Part 11: Getting a Home-Based FFL: Moving Locations (and Across State Lines)

    Having some small dissatisfaction with my previous job and looking to move jobs, I had been searching for awhile while the FFL was up and running. I was fortunate enough to find my “dream job” which was going to require relocation from my dear Fort Wayne. I was loathe to leave it, especially if that meant that I had to give up my FFL and start the process all over again.

    Fortunately, the ATF has a natural process down for the movement of FFLs. Turns out gun shops start, expand, move, and change addresses on a regular basis. Fortunately, the ATF has form 5300.38 (available here) for moving an FFL, making the move relatively easy. The form, titled “Application for an Amended Federal Firearms License” is the same form that used for updating information on the FFL including hours of operation, phone number, etc.

    It should be noted that the ATF requests that “Notice of the new location of the business or activity must be filed with the ATF not less than 30 days prior to establishing the business or activity at the new premises. To allow for ample processing time, it is recommended ATF Form 5300.38 be submitted as soon as the new premises location is known.

    Author’s Note – I have completed this process. It took about 5 weeks, but that was due to myself not having a detailed new address as I was moving into new construction. The ATF and IOI’s were pleasant to work with and presented no issues. 

    Process Starts All Over

    When completing the form 5300.38 for the movement of the FFL from one premises to another, the application basically begins anew, minus the sections on establishing your/your business’ eligibility for an FFL. The applicant must show that they have completed due diligence on the location, licenses, permits, zoning, etc. Basically, go re-read and redo Parts 1-4 of this series.

    Upon review of the application for amendment, the ATF will conduct the interview again at the new location. This interview is the exact same as the one for the original license. You may be the same licenses under the same company, the ATF will have go through the entire interview just the same. Note, the ATF may opt to also fully inspect your records as part of an annual inspection at this time so make sure your books are in order.

    Upon completion of the interview, the IOI will have to complete their reports, make their recommendations, and the ATF will amend or issue the new license (more on this shortly).

    Moving the FFL In-State vs. Out-Of-State

    Alluded to in the previous section, moving in-state is just a hair easier than moving out of state. Moving in-state, the FFL number will stay the same, just with a new address. Moving out-of-state will require a completely new FFL number. Outside of this, the differences are minimal outside of the different state laws concerning FFLs. I was fortunate to move from Indiana to Ohio, where both states and the municipalities were both very permissive requiring no other paperwork other than registering a new business in the state.

    From one apartment to another!

    From one apartment to another!

    Considerations for Moving:

    • Upon receipt of your new FFL, immediately update all your distributor/OEM accounts so you can ensure they ship to the right address. Bad ju-ju if they ship to the wrong address.
    • Your original FFL is valid through the receipt of the new FFL. As such, you can conduct business at the original address normally so long as you still are at that premises. For example, if you move prior to your new FFL arriving, do not conduct FFL business.
    • If you have any pending SOT transfers in with the ATF, it is critical you notify any applicants of the changes. Further, one should call the ATF NFA branch to notify them of upcoming movement so any pending applications are not denied (so long as you are staying in-state). If you are going out-of-state, those transfers will need to be cancelled and sent to another FFL.
    • You may possess any Machine Guns, NFA items, etc normally between the licenses so long as you are granted the new license. If denied, you must forfeit all applicable items to the ATF.
    • If you are changing states, make sure you know the laws regarding NFA items. If your state prohibits their possession, you must follow the state laws.
    • Your bound book may stay the same. Just make sure to update the FFL number on/in the book.

    Issues to Look Out For:

    As the FFL is shall-issue, the only reasons for denial are typically due to local regulations. Like the original application, I encourage one to do the complete and total due diligence on their local zoning ordinances and laws. The ATF will contact the municipality to ensure that you are able to operate at the chosen location. Giving the city/town a heads-up (or even better, applying for the permit) will make this go easier.

    When moving, you are are the Responsible Person on the FFL responsible for the legal transport of the firearms and assets between locations. Many moving companies will not move, or will not be responsible for damage to firearms, ammo, safes, etc. As a precaution, I would recommend you move your own serialized assets, parts, and ammunition.

    Moving an SOT:

    Unlike the FFL License Branch, the National Firearms Branch does not have a common form for the movement of FFLs. Further, the License Branch does not communcate to the NFA Branch that the FFL was approved to move. I called the NFA Branch on the move and they just asked that I submit a letter on company letterhead with a copy of my new FFL for the SOT to be re-issued. There was no fee for this and it took the NFA Branch ~3 weeks to send the new SOT.


    Just make sure that you stay compliant in the interim period between FFLs (if you moved) and during the physical moving process. Losing a firearm is serious business requiring a Police Report, notification to the ATF, and having to deal with investigators combing through the details on everything.

    So long as you get ahead of the paperwork, moving an FFL is generally easy. The ATF goes through the process on a regular basis and so long as you complete the diligence and dot the I’s and cross the T’s for the ATF, it moves along quickly.

    Nathan S

    One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

    The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.