Curio and Relic FFL for Collectors

Ever hear of a “Curio and Relic” license?  The ATF issues various “types” of licenses depending upon the business or purpose.  “C&R” licenses are type “3.”  It is a federal firearms license (FFL) issued by the ATF specifically designed for people who may collect older firearms such as military long guns or pistols.

So, what does that mean to you?  Well, it means that if you apply and are granted a C&R license, you can directly receive C&R firearms from a seller without having to meet with a FFL to do a transfer.  And, the fee for the license is only $35 for three years!

What is a ‘curio and relic’ firearm?  It is one that meets the following:

A regulation implementing Federal firearms laws, 27 CFR §478.11, defines Curio or Relic (C&R) firearms as those which are of special interest to collectors by reason of some quality other than is associated with firearms intended for sporting use or as offensive or defensive weapons.

To be recognized as C&R items, 478.11 specifies that firearms must fall within one of the following categories:

  1. Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas of such firearms;
  2. Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, State, or Federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest; and
  3. Any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact that they are novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event.

Firearms automatically attain C&R status when they are 50 years old. Any firearm that is at least 50 years old, and in its original configuration, would qualify as a C&R firearm.

Applying for a C&R license is similar to any other license application, except certain steps are waived (such as an on-site, in-person interview and a photograph).  The ATF notes on the application instructions that:

It must be emphasized that the collector’s license being applied for pertains exclusively to firearms classified as curios and relics, and its purpose is to facilitate a personal collection. You may NOT engage in the business of buying and selling any type of firearm with a type 03 license.

View the application and instructions here.  There are record keeping requirements for any purchases (acquisitions) or sales (disposals).  The primary record is often termed the “bound book.”  It must be maintained and available for inspection by the ATF.


So, if you like to collect older firearms (not subject to NFA regulations), consider the C&R license.  The fee for three years sometimes covers the cost of just one transfer!

Below are some helpful links to further consider if you choose to apply:

Happy collecting!