In August of 2013 the ATF introduced E-Forms for the NFA. As of right now, this system is only available to trusts and companies because it cannot accommodate fingerprints, photographs, and CLEO certificates. (And as far as I know, there are no plans to expand the current system.)
Form 4s submitted via E-Forms have been returned in as little as three months while the same Form 4 submitted via the standard paper system would take 14 or more months. This represents a huge savings in time, but what are the costs?
Well, the E-Form system is in testing stages, and it is a rather difficult to use website. Some days it spends more time down than up. Additionally, during the expected crashes, it is not uncommon for a form to be lost. Therefore the shop filing the E-Form must monitor the system closely to ensure a submitted form is actually entered into the queue. (And it is strongly recommended to print a copy of the submitted form for proof that a form was actually submitted.)
Further, the submitting shop has to coordinate the E-Form site with an additional government website that processes payments. So if either site is down, or out of synchronization, it becomes impossible to submit a Form 4.
For these reasons, I encourage clients to have patience when submitting via E-Form. The process may be longer to submit the Form 4, and there is definitely complications for the shop, but overall the transfer will be quicker. Even an extra two weeks to submit pales in comparison to the 14 to 16 months the ATF will quote on the return of a paper Form 4!
Another benefit of E-Forms is that the buyer can many times forgo signing any documents. This has helped many of my clients in Rock Hill and other locations without a Class III dealer purchase firearms with ease. If your closes Class III dealer is a long drive, ask about using E-Forms.
Some have raised concerns that the E-Form system returns an invalid Form 4 because there is no actual stamp on the Form 4. While the law requires there to be a “stamp”, I seriously doubt any court would disregard a “digital mark”, findthere was no stamp, and then sentence a purchaser. (At most, I would think the ATF would be told to stop using E-Forms and to re-issue all of the E-Forms’ Form 4s. More than likely, this issue will never be raised.)
All in all, most clients choose to use the E-Forms when given the chance. This however may change. Remember that the E-Form system cannot accommodate fingerprints, photographs, and CLEO certificates? Well, if ATF-41P is implemented and all Form 4s require fingerprints, photographs, and CLEO certificates then the E-Form system will become useless for Form 4s.
The easiest time to buy NFA Firearms since 1934 may be right now. If you are interested in just how simple this process can be, please feel free to contact me or one of the dealers on my SC Gun Shops page.