Suppressor Myth #3 – You Must Keep the Government Informed at All Times Regarding Where Your Suppressor is Located and You Can’t Leave Your State With Your SIlencer Without Prior Approval By: True Pearce

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Silencer Central

Prior to traveling out of state with an NFA Registered Destructive Device, Machinegun, Short Barreled Rifle (SBR), or Short Barreled Shotgun (SBS), you must submit a written request using ATF Form 5320.20 and receive prior authorization before transporting those items across state lines. It’s one of the reasons having a braced pistol rather than a short-barreled rifle is so advantageous. The braced pistols fall under handgun laws, work with concealed carry permits, and don’t require any of this nonsense.

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If you’re observant you would have noticed that suppressors and AOWs aren’t on the list above.

Suppressors are one of two NFA items that don’t require notification or prior authorization before leaving your state. Suppressors are treated very similarly to regular firearms. You’re not required to notify anyone when you leave your house, city, county, or even state with your suppressor. So, it’s a myth that you must keep the government informed of your silencer’s location at all times or get prior authorization before leaving your state with a suppressor.  That requirement applies to the other NFA items listed above.

That being said, you should take care not to travel with your suppressor into one of the eight states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C.)  that don’t recognize your right to own one. 

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If you fly, you must treat it like you would a firearm and declare it. Check it in as luggage in a locked container. You’re definitely not allowed to carry it on.

What about if you permanently move with your suppressor? Do you need to tell the ATF about a change of address? 

Answer: Yes. 

This isn’t very clearly spelled out by the ATF. The ATF Form 5320.20 doesn’t include suppressors under it’s requirements and for suppressors, you don’t need to get prior authorization before you move. However, the Form 1 and Form 4 state on the back under the heading, “Important Information for Currently Registered Firearms” that: “the registrant shall notify the NFA Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 244 Needy Road Martinsbur, WV 25405, in writing, of any change to the address in item 2a.”

So, at some unspecified time after you move based on what it says in the instructions in the Form 4, you shall notify the ATF of your change of address.

The easiest way to notify the NFA division of a change of address is to use the Form 5320.20 and check the box indicating that your suppressor won’t be returned to its original location.

If you’ve permanently moved check “NO” on the 5320.20 form.

For your convenience, I’ve included a link to the ATF 5320.20 HERE.

To summarize, suppressors are exempt from the NFA requirement of getting prior authorization to leave your state. If you permanently move, you should at some point notify the ATF of your address change using Form 5320.20.