U.S. Department of Justice Firearms Transaction Records
4473 Forms
Obscure Rules Consequences

Maintaining ATF Audit Ready 4473 Forms in 2023

We help you stay on target with your 4473 ATF forms with nationwide FFL services. The Firearms Transaction Record keeps businesses and gun owners on the right side of the law. Mistakes on 4473 forms warrant severe consequences. FFL Expert is locked and loaded with the legal expertise to get your business ATF compliant and ensure your 4473 ATF forms are bulletproof.

The 3 most common 4473 form mistakes to watch for as an FFL Dealer

    1. Questions 10(a) and 10(b)

      Many fail to make a selection in BOTH boxes. This is a two-part question prompting the buyer to answer questions about racial identity and ethnicity. Catch this mistake early by looking at the 4473 and making sure both questions are answered.

    2. Question 11(a)

      This question asks if you are the buyer or the transferee. It’s meant to catch illegal straw buyers. Mistakes happen when an individual legally buys the gun as a legitimate gift, but checks the box as “no.” In other words, if you are buying the gun as a legal gift in your state, check “yes” in this section. Otherwise, the transaction will fail immediately.

      A bit of customer chit-chat helps catch this before it happens without coaching the buyer (don’t promote straw purchases). “Is this gun for you or a family member?” is a great opening line.

    3. Question 11(e)

      It is illegal for a person addicted to or using illegal drugs to own a gun. Regardless of the laws in your state, using marijuana will disqualify you from owning or buying a gun.

      Many have innocently tripped up on this question, thinking their state-sanctioned marijuana use provides protection from federal law. It does not. While there is no drug test when buying a gun, lying on a 4473 is a felony offense. Best practice is to display signage advising potential buyers of this rule.

ATF Form 4473 for FFLs

FFL Expert offers support for maintaining ATF compliance and will walk you through the most common Form 4473 mistakes, step-by-step.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Obscure Transfer Form 4473 Rules

Form 4473 is a form used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to conduct background checks on individuals attempting to purchase firearms from licensed dealers. Lesser-known rules regarding Form 4473 transfers include:

  • Multiple sales: If a dealer sells more than one handgun to an individual within a five consecutive business day period, they must report the sale to the ATF using Form 3310.4.
  • Straw purchases: A "straw purchase" occurs when an individual purchases a firearm on behalf of someone who is prohibited from purchasing it themselves. Dealers are required to report suspected straw purchases to the ATF.
  • Delayed response from NICS: If the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is unable to immediately approve or deny a transaction, the dealer may transfer the firearm after three business days have passed, provided they have not received notification from NICS prohibiting the transfer.
  • Out-of-state transfers: Dealers may only transfer firearms to individuals who reside in the same state as the dealer, or to individuals in other states who are purchasing the firearm through a licensed dealer in their home state.
  • Nonimmigrant aliens: Nonimmigrant aliens (i.e., individuals who are in the U.S. temporarily, such as students or tourists) may only purchase firearms if they have a valid hunting license or permit that is valid in the state where they intend to make the purchase.
Need to get your bound book out of a bind? FFL Expert offers crisis support for fighting FFL Revocation.

Consequences for FFL dealers from 4473 form ATF violations

FFL dealers who violate Form 4473 regulations face license revocation, civil penalties, criminal charges and/or increased ATF scrutiny. Our FFL paperwork auditing services help your business avoid penalties for noncompliance.

Result of firearms compliance Inspection
Number of inspections by FFL type
01 02 03 06 07 08 09 10 11
Total inspections
No violations
2,348 236 2 61 516 77 4 17 16
Report of violations
798 285 1 0 193 9 0 2 1
Warning letter
477 164 0 0 149 9 1 2 2
Warning conference
152 64 0 0 88 2 0 0 0
Licensee went out of business or surrendered their license
73 5 0 3 12 2 0 0 1
Revocation/denial of license
20 6 0 0 12 1 0 1 0
Other dispositions
5 0 0 1 3 1 0 1 0
3,873 760 3 65 973 101 5 23 20

How to correct wrong 4473 answers after the transfer

If the seller or the buyer discovers an incomplete or wrongly filled out ATF 4473 Form after the firearm has been transferred, omissions or errors can be corrected. Photocopy the inaccurate form and make any necessary additions or revisions to the copy.

The seller should only make changes to Sections A, C, and E. The buyer should only make changes to Sections B and D.

Whoever made the changes should initial and date the modifications. The corrected photocopy should be attached to the original Form 4473 and retained as part of the seller’s permanent records.

Preparing Your 4473 Forms for an ATF Audit

To prepare your 4473 Forms for an ATF audit, you must be meticulous with paperwork, properly handle the background check and be leery of who you’re selling a gun to. FFL Expert has 6 top tips on how to prepare for an ATF compliance inspection.

We have the right to bear arms and the right to bear great customer service. Contact FFL Expert for 4473 Form help.
Please turn on Javascript for full site funtionality