The New ATF 4473 Form

The New ATF 4473 Form

Use It Or Lose It – And What’s Actually New!

Almost anyone who purchased a firearm from a retail merchant, or holds a federal firearms license, can rattle off “the 4473 form” in general conversation as if it was a common a number as a “1911″. In some respect, at least today, it is.

In essence, the 4473 from, which is filled out by the purchaser of a firearm from a retail merchant, is the way ATF holds a person accountable if they misrepresent their status and are disqualified from purchasing a firearm (e.g., have a domestic protective order issued against them).

Nevertheless, as law changes so too does the FFL form. It is easy in the hustle of the day for a current retail operator (especially those smaller in size and scale) to fail to utilize the current 4473 form (or to know it has changed) with narrow profit margins on new firearms. For the FFL holder, this is required to be in compliance.

And in an ATF compliance check, the failure to have used the current form is a violation of the ATF rules and regulations; this is a violation of the terms of an FFL. Therefore, as the prevailing wisdom goes, the use of an outdated 4473 may impair ATF and other law enforcement agencies from properly enforcing the criminal aspects of the various parts of federal law because of informational gaps created by an out dated 4473 form.

To be clear, this is actionable by the ATF in a compliance check. In April, 2012, the most current version of the 4473 was adopted. The use of this form became effective on July 9, 2012.1 However, not all FFL holders had received the new version of the 4473 by this date.

This new 4473 accounts for the current legal interpretation of firearms disabilities (meaning a person cannot purchase a firearm) for certain non-immigrant aliens. The definition and application period are relatively technical. However, use of the April, 2012 4473 form ensures proper FFL operations. This is what is new content on these variants of 4473 forms.

In the current period of strict compliance by FFL holders of federal laws, rules and regulations, along with state and local law, a technical mistake is likely to be the basis for action by the ATF. A big part of being a fully compliant FFL holder is by staying abreast of these trends and avoiding simple mistakes, such as using an outdated 4473 form.

Failure to use the most current 4473 variant can be the basis for regulatory action by the ATF and may result in license revocation or non-renewal. In other words, as this new form applies to non-immigrant aliens and current application of the law, it must be used or the FFL holder may be subject to revocation or non-renewal of (or losing) his/her FFL.

Hopefully, this blog has helped you as a firearm retailer or consumer to understand and follow the law. This is the hallmark of being a citizen and ensures the continued rights protected by the 2nd Amendment. If this has helped, then this blog post has met its educational objective.

This blog post is written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana. This blog post is not a solicitation for legal representation, nor an indication of practice in states or federal courts where attorneys in the firm are not admitted to practice.


  1. The FFL holder may print out the Revised ATF 4473 Form, 2012 edition. This is available on-line at http:www/atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-4473-1.pdf.

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3 comments

  1. why do we have to apply with the ATF 4473 over and over again, why not isssue an ATF card or license for a year ot two.

    if we have a FLL do we need to use the ATF 4473 every time we buy and sell firearms?

    Comment by paul sniffen on March 24, 2013 at 7:34 pm

  2. Simply put you cannot issue long term cards because a person can pass background check today and fail it next week he may have his weapons confiscated due to a number of legal barriers which may include a felony conviction or a domestic violence charge or restraining order!

    Comment by jose quinones on September 20, 2013 at 5:10 pm

  3. Do dealers have to handle 4473 any differently when two guys want to do a firearm sale and the come to the dealer to do the transfer

    Comment by John Maslankowski on September 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm

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About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More