Storage and Sale of Fireworks and Other Explosives

If you intend to sell adult (category F2 & 3) fireworks to consumers you must first obtain a storage licence from Trading Standards. If you intend to sell adult fireworks all year round you must also obtain an all-year sales licence from Trading Standards.

It is your responsibility to keep within the law and to have systems in place that will act as a 'due diligence' defence to an allegation that a sale has taken place to a person under the minimum legal age.

How do you store and sell fireworks safely?

This area is covered by the Explosives Regulations 2014.

Trading Standards will give you advice on the safe storage and sale of fireworks. The HSE also has guidance on storing and selling fireworks on its website.

This guidance includes a risk assessment checklist.

 

Which types of fireworks are banned?

Only fireworks that comply with European safety standards, carry the CE mark and are correctly labelled with details of the manufacturer and importer can legally be supplied to consumers.

Fireworks that were manufactured or imported before 4 July 2010 and complied with British Standard BS 7114 can continue to be sold without the CE mark cannot be sold.

Boxes of fireworks must not be split and sold separately.

Any firework that exceeds 120 decibels must not be supplied to consumers.

Also banned are fireworks of the following description:

  • an aerial wheel
  • a banger, flash banger or double banger
  • a jumping cracker
  • a jumping ground spinner
  • a spinner
  • a mini rocket
  • a shot tube that produces a loud noise as its main effect and/or has an inside diameter greater than 30mm
  • a battery containing bangers, flash bangers or double bangers
  • a combination (other than a wheel) that includes one or more bangers, flash bangers or double bangers

What are the age restrictions applicable to the sale of fireworks?

The Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015 prohibit the supply of category F4 fireworks to the general public. The Regulations prohibit the supply of category F2 (outdoor use - confined areas) and category F3 (outdoor use - large open areas) fireworks to any person under the age of 18. The Regulations prohibit the supply of category F1 (indoor use low-hazard low-noise - party poppers etc) fireworks to any person under the age of 16. An exception is made for Christmas crackers, which must not be supplied to any person under the age of 12. Caps for toy guns are exempt from fireworks legislation.

Note: the labelling on packets of sparklers must carry the words: 'Warning: not to be given to children under five years of age'.

Where adult (categories F2 and F3) fireworks are supplied or exposed for supply in any premises, the Fireworks Regulations 2004 require a notice to be displayed in a prominent position in those premises, no less than 420mm by 297mm (A3), with letters no less than 16mm high, giving the following information:

IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL CATEGORY F2 FIREWORKS OR CATEGORY F3 FIREWORKS TO ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18

IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 TO POSSESS CATEGORY F2 FIREWORKS OR CATEGORY F3 FIREWORKS IN A PUBLIC PLACE

 

Age-restricted sales - keeping within the law

The law has defences available, namely that the person accused took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing an offence. It is your responsibility to keep within the law and to have systems in place that will act as a 'due diligence' defence to an allegation that a sale has taken place to a person under the minimum legal age.

Offences are of strict liability, which means that they can occur even when the business owner is not on the premises. To avoid committing an offence, it is advised that the legislation is brought to the attention of all staff via regular training. It is important that you can prove that your staff have understood what is required of them under the legislation. This can be done by keeping a record of the training and asking the member of staff to sign to say that they have understood it. These records should then be checked and signed on a regular basis by the manager or the owner.

Members of staff should be advised that they themselves might be personally liable if they sell to young persons in breach of the legal requirements.

Always ask young people to produce proof of their age. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute, the Scottish government and Police Scotland support the UK's national Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS), which includes a number of card issuers. You can be confident that a card issued under the scheme and bearing the PASS hologram is an acceptable proof of age. The Scottish government also endorses the Young Scot card.

Photo driving licences and passports are also acceptable as proof of age.

If there is doubt, the sale should not be allowed to take place.

Penalties

It is an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to sell fireworks by retail without a licence or to store unsafely. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine and twelve months' imprisonment.

The maximum penalty on conviction for supplying a category F2 or F3 firework to any person under 18 years, supplying a category F1 firework to any person under 16 years, or supplying a Christmas cracker to any person under 12 years, is a fine and three months' imprisonment.

Key legislation

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

Consumer Protection Act 1987

Fireworks Regulations 2004

Fireworks (Amendment) Regulations 2004

Fireworks (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Explosives Regulations 2014

Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015

The Application

How much does it cost?

Fees are set by the Government and can currently be found in the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2010.

How long does it take to get a licence?

For new applications, a consultation period of 21 days to allow for any objections to be received.  Applications can then be considered and processed.

How will my application be evaluated?

Once an application is received a visit will be made to assess the premises and determine where and how fireworks will be stored on the property.  If satisfactory the police will be notified to determine if they have any objections to the applicant receiving registration/licence.  Trading Standards will then determine the application.

What if I have been refused a licence or do not agree with the licence conditions imposed?

Applicant can appeal decision.

Can the licence be transferred?

Yes, The Explosives Regulations 2014 enables a registration to be transferred to another person (including another business). The current cost for this is £35.

Who to Contact

Your local Trading Standards office.

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