Traveling with NFA Firearms: the Form 20

When you own firearms regulated by the National Firearm Act (NFA), you must remain aware of your continuing obligations to the ATF. One of these obligations is securing written permission from the ATF before traveling out of state.

The NFA Guns Affected

This permission is not required of all NFA firearms, but only certain types. Specifically, you must properly notify and secure ATF permission before traveling out of state with a Short Barrel Rifle, Short Barrel Shotgun, Machine Gun, or Destructive Device.

So what firearms are Exempt?

Prior notification before travel is not required for Suppressors and the class of firearms known as Any Other Weapon (AOW).

Notification Procedure

So you are planning a trip our of the state and need the ATF’s permission. What to do?

File a Form 20! In duplicate of course.

What information is Needed for the Form?

The Form 20 is relatively simple. In Section 1 you will need to provide the trust name, address, and the best telephone number to reach you. Next in Section 2, indicate whether the move is temporary or permanent, and in Section 3 provide the dates of the transportation.

Section 4 is for describing the firearms to be transported. If you exceed three firearms for which lines are provided, you’ll have to complete additional forms.

In Section 5, describe why you are transporting the firearms. This can be as simple as ‘Hunting Trip’ or ‘Target Shooting.’ If you want standing permission for a regular trip, you should explain why you make the trip regularly and will not be able to, or should not have to, notify the ATF each time.

Sections 6 and 7 are the addresses which the firearm will be transported from and to. A specific address or location is needed, and this should be where you will be found with the firearms.

Section 8 is how the firearm will be transported. Typically ‘private vehicle’ is the appropriate answer. Of course if you are flying or using other public conveyance you should adjust your answer as necessary.

Sections 9 through 11 are only relevant if exporting the firearm. That is a tricky proposition, and I suggest seeking assistance prior to any proposed export of the firearms, even if only temporarily.

Sections 12 and 13 are for your signature and date.

The remainder of the form is for the ATF’s use.


The duplicate copies should be mailed to the ATF at:

Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Att.: NFA Branch
244 Needy Road
Martinsburg, WV 25405.

If you want a faster response, you can email a pdf copy of the signed form to: This will eliminate the mailing time at least.

Once all is mailed (or emailed), you must wait for an approved Form 20 to be returned to you. The form is typically returned within a few weeks to the address on the Form 4 (or the address provided in your last permanent address change). Though do know the ATF may return the Form 20 to the new address where the transport is permanent and set to happen immediately.


Requesting the ATF’s permission for transporting a NFA firearm out of state is a relatively simple process. But completing the Form 20 the first time can be a bit tricky if you are not used to it. If I can ever be of assistance with this, or another matter, please do not hesitate to reach out.