FFL eZ CHECK – What it Is / How it Works [2024]

by Ryan Cleckner

January 22, 2024



FFL eZ Check is a system created and operated by the ATF as a tool to for a federal firearms licensee (FFL) to check the validity and address of another Federal Firearms License (FFL).

What is FFL eZ Check?

FFL eZ Check is a tool for checking the validity of Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs).

The ATF’s Federal Firearm License system establishes a network of manufactures and dealers of firearms across the country. If you are purchasing a firearm from a gun store, even if you are purchasing a firearm online, you are ultimately going to be getting the gun transferred to you from an FFL.

ATF Ez Check Screenshot

FFLs may freely transfer guns to other FFLs, even across state lines – this is called a firearm transfer. However, if you (as a non-FFL) want to transfer a gun to someone else across state lines, you are going to need to ship it to an FFL holder in the other state. who can then transfer it to the intended recipient.

The intended recipient can then go to their local FFL, fill out the required ATF form, and satisfy the background check requirements before they can finish the FFL transfer and take the gun home.

When a firearm is being shipped to an FFL, you, as an individual, should get a copy of the actual FFL license for you records as a good measure to track where the firearm went.

If you already have your FFL, even a home-based FFL, then it is REQUIRED for you to have the FFL number and a copy of every FFL you ship a firearm to. If you’ve done this before, you already know that you’re likely to receive a scanned copy of a piece of paper as your “proof of an FFL.” You need to ensure that the license is valid and that it is a signed copy.

Here’s the problem: How are you to know if the piece of paper is actually a valid FFL?

FFL scams are common where an invalid FFL is used to get guns in a fraudulent transaction. The scammers can either use a revoked or expired FFL or they can even change the address on a valid FFL so that the guns are shipped to them instead of the gun store.

For example, even if the expiration date on the FFL shows that it hasn’t expired yet, how do you know that the ATF hasn’t revoked it since the scan was made? Or, even if the FFL is a valid license for a valid business, how can you be sure that the address is correct?

Hopefully you can see that it is a good idea for you to confirm the validity of the FFL. But, how?

Enter the FFL eZ Check system.

By going to the ATF’s FFL eZ Check website, and conducting a federal firearms license search, you can see the current status of any active FFL.

Or, if you’re an FFL, many software solutions for ATF compliance can automatically check the ez check system for you each transaction.

How to Use FFL eZ Check

Using the FFL eZ Check system is easy. Steps to using FFL eZ Check:

An FFL number is broken into 6 sections and each section of an FFL number stands for something different.

The first three numbers of an FFL (the first two sections) refer to the region of the country and the specific district of the FFL.

The last five digits of the FFL number are the unique identifier for that particular FFL.

The middle sections of an FFL number refer to the expiration date and the type of federal firearms license.

For your purposes, the expiration date section isn’t important because the FFL eZ Check system will let you know if the FFL is valid. However, it is important to pay attention to the FFL number section for the FFL type.

If the FFL type is “06” then NO FIREARMS may be shipped to this FFL. The company may receive firearms only if it has an appropriate FFL, but this particular license can only be used to manufacture ammunition and no firearms can be disposed to this particular FFL number.

Additionally, if the type of FFL that you’re going to run through eZCheck is a Type “03” FFL, then you must confirm that the firearm you are going to ship qualifies for curio and relic status.

As a note, you can NOT use the system to check for a Type 03 Licensee (CR license). 

If you want to learn more, we cover FFL Types in greater detail.

Once you’ve confirmed that the FFL is the right type, then you should run the first three and last five digits of the FFL license number through the FFL eZ Check system on the ATF website to confirm the validity of the FFL and the accuracy of the address of the FFL for shipping.

If you are an FFL, then you should print a copy of the screen (screen shot) for proof that you checked the validity of the FFL prior to shipping the firearm. This can really help in an ATF audit.

When to Use FFL eZ Check

You should use FFL eZ Check whenever you are sending a firearm to an FFL – this includes when you’re sending an FFL a firearm as an individual (personal firearm) or even if you are also an FFL and are transferring the firearm.

This applies both to individuals and licensees.

Simply relying on a scanned piece of paper is not enough – you should use FFL eZ Check to confirm that the FFL name, address, and type are valid and authentic.

It is also recommended to check the status of the FFL dealer’s license EVERY TIME you go to ship a firearm as you have no way of knowing if it was revoked by the FFL, the FFL’s address has changed, or if the FFL License has expired.

FFL eZ Check FAQ

Q: What is FFL eZ Check?

A: The ATF FFL eZ Check system is a tool used to lookup the details and validity of a federal firearm license.

Q: Why use FFL eZ Check?

A: Before shipping a firearm to an FFL holder, you should use the FFL EZ Check system to ensure that the copy of the FFL provided is valid.

Q: What does an FFL number mean?

A: An FFL number means different things – each part of the number stands for a piece of information including the FFL type, the expiration date, and more. If you’d like to learn more, check out FFL Numbers and what they mean.

Q: How do you lookup an FFL number?

A: You can lookup an FFL number by entering it into the ATF’s FFL eZ Check system.

Q: How do you if a piece of paper is a valid FFL?

A: You don’t know that a piece of paper is a valid FFL License unless you use the ATF’s Ez Check system. Even if you know the FFL dealer and have used them before, you don’t know if their license has expired, been revoked, or if their address changed.

Q: Is FFL eZ Check the same as a firearm background check?

A: No, a background check is what an FFL runs on you when you purchase a firearm. The ATF’s system is what you use to ensure that an FFL dealer’s license is valid and is showing accurate info.

Q: Can you run your own NICS check?

A: Under federal law, only FFLs can run a NICS check and, even then, it can only be used in conjunction with an actual firearm transfer.

Q: What can you do with an FFL?

A: With an FFL you can buy and sell guns as a business. With the right type of FFL, you can even make firearms for sale.

Q: What is an FFL dealer?

A: An FFL Dealer is a person or company who has a federal firearms license which allows them to buy and sell guns as part of a business.


ATF’s FFL EZ Check Explained


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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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