ATF forms can be difficult to understand all on their own…but then add it to the fact that some of them offer e-filing…and you can see how it could be downright dumbfounding.
No worries, we got you, fam.
We’re going to dive into e-filing with the ATF, talk about which forms you can do online, and look at why you might want to embrace technology and use the internet’s powers.
So, keep reading if you might be going the SBR or suppressor route in the future…
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eForms: What Are They?
eForms are basically the digital counterparts to paper forms.
So that Form 4 you need in order to own a suppressor…well, now you have the option to do that via paper submission or online with the ATF.
You might be surprised to know that e-filing isn’t a totally new concept to the ATF, though.
In fact, the Bureau tried it in the early 2000s with Form 4s. Unfortunately, the technology wasn’t as great and so the system was taken offline.
That said, several other forms successfully made their way into e-format and have been available for e-file for a bit.
It’s no surprise, then, that the ATF decided to revive the Form 4 in 2021.
But does the ATF run the same risk of folding as last time?
Silencer Central’s CEO Brandon Maddox thinks not.
“My understanding is that before the issue was an old database trying to talk to a newer one. It was like old school and new school and new school just couldn’t play nicely,” Maddox said. “But over the years, the ATF has put the resources into it.”
Maddox said Silencer Central has been a part of the beta testing for the eForm 4 and has been pleased with the way in which it’s worked.
“We’ve been beta testing for six months and there’s been some fine-tuning but overall, it seems to function exceptionally well.”
Which Forms Can You E-File?
At the moment there are a handful of eForms available for you to file digitally with the ATF.
- Form 1: Application to make and register a firearm
- Form 2: Notice of firearms manufactured or imported
- Form 3: Application for tax-exempt transfer of firearms and registration to Special (Occupational) Taxpayer
- Form 4: Application for tax paid transfer and registration of firearm
- Form 5: Application for tax-exempt transfer of firearms and registration of firearm
- Form 9: Application and permit for permanent exportation of firearm
- Form 10: Application for registration of firearms acquired by certain governmental entities
Form 6 & 6A: Application and permit for importation & release and receipt of imported firearms, ammunition and implements of war
Want to learn more about forms? Check out our ATF Forms guide.
Should You E-File for NFA Items?
There are some key benefits to e-filing. For one, it’s typically quicker.
Paper file right now for a suppressor stands at about eight months. On the other hand, e-file could take significantly less time.
Maddox pointed to the ATF’s Form 1 – available in both paper and eForm – as an example of the wait times consumers can expect.
“The Form 1 takes 60 days [with e-file] to process and I think 60 days is reasonable with eForm 4s,” Maddox explained.
He added, “I get the sense that [the ATF] is really going to push these through, but they’ve told me verbally they are going to staff it to a 90-day turnaround.”
Another benefit Maddox pointed to is greater communication between the ATF and the consumer when it comes to the process.
Previously, with paper, once the paperwork is submitted it’s a sit-and-wait game – often, with the consumer unaware of where their paperwork is in the process.
With e-file, though, you’ll be able to better track where your application is in the pile.
“My understanding after being part of the beta testing with the ATF is that the customer is given the heads up when the paperwork is submitted, approved, and when the tax stamp is charged,” Maddox said.
“There’s a whole lot more transparency than before when it kind of disappeared for 12 months.”
The downside to e-filing is that, obviously, if you aren’t tech-savvy that could be a barrier to entry.
That said, places like Silencer Central are more than happy to step in and get the forms worked out for you, walking you through the whole process.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Diving into the e-filing system should improve the stamp process for those looking to grab a suppressor or other fun toy.
Reduced wait times and better communication are perks that we think make eForms a great option.