We hear it all the time, questions on what the lead time is from the ATF on the processing of form 4’s and form 1’s. Well to make a long story short, there is not much you can do to change that wait time. As we always tell folks get the paperwork started sooner than later and the wait will be over before you know it.
However a couple of things to note on it all:
- Electronic forms are processed nearly twice as fast as paper (We only do electronic forms)
- There is no secret method or handshake to expedite your paperwork, first come, first served. (Only if you are on military orders and received a change of station does this get expedited)
- The ATF wait times will always vary, we can only tell you what the current processing time we are seeing is.
- The ATF is limited with how many examiners they can hire to handle the millions of submissions each year.
So knowing this, what is the deal with the wait times then? As of writing this (March, 2023) we are seeing eform 4’s back at 9 months. I know what your thinking, electronic submission should mean instant approval right? Well not quite, your fingerprints still need to be reviewed by the FBI who does the background check. Paperwork still needs to be reviewed by an examiner and make sure all the details match up correctly and that nothing is slipping through the cracks. Someone still has to sign off on the background check being complete, and if you have a trust that means every person on the trust still goes through this, as well as reviewing the trust documents itself. Now combine this with laws from 50 different states and federal levels to be reviewed on each transaction and it makes this much more involved. Fairly complex to automate in that situation, especially when they want to have an examiner accountable for the approval.
Current Wait Times as of 03/2023:
eForm 4: 9 Months
eForm 1: 45 Days
So, how can this be improved? Well obviously we would like to see the NFA go away and these would be instant take home items, but we know that’s a long way’s off from occurring (Contact your representatives and get them moving on it!). However for what can be done right now, making sure your information is correct on your forms. When the eForms get submitted you get an email copy of them. Review that document, make sure your name, address, date of birth, country of birth, etc. Are all correct on that form! If not contact your dealer immediately and let them know so the corrections can be started. Otherwise you will find out it’s wrong all the way at the end of the process, and with the new eForm system you can’t make a correction… you start over again.
So the quick run down to help make your process faster:
- Review your personal information on your application
- Make sure the device listed on the form is correct
- Double check all your trust paperwork is complete and all responsible persons have been included on your form 4 or form 1
- If you have had your rights restored, be sure that paperwork is included when you submit your tax stamp application (otherwise IT WILL BE DENIED)
- Do all of the above for anyone that is listed as a responsible on your trust if you are applying with a trust.
We use the SilencerShop system to process our paperwork and have found it to be excellent at handling everything. Not only do they review the information, but the automation reduces the errors caused by filling out things in duplicate or parts being left out on old paper forms. Combine that with our recommendations and your paperwork will go through quickly and efficiently. Patience is all it takes. As we say: “We make it as simple as pay and wait!”