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NICS Appeal Frequently Asked Questions

NICS Appeal and VAF Contact Information

NICS Appeal 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

NICS Voluntary Appeal File Address

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

NICS Appeal Facsimile

1-304-625-0535

NICS Appeal and Voluntary Appeal File Website

www.fbi.gov/nics-appeals

NICS Customer Service

1-877-FBI-NICS (324-6427)

Frequently Asked Appeal Questions

  • Who can request a NICS Appeal? Individuals who believe they have been erroneously denied or delayed a firearm transfer based on a match to a record returned by the NICS may request an appeal of their deny or delay decision. A delayed transaction will be purged from the NICS within 88 days from creation. The NICS Section recommends that you wait 30 days from the date initiating the check prior to filing an appeal on a delay to give the NICS Section’s staff time to complete the initial transaction. If your original background check is completed, the Federal Firearm Licensee will be notified with a final status.
  • How do I initiate an appeal request? All appeal inquiries must be submitted to the NICS Section’s Appeal Services Team (AST) in writing. Due to the Privacy Act of 1974, specific information cannot be disseminated to you via the telephone. Appeal requests can be mailed, faxed, or electronically transmitted via the Internet.
  • What do I need to include in my appeal request? You must provide your complete name, complete mailing address, and NICS Transaction Number (NTN) or State Transaction Number (STN). Note: A fingerprint card is required on all delayed transactions and must be submitted along with your appeal request. It is also highly recommended that a completed fingerprint card be submitted along with your initial denied appeal request. Failure to submit all required information may result in the rejection or delay of your appeal request. If you have additional information (e.g., court documentation) to assist the AST in correcting or updating your record, you should include the information along with your appeal request.
  • How do I request an appeal packet? To request an appeal packet, you can either print a copy of the appeal brochure and downloadable fingerprint card from the NICS Appeal Website, <http:www.fbi.gov/nics-appeals>, or if you do not have access to the Internet, you can call the NICS Customer Service at 1-877-FBI-NICS (324-6427). Appeal packets can be sent to you via mail, e-mail, or facsimile. You will need to provide your complete name and address, e-mail address, or facsimile number to the NICS customer service representative.
  • How will I know the NICS received my appeal request? The AST will respond to your initial appeal request, in writing, by providing you the general reason for your denial within five business days. They will also advise you if a fingerprint card or additional documentation is necessary to further your appeal process. You will receive written notification when your delay appeal request has been processed. Delayed transactions are not mandated under the five business day deadline however, the AST will do their best to respond to your request in a timely manner.
  • What is a NICS NTN or STN? An NTN is a unique number assigned to each valid background check inquiry received by the NICS. An STN is a unique number assigned by a State Point of Contact to a valid background check inquiry. The primary purpose of an NTN or STN is to provide a means of associating inquiries to the NICS with the responses provided by the NICS Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL).
  • Where can I get my NTN or STN? You must go to the FFL or state agency who initiated your NICS background check and request your NTN or STN.
  • Should I submit my fingerprints along with my initial appeal request? Yes, it is highly recommended that a completed fingerprint card be submitted along with your initial appeal request. The AST will be able to provide you with more detailed information if your fingerprints match the record used to deny or delay your firearm transfer. Note: A fingerprint card is required on all delayed transactions and must be submitted along with your appeal request. Failure to submit all required information may result in the rejection or delay of your appeal request.
  • Is a fingerprint card mandatory to initiate an appeal request? It is highly recommended that a completed fingerprint card be submitted along with your initial appeal request. In cases involving criminal history records, if fingerprints are not submitted along with your initial appeal request, the NICS Section may subsequently request submission of your fingerprints or certified court documentation to help establish positive proof of identity. Note: A fingerprint card is required on all delayed transactions and must be submitted along with your appeal request.
  • Where should I go to get my fingerprint impressions rolled? Law enforcement agencies such as sheriff’s offices, police departments, etc., or any other authorized fingerprinting agency can roll your fingerprints for you.
  • Do all fingerprinting agencies charge a fingerprinting fee? Fingerprinting agencies have the option to set their own individual rates or fees for fingerprint processing.
  • What do I do if my fingerprint card was rejected by the AST? You should first read the appeal response letter to determine if the fingerprint card was rejected because the fingerprints were insufficient and could not be processed, or if the fingerprint card information was incomplete. Either way, you will need to go back to the agency who initially rolled your fingerprints and ask the agency to complete the missing information or re-roll your fingerprints again if the fingerprint images were unable to be processed. (Note: The agency rolling the fingerprint impressions must include its agency name and address on the fingerprint card. The agency’s telephone number and employee’s signature must also be included.)
  • Is there a way to find out the current status of my appeal request? The FBI is no longer performing status checks on NICS appeals. You will receive written notification when your appeal has been processed. Appeal cases are worked in the order in which they are received.
  • Can I have my response letter sent to my e-mail address? All appeal response letters are sent via the U.S. Postal Service. They cannot be sent via e-mail due to the Privacy Act of 1974.
  • What do I do once I receive the overturn appeal letter and the appeal certificate? You must take the embossed overturn appeal certificate to the original FFL. If 30 days have elapsed since the initial background check, the FFL must recheck the NICS before allowing the transfer.
  • How do I get a copy of my FBI identification record? If you have appealed a denied or delayed transaction and submitted your fingerprints to the AST, you will receive a copy of your FBI identification record only if your appeal is unable to be resolved. If you would like a copy of your FBI identification record without filing a NICS appeal, you may contact the Biometric Services Section’s Customer Service Group at 304-625-5590.
  • Are electronic scanned fingerprint images accepted? Yes, individuals must request the fingerprinting agency to print a copy of their electronic scanned fingerprint images which may be submitted via the NICS Appeal Website, <http:www.fbi.gov/nics-appeals>, as an attachment; via facsimile to (304) 625-0535; or mailed to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Section, Appeal Services Team, Module A-1, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, West Virginia 26302-4278. Please ensure all submissions contain your NTN or STN.
  • How can I cancel my appeal request? You must request the cancellation of your appeal request in writing which may be submitted via the NICS Appeal Website, <http:www.fbi.gov/nics-appeals>, as an attachment; via facsimile to (304) 625-0535; or mailed to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Section, Appeal Services Team, Module A-1, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, West Virginia 26302-4278. Please ensure all submissions contain your NTN or STN.
  • How can I challenge the accuracy of my FBI identification record? You may challenge the accuracy of the record used in the evaluation of your denial/delay or declare your rights to obtain a firearm have been restored, etc., by filing an appeal. If you have additional information (e.g., court documentation), you should include the information along with your written appeal request. Please be advised every attempt is made to update all appropriate records in order to alleviate any complication on future background checks. You may also pursue completion or correction of any criminal history record maintained by the state and forward any modifications of your criminal history record directly to the NICS Section. You must include your NTN or STN on your additional documentation.
  • Can I appeal a delay status? Yes, as long as the transaction is not older than 88 days. The NICS Section recommends that you wait 30 days from the date initiating the check prior to filing an appeal on a delay to give the NICS Section’s staff time to complete the initial transaction. If your original background check is completed, the Federal Firearm Licensee will be notified with a final status. Additionally, a fingerprint card is required when you are filing an appeal on a delayed transaction.
  • If my mailing address changes, who should I contact? If your address changes during the time your appeal request is in process, you must request your new address change in writing which may be submitted via the NICS Appeal Website, <http:www.fbi.gov/nics-appeals>, as an attachment; via facsimile to (304) 625-0535; or mailed to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Section, Appeal Services Team, Module A-1, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, West Virginia 26302-4278. Please ensure all submissions contain your NTN or STN.

Frequently Asked VAF Questions

  • What does UPIN stand for? Unique Personal Identification Number
  • Can anyone apply for a VAF UPIN? You are encouraged to submit an appeal request first. The VAF was originally established to permit individuals to request the NICS maintain information about themselves in the VAF to prevent future erroneous denials or extended delays of a firearm transfer. The AST will refer you to the VAF upon completion of your appeal if the VAF will prevent future extended delays or erroneous denials.
  • How do I use the VAF UPIN? When filling out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Form 4473, you must place the VAF UPIN in box “9” and also advise the FFL you have a VAF UPIN.
  • Once I get my UPIN, does that mean I will never be delayed or denied a firearm purchase again? Entry into the VAF will not automatically result in a proceed response on subsequent firearm purchases. A complete NICS check is still required and will result in a denial or delay if additional prohibitive or potentially prohibitive information is discovered.
  • What do I do if I lost my VAF UPIN? You must immediately report a lost VAF UPIN to the NICS Customer Service at 1-877-FBI-NICS (324-6427), press 3, and then press 3 again to get to the menu that will be able to help you report your lost VAF UPIN.
  • If I forget my VAF UPIN, can the NICS Customer Service provide it to me over the phone? The UPIN cannot be provided over the telephone. However, you may call the NICS Customer Service at
    1-877-FBI-NICS (324-6427), press 3, and then press 3 again to get to the menu where you can leave a message so the AST can send your VAF UPIN to you in writing. You will need to provide your complete name, mailing address, and phone number.
  • Can I apply for the VAF the same time I am appealing a NICS deny/delay? You are encouraged to submit an appeal request first. After the successful completion of your appeal, you will then be notified if you are a good candidate for the VAF.
  • Can I use the same fingerprint card I used on my overturn appeal and submit it with my VAF Application? Yes, as long as it is the original fingerprint card.
  • How do I initiate a VAF request? If you were delayed or denied by the NICS, you are encouraged to submit an appeal request first. After the successful completion of your appeal, you will then be notified if you are a good candidate for the VAF.
  • What do I need to include in my VAF request? The VAF Application and fingerprint card must have all mandatory fields completed, and the VAF Applicant’s Statement must be signed and dated. Failure to submit all required VAF information may result in the rejection of your VAF request.
  • Is the fingerprint card mandatory to initiate a VAF Application? Yes, without the fingerprint card, the VAF Application will be rejected.
  • Where should I go to get my fingerprint impressions rolled?
    Law enforcement agencies such as sheriff’s offices, police departments, etc., or any other authorized fingerprinting agency can roll your fingerprints for you.
  • Does the VAF accept electronic scanned fingerprint images?
    Yes, you must request the fingerprinting agency to print you a copy of your electronic scanned fingerprint images which may be submitted via facsimile to (304) 625-0535; or mailed to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Section, Appeal Services Team, Module A-1, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, West Virginia 26302-4278. Your VAF fingerprint card must be submitted along with the VAF Application and the signed VAF Applicant’s Statement.
  • Do agencies charge a fingerprinting fee? Individual agencies have the option to set their own rates for fingerprint processing.
  • What do I do if my fingerprint card was rejected by the NICS Section? You should first read the VAF response letter to determine if the fingerprint card was rejected because the fingerprints were insufficient and could not be processed, or if the fingerprint card information or application was incomplete. You will then need to go back to the agency who initially rolled/scanned your fingerprints and ask them to complete the missing information or re-roll your fingerprints again if the fingerprint images were unable to be processed. (Note: The agency rolling the fingerprint impressions must include the agency name and address on the fingerprint card. The agency’s telephone number and employee’s signature must also be included.)
  • How do I request a VAF Application? If you were delayed or denied, you are encouraged to submit an appeal request first. After the successful completion of your appeal, you will then be notified if you are a good candidate for the VAF. Additionally, a downloadable VAF Application and fingerprint card is available on the NICS Appeal Website, <http:www.fbi.gov/nics-appeals>.
  • Is there a way to find out the current status of my VAF Application? The FBI is no longer performing status checks on NICS VAF Applications. You will receive notification when your VAF Application has been processed. All VAF Applications are worked in the order in which they were received.
  • How can I cancel my VAF Application? You must submit the cancelation of your VAF Application in writing. The request must include your complete name and mailing address.
  • If my mailing address changes, who should I contact? If your address changes during the time your VAF Application is in process, you must request your new address change in writing which may be submitted via the NICS Appeal Website, <http:www.fbi.gov/nics-appeals>, as an attachment; via facsimile to (304) 625-0535; or mailed to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Section, Voluntary Appeal File, Module A-1, Post Office Box 4278, Clarksburg, West Virginia 26302-4278.