It is pitiful that the rules and policies have to be so confusing on such an important issues...especially when 95% of the confusion comes from people who take our money like UPS and FedEx employees.
For those who may not know, UPS began the Overnight policy to reduce theft by their employees. The theory is that a constantly moving package never has time to sit on a dock somewhere and the address (even though disguised) being recognized by a idle employee. Great, huh, a company solves an internal issue by forcing the customer to pay more.
After almost 30 years with an FFL, I can assure you of the following:
1. Never circumvent the law. Do what is right and sleep well at night.
2. UPS and FedEx rules are their rules, not law; but I still follow them. I rarely use either vendor since I almost always ship by USPS. I will ship a higher-dollar longgun by UPS since their Insurance is much more reasonable than that at USPS.
3. Anyone can ship a gun to an FFL anywhere in the USA. Non-FFL's cannot use the USPS; FFL's can. As far as the GCA 1968 is concerned, Puerto Rico is just like any other state.
4. Some FFL's will not receive a firearm from a non-FFL. I have never understood why. One fellow told me once it reduces the liklihood that a gun is stolen. That is absurd. I think some just like to throw their weight around.
5. Originally-signed copies of an FFL are no longer mandatory. A signed copy can be FAX'ed or a digital copy can be e-mailed to the shipper, individual or FFL, as long as it is legible. How long does a non-FFL shipper have to keep the FFL copy? Beats me. Once the FFL has the gun in his hands, there is no longer any reason for proof, but I'd keep in a file for awhile.
6. A gun cannot be legally shipped to any address other than the Premises Address on the FFL of the receiving dealer. While not required, I always include a copy of my FFL (or an individual could include a copy of the receiver's FFL) with the package with the firearm just in case a postal inspection is done along the way.
7. There is an ATF website where the authenticity of an FFL copy can be verified. I have never had one fail to prove valid; but the site was created for a purpose, so I check everyone to be sure.
8. Many FFL's run scared of the ATF; maybe some have cause to do so. I have been audited twice and have aided in 5-6 traces over the years. Every contact has been professional, courteous, and helpful.
9. Some FFL's will try to punish an individual by asking $50 or more to receive and transfer a firearm purchased from the Internet. That is their way of "encourging" you to buy from them next time. This will happen occasionally in a rural area where FFL's are scarce. Look elsewhere...
10. If you use an FFL to receive a firearm for you, make sure you understand ahead of time how sales tax will be handled. You are buying from out-of-state, and he is only providing a federally-required servce for a stated fee.
Maybe this will be of help to some...along with the other tips above. Read #1 again.