Despite recent attempts by the Justice Department to reduce tax stamp processing times, the wait remains significant. Everyone likes the idea of getting through the process as quickly as possible, but can anything make the approval of a Form 1 or Form 4 faster? Both the ATF’s eForm system and regular paper filing require the inclusion of fingerprints along with your application; a task that has always added a time-consuming step to the ordeal.
Traditionally, an individual would visit their dealer to be fingerprinted and include the card with their application for Form 4 approval. Those who planned to submit a Form 1 would visit their local Chief Law Enforcement Officer to be obtain a fingerprint card. Upon receipt of the Form 1 application, the ATF would email a cover letter that was intended to be returned in the mail along with fingerprints.
But the ATF still had to wait to receive the additional information, adding to the wait time to begin processing the Form 1. To complicate matters, many sheriff’s departments have stopped providing the fingerprinting service in recent years, leaving individuals searching for better ways to complete the requirement. And what happens if those fingerprint cards are lost in the mail?
A New Way of Fingerprinting
One way we can ease our worries and potentially speed up the approval process is by submitting fingerprint scans through the eForm system along with the rest of our information, avoiding having to mail in cards altogether. The ATF’s eForm website allows the applicant or the dealer to upload a digital Electronic Fingerprint Transmission File, known as an .EFT file, of the applicant’s fingerprints at the same time as the rest of their paperwork. However, this isn’t as simple as getting your fingerprints rolled on the normal fingerprint cards and scanning that card into the computer to upload. The .EFT file must be created by specialized software that is compliant with ATF and FBI requirements.
When an individual is submitting a Form 1 and is responsible for getting their fingerprints to the ATF on their own, uploading an .EFT file directly to your application is much less worrisome than putting physical fingerprint cards in the mail. By uploading them directly with your application, you can be assured that the ATF already has your application, supporting documentation, and fingerprints and will start processing your application much sooner than waiting to receive the fingerprints in the mail.
Even when an individual purchases an NFA item from a dealer, it is beneficial to prepare an .EFT file with your fingerprints ahead of time. Instead of having to pay the dealer or kiosk companies to scan your fingerprints, you can simply provide the dealer with your fingerprint file each time you purchase a new item.
Used for Multiple Applications
An .EFT file does not expire, which means you can use that file for as many applications as you would like. No more going to the sheriff’s office each and every time you need new sets of fingerprints or having to pay for live-scan fingerprints with each purchase at your dealer. The only time you would need to update your .EFT file is if your personal information contained in that file changes, like your name, address, or noticeable changes to your physical appearance.
How to Get an .EFT File
There are a couple of different methods you can use for creating an .EFT file for your fingerprints. You may obtain your own fingerprint card, visit a company in person or online that converts that card into an .EFT file, and then have them email you the converted file. Another method avoids having to get the fingerprint cards altogether. Several different companies have installed their software and equipment in UPS stores. To utilize this service, you can make an appointment through that company’s website, go to your local UPS store, and have your fingerprints scanned.
The .EFT file will be emailed directly to you within 24 hours. Some of these digital fingerprint companies even offer mobile services if you are within their service area. Many of our clients have also had good experiences with www.PrintScan.com. As these electronic fingerprint services become more common, there are multiple ways to avail yourself of an easier way to fingerprint that avoids those pesky trips for fingerprint cards every time you submit a new application and provides the added benefit of potentially faster processing times.