The complete guide to the new Form 4

Filling_FormsYou swore that you would not be buying any more NFA items after 41F went into effect.

But now they have that great new suppressor down at the gun store and you have been hearing people talk about how the industry is working to minimize the impact of 41F and how you might be able to reduce the number of ‘responsible persons’ on your trust.

Let’s face it.  You are going to buy that suppressor despite 41F.  But fear not.  This guide will walk you through every step of the new Form 4 process and make it as easy as possible.

Getting Started

In almost all cases the dealer you are buying the NFA item from will already have the Form 4s with their portion completed before you arrive.  So I will only focus on those fields that need to be completed by the transferee (buyer).

FFL PRO-TIP:  If you do need a copy of the new Form 4, it is available for download from the ATF website.  If you save it to your computer and open it with Adobe Reader (rather than editing it in your browser) then it will auto-copy the data you type into the ‘ATF Copy’ to the ‘ATF Copy 2’ and the ‘CLEO Copy’.  You can also save a copy with your FFL info typed in to speed up the processing of future applications.

Form 4 – Page 1

  • Box 2a should contain the name of your trust (exactly as it appears on the header of the trust document) and the mailing address for the location where the item will initially be stored.
  • In Box 2a you should also check the box for TRUST or LEGAL ENTITY.
  • Box 2b should contain the name of the county in which the physical address from 2a is located.  Note: Virginia is one of the few states where there are independent cities that are not part of the surrounding counties. If you live in an independent city (like Alexandria for example) then put your city in 2b (e.g.  “Alexandria City”).

Form 4 – Page 2

  • Box 12 should contain the information about the applicants CLEO.
  • Box 13 should have the name of the trust in the first blank and ‘All lawful purposes‘ in the second blank.
  • Box 14, 15, 16, and 17 should be left blank.  For trust applicants, these background questions and photos will be part of a separate form for each ‘responsible person’ (Form 23) for which I will provide instructions further down in this guide.
  • However, you still must sign the Transferee Signature at the bottom of Page 2.

Form 4 – Page 3

  • Box 18 should contain the number of responsible persons on the trust.  I have a detailed article here laying out which persons on your trust are considered ‘responsible persons’ but the short answer is that you are a responsible person and so are those people listed on Schedule B of your trust.  If you want to remove joint trustees from your Schedule B before submitting your application I have a guide to doing so here.
  • Box 19 should contain your full legal name and the full legal names of all those on Schedule B of your trust.
  • Box 20 should contain your method of payment and, if you are paying with a credit card, the information about the credit card and the amount being paid.  You only need to sign in Box 20 if you are paying with a credit card.  (More about this in the signing section below)

A Completed Sample of Form 4

The following sample form illustrates what a completed Form 4 should look like.

Download (PDF, 1.12MB)

Signing the Completed Form 4

Each copy of the completed Form 4 should be signed in the following places:

  • On the bottom of Page 2 sign your name and add “as trustee” at the end.
  • Only sign on Page 3 Box 20 if you are paying with a credit card.

Important:  The ATF requires all signatures to be in either blue or black ink.

Turning to the Form 23

A copy of the new ‘responsible person’ form 5320.23 (Form 23) will need to be completed by each ‘responsible person’ of the trust listed in Box 19 of the Form 4.

Important Note:  Your fellow ‘responsible persons’ will find it much easier to complete this form if they have a copy of the completed Form 4 in front of them.  

The Form 23 may be downloaded from the ATF website. It is well designed with fillable fields which auto-transfer the data to additional copies (based upon testing, it seems that you must use Adobe Acrobat Reader for these features to work reliably).  I will instruct you where to send each copy later in this guide.

You, and the Joint Trustees listed on Schedule B of your trust, should download the form and each one complete it according to the following instructions:

Form 23 – Page 1

  • In Box 1 you should check the box for Form 4.
  • In Box 2 you should copy the trust name and address from Box 2a on the Form 4.
  • In Box 3a you should put your full legal name and your home address.
  • In Box 3b you should put your telephone number.
  • Box 3c can be left blank.
  • If you have changed your name at any time during your life, including being married, then Box 3d should contain all other names you have ever used.
  • In Box 3e you will affix a 2×2 passport-quality photo taken within the last year (on the ATF copy of the form only).  As I noted here, many NFA dealers are planning to offer in-store photography options so you should check with your local gun store.  Failing that, Walgreens is a common provider of this service in many towns.
  • In Box 4a, you should copy the type-of-firearm from Box 4b of the Form 4.
  • In Box 4b you should copy the name and location from Box 4a of the Form 4.
  • In Box 4c you should copy the model from Box 4d of the Form 4.
  • In Box 4d you should copy the caliber and UOM from Box 4c of the Form 4.
  • In Box 4e you should copy the serial number from Box Box 4g of the Form 4.
  • Box 5 should contain the information regarding the CLEO whose jurisdiction includes the home address in Box 3a of this form.

Form 23 – Page 2

  • You will need to answer the questions in Boxes 6, 7, and 8 as they apply to you, the person completing the form.  In the example below, I am completing them as I personally would answer them but you will need to answer them truthfully as they apply to you!
  • Note: If you have been convicted of a felony but have since had your gun rights restored then the instructions state you should answer question 6b as ‘No’.  However, I strongly advise you to attach a copy of your restoration paperwork to the Form 23 when submitting it to the ATF.
  • You will sign the certification following Box 8.  (More about this in the signing section below)
  • You should enter the date in the field to the right of the signature block.

A Completed Sample of Form 23

The following sample form illustrates what a completed form should look like.

Download (PDF, 928KB)

Printing The Completed Form 23

Once you have completed the Form 23, you will need to print it.  It will print 2 copies.  You should now affix your photo to the ATF copy of the Form 23 only. (DO NOT USE STAPLES)

Signing the Completed Form 23

The only place you will need to sign the Form 23 is following the certification statement below Box 8.  You do NOT add “as trustee” to your signature on this form.

Do not forget to sign both copies of the Form 23.

Important:  The ATF requires all signatures to be in either blue or black ink.

Notifying Your CLEO

The Settlor of the trust will need to mail his or her CLEO (From Box 5 of the Form 23) the CLEO copy of the Form 4 and the CLEO copy of their Form 23.

All other responsible persons will only need to mail his or her CLEO (From Box 5 of their Form 23) the CLEO copy of their Form 23.

Important Note:  The CLEO copy of the Form 23 does not have a photo affixed.  You should also not send fingerprint cards to the CLEO.

Fingerprint Cards

Each Form 23 to be sent to the ATF will need to be accompanied by fingerprints of the responsible person taken on 2 FBI (FD-258) fingerprint cards.  As I noted here, many NFA dealers are planning to offer in-store fingerprinting so you should check with your local gun store.  Failing that, you should be able to get fingerprinted at your local law enforcement agency.  No matter who does the fingerprinting, you should make sure that they use the correct FD-258 cards.

Mailing the Completed Form 4 Packet to the ATF

Now we need to prepare the packet to mail to the ATF.  Note that If you are building more than one NFA item, you will need a separate packet for each item.

This packet should include:

  • The first 2 copies of the completed Form 4 printed front and back as noted above with original signatures in blue or black ink on both copies.  (These are marked ATF Copy and ATF Copy 2 on the bottom of the forms)
  • The ATF Copy of the Form 23 for each responsible person of the trust with photos affixed and fingerprint cards included. (DO NOT STAPLE)
  • A single copy of your notarized trust instrument (including all schedules)
  • Payment for the amount of the tax ($200) payable to BATFE (unless you entered credit card info on the Form 4)

The entire packet should be mailed to:

National Firearms Act Branch
BATFE
P.O. Box 530298
Atlanta, GA 30353-0298

If this guide leaves any questions unanswered, please feel free to contact me.

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