The National Instant Criminal Background check System (NICS) is a name kiểm tra system that uses databases lớn determine if a person may legally receive or possess a firearm.

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How Firearms Background Checks Work 

When someone tries to lớn buy a firearm, the seller—known as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL)—contacts the NICS. The prospective buyer fills out the required form, and the FFL sends that information to the NICS. The NICS staff performs a background check on the buyer khổng lồ verify eligibility.

Prospective firearms buyers who receive a “Denied” status on their background checks may have a state or federal firearm prohibition. The denied individual may choose khổng lồ pursue a challenge and/or apply to lớn the Voluntary Appeal File.

A “Delayed” message means the NICS team needs to vì chưng additional research khổng lồ verify the person"s background. NICS staff work closely with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and courts to lớn verify eligibility. In some cases, this can be a time-consuming process.

If NICS staff cannot make a determination within three business days of a background check, the FFL may transfer the firearm, unless prohibited by state law (per the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993.)

Federal Categories of Persons Prohibited from Receiving Firearms 

A delay response from the NICS Section indicates the subject of the background check has been matched with either a state or federal potentially prohibiting record containing a similar name and/or similar descriptive features (name, sex, race, date of birth, state of residence, social security number, height, weight, or place of birth). The federally prohibiting criteria are as follows:

A person who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year or any state offense classified by the state as a misdemeanor và is punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than two years.Persons who are fugitives from justice.An unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance; for example, a person convicted for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past year; or a person with multiple arrests for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past five years with the most recent arrest occurring within the past year; or a person found through a drug demo to use a controlled substance unlawfully, provided the kiểm tra was administered within the past year.A person adjudicated mental defective or involuntarily committed to lớn a mental institution or incompetent lớn handle own affairs, including dispositions khổng lồ criminal charges of found not guilty by reason of insanity or found incompetent lớn stand trial.A person who, being an alien, is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.A person who, being an alien except as provided in subsection (y) (2), has been admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa.A person dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.A person who has renounced United States citizenship.The subject of a protective order issued after a hearing in which the respondent had notice that restrains them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such partner. This does not include ex parte orders.A person convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime which includes the use or attempted use of physical force or threatened use of a deadly weapon và the defendant was the spouse, former spouse, parent, guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited in the past with the victim as a spouse, parent, guardian or similar situation lớn a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.A person who is under indictment or information for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.    

A delay response indicates that information you supplied on the ATF size 4473 has been matched with information contained in the National Crime Information Center, the Interstate Identification Index, and/or the NICS Indices. Complete disposition information is not always available & a further review of these records is necessary. The NICS Section exhausts all efforts lớn retrieve current record information by contacting all applicable law enforcement agencies, i.e., local, state, and federal courts, etc. The Brady Act allows three business days to lớn find this information before an FFL can transfer a firearm. The FFL is not prohibited from transferring the firearm after three business days have passed; however, the FFL is not required to lớn transfer the firearm.

The Privacy Act of 1974 restricts the dissemination of specific information khổng lồ you via the telephone. You can obtain a copy (for a fee) of any identification record the may maintain on you by contacting the following unit at the address and telephone number provided:

Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Services Division Attention: Summary Request

1000 Custer Hollow Road Clarksburg, WV 26306Telephone Number: (304) 625-5590

I Was Denied a Firearm—What Happens Now? 

Firearm-Related Challenge

If you believe you have been wrongfully denied a firearm, you can request a firearm-related challenge (appeal). You may only challenge a denied firearm transaction, not a delayed one.

This process will provide you:

the reason your background kiểm tra was denied, andthe opportunity lớn challenge your denied background kiểm tra online – including a Nuclear Regulatory Commission background check.

State Permits

The does not accept challenges or provide reasons for delays or denials on state-issued firearms permits. Those questions should be directed to the state agency. The NICS Participation maps explains whether your state, or the, conducts firearms buyers’ background checks.

How to file a Firearm-Related Challenge

To challenge your firearm denial, visit

To submit a challenge through the mail, send a request to: CJIS DivisionAttn: Criminal History Analysis Team 1BTC 31000 Custer Hollow RoadClarksburg, WV 26306

When submitting a challenge via mail, include your NICS Transaction Number (NTN) or State Transaction Number (STN). Failure khổng lồ include these numbers will delay processing.

Help with Your Firearm-Related Challenge

If you need help or have questions on firearm-related challenges, điện thoại tư vấn (304) 625-5590 or e-mail identity (This liên hệ information is for help with firearm-related challenges only, not the Voluntary Appeal File.)

I Have Been Denied a Firearm Multiple Times or Experience Delays – What Should I Do? 

Voluntary Appeal tệp tin (VAF)

Anyone may apply for the VAF, but it is designed for firearm purchasers who believe they are legally allowed to lớn buy firearms, but they have been denied more than once or frequently experience delays in their transactions. Purchasers sometimes find themselves experiencing delays or denials in firearms purchases because of a past misdemeanor charge or because an ineligible person has a similar name.

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When you apply for the VAF, NICS personnel will research your case và assign you a quality Personal Identification Number (UPIN) if you have no firearms prohibitions. For future firearms transactions, you will provide your UPIN for your background check. You will still have lớn undergo a complete background kiểm tra to buy a firearm, but the UPIN will help khổng lồ confirm your identity.

The VAF process can take several months.

You may also apply for the VAF at the same time you submit a firearm-related challenge.

The NICS Section is currently processing Voluntary Appeal file (VAF) cases received in March 2021.

How lớn Apply for the VAF

Apply Online - You can apply lớn the VAF online via eVAF. During the application process, you will receive an thư điện tử with an encrypted link and pin khổng lồ access your application. You must log in lớn the application at least every 90 days for it khổng lồ remain active.

Paper Applications - A VAF application & fingerprint khung can also be obtained online (below).

Mail - You can also mail a request to: CJIS DivisionNICS SectionNICS  Functional Support  Unit, Module D-1P.O. Box 4278 Clarksburg, WV 26302-4278 or via mail at the address above.

Always include your complete name, mailing address, và phone number when contacting NICS for help. Lost UPINs should be reported immediately.

You can change your mailing address online or at the above mailing address. Include your full name, old address, new address, & your NICS Transaction Number (NTN) or State Transaction Number (STN). (Whether you receive an NTN or an STN depends on your state.) If you wish khổng lồ cancel your VAF application, you must submit your cancellation in writing. 

Submitting Your Fingerprints with the VAF Application

You are required khổng lồ submit your fingerprints as part of your VAF application. Most local police departments and sheriff’s offices can assist with fingerprints, though you may have khổng lồ pay a fingerprint fee.

VAF accepts electronic scanned fingerprint images, but you must request your fingerprint agency print you a copy of those images. Submit the copy with your VAF application. 

If your fingerprint thẻ is rejected, you will receive a response letter with instructions on re-submitting.

The agency rolling your fingerprints must include the following on your fingerprint card:

agency name & addressagency phone numberlegible signature of the official taking the fingerprintsOriginating Agency Identifier Number, if applicable.