Getting your first or next NFA item can be exciting. Be it a firearm or a firearm accessory, only gun enthusiasts can understand the value of getting hold of their first (or next) firearm. Waiting for your NFA tax stamp approval can feel like an eternity because that is when you can legally own your firearm or firearm accessory. And guess what, no matter how badly you want your NFA item or how long you have waited for it, your application may still be rejected.
If you do not want to face speedbumps like delays or rejections, you need to first make sure that you are eligible to own a firearm or firearm accessory and that you follow the process properly. Besides filling a relevant ATF form for your NFA item approval, submitting your fingerprints (through an FD-258 fingerprint card) is a necessary sub-process of your overall ATF form filling, which should be done with utmost accuracy.
How to fill out an FD-258 fingerprint card for silencer and SBR?
First thing first, you will need a fingerprint card to fill out a fingerprint card. So where can you get a standard FD-258 fingerprint card? Fortunately, their cards are used for background check requirements in different applications such as clearance, licensure, employment background checks, immigration, etc. so they are commonly available.
A standard FD-258 fingerprint card may be available at your local law enforcement agency, however, they may only provide you a fingerprint card on purpose. In most cases, the agency requesting the background check will provide you a fingerprint card only if that is the mode of fingerprinting they want you to go through.
You can order fingerprint cards directly from the ATF, however, it may not go as smoothly as your usual online shopping experience. These fingerprint cards can be obtained by contacting the Federal Explosives Licensing Center at 877-283-3352 or the ATF Distribution Center at 703-870-7526 or 703-870-7528. ATF fingerprint cards are also available in stores and even on eCommerce marketplaces (such as Amazon) that can be ordered online.
Know your FD-258 fingerprint card
The front of an FD-258 fingerprint card has different blocks to provide your demographic information as well as capture fingerprints. The back side of the card includes things to take care of while you fill out your fingerprint card, some helpful instructions, and the privacy statement. It is always a good idea to read and understand the information present on the back before you begin to capture your demographic or fingerprint information.
The front of your FD-258 fingerprint card is majorly divided into two segments – the upper half is for providing your demographic information and the lower half with comparatively larger boxes is for capturing your fingerprints, or printing them if they have captured prints with a live scan fingerprinting systems. There are specific boxes for specific fingers as well as providing prints of 4-finger slaps.
You would need an ink pad (or inkless pad) for capturing your fingerprints. Some online sellers (including online NFA item sellers) may offer a fingerprinting kit, which commonly includes a few fingerprint cards, an ink pad, an instruction sheet, etc. It actually doesn’t matter how you get your standard FD-258 fingerprint card and other items.
Let’s begin to process of filling out your FD-258 fingerprint card for silencer/SBR
First, you need to make sure that the information you are going to provide on your ATF fingerprint card should be accurate. It might seem like a simple identification/demographic information and the fingerprint capture process may not look like rocket science, but accuracy is the key in both parts. Avoid overwriting and providing inaccurate information – accidentally or intentionally.
Instructions before you start filling your FD-258 fingerprint card
- Wash your hand before filling out the ATF fingerprint card. While you fill in your demographic information, oil/dirt on your hand may affect the ATF fingerprinting blocks.
- Avoid folding the card before or after filling it out. It may lead to rejection by the ATF.
- Enter information in legible handwriting
- Fill sequentially – fill out the demographic information (upper portion of the card) first and then take fingerprints. This way, you can avoid accidental touches to the card with ink-stained fingers.
- Not all blocks are for applicants, avoid filling the information in blocks that are for official purposes.
- Take it easy, thinking it is complicated, will make it more complicated than it actually is (which it is not).
- SIGNATURE OF PERSON FINGERPRINTED: Provide your signature or the signature of the person being fingerprinted.
- RESIDENCE OF PERSON FINGERPRINTED: Provide your address. This address will also be used for sending a hard copy of your document.
- DATE: Provide the date of fingerprinting in MM/DD/YYYY format.
- SIGNATURE OF OFFICIAL TAKING FINGERPRINTS: This block contains the signature of the official who fingerprinted you.
- EMPLOYER AND ADDRESS: Since we are filling out the FD-258 card for ATF fingerprinting, you can leave this blank.
- REASON FINGERPRINTED: In this box, the applicant needs to mention the reason for getting fingerprinted. Since we are filling out the ATF fingerprint card for SBR/silencer approval, you can mention – For the Transfer and Registration of an SBR/silencer.
- NAM: Here you need to write down the name of the person being fingerprinted. Provide this information in the order as mentioned in the block i.e. Last Name, First Name, and Middle Name.
- ALIASES AKA: Enter other names/aliases the subject being fingerprinted goes by and are different from the name entered in Box 7 (NAM). Follow the Last Name, First Name, and Middle Name sequence as you did in Box 7. Leave it blank if there are no aliases.
- ORI: ORI (Originating Agency Identification) is provided by the agency requesting fingerprinting, which is ATF in our case. Your fingerprint card may have pre-printed ORI if you received it from ATF. These fingerprint cards may be obtained by contacting the Federal Explosives Licensing Center at 877-283-3352 or the ATF Distribution Center at 703-870-7526 or 703-870-7528. If your fingerprint card does not have an ORI, you can use – WVATF0900; ATF-NATL EXPL LIC, MARTINSBURG WV. It is the ORI for the ATF.
- DOB – Date of Birth: Enter your date of birth in MM DD YYYY format.
- CTZ – Citizenship: Enter your citizenship. If you are a U.S. citizen enter the U.S. or enter the standard international abbreviation or complete name of the country.
SEX CODES Code Literal Description F Female Female G Female Female Print, Male Reference M Male Male N Male Male Print, Female Reference X Unknown Unknown Sex
- SEX: Enter your sex with a sex code. Use the sex code table provided above to find your correct sex code.
RACE CODES Code Literal Description A Asian or Pacific Islander Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Polynesian, Indian, Indonesian, Asian Indian, Samoan, or Other Pacific Islander B Black A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa I American Indian or Alaskan Native American Indian, Eskimo, Alaskan Native, or a person having origins in any of the 48 contiguous states of the United States or Alaska who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition U Unknown Of indeterminable race W White Caucasian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race
- RACE: Enter Race Code, refer to the race code table provided above.
- HGT – Height: Enter the height of the applicant. It should be expressed in feet and inches using three digits. The first digit denotes feet and the second and third digits denote inches. For example, if your height is 5 feet 9 inches, enter 509. If your height is 6 feet, enter 600.
- WGT – Weight: Enter your weight in pounds, and round off any decimal points. For example, if you are 145.4 Lbs., enter 145, or if you are 145.6 Lbs. enter 145. If you are 145.5 Lbs., you can enter either 145 or 146.
HAIR COLOR CODES Code Literal Code Literal BAL Bald ONG Orange BLK Black PLE Purple BLN Blonde (or Strawberry) PNK Pink BLU Blue RED Red or Auburn BRO Brown SDY Sandy GRN Green WHY White GRY Gray (or partial) XXX Unknown
- EYES: Provide your eye color code. Refer to the eye color code table above.
EYE COLOR CODES Code Literal Code Literal BLK Black GRN Green BLU Blue HAZ Hazel BRO Brown MUL Multi-colored GRY Gray PNK Pink XXX Unknown
- HAIR: Provide your hair color code. Refer to the hair color code table above.
- POB – Place of Birth: Enter the applicant’s place of birth. For U.S. citizens, enter a city and state abbreviation. If the place of birth is not the U.S., enter the country name.
- OCA – Originating Case Agency –It is required to be filled only if applicable. Enter your agency’s identification or case number for the subject. The OCA must not exceed twenty (20) alphanumeric characters. Leave it blank if you don’t have one.
- FBI UCN Number. Provide FBI UCN number if applicable. Enter the assigned FBI UCN Number for the subject, if known. This block can be left blank if you don’t have one.
- MNU –Armed Forces Number Block: Enter the Armed Forces number, if it is applicable in your case. It can be left blank if not applicable.
- SOC – Social Security Number – Enter your social security number. Leave it blank if you don’t have one.
- MNU – Miscellaneous Number: The MNU is an identifying number associated with the subject such as U.S. Military Service Number, Passport Number, etc.
Leave all the blocks blank where it says “Leave Blank” (Marked with X in our FD-258 fingerprint card upper half image). We have completed demographic data entry and now it is time to capture fingerprints.
Let’s start the ATF fingerprinting process on your FD-258 fingerprint card
Before you begin taking your fingerprinting impressions on the ATF fingerprint card, it is a good idea that you practice it on plain paper first. Put your finger or thumb on the ink or inkless pad, roll it mildly in order to apply ink on the entire finger/thumb, and put it on the scratch paper. The scratch paper practice is particularly helpful if you have never captured your fingerprint with ink before.
After a couple of attempts, you will understand that applying excess ink or excess pressure messes up the fingerprint impressions. Once your fingerprints start showing a distinctive ridge pattern which is not overlapping, that is how you need to do it on your FD-258 fingerprint card.
You may keep repeating the scratch paper fingerprinting process until you are comfortable with the process.
You can also use an ink-less ink pad to capture your prints for better results. Ink-less pads use a specially formulated chemical solution instead of traditional ink. It leaves almost no stain on your fingers and leaves better fingerprint impressions than ink.
The lower half of your ATF fingerprint card has a total of three rows of blocks to capture prints, out of which the upper two rows are used for capturing “rolled” prints from individual fingers/thumbs. In rolled prints, you need to first roll your individual finger/thumb on the ink pad and then on the corresponding block on your FD-258 fingerprint card. The print of a specific finger/thumb should be captured within the block provided for it; otherwise, your fingerprint card can be rejected.
For best results wash your hand if it feels oily/dirty or apply some lotion and wait for some time if it feels too dry.
You may choose to capture prints in left to right and top to bottom order as it is a common way to capture prints.
Row 1 – right hand: boxes 1 through 5
Place your right thumb over Box 1. R. THUMB and roll the right thumb side to side or nail to nail while applying even pressure. Pay special attention to not accidentally slipping the thumb during the process. Once done, lift your thumb carefully so as to not smudge the print. Repeat this process for Box 2. R. INDEX, Box 3. R. MIDDLE, Box 4. R. RING, and lastly Box 5. R. LITTLE with your index, middle, ring, and little fingers of the right hand respectively.
Apply ink to your right thumb by placing it on your ink/inkless fingerprint pad. Make sure the entire tip of your right thumb is properly stained (nail to nail) as you will be rolling it against the card.
Row 2 – left hand: boxes 6 through 10
Place your left thumb over Box 6. L. THUMB and roll the left thumb side to side or nail to nail while applying even pressure. Pay special attention to not accidentally slipping the thumb during the process. Once done, lift your thumb carefully so as to not smudge the print. This process will be repeated for Box 7. L. INDEX, Box 8. L. MIDDLE, Box 9. L. RING, and lastly Box 10. L. LITTLE with your index, middle, ring, and little fingers of the left hand respectively.
Apply ink to your left thumb by placing it on your ink/inkless fingerprint pad. Make sure the entire tip of your left thumb is properly stained (nail to nail) as you will be rolling it against the card.
Row 3 – Section – 1: left four fingers taken simultaneously
Place all your left ink-stained fingers over the box labeled LEFT FOUR FINGERS TAKEN SIMULTANEOUSLY applying even pressure. Once done, lift your fingers carefully so as not to smudge the print.
This is the bottom left box on your fingerprint card where you need to capture your left hand’s all 4 fingers simultaneously. Apply ink on your left little finger, left ring finger, left middle finger, and left index finger by placing your fingers on the ink/ink-less fingerprint pad.
Row 3 – Section – 2: left thumb and right thumb
Repeat the process with your right thumb to capture its print in the R. THUMB box.
First, apply ink to your left thumb by placing it on the ink/ink-less fingerprint pad. Place your ink-stained left thumb over the box labeled L. THUMB applying even pressure. Once done, lift your thumb carefully so as to not smudge the print.
These are the two middle boxes on your fingerprint card’s bottom row (labeled L. THUMB and R. THUMB) where you need to capture your left thumb and right thumb fingerprints (in the corresponding boxes).
Row 3 – Section – 3: right four fingers taken simultaneously
And that’s all. Your fingerprint card is ready to be submitted. Just do a final check for any error or fingerprint quality issues.
Place all your right ink-stained fingers over the box labeled RIGHT FOUR FINGERS TAKEN SIMULTANEOUSLY applying even pressure. Once done, lift your fingers carefully so as not to smudge the print.
This is the bottom right box on your fingerprint card where you need to capture your right hand’s all 4 fingers simultaneously. Apply ink on your right little finger, right ring finger, right middle finger, and right index finger by placing your fingers on the ink/ink-less fingerprint pad.
Filling out an ATF fingerprint card is quite simple once you know the process. Filling out an FD-258 card and capturing fingerprinting using ink is not rocket science but the quality of fingerprints always remains questionable in this process. Despite your best efforts to capture prints on FD-258 fingerprint cards, things may go wrong and you cannot be sure about the quality of your fingerprints.
This process also has an electronic counterpart and can be done using an electronic live scan fingerprinting system. ATF’s eFiling system allows you not only to submit your silencer/SBR approval application electronically but also to attach your fingerprints in digital format.
Digital fingerprints involve no ink and fingerprint image quality is also maintained by the inbuilt mechanism to check the quality of fingerprints captured. If it finds any scan falling short of quality parameters, it asks the applicant to rescan. With live scan systems, you do not need to worry about the quality part.
Another advantage of capturing fingerprints with a live scan system is electronic submissions. When you capture prints with fingerprint cards, you need to send them via snail mail which takes time and your application approval time increases. Digital fingerprints, however, are submitted electronically, which is instant and submitted within seconds. eFiling FD-258 fingerprint cards for Silencer and SBR can save a lot of time and hassle for the applicant.