Illinois generally requires prospective firearm purchasers to obtain a license called a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card from the Department of State Police, which is issued pursuant to a background check. (See the Licensing in Illinois section for more information about the FOID and licensing process).
If a person who is not a licensed firearms dealer wishes to sell or transfer a firearm to another person who is not a licensed dealer, the seller must generally contact the Department of State Police (DSP), prior to transferring the gun, with the transferee’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card number to determine the validity of the transferee’s FOID Card.1 The seller must await approval by DSP before transferring the firearm. Approvals issued by DSP for the purchase of a firearm are valid for 30 days.2
There are certain exceptions to this requirement, including: 1) transfers as a bona fide gift to the transferor’s husband, wife, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law;3 and 2) transfers that occur at a federally licensed firearm dealer’s place of business, if the licensed dealer conducts a background check on the prospective recipient of the firearm and follows all other applicable federal, state, and local laws as if he or she were the transferor of the firearm.4
An unlicensed seller or transferor who complies with the law by determining the validity of a purchaser’s FOID card, is generally not liable for damages in any civil action arising from the use or misuse by the transferee of the firearm transferred, except for willful or wanton conduct on the part of the seller or transferor.5
DSP is tasked with maintaining an Internet-based system for private sellers to use to determine the validity of a FOID Card prior to transferring a firearm to an unlicensed purchaser.6
Illinois has a separate private sales background check requirement at gun shows. See the Gun Shows in Illinois section for further information about the background check process at gun shows in the state.
The following Illinois laws apply to all firearm sales, regardless of whether the seller is a licensed dealer:
- Illinois law prohibits any person from knowingly selling firearms or ammunition to individuals who are ineligible to possess a firearm or who do not hold a Firearm Owner’s Identification (“FOID”) card. It is a Class 3 felony, for example, for any person to knowingly sell or give any firearm to any person who has been convicted of a felony.7
- Any person who transfers a firearm must keep records of all such transfers for a period of 10 years.8 See the Maintaining Sale Records section for more information.
- All firearms sellers must abide by statutory waiting periods before completing the delivery of a firearm to a purchaser or transferee.9 See the Waiting Periods section for more details.
See our Universal Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-10).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-15)(2).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-15)(1).
- 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(k).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-20).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2(a)(1), (2); 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a); 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/4; 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(d), (k), (C) (9).
- 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(b).
- 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(g).