ASA eForms Information

ASA Summary of ATF eForms Webinar 

March 15, 2024 

Executive Summary: On March 15, 2024, Deputy Assistant Director of EPS James Vann, and NFA  Division Acting Chief Ben Hiller hosted a webinar to discuss eForms processing. The webinar, open  to FFL/SOT holders, provided some of the most comprehensive information about how the NFA  Division is currently processing Form 4 applications. New data points were also provided on the  volume of applications that NFA has received in the past few months noting a significant increase  as transfer times began to fall.  

Per ATF, the improved processing times are the “new normal” and are expected to  continue. Particularly for Form 4 Individual (non-trust) applications. The one caveat being  that an increase in form volumes, which they are already seeing, may have some effect on  processing times. 

NFA receives an average of 14,000-16,000 Form 4 applications per week. NOTE: Since  2016, suppressors account for 92% of Form 4 applications.  

o December 2023: 31,438 

o January 2024: 43,200 

o February 2024: 79,465 (an 84% jump over January) 

** If the February rate holds steady the industry can expect between  

765,440 – 843,732 suppressor Form 4’s for 2024 – an increase of 96%- 

116% over 2023. 

eForms now account for 96% of all NFA applications. Paper forms are accepted but NFA  processes are now optimized for eForms submissions.  

Individual applications are being processed faster than trust applications. ATF is working to implement improvements for trust applications in the next couple of  weeks and expects to dramatically reduce trust application transfer times – particularly for  “standardized trusts” that are used by large volume submitters.  

NFA has reduced the backlog of pending applications by 35% since October 1, 2023. NFA is no longer processing applications on a First In First Out basis. Instead, they are  prioritizing individual applications that have received a “proceed” response from FBI-NICS,  followed by trust applications with “proceed” response. This has resulted in very fast  transfers for many individual eForm applicants but is reducing transfer times across the  board for all application types. 

As of March 12, 2024, NFA has 77,963 open status background checks with NICS – the  oldest dating back to 5/8/2023. This is the cause for a sometimes wide range in transfer  times experienced by consumers.




Additional Q&A: 

What led to the rapid decrease in processing times, particularly for Individual Form 4  applications? 

This is being driven by changes in processing methods, with a focus on processing applications  where a NICS “proceed” has been received. About 70% of NICS background checks receive an  instant “proceed” from the NICS computer system. The remaining 30% are “delayed” or “denied”.  “Delayed” background checks require further investigation by FBI (not NFA – NFA does not process  background checks) These are worked on a time-available basis as NICS priority is GCA checks due to the  3-day statutory window. “Delayed” background checks are sometime resolved in seconds, but  sometimes months. 

Why did NFA Division stop processing forms on a First In First Out basis? 

According to ATF, “processing applications on a First In First Out basis is untenable when FBI-NICS  is an ‘upstream supplier’.” Deputy Assistant Director Vann offered a grocery express checkout lane example: If five people with one item each and their credit card in hand are stuck behind one  person with a week’s worth of groceries, 20 coupons and they plan to pay by check, then it isn’t fair  to hold up the five people that are ready to go. “Fairness”, of course, is relative and those with  errors, complex trust issues, and/or background check delays probably won’t view the “express  lane” system as “fair.” However, it moves the largest number of applicants (70%) through the  system in the most efficient manner so that examiners can then process other transfers more  efficiently. This results in reduced transfer times across the board for all applicant types. 


How is NFA Processing forms now? 

Resources are being focused at applications where a NICS response has been received. According  to ATF, “Currently, NFA Division is processing eForm Individual applications in real-time.” NICS  checks are being submitted in large batches to FBI-NICS and as responses are returned those applications are being approved immediately (or disapproved in the case of a NICS denial). 

NFA has established several “swim lanes” where forms are funneled to examiners for processing.  These swim lanes are: 


Individual Bundling (a single applicant with more than one pending application) Trusts 

Trusts Bundling 

In what order are applications being processed? 

NFA division is prioritizing Form 4 applications for individual applicants. When “proceeds” for  eForm 4 Individuals are exhausted, examiners transition to processing eForm 4 Trust applications  that have responses to background checks for each RP. Although not mentioned, this would imply  that trusts with only a single RP could be processed relatively quickly also. 

What improvements are being made to expedite the processing of trust applications? 

Mr. Vann noted that there are several legal benefits to utilizing a trust for NFA applications and  expects people will continue to do so. They have noticed a recent decrease in the number of trust  applications as people see individual applications being approved faster. NFA is working to  implement several improvements to the processing of trust applications within the coming weeks  that should see the gap between individual and trust applicants narrow significantly. This will be  especially true for companies using “standardized trusts” that will require less review by NFA. However, he did note that, all things being equal, individual applications will always be faster than  trust applications for the following reasons: 

NFA must review each trust to ensure it is a legitimate trust. 

Identifying responsible persons (RP) from the trust document and verify all have submitted  a Responsible Person Questionnaire (RPQ) 

o NFA is in the process of incorporating the RPQ document as part of the eForms  system. 

Reviewing each RPQ to ensure the information matches the information entered in eForms. What other reasons affect the processing time for trust applications? 

Failure to submit responsible person questionnaire for each RP named in the trust. Submitting an invalid trust, e.g. settlor, trustee, and beneficiary are the same person. Trust name mismatch between eForm and trust documents. 

Background check delayed for one or more RP. 

Listing a minor as an RP


Why are some consumers still waiting on an application to be approved when more recent  applications are being approved so quickly? 

The most likely reason is a background check delay. As of March 12, 2024, NFA was awaiting  responses on 77,963 background check requests from NICS. The oldest outstanding check dates  to May 8, 2023. Other reasons include: errors on the application; errors on supporting  documentation; and individual v. trust application where trust applications have more items that  can cause a delay. 

For pending transfers that have exceeded the NFA’s published average transfer times on their  website, they recommend either calling (304) 616-4500 or emailing the Industry Processing Branch  at for a status update.  

What can be done to insure the fastest possible transfer time? 

Submit as an individual 

o Everything else being equal, this will be faster than a trust application 

o However, trust applications should see a rapid decrease in transfer times in the  coming weeks. 

As a transferee provide your Social Security Number on either the application or RPQ. If you have been previously delayed or denied (for either NFA or GCA firearms) you should  obtain an FBI UPIN to avoid future delays.