FFL eZ CHECK – What it Is / How it Works [2021]

by Ryan Cleckner

January 18, 2021

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FFL eZ Check is a system created and operated by the ATF as a tool to check the validity of a Federal Firearm License (FFL). In this FFL eZ Check article, we’re going to cover:

  • What is FFL eZ Check?
  • How to Use FFL eZ Check
  • When to Use FFL eZ Check

Before we start, a warning: the term “FFL” refers to both the license and the license-holder. So, depending on the context, FFL could refer to the Federal Firearm License (the actual license that a person or company holds) or it can refer to the Federal Firearm Licensee (the person or company that has the license).

What is FFL eZ Check?

FFL eZ Check is a tool for checking the validity of, and for downloading copies of, Federal Firearm 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 from an FFL.

FFLs may freely transfer guns to other FFLs, even across state lines – this is called a firearm transfer and we cover how they work here. However, if you 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.

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.

If you already have your FFL, even a home-based FFL, then it is REQUIRED for you to get a copy of the FFL before you ship the firearm. 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.”

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. 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, you can search for the current status of any active FFL and you can even request and download a copy of an FFL for your records.

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 chip qualifies for curio and relic status.

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 through the FFL eZ Check system 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 for proof that you checked the validity of the FFL prior to shipping the firearm. This can really help in an ATF audit.

If the FFL only gave you a number, and didn’t give you an actual copy, you can also download a copy of a valid FFL on the FFL eZ Check page.

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.

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: 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.

EXTRA RESOURCES:

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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