Virginia Firearms Transaction Program
Virginia’s approach to firearms records checks does not infringe on an individual’s ability to purchase or possess a firearm, while those individuals who are prohibited by State or Federal law are denied legal access to firearms.
The Virginia Department of State Police developed and administers the Virginia Firearms Transaction Program© (VFTP). This program became operational on November 1, 1989, and provides for a timely, point-of-sale, approval or disapproval decision regarding the sale or transfer of all firearms (except antiques) based upon the results of a criminal history record information (CHRI) check concerning the prospective purchaser pursuant to §18.2-308.2:2 of the Code of Virginia.
This program was the first of its type in the nation. Virginia was able to implement this program because the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) maintained by the Virginia State Police is one of the most complete records repositories in the nation and provides the database for the VFTP. Virginia’s program was expanded to include the requirements of the federal National Instant Background System (NICS) on November 30, 1998.
|Virginia Residents - Identification and Residency Requirements|
|Nonresidents - Identification and Residency Requirements|
|Non-Citizens of the United States|
|Private Sale Transactions|
The VFTP authorizes properly licensed and registered firearms dealers to request criminal history record information (CHRI) checks on prospective purchasers via easy Internet access (VCheck) to the State Police firearms transaction system. Criminal history information is never released to firearms dealers or their customers. VCheck is available between the hours of 8 AM and 10 PM, seven days a week, and including holidays, except December 25. An 800-telephone line is utilized as an alternate method should the dealer lose Internet connection or experience problems with his or her computer.
Firearms dealers must complete form SP-69 to register with the VFTP. This form can be viewed, downloaded and/or printed by visiting the Virginia State Police Forms page.
Virginia Code §18.2-308.2:3 requires a criminal history background check be performed for employees of a gun dealer to transfer firearms, whether full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, paid or unpaid. Any person who sells firearms at a licensed dealership must submit to a national and state criminal history records check by the Department of State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Firearm sellers must complete form SP-69A and submit a completed fingerprint card to the Firearms Transaction Center. SP-69A forms and fingerprint cards may be obtained by calling the Firearms Transaction Center (FTC) Help Desk.
Firearms Transaction Center Help Desk
Telephone: (804) 674-2292 or (804) 674-2788
In lieu of submitting fingerprints, any dealer holding a valid federal firearms license (FFL) issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) may submit a sworn and notarized affidavit to the Department of State Police on form SP-69B stating that the dealer has been subjected to a record check prior to the issuance and that the FFL was issued by the ATF. The affidavit may also contain the names of any employees that have been subjected to a record check and approved by the ATF. An SP-69B form may be obtained by calling the FTC Help Desk. This exemption shall apply regardless of whether the FFL was issued in the name of the dealer or in the name of the business.
The purchaser’s name and certain personal descriptive data are immediately entered into a computer system at the dealer location or while the dealer remains on the telephone with the FTC. The design of this program eliminates traditional waiting periods by electronically accessing criminal records and "wanted" databases at the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Virginia Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) and provides an instantaneous approval or delay determination to the firearms dealer concerning the firearms sale or transfer. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on firearms purchase applications placed in a status of delay.
National and state databases are accessed simultaneously at the time of transaction. Four are maintained by the Virginia Department of State Police, accessible by the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN): Virginia’s wanted and missing persons files and protective orders, Virginia’s criminal history record files, and Virginia’s database of adjudications of legal incompetence and incapacity, involuntary commitments to mental institutions for inpatient or outpatient treatment.
The fifth database accessed during this check is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which searches the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) consisting of the Wanted Persons File, Protection Order File, Interstate Identification Index (III), Deported Felons File, US Secret Service Protective File, Foreign Fugitive File, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ Violent Felon File, and NICS indexes: Illegal/Unlawful Aliens File, Mental Defectives/Commitments File, Dishonorable Discharges, Citizenship Renunciants, Controlled Substance Abuse File and Denied Persons File.
If an identification is not made in one or more of these files, the computer responds "APPROVED" and a unique computer-generated approval number is provided to the firearms dealer for the transaction. The firearm may be transferred upon the dealer's receipt of the approval number. If a possible identification is made, the computer responds "DELAYED" and review of the information/record is to determine probable identification and lawful eligibility of the prospective firearms purchaser. The requestor is notified immediately upon a final determination of eligibility.
A prospective firearms purchaser must provide written consent permitting the State Police to determine if the purchaser is eligible to purchase or possess a firearm. It is unlawful for any person to willfully and intentionally make a false statement on the required consent form. Firearms dealers are required by law to collect a fee of $2.00 from Virginia residents for every transaction which requires a criminal history record information (CHRI) check and a fee of $5.00 from non-Virginia residents. These fees are sent to the State Police for transmittal to the General Funds of the Commonwealth to assist in the cost of conducting the record checks.
Virginia Residents - Identification and Residency Requirements
Prospective purchasers of firearms must present a valid photo-ID form issued by a governmental agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia that denotes the individual’s name, sex, and date of birth. Where the primary form is a photo-ID issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), 30 days must have passed since the original date of issue or duplicate driver's license unless a copy of his/her DMV driver's record is presented showing that the original date of issue was more than 30 days prior to the attempted purchase.
Rifles and shotguns may be purchased from licensed firearms dealers by persons who are residents of other states upon the presentation of one photo-identification form issued by a governmental agency of the purchaser's state of residence and one other form of identification determined to be acceptable by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (6VAC20-130-10).
The following secondary forms of ID are acceptable:
Active military personnel permanently stationed in Virginia, including the Pentagon, are treated as Virginia residents for the purchase of a handgun. Identification and residency are established by a military photo-identification card issued by the United States Department of Defense and proof that Virginia is the permanent duty station via current military assignment orders or the purchaser's Leave and Earnings Statement.
If permanently assigned to a mobile unit in Virginia, and the homeport is listed as Virginia; the transaction may be processed as a Virginia resident the same as any other permanent military assignment to Virginia supported by military assignment orders. The individual is treated as a non-Virginia resident if the homeport is listed as any place other than Virginia.
Non-Citizens of the United States
Individuals with permanent resident alien status are subject to the same identification and residency requirements as citizens.
The Federal Gun Control Act prohibits any individual "who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa" to ship, transport, receive, or possess a firearm. This prohibition applies to "any alien in the United States in a nonimmigrant status." There are exceptions to the nonimmigrant alien provision. A nonimmigrant alien is not prohibited from purchasing, receiving, or possessing a firearm if the alien: (1) is in possession of a hunting license or permit lawfully issued in the United States; (2) is an official representative of a foreign government who is accredited to the United States Government or their Government's mission to an international organization having its headquarters in the United States; or (3) has received a waiver from the prohibition form the Attorney General of the United States.
There is a process for nonimmigrant aliens to petition the Justice Department to waive the prohibition. Individuals should contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms if you have questions about the prohibition, its exceptions, or the waiver process.
Private Sale Transactions
Upon request, the State Police provides background checks in private transactions at Firearms Shows in Virginia for the sale or transfer of handguns or long guns at the event. For a voluntary check in a private transaction, both the buyer and the seller must be a resident of Virginia. The prospective purchaser must provide written consent permitting the State Police to perform the records check by completion of a Virginia Firearms Transaction Consent Form. It is unlawful for any person to willfully and intentionally make a false statement on the consent form. A fee of $2.00 will be collected in advance by the State Police for transmittal to the General Funds of the Commonwealth to assist in the cost of conducting the check.
The average time for a background check is less than five minute's for approved transactions. If a possible identification is made, a review of the information or record is immediately performed to determine probable identification and lawful eligibility of the prospective firearms purchaser. If the transaction cannot be approved within minutes, an estimation of the processing time will be provided to the prospective purchaser.