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 Therefore, as the prevailing wisdom goes, the use of an outdated 4473 may impair ATF and other law enforcement agencies from properly enforcing the criminal aspects of the various parts of federal law because of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being a fully compliant FFL holder is by staying abreast of these trends and avoiding simple mistakes, such as using an outdated 4473 form.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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9 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

  4. I want to permanently transfer a firearm (rifle) to my son when he turns 18. Doing this by record. How?

    Comment by Charlie Slocum on June 9, 2014 at 9:58 am

  5. I thin k the reason for the 4473 form each and every time there is a gun purchase and not a gun registry card or the equivalent is that there could be a change in your status from now till the time you purchase that gun. Your could have a restraining order put on you by a jilted lover or wife. or there could be some other disqualifying situation that could lock you out as well . So I see a reason for the 4473 form.

    Her is my take: if Obama wants to use his executive action to tighten gun laws how about he look at the fact that the states are not obligated by law to turn over legal records pertaining to restraining orders , mental issues, felony convictions or anything else pertaining to the questions on the 4473 form. Also there needs to be some punitive actin against a person that goes into the store knowing he or she is not authorized by law to purchase a weapon and falsely completes the 4473 form. There is no way you can’t know you have a restraining order on you or a felony. So lets change that law and leave the new crap out of this………

    Comment by jeff bolin on October 9, 2015 at 8:12 pm

  6. need to fill out attached 4473 on line application

    Comment by Kelly moore on December 11, 2015 at 7:54 pm

  7. CARRY HAND GUN LICENSE

    Comment by WESLEY S. GAILLIARD on February 21, 2016 at 11:56 pm

  8. My Question – Someone with knowledge – Please Respond. An authorized gun store in my state called my home after I had picked up my paper work (ATF Stamp) and Silencer. The owner relayed in a message that he had forgotten to have me fill out ATF Form 4473.

    This form specifically states for the Purchase/Sale of a Firearm, or relative purchase to a firearm. Also that he could be in trouble for not having ATF Form 4473 in his file.

    When reviewing this form it is similar to the application for the silencer, along with what info was filled out for the sheriff and finger prints. So what is he talking about ?

    It took 5 months from the time I purchased the silencer, waiting for ATF paperwork with their stamp on it ( $200.00) . It was for my Rifle ..

    Something does not seem right and hard to digest considering he has exact copies of what I have from application to the end upon receiving the paper work from the ATF with stamp on it. Plus his store receipt mark “paid”

    Comment by Roger Buggle on April 10, 2016 at 3:51 pm

  9. According to the 2nd, 9th, and probably the 14th amendments as well as the civil rights act, all gun control laws are illegal/unconstitutional.

    What part of “shall not be infringed” doesn’t everyone get?

    Denying someone their unalienable right to guns for a domestic problem is also illegal.

    That is the presumption of guilt (the assumption that you will get and use a gun against a domestic person).

    We need to fix the laws to comply with our founders wisdom.

    If someone is so dangerous (and proven to be so), then why not keep them locked up until they are no longer dangerous?

    There are women that file false complaints to get back at their significant other (denial of weapons and such).

    What happens to THEM if it is not true?

    Not a darned thing!

    Therein lies the injustice of those kinds of laws.

    And felons are not all bad either. Too many laws are made that elevates or even creates felonies from misdemeanors and such.

    Commit a gun crime (or other true violent crime) and do the time. Once out though, your full rights should be restored immediately and automatically.

    form 4473 is unconstitutional.

    The AFT is supposed to be a CONVENIENT STORE not a regulatory agency.

    We really do need to take back our country and vote in libertarians who will follow the constitution as written and intended.

    VOTE VOTE VOTE for the right candidate if you want to keep your freedoms!

    Please note: In Kansas, if you have a CCW license you do not need to do a 4473. Just show them your license.
    Additionally, if you are under a protective order or felony trial or such they will suspend or revoke your gun rights immediately. Not to mention gun confiscation.
    In either of those events, a 4473 will be the least of your problems.

    Comment by crazysquirrel on May 3, 2016 at 3:06 pm

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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