FFL payment gateways 101: a complete guide
This page discusses how to find and set up the best FFL payment gateway and second amendment-friendly merchant account for your online shooting sports business. Additionally, we provide information on what type of FFL may be appropriate for your online FFL business, along with which website builders and delivery methods are available to FFL holders.
FFL dealers can integrate payment processing with common shopping carts like Wix, WooCommerce, Squarespace, BigCommerce, and even Shopify – but the steps required – and the restrictions and terms – can vary greatly depending on the shopping cart, so we provide links to detailed guides on the top shopping carts and site builders for online FFL dealers.
Additionally, federally licensed gun dealers often sell online using shooting sports-specific platforms like AmmoReady, and auction/classified sites like GunBroker, Armslist, GunsAmerica, and Guns.com. For the majority of these platforms, choosing and integrating the best 2A payment gateway is up to the individual FFL.
The article below covers how common 3rd party payment gateways like Authorize.Net, ePN, or NMI interact with the backend systems that actually process your customer’s credit cards and how to get started accepting credit cards on your FFL website.
Payment processing for Federal Firearms Licensees can be frustrating to apply for, and unnecessarily expensive – without the right information and business relationships.
As an A+ rated, BBB accredited company established in 2002, Tasker Payment Gateways LLC has gained valuable experience over the years, and we have detailed some of what we have learned in the FFL e-commerce guide below.
As a BBB accredited, A+ rated provider, Tasker Payment Gateways LLC offers FFL dealers stable payment gateways and credit card processing recommendations that work with all major shopping cart platforms.
Top payment processing integrations for online FFLs
Tasker Payment Gateways LLC opened in 2002. Over the decades, we’ve had experience with dozens of shopping carts and site builders, the most common being GunBroker, BigCommerce, Shopify, WooCommerce, Squarespace, and Wix.
You can read more about some of the most common FFL and high-risk solutions by clicking the links below.
Wait, there are 2A friendly Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace payment gateways?
Yes. But the “out of the box” payment processors that Squarespace offers do not allow FFL dealers, so many site owners mistakenly think they must switch site builders. That’s not the case.
Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace site owners can accept credit cards for FFL and tactical items without switching site builders? Yes, but you must swap out the default shopping cart. Also, terms and conditions change; make sure you read all your provider’s terms carefully and make sure you are not violating any T&C’s.
Want to learn more about becoming a web-based FFL dealer?
Below we outline why entrepreneurs choose to apply for an FFL, what types of FFLs are commonly applied for, and we offer tips on making your online business successful.
FFL dealers are “high-risk” to many payment processors
Online FFL-to-FFL transactions are prohibited by many software companies, payment gateways, and merchant account providers due to the higher degree of perceived risk or regulatory hassle entailed. The “out of the box” payment processing used on most website builders, like Shopify Payments, is designed for standard e-commerce and does not support FFL dealers, but we can help.
FFL dealers who provide the vital service of performing federal background checks face some inherent challenges. As a result, FFL-to-FFL online firearm sales are among the most common high-risk industries we offer advice on.
If you are an FFL dealer with a website already in place and need to accept credit cards online, a 2nd amendment friendly Authorize.Net, ePN, or NMI payment gateway and a properly set up FFL merchant account are all you need.
Tasker Payment Gateways LLC’s FFL payment gateway recommendations are set up correctly – with 2A friendly processing on the back-end. Without this vital step, firearms merchants risk shut down accounts.
Why become an online FFL in the first place?
Why? To make money and to serve a community you care about. This is an industry where you must be diligent and attentive to the laws and credit card processing rules that govern firearm sales and distribution. An online Federal Firearm Licensee store can certainly be a profitable way to do business, but there is also a degree of risk involved.
Here are some of the top reasons folks we speak to choose to sell online:
Online FFLs have low overhead
Online businesses do not require the same fixed costs as brick-and-mortar shops. An FFL website generally requires fewer employees and can benefit from lower insurance and utility costs.
Online FFL dealers have more freedom
Selling online allows dealers to set their schedules, spend more time with family, and not be beholden to traditional retail hours.
Websites are easier to grow than retail
The ability to leverage the inventory of others by dropshipping, plus the benefit of being able to serve more customers by adding server space – not retail square footage – allows online dealers to maximize bust periods without the huge headache of expanding a physical location.
Additionally, e-commerce business owners can broaden their reach by more easily opening 2nd or 3rd sites with far less work than would be required to open a new storefront.
FFL sites can earn money 24-7
Websites generate revenue even when you are sleeping, even when there are no employees on the clock.
You can sell to a wider audience
Selling online allows businesses to expand beyond their local town or neighborhood.
Online firearms sales 101
Despite public perception, internet sales of firearms are very regulated. If you’re a first-time FFL merchant looking to accept payments and sell online, you’ll need to obtain legal counsel from an attorney familiar with the purchase and shipping laws and regulations both at a federal level and for every state or territory to which you ship, particularly the Gun Control Act of 1968.
This act effectively prohibits the shipment of firearms across state lines to anyone except a licensed FFL dealer, who can then complete the background check and finish the transaction. What this means in practice is that you cannot sell and ship directly to consumers, but rather that you must complete the sale by shipping the gun to a licensed firearms dealer near your customer who will provide it under the terms required by that state, including background checks and any applicable waiting periods or fees.
Here is a link that allows you to read and download the ATF’s Federal Firearms Licensee Guide to Private Sales, which is an absolute must-read for all FFLs: https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/guide/facilitating-private-sales-federal-firearms-licensee-guide/download
A few essential things to know about online FFL sales:
NOTE: Do not rely on ANY website as alternatives to legal counsel. We are not lawyers. Get an attorney familiar with the laws that regulate firearms sales.
- Please do feel free to contact us anytime for some free friendly advice on payment processing and FFL friendly gateway solutions
- You must have an FFL license to sell firearms commercially and to process payments
- You must abide by state and federal minimum age requirements when processing a sale
- You can only ship to an FFL dealer – do not ship directly to the consumer
- Your customer’s state and local laws apply when shipping firearms
- Handguns cannot be shipped through the US Postal Service. Special shipping regulations apply
- Firearms are at higher risk for theft during shipment – special precautions are advised. Contact us for fraud prevention tips
- Not all credit card processors will provide services for firearms dealers and of those that do, not all integrate with important partner websites
- It’s imperative to find FFL-friendly partners
- You will generally need a payment processing and payment gateway that uses a common gateway such as NMI, an FFL friendly Authorize.Net account, or eProcessing Network
Although it sounds complicated, the process is quite manageable if it is set up properly. The good news? You are not required to do everything yourself. The bad news? There are a few extra hoops to jump through to complete a 2A friendly and legal online sale.
Read on for more details about each of these areas.
Federal Firearms Licenses- essential and required for e-commerce
Although non-licensed individuals can sell weapons depending on the jurisdiction, only FFL dealers can sell commercially or ship across state lines.
The distinction between a private seller and a federally licensed commercial dealer mostly has to do with the firearms’ origin. If the guns are from your private collection, you may be a private seller; if your “private collection” is regularly replenished from wholesalers, you are likely acting as a commercial dealer.
If you do not already have an FFL license, you will need to apply for one with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Carefully review the application instructions here, then fill out the Application for Federal Firearms License.
Note: You will need to be licensed before you can finalize a merchant account from any reputable credit card processor. Make sure you get your license well in advance of when you would like to start offering firearms for sale.
If you are “not ready yet” it is ok to get the ball rolling early. Just be aware that your payment processing account will not be activated until the FFL is in place and on file.
Minimum age laws
Firearms are considered “adult” products and are regulated by federal and state minimum age laws. The federal minimum age for purchasing a long gun (e.g., shotguns and rifles) is 18. However, the minimum age to buy a handgun is 21.
State laws may also apply. For example, the following locations have more stringent laws than the federal guidelines require, making the legal age for purchasing a long gun also 21:
- Washington D.C.
To prevent underage customers from purchasing a weapon (they would ultimately not be able to pick up from the receiving FFL) and to minimize your riskiness before potential credit card processors, you should implement age verification before making an FFL to FFL sale. This is usually done through software that will match the customer’s driver’s license number with a government database.
Dropshipping guns when such a shipment crosses state lines is generally prohibited by federal law. This law’s practical effect is that most FFL dealers do not ship any guns to anyone (in or out of state) directly. Instead, all sales must go through the FFL dealer of the customer’s choice.
In most cases, the checkout process for gun sales is similar to that for any other item. The customer makes his selection, puts it in the cart, and pays for the purchase using a credit or debit card. However, before he completes the purchase, the customer must also choose an FFL dealer and provide the shipping address for that business.
The dealer receiving the shipment must then send his FFL license to you for verification (unless you allow your customer to choose from a list of pre-verified dealers).
An easy way to verify a dealer is to use ATF Online’s FFL EZ Check. This free service will verify all licenses except those for ammunition or antique weapons dealers.
Although the dealer receiving the shipment is responsible for making sure the finer points of state and local law (including fees, waiting periods, background checks, etc.) are performed, it’s both responsible and financially prudent for you, as the merchant, to put safeguards in place that will prohibit the sale of illegal firearms. The customer’s dealer will reject such firearms, and you will have to refund the customer and pay for the return shipping for such items.
Illegal weapons vary by state, with 15 states having notably more stringent restrictions than the rest (as of this post’s publication date). These states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington DC.
A restricted firearm’s common characteristics include a high-capacity magazine (over 10-15 rounds) or a combination of features that the state defines as constituting an “assault weapon,” such as a semi-automatic firing system, a pistol grip, and a detachable magazine.
Shipping Requirements and Suggestions
It’s important to note that the U.S. Postal service generally can legally transport long guns, but not handguns. To transport handguns, you will have to ship via a service such as UPS or FedEx. Always review your carrier’s firearm regulations before shipping and, as we’ve mentioned previously, seek legal counsel.
Most major carriers require firearms to be shipped express to the receiving FFL with signature confirmation (an adult signature). The firearm must be unloaded and shipped separately from all other items, especially ammunition. The box cannot bear any markings identifying the contents. Even your branding (if included) should be non-descriptive.
Part of the reason behind such restrictions is the increased risk of theft if the contents are identified; therefore, some merchants also try to hide the product identity in other ways not required by their carrier, such as packing a small handgun in a disproportionally large box or using used boxes from an unrelated company. Particularly when shipping handguns, always try to make the box difficult to hide. Such boxes are less likely to be pilfered.
New to being an FFL and to e-commerce?
If you are just getting started, or are interested in getting involved with online FFL to FFL sales, take a look at the AFT’s official site. There you’ll find a lot of information regarding firearm sales and regulations. It’s important to know everything you can when you are involved in or plan to engage with a delicate and highly regulated industry. If you’re new to this or just started entertaining the idea, let’s start with the basics.
On the one hand, there are laws to know and abide by. On the other, you need to stay knowledgeable and safe in today’s e-commerce world. As an FFL, you are likely familiar with the laws and regulations of your industry. However, having an in-depth knowledge of the nuances of credit card processing and payment gateways might be new to you.
This is why we are happy to help you and your company with payment gateways, chargeback mitigation, data security, and credit card processing recommendations.
What type of FFL do you need?
The ATF has provided an excellent overview of what their different FFL license classifications are based on. More likely than not, you will be looking for an FFL type 01, 02, or maybe even a 09. The most common FFL type is 01, and this is probably the one you’re after. With this license, you can operate your business from your home. Also, as you will potentially have access to the same wholesale prices for your inventory as retail stores, you should have a good profit margin per sale without the same high overhead costs.
Do you need an FFL to accept credit cards for ammunition online?
Laws change, and they vary from state to state and municipality to municipality. You need to get qualified legal advice before selling ammunition. Period. The answers below are for general information purposes only and refer to accepting credit cards online.
Do you need an FFL to sell factory ammo online? No. If you sell standard ammunition manufactured by a licensed factory you do not own, you will not need an FFL to set up a payment gateway under most circumstances.
Do you need an FFL to manufacture and sell ammunition? Yes. If you manufacture ammunition, you will need an FFL. Generally, the type of FFL required for the production of common ammunition is an FFL type 6. You can review the different types of manufacturer FFLs on the ATF’s “Types of Federal Firearms Licenses” resource center page.
How to make your online FFL business successful
While there is an ocean of tips and advice as to how to run a successful business of any kind, there are certain things you must make sure to keep in mind. FFL is a high-risk, tightly regulated market. As such, legal and economic topics can be complex and challenging. It is important to find sound legal advice to make sure that you don’t risk your business and revenue. You can always contact us anytime if you are looking for tips or an e-commerce attorney, as we have some great recommendations based on multiple customer reviews.
Vigilance and constant growth are always good advice to go by, especially when you have a high profit/ low-cost business in a high-risk industry.
Make sure your FFL site and your payment processing are FFL friendly
It is very important to take your time when determining the best way to sell online. For example, what software should you use? Currently, there are a lot of viable options in this arena.
It is critical to be aware that most of the standardized, out of the box, processing options that come with site builders and shopping carts like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, or WooCommerce are rarely FFL friendly. That is not to say you can’t use these site builders; you need to know the best payment gateway for each situation. That’s where we come in. You can read more about who we are and what we do here.
Contact us today to learn more about accepting credit cards for online FFL to FFL sales or with any e-commerce questions you may have. We are always happy to help.
WooCommerce works best for FFL to FFL sales with Authorize.Net when it’s connected to a 2A-friendly merchant account on the back-end while using a tested and tried plugin, like the ones we recommend here.
FFL to FFL site owners that use Magento, PrestaShop, or ASecureCart to accept payments can integrate an FFL-friendly merchant account and use an Authorize.Net account. While they are high-risk compatible, these accounts need to be set up correctly. You can contact us anytime to get started and for 2A-friendly payment processing recommendations.
By integrating Authorize.Net with your Shopify site, you can accept payments and even recurring billing for your FFL site. However, the Authorize.Net account needs to connect to an FFL-friendly merchant account to work properly. Once it’s all set up correctly, Shopify can be a great FFL website builder.
Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are all compatible with Authorize.Net, and none are incompatible with FFL e-commerce. However, to make it all work correctly, you need to know that a third-party solution is required. For example, we’ve found that Foxy.io is an excellent solution that makes it work together.
Authorize.Net offers world-class security and more shopping cart integrations than most of its competitors, but it is not the only payment gateway that works well for online FFL to FFL transfers.
Both the NMI and ePN payment gateways also integrate with hundreds of shopping carts and merchant account providers. If you have previous experience with either NMI or ePN (eProcessing Network), there is not usually a reason to switch to Authorize.Net as both offer solid security and a good deal of shopping cart options. There are few exceptions. For example, Shopify works with Authorize.Net but not NMI or ePN. Conversely, ClickFunnels integrates with NMI, but not ePN or Authorize.Net.
Please drop us a note and let us know which shopping cart you are using and what your exact product line consists of. We’ll review your situation free of charge and recommend a payment gateway that best fits your business.
If you are interested in learning more about FFL-friendly alternatives to Authorize.Net, please review our NMI payment gateway: features and sign-up information page and our eProcessing Network features and signup page.
Vetted payment gateways and processing for online FFLs
We will recommend a 2A-friendly solution that will help you process credit & debit cards on your legal, US-owned, FFL to FFL website. Contact us any time, and often we’ll get back to you within a few business hours, or sooner, with our advice.
While other card processors continue to walk away from law-abiding Federal Firearms Licensees who sell online, our recommended processors continue to embrace Internet-based gun dealers and appreciate your business. Our providers understand that your “see something say something” mindset and use of the federal background check system helps protect every American’s second amendment rights.
Payment gateways for FFL dropshippers
Tasker Payment Gateways LLC knows that finding the right high-risk payment gateway is hard for FFLs – and even harder if you dropship. Our dedicated, independent FFL payment processing experts will help you set up a high-risk payment gateway that works for your FFL dropship website.
Our FFL payment advice comes at no direct cost to you
Our network of providers pays tasker Payment Gateways LLC in exchange for bringing them qualified FFL dealers looking to process online – therefore, we provide custom recommendations at no additional cost to you. Contact us, and we will get to work right away.
Our 2A friendly payment solutions offer the following:
- ePN, NMI, or Authorize.Net accounts for online gun sales based on what is the best fit (Authorize.Net must be set up correctly, contact us to learn more)
- Dropship firearms, ammunition sales applications accepted
- One on one set up, and personal support for as long as you are up and running
- A real human to talk to. Get the help you need, when you need it
We appreciate the FFL community
As an FFL performing background checks, shipping only to other licensed dealers, and expanding Americans’ access to their 2nd amendment rights, you provide an essential service. Yet law-abiding dealers like you often have a hard time being treated fairly by vendors outside the gun community.
We work with a host of gun-friendly credit card processors to help Federal Firearms Licensees like you find the best payment gateway option for your business.
In an environment where some formerly firearms-friendly processors and software solutions have taken a politically correct, risk-averse stance, our tested and vetted recommendations have hung tough and continue to offer seamless integration with FFL compatible payment gateways such as NMI, eProcessing Network/ePN, and Authorize.Net. We also offer easy auction site integration.
We help one on one with set-up and do so at no additional cost to you. We will go over all the paperwork and payment processor requirements for online FFL sales and work with you every step of the way.
Let us help your online FFL business accept credit cards
REMINDER: Don’t engage in any sort of regulated commerce without legal counsel. We are not lawyers. Please sit with an attorney that is familiar with the laws that regulate firearms sales.