Federal Law on Waiting Periods

Posted on May 21, 2012

There is no federal waiting period. Under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a dealer may transfer a firearm to a prospective purchaser as soon as he or she passes a background check.1 If the FBI is unable to complete a background check within three business days, the dealer may complete the transfer by default.2 See the section on Background Checks for more information on default proceeds.

Federal law does not require private sellers to perform background checks on gun purchasers. Accordingly, persons purchasing firearms from private sellers may take immediate possession of their weapons unless more restrictive state or local requirements exist.  Detailed information about private sales can be found in the Private Sales section.

Click here to view additional information about waiting periods, including background information and state and local laws on the topic.

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(1). []
  2. Id. []