ATF EForms: Faster and More Convenient
Everything’s digital these days. Well, almost everything. The ATF has partially entered the 21st century by way of e-forms. On their website, you can digitally file any of the following: Forms 1, 2, 3, 5 (Gov Only), 6, 6A, 9, 10, and 5300.11. Notably absent is the Form 4, Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration, which is what you need to complete to purchase a suppressor. The good news is that an all-digital Form 4 program has been fully funded since early 2019 and is expected to be up and running in the next couple of months.
Whether you’ve been doing everything online for decades or you’re reading this article as part of your very first foray into the internet, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about e-forms.
Here’s a preview of what we’ll cover – feel free to skip ahead:
Why Use E-Forms?
The National Firearms Act, under which suppressors are regulated, has been around since 1934. Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House and paper was king. Of course, now we’re well established in the 21st century, and computers and the internet have changed everything.
It’s often said that “we’ve always done it that way” is a dangerous phrase in business, and it holds true for suppressor paperwork. Read on for some of the advantages of e-forms.
E-Forms are Significantly Faster than Traditional Forms
With traditional forms, you’ve got to fill all of the paperwork out by hand, send it off in the mail, and wait for it to be delivered to the ATF before your wait process can begin. E-forms take most of that initial wait away, and when you’re dealing with the ATF, any reduction in wait time is a good thing!
E-Forms are Easier and More Convenient than Mailing Paper
Traditional forms require you to fill out your paperwork by hand, find an envelope that it will all fit into, drive to the post office, wait in line, have an employee calculate your postage (which is almost always an oddly-specific number, like $12.68), pay for the privilege of sending the documents to the government, then wait for your paperwork to make its way across the country before being delivered to the ATF.
Or, you could fill out your forms on your computer, pay your associated fees, and file your paperwork with the ATF all without having to get up off the couch.Get Started!
How to Fill Out E-Forms
Any time you have to fill out government paperwork, it can feel daunting and nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be that way! We’ll walk you through the steps to fill out the e-forms in a way that is decidedly not daunting or nerve-wracking. OK, let’s get started (and if you want to skip filling out paperwork altogether, buy your silencer from Silencer Central and we’ll fill it out for you).
Create an account.
Visit www.eforms.atf.gov and register for the site by choosing a user ID and a password, just like you would with any other website.
Start an ATF form.
Once you’re logged into the site, you can scroll through the available forms until you find the applicable Form 4. Click on it to begin.
Choose your applicant type.
This is where you’ll decide if you’re going to apply as an individual or as an entity such as a trust.
Select your type of application.
This is where you’ll indicate that you will be paying the $200 fee for a suppressor.
Fill out the applicant form.
This is similar to a 4473 for the purchase/transfer of a firearm. It’s basically a self-acknowledgment that you’re not a criminal.
Designate your Responsible Persons.
This is the spot where you’ll indicate any other people who can/will legally have access to your suppressor(s). Generally, this is a spouse.
Upload your photo.
Just like the paper forms, you still need to submit a 2”x2” passport-style photo. Simply take one on your phone, crop it to size, and upload it to the system.
Enter your CLEO information.
CLEO stands for “Chief Law Enforcement Officer.” You’ll need to look up the contact and mailing information for the CLEO where you live. Once everything in this process is finalized, they’ll email you the form that you need to print out and mail to your CLEO.
Fill out the application.
This is where you finally start entering information specific to your suppressor(s). This will include make, model, caliber, serial number, and so forth.
Upload your completed documents.
Compile all of your associated paperwork and make sure it’s been entered into the system properly. This could include items like your photo, trust documents, etc.
Certify and pay.
This is where you check the box that says you filled out everything truthfully under penalty of perjury. Once you check that box, you’ll then be taken to a screen where you will enter your payment information for the $200 tax stamp.
Sign and submit.
After paying, you’ll come back to the certification page where you’ll sign the final paperwork and submit it.
Verify your submission.
This screen will let you look at the application that you just submitted so that you can double (or triple) check and make sure you did everything correctly.
CLEO, cover letter, and fingerprints.
You’ll receive an email that has the letter you need to print out and mail to your CLEO, as well as a cover letter that you need to send along with your fingerprints. You can choose to have your prints done at the local police station or you can order print cards and ink and do them yourself.
The documents in this step are the only ones that require you to do something that isn’t on your computer. The CLEO and fingerprint cards have to be sent physically by mail. There’s no time deadline for the CLEO letter, but the fingerprints must be mailed within 10 business days of your application.
Wait for approval.
Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and wait for the ATF to process your application. No one can say for sure how long it’ll take, but one thing’s for sure with e-forms: it’ll be a little bit faster than using paper forms.
When Will Eforms be Back Online?
ATF has funding and plans to launch a 100% digital process for silencer purchases by the end of 2021.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Check out some of the most frequent ones here:
How do I remove users from ATF e-forms online?
Since the Form 4 isn’t online yet, we cannot say for sure how this will work. More info will be posted here as it becomes available.
How long do ATF e-forms take to get approved?
The Form 4 isn’t yet an e-form, so we can’t know for sure. However, the regular wait for a Form 4 is anywhere between 250 and 370 days. While your exact wait time may vary, we’ve seen approvals coming in closer to the 250-day-mark than the 370-day-mark. Once it is available digitally, we hope to see the approval times come down dramatically, but only time will tell.
How do I know when an e-form is approved?
You’ll receive an email at the address you used to register and fill out your forms once you’ve been approved.
Why are e-forms currently offline?
The e-forms Form 4 system crashed in 2015 and never reappeared. Why it is taking so long to get it back up and running is anybody’s guess, but per the usual, nothing in the government moves fast.
Buying a Silencer? Let Us Handle the Paperwork
At Silencer Central, we are passionate about compliance, knowledge, and community education in firearm sound suppression. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry, we are the nation’s largest silencer dealer. We’re also the only one licensed in all 42 suppressor-legal states that can sell, process, and ship your new suppressor directly to your door.
Like all things in life, there’s always something more to learn. Hopefully, the information in this article helped answer a lot of your questions. Of course, it’s also possible that it brought some new questions to mind that you hadn’t thought of before. Or, we might have overlooked your question altogether. Whatever the case, we’re here to answer any and all of your questions.
Our experts are ready to help you by phone or email, Monday through Friday from 8:30am – 5pm, and Saturday from 12pm – 3pm (CT).Buy Now!