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Appealing a Denied or Delayed NICS Background Check

If you received a response of Denied or Delayed for your NICS background check, you may request an appeal. The agency that processed your background check is required to have an appeal process. The Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) from whom you requested purchase of the firearm can provide you the name of the agency that processed your background check. As an alternative to submitting to the processing agency or if the FBI is the processing agency, you may submit an appeal directly to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division’s NICS Section.

If you wish to appeal a delayed NICS background check, the NICS Section requests you wait at least two weeks from the date the check was initiated to allow adequate time for processing. The FFL will be notified when your background check has been completed.

In order to submit an appeal, you must have your NICS Transaction Number (NTN) or State Transaction Number (STN). The NTN or STN can be obtained from the FFL from whom you requested purchase of the firearm.

Submitting Your Appeal

An appeal may be submitted online, by mail, or by fax. If you submit your appeal online, fingerprints and other documentation may be attached and submitted with your request.

Submit Your Appeal Online

To submit your appeal by mail or fax, you will need the following documents:

  1. A completed Appeal Request Form
  2. A completed fingerprint card (required if Delayed, optional if Denied)
  3. Court or other documentation, if applicable


Please place the NTN or STN on all documents. You may fax your appeal request to (304) 625-0535 or mail to the following address:

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Criminal Justice Information Services Division
National Instant Criminal Background Check System Section
Appeal Services Team, Module A-1
Post Office Box 4278
Clarksburg, WV 26302-4278

Submitting Fingerprints and other Documents with Your Appeal

If your NICS background check was Delayed, you are required to submit a completed fingerprint card with your initial appeal request. Failure to submit your fingerprints when appealing a Delayed NICS background check will cause your appeal to be rejected.

If your NICS background check was Denied and you have ever been arrested or fingerprinted by a law enforcement official, it is highly recommended you submit a completed fingerprint card along with your initial appeal request. If your fingerprints are not submitted with your initial appeal request, you may subsequently be required to submit them in order to establish positive proof of your identity.

Submission of your fingerprints will allow the NICS Section’s Appeal Services Team (AST) to provide more detailed criminal history information to you if your fingerprints are identical to those belonging to the record used to deny or delay your background check.

A downloadable fingerprint card is available for your convenience.

If you possess or obtain court or other documentation that you feel would assist with your appeal, it is recommended you submit it with your initial appeal request. All documents must contain your NTN or STN.

The Voluntary Appeal File (VAF)

The purpose of the VAF is to allow individuals to provide written consent for the FBI to maintain information that can be accessed during a NICS background check. This information is used to prevent erroneous denials or extended delays of firearm transfers. Eligible candidates for the VAF would include victims of identity theft; persons with a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Relief from Disabilities; and persons with records that cannot be updated. Successful applicants to the VAF are provided a Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN), which should be presented to the FFL for all future firearm transfers.

Upon successful completion of your appeal, the AST will refer you to apply for the VAF if having a UPIN would prevent erroneous denials or extended delays for future firearm transfers. If the AST refers you to apply for the VAF, a VAF packet will be included with the letter you receive notifying you of the outcome of your appeal.