Good morning everyone and welcome back to TFB’s Silencer Saturday brought to you by Yankee Hill Machine, manufacturers of the new YHM Phantom 22 rimfire suppressor. Last week we gave thanks over the holiday weekend and started discussing our end of the year wish lists. Today we get the jump on some potentially exciting news – the debut of the new ATF eForms system is upon us. Possibly. Hopefully. Let’s get a preview of what this means for you.
SILENCER SATURDAY #205: The New ATF EForms – Form 4 Included
The U.S. Government and Technology businesses are about as diametrically opposed as you can get in the consumer product release world. Sure, all large organizations suffer from bureaucracy and inefficiency, but while Tech focuses on being first to market with a feature rich product, the government can have a hard time actually producing something that customers want, need, and actually works in a reasonable timeframe. Even when the government reaches outside to the corporate world, the contract and procurement process can be a race to the bottom if not navigated correctly. Add in partisan political pressure (from either side) and the USGov will get vapor lock, waste time, money, and frustrate its citizenry.
And I fully realize that the government employees actually doing the work can be equally as frustrated as their “customers” (us).
Debuting almost a decade ago, the ATF eForm system was built to modernize an archaic paper-and-pen system to file National Firearms Act registration and transfer forms between licensees and non-licensees alike. At the time, the largest volume of consumer facing forms, the Form 4 NFA Transfer form, still required individual filers to send in fingerprints and CLEO sign off forms by USPS mail. Entities like trusts could avoid CLEO sign off and fingerprints, but that came to an end with ATF 41F.
Along the way, the eForms system dramatically underestimated the volume of submissions and shutdown completely for retooling. The system later opened back up for Form 1 “making” registrations, leaving Form 4 “Transfer” registrations stuck in a circa 1995 Xerox and postage stamp dystopia. Meanwhile you could order 1,000 rounds of 9mm ammo from your phone in the drive through lane of Burger King.
As 2021 draws to a close, yesterday the ATF signaled to its industry partners that the new ATF eForms system should come online sometime in December, transitioning from the old system with a service outage of a few days. I emphasize the word should because the promise of a new and improved eForms system has been touted off and on for at least five years. Myself? I’m cautiously optimistic.
The details of the new ATF eForms NFA system are largely unclear. At the moment, all we really know is that all Silencer Shop Powered By dealers will have the capability to assist customers with the Form 4 submission through the new eForms system. I have an idea on how fingerprints, photographs and other information will be transmitted, but I’d rather not speculate until we see the final product.
One of the most important facts of the new ATF eForms system is that current forms already in process should NOT be cancelled to take advantage of the new process. The delay for that maneuver could be up to a year to receive an approved Form 4.
I’m sure there will be hiccups, outages, and errors on our new path to fast NFA approvals. But I’ll take any progress we can get.
Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading, be safe, and we’ll see you back next weekend for another Silencer Saturday.
According to the ATF, eForms will launch between December 15 – 28, 2021!
Here is what you need to know about ATF eForms:
ATF eForms makes owning an NFA item such as a suppressor or SBR quicker and easier than ever. Central to many silencer owners is the Tax Stamp process for Forms 1 and 4, and this video will provide an overview to the ATF eForms process.
For many gun owners, they’re looking to grow their collection by adding a short barrel shotgun, rifle, machine gun or silencer to their firearms collection. By tapping into eForms, your NFA application will be digitized and your ATF wait time should be reduced. This digitization also has the capacity to reduce the likelihood of errors and increase your security.
ATF Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 can be submitted via eForms. And this streamlined process will help you get your can in your hands, faster than ever.
MARTINSBURG, WV – Earlier today, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced the imminent launch of a new electronic system for NFA transfers. Known as the eForms system, this overdue modernization will allow consumers to submit both ATF Forms 1 and 4 electronically, hopefully resulting in a significant decrease in transfer times when compared to traditional paper Forms.
According to ATF, the transition to the new system will occur sometime after December 15th, but before Christmas. The new eForms system will handle all existing NFA transfer forms, including the ATF Form 4.
If you recently submitted an NFA application, keep it in the queue. We cannot stress this enough. Withdrawing your Form 4 and re-submitting electronically will take longer than allowing your Form 4 to make its way through the approval process.
That’s because ATF isn’t going to dig through the tens of thousands of forms being processed to find your application. They’re going to wait until your Form 4 reaches an NFA examiners desk – the exact point at which it would normally be approved – to process your withdrawal. Instead of approving it though, they will acknowledge your withdrawal and release your serial number. You will not be able to re-submit an eForm 4 with the same serial number until ATF acknowledges your withdrawal and puts it back into your dealers inventory. Thus, withdrawing and re-submitting electronically will add months to your overall application process.
Once the transition to the new eForms system begins, ATF estimates that the transition will take between two to four days to complete, at which point the new eForms system will go live. ATF has indicated that they will notify industry 24 to 48 hours prior to the transition, and we will let you know as soon as we receive this notification.
While traditional paper-based applications will remain a viable option, ASA’s recommendation to consumers is that they submit new NFA applications electronically. That’s because, if the new eForms system works as promised, it will increase efficiencies by reducing form submission and payment processing times, eliminating weeks of delays in data processing, and all but eradicating data entry errors.
As we gather more information, we will keep you posted. In the meantime, stay tuned by following the American Suppressor Association on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, and by subscribing to our newsletter.