ATF Form 5320 Turnaround Time

| December 28, 2015 | 8 Comments

I’m heading back to Rangemaster in 2016, and this year The She Shepherd is going with me. Steve Moses from Bluffdale Firearms Academy is teaching a carbine class. I hope to attend this class, and intend on using either my MPA 930 SST SBR or my Mini Draco AK47 SBR.

Any time you take an SBR out of state you must get prior written approval from the ATF via form 5320.20 – Application to Transport Interstate or to Temporarily Export Certain National Firarms Act (NFA) Firearms. You have to specify where the firearms will be located, and provide a date range the firearms are expected to be at that location.

Last year I submitted a 5320.20. It took over two months to arrive and was too late.

This year I sent it in three months early, just to make sure.

Here are some details about my application:

  • The form has space for three firearms. If I wanted to take more than three I had to submit more paperwork. I didn’t want to trigger some sort of weird administrative alarm for submitting more than one form at a time, so I kept it to three firearms on one application.
  • I specified a 360 day date. I had read that the ATF won’t approve a 5320.20 for more than a year, unless the move is permanent. While I intend on returning to Rangemaster in 2017, I wasn’t interested in testing that theory.
  • I used the exact same information on the 5320.20 as I did on my Form 1 paperwork, down to the dashes (or lack thereof) with the serial number, and how I capitalized the manufacturers and firearms models.
  • I specified “training” as the reason for transportation. I doubt the reason has any bearing on the approval time, but I figured that stating a time sensitive and “responsible” purpose wouldn’t hurt.
  • For “mode of transportation” I cited “Private vehicle.” This was based on an example I found online.
  • We submitted as a trust, not an individual.

I mailed my application on 12/03/2015.

Less than two weeks later I received a letter from the ATF. I was concerned. Did I screw up the paperwork? I didn’t expect to hear back from them so soon, and I immediately assumed the worst.

I was relieved — and surprised — that it took 13 calendar says for the ATF to approve my 5320.20.


This is encouraging, since we hope to travel more for training this year.

Have you filled out a 5320 before? If so, how long did it take to get processed?


About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

8 Comments on "ATF Form 5320 Turnaround Time"

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  1. Matt says:

    That is encouraging! My individual paper form1 took 59 days from payment to stamp approval date 12/11.

    maybe the increase of trusts and e-file forms has taken the strain off of other manual forms?

  2. J.C. says:

    Last time I submitted 5320.20 letters, it took between 2 and 3 months like your prior experience. This reminds me to check that I’ve got mine sent in.

  3. Robert says:

    Two-three weeks each time. Two were approvals. One was disapproved. I submitted on a whim just to see if it would be approved for a class I took in CT. It was disapproved, reason stated was “state assault weapon ban”. I used a borrowed gum instead.


  4. Wilson Hines says:

    Is it to a particular destination or the whole state. For example, I own property in Lee County VA, the furtherest west you can go in the state. But, I just took a day trip two days ago to Woodbridge, VA, which is up by DC. 400 miles apart, but the same state. I had to take my SBR out of the car and it aggravated me.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      I haven’t encountered this situation yet, but people who want to play it safe fill out a 5320.20 for each location where they spend the night, even if it is in the same state.

  5. madtrader says:

    Interesting. I moved states last year and I have a couple dozen stamps. I took advantage of the 3 per Form 20 ability to reduce the amount of paperwork. I also had 2 Form 4’s I was waiting on and I was nervous if having the Form 20’s in with 2 outstanding Form 4s would cause me a problem. I still owned property in both states, but I wasn’t sure how the ATF would like it. It took me a month to get the forms back, but from the delivery stamps to approval date was only a week. I was ecstatic until I realized that they didn’t return one of my Form 20’s. It’s been 4 months and I still haven’t received that one back. I even submitted another 2 months ago because my transportation date was passing. My Form 4’s came in fine and I’ve submitted Form 20’s for those items as well. I screwed up and put the wrong year on the end window on one and it came back approved. I resubmitted with the right year on it. So, I’m still waiting on 3 Form 20’s for 4 NFA items (3 duplicated as the transportation window on 3 has now passed) and we’ve passed 2 months on the useful ones being returned.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      WHAT A HASSLE. Can you imagine if we had to do this for cars or an air wrench? I hope it all works out for you!

      • madtrader says:

        I’m just lucky I have a place to store my NFA items until I eventually get approved Form 20s. I had an NFA dealer advise me to take them all anyway. Their rationale was I’m choosing between following the letter of the law or securing NFA items. As it is, if someone knew where they are they’ve got time to defeat my security measures before I could respond. That sucks, but I’m not taking the chance of getting caught with those items in my new state without an approved Form 20.

        Come to think of it, it seems like a natural addition for to add Form 20 approval times.

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