13  May an FFL/SOT transfer a personally owned destructive device without qualifying  to do business in destructive devices? Persons engaged in the business of dealing in firearms must  have a GCA license authorizing them to deal in the type of firearms in which they deal. If they engage  in the business of dealing in destructive devices, they must have a license to do so as required by 18  U.S.C. 923(a)(3)(A). However, ATF recognizes that persons licensed to deal in firearms other than  destructive devices may lawfully maintain a personal collection of destructive devices and occasionally dispose of them as personal firearms on Forms 4 without having a license to deal in such devices. But if  the dealer=s receipt and disposition of these devices become repetitive, ATF may infer that the dealer is  engaged in the business of dealing in the devices and require him/her to be licensed as a dealer in such  devices. There is no precise number of transactions that would trigger the license requirement.

Section 9.14   Transferable Status and the Form 10. Unregistered firearms obtained by State or  local government agencies through abandonment or forfeiture are registered on an ATF Form 10.  See  27 CFR ‘ 479.104.  Upon registration the Form 10 is marked official use only, and subsequent  transfer and registration is limited to the official use of other State or local government entities.  The  firearms may not enter ordinary commercial channels.  NFA firearms which were registered on Form 10  but were transferred to an FFL or individual prior to the effective date of ATF Ruling 74‑8 may continue  to be possessed in commercial or private channels.  If the firearm was still registered to the State or local  entity on Form 10 at the time of the effective date of ATF Ruling 74‑8, the firearm may only be  transferred to another government entity for official use


26 U.S.C. 5845(j)  166 27 CFR 479.88(b)  167 27 CFR 479.84

17018 U.S.C. 922(a)(4); 27 CFR 478.28


26 U.S.C. 5844(3)  172 26 U.S.C. 5845(h)

174 27 CFR 479.85

175 27 CFR 479.112(c) and (d)

176 Ibid.  See also 27 CFR 479.105(d)