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

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.

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.

About the author: True Pearce is the Managing Editor at GunsAmerica. He’s a competitive shooter, hunter, instructor & attorney. You can see and follow his adventures on Instagram. @true1911 https://www.instagram.com/true1911/

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  • Stanley Binder August 15, 2022, 7:04 pm

    I moved March 19 2018 from Va to Al. Thank you for the information. Did not know about permanent move notification.

  • MTHead August 15, 2022, 2:56 pm

    Ya, moved from OR. to ID.. Informed the ATF by copying form 4. And a letter explaining my new permanent residence.
    They sent me back a letter to my new address with the form you mentioned to fill out. After doing so. I got the form back as rejected because I did not fill in the box on how the suppressor was going to be transported.
    Wait, What, Huh? By pick-up truck?
    Since all this correspondence was through my new address. I figured I had satisfied the law. But this is the BATF were talking about.
    And after over 80 years of NFA. They have never created a form for this simple purpose? Tells one all you need to know!

  • Tyrone August 15, 2022, 1:21 pm

    “If you fly, you must treat it like you would a firearm and declare it. Check it in as luggage in a locked container.”
    So I take it that this means it must be in a lock secured hard case container, but in same or different container as the gun?

  • John Gaddis August 15, 2022, 1:14 pm

    Open your eyes then because there is not one manufacturer of modern Semiautomatic pistols whom does not sell pistols with threaded barrels.

    • Pantexan August 15, 2022, 3:21 pm

      You shouldn’t comment on subjects you know nothing about.

  • Mike August 15, 2022, 10:42 am

    My recent experience indicates if you don’t use form ATF 5320.20 to notify them of a permanent address change for a suppressor, they might not accept the notification. I recently wrote them a letter to advise them of a change of address and they rejected the submittal because the notice did not come from my address of record. They suggested I resubmit the request using form 5320.20, which I did and the notification was then accepted.

  • Kuby/N6JSX August 15, 2022, 10:09 am

    Until I see threaded barrels offered as available alternate parts by pistol MFG’s I just pass up these articles/ads. I like/have many Taurus pistols so no re-barreling for me; I cannot be cool (saving my ears) with a 007 suppressor as remains a movie fantasy. Look closer of the 007 Walther PPK and you will see most scenes do not show a threaded barrel pistol.

    So the question I have is – is it common place for pistol MFG to offer extended threaded barrels for their pistols? If so, I never read about that issue or short coming nor see a list of threaded barrel model number MFG/Models?

    • OldBeast August 15, 2022, 11:26 am

      Walther uses an adapter for their barrels. To see the threads you have to pull the slide back, just looking at it you can’t tell. The larger ones have protruding barrels though. For everything else, aftermarket barrels are not that expensive. Small price to pay in the grand scheme of playing in the suppressor game.

    • John Gaddis August 15, 2022, 1:14 pm

      Open your eyes then because there is not one manufacturer of modern Semiautomatic pistols whom does not sell pistols with threaded barrels.

  • Mjanes August 15, 2022, 10:01 am

    On the link provided, the 5320.20 signature boxes are x’d out. Why?

  • PeterC August 15, 2022, 9:00 am

    Several years ago, I took my silencer from my home in AZ to a shooting event in NM. I had heard that prior notification of the ATF was required, but I wasn’t certain, so I called the ATF. The agent told me, “You don’t really need to fill out the form, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead.”

  • Dr Motown August 15, 2022, 7:49 am

    Thank you! I had heard conflicting information on traveling out of state before

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