Firearms Checks (NICS)
The NICS conducts background checks on people who want to own a firearm or explosive, as required by law.
When a person tries to buy a firearm, the seller, known as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), contacts NICS electronically or by phone. The prospective buyer fills out the ATF form, and the FFL relays that information to the NICS. The NICS staff performs a background check on the buyer. That background check verifies the buyer does not have a criminal record or isn't otherwise ineligible to purchase or own a firearm. Since launching in 1998, more than 300 million checks have been done, leading to more than 1.5 million denials.
The NICS is customarily available by phone 17 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays (except for Christmas). Calls may be monitored and recorded for any authorized purpose. The NICS E-Check is available 24/7.
NICS provides full service to the FFLs in 31 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. The NICS provides partial service to six states. The remaining 13 states perform their own checks through the NICS.
More NICS Information
NICS is FBI's national system that checks records on persons who may be disqualified from receiving firearms.
NICS Denial Notifications for Law Enforcement
The FBI is required by law to report National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) denied transactions to state, local, or tribal law enforcement within 24 hours.
Appeals and Voluntary Appeal File
Information and frequently asked questions about the NICS appeal process and the Voluntary Appeal File (VAF).
Resources for Federal Firearms Licensees
Resources for Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL), including information on enrollment, NICS E-Check, and NICS Resolution Cards
The NICS Indices contains information on people who are are prohibited from receiving firearms by federal or state law.
- Operations Reports:
2020-2021 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2003 - 2004 | 2001/2002 | 2000 | 1998/1999
- Active Records in the NICS Indices
- Active Entries in the NICS Indices by Federal/State
- Federal Denials
- NICS Firearm Checks: Day/Month/Year
- NICS Firearm Checks: Month/Year
- NICS Firearm Checks: Month/Year by State
- NICS Firearm Checks: Month/Year by State/Type
- NICS Firearm Checks: Year by State/Type
- NICS Firearm Checks: Top 10 Highest Days/Weeks
- National Instant Criminal Background Check System Regulation (Amended 2014)
- National Instant Criminal Background Check System Regulation (Amended 2004)
- National Instant Criminal Background Check System Regulation (1998)
- Federal Firearms Regulation Reference Guide Index (pdf)
- Brady Implementation (pdf)
- Privacy Act of 1974; Notice of New System of Records
- Exemption of System of Records Under the Privacy Act
- Privacy Act of 1974; DOJ Insider Threat Program Records, JUSTICE/DOJ–018 (Final Rule)