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Federal Licensing Requirements for Gunsmiths

The process of becoming licensed is extensive and detailed. You are responsible for completing the correct forms and filling them out accurately. If you are unsure about any aspect of licensing, contact the department regulating the license you are seeking to avoid delay or rejection of the license.

Federal Firearms License

If you are going to work professionally with firearms, it is likely you will need a Federal Firearms License from the U. S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The type of license depends upon the direction in which your gunsmith work takes you. 

It doesn’t matter if you want a license as a dealer or a manufacture; it’s a multi-step process:

  • Completing a lengthy application form, which covers information such as military service, immigration status, business details, and criminal history
  • Paying the fee
  • Expecting contact with ATF personnel: there will be a background check
  • Furnishing fingerprints 

The possession of a FFL requires you to provide records of transactions to the ATF and permit AFT inspection of your business. In addition, there may be local, state, and Internal Revenue Service requirements to meet in regards to a firearms business. The AFT will contact local and state authorities when you apply for a FFL.

Dealer’s License

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives requires a gunsmith to have a dealer’s license if he or she repairs or modifies firearms (but does not manufacture or sell them). This means that the gunsmith is commissioned by an individual to work on an existing firearm, and the gunsmith returns that firearm to its owner. This license costs $200.

Federal Firearms License

If you are going to be involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms, you will need to obtain a manufacturer’s Federal Firearms License from the ATF. The fee will vary greatly depending upon what you plan to manufacture. It ranges from $30 (manufacturing ammunition) to $3,000 (dealing with destructive devices, such as grenade launchers or artillery). 

State Requirements

In addition to the rules of the AFT, states have specific conditions for gunsmiths. You might have to go through your state police department, state department of licensing, state department of justice, or local law enforcement agency. A Web search for your state and “gunsmith license” should send you in the right direction. Regulations vary from state to state concerning many aspects of gunsmithing, such as participation in gun shows, transportation of firearms, and record keeping.


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