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Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

Virginia does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license. For the laws requiring federally licensed dealers to conduct background checks on firearm purchasers, see the Virginia Background Checks section. Also see the Virginia Assault Weapons section for assault weapon sales-related provisions.

In 2010, Virginia repealed a law that had allowed counties to require sellers of handguns to furnish the clerk of the circuit court “with the name and address of the purchaser, the date of the purchase, and the number, make and caliber of the weapon sold” within 10 days of any handgun sale.1 The repealed law had also allowed a county to impose a license tax up to $25 on persons engaged in the business of selling handguns to the public.2

Virginia law prohibited a federally licensed firearms dealer from employing any person to act as a seller of firearms if the employee is an illegal alien, or is otherwise prohibited from possessing, purchasing or transporting a firearm under state law.3 Prior to permitting an applicant to begin employment, the dealer must obtain a written statement or affirmation from the applicant that he or she is not disqualified from possessing a firearm and must submit the applicant’s fingerprints and personal descriptive information to the Central Criminal Records Exchange to be forwarded to the FBI for a criminal history check.4 A dealer can obtain an exemption from this requirement if it submits a sworn notarized affidavit on a form prepared by the Department of State Police (“DSP”) stating that the seller was subjected to a record check prior to the ATF’s issuance of the federal license.5 Upon receipt of the request for a criminal history record information check, DSP must establish a unique number for that firearm seller.6 Beginning September 1, 2001, the firearm seller’s signature, firearm seller’s number and the dealer’s identification number shall be on all firearm transaction forms. DSP must void the seller’s number when a disqualifying record is discovered, and may suspend a seller’s number upon the seller’s arrest for a potentially disqualifying crime.7 This section does not restrict the transfer of a firearm at any place other than a dealership, or at any event required to be registered as a gun show.8

Virginia only allows firearms dealers to check whether a pre-owned firearm being transferred to a dealer from a non-dealer has been reported lost or stolen if the non-dealer consents to the check in writing.9

See the Virginia Private Sales section for laws that apply to gun sales generally.


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  1. 2010 Va. ALS 495 (amending Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-1207).[]
  2. Id. (repealing former Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-1206).[]
  3. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:3(A).[]
  4. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:3(B).[]
  5. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:3(D1).[]
  6. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:3(G).[]
  7. Id.[]
  8. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:3(H).[]
  9. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.2:4.[]