Explosives & Fireworks Licences

Manufacture and storage of explosives

Picture of a detinatorThe Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (SI Number 2005/1082) came into force on 26 April 2005.

Copies of the published regulations are available to purchase from The Stationery Office. The text of the regulations is available to view and download from the HMSO website. The Approved Code of Practice and guidance to the regulations is available from HSE Books and from other booksellers.

The main requirements of the regulations are as follows:

  • anyone manufacturing or storing explosives must take appropriate measures to prevent fire or explosion; to limit the extent of any fire or explosion should one occur; and protect persons in the event of a fire or explosion. These are the key requirements of the regulations and are backed up by extensive guidance in the Approved Code of Practice;
  • in most cases a separation distance must be maintained between the explosives building and neighbouring inhabited buildings. This is intended to ensure that risks to those living or working in the area are kept to an acceptable level. If there is development in this separation zone then the quantity that may be kept must be reduced;
  • with certain exceptions a licence is required for the manufacture or storage of explosives. HSE licenses manufacturing activities and larger explosives storage facilities because of the greater risks involved. In most cases, stores holding less than two tonnes of explosives are either licensed or registered by the local authority or the police;
  • HSE may not grant a licence for a manufacturing facility or, in most cases, store until the local authority has given its assent (normally following a public hearing). This is an important safeguard.

Further information about the new regulations is available from the pdf below:

Summary and Commentary on the new regulations (pdf 67KB)


Fireworks can be enjoyable provided they are stored and used safely and responsibly. HSE and local authorities (usually Trading Standards Officers) enforce firework legislation to protect consumers and the general public.

Firework Safety
Image of Firework Be Safe posterPlease follow these links for general guidance on firework safety:

Legal requirements

The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 permit you to keep up to 50 kg (net) of Hazard type 4 fireworks for no longer than 21 days provided that these are not for sale or for use at work. This is intended to assist private individuals and voluntary organisations that wish to organise a larger firework display. (Hazard type 4 fireworks are the types of less powerful fireworks generally sold at retailers - these provisions do not apply to Category 4 fireworks and may not apply to certain more powerful Category 3 fireworks). If you are in doubt please check with your supplier or with your us as your local licensing authority.

If you wish to use the fireworks for a commercial display or for some other work purpose, or you wish to store a larger quantity of fireworks, or more powerful fireworks then you will normally need to register with us as your local licensing authority. Please note that if you wish to buy more than 50 kg of fireworks you will need to produce your registration certificate.

The Health & Safety at Work act 1974 and subsidiary legislation covers firework displays which involves a work activity (ie where at least one person will be involved on a professional basis). This legislation places duties in respect of the health and safety of everyone involved in arranging and giving the display, the spectators and other people near the display site.

Organising a firework display?
If you are organising a firework display please go to the HSE website for details about Organising a firework display.

Selling fireworks?

HSE has published guidance for retailers on storing and selling fireworks safely:

Storing and Selling fireworks Safely (pdf 164KB)

There is also a risk assessment checklist to help when doing your risk assessment:

Risk Assesment Checklist (pdf 34KB)

Manufacture and storage of explosives - licensing requirements

If you want to store or manufacture explosives you will need a licence or to register with your local licensing authority. If you are within the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, then it will be the Trading Standards Service. The appropriate form is here, on-line for you to download/complete and print. This applies to a wide variety of substances and articles including:Picture of fireworks exploding

  • blasting explosives
  • munitions
  • ammunition and shooters' powders
  • fireworks
  • pyrotechnic articles


There are a number of exemptions for the storage of small quantities and for temporary storage. For example there are allowances for storage of shooters' powders and for certain lower-risk pyrotechnic articles which include consumer fireworks and articles such as flares, fog signals, car airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners.

Licences and registrations

Registration is a simplified process designed for those wanting to store smaller quantities of explosive - for example most registrations are for shops selling fireworks during the firework season. You can store up to 250kg of the least hazardous types of firework - for more hazardous explosives (including more hazardous fireworks) the amount you can keep with a registration is reduced.


A licence is required for most manufacturing activities. 'Manufacturing' includes processes where explosive articles or explosive substances are made or assembled, or unmade or disassembled. The term also includes the repair or modification of explosive articles and the reprocessing, modification or adaptation of explosive substances. It does not include packing, unpacking, repacking, labelling or testing explosives. Nor does it include dividing explosives into smaller storage containers.

Anyone wishing to manufacture explosives will need to apply to HSE for a licence. There are some exemptions to this such as exemptions for fusing of firework displays. The HSE forms to apply are available online.

Where to apply
This will depend on the quantity and type of explosive you want to store and where you live.

  • If you wish to store two tonnes or more of explosive you will need a licence from HSE.
  • If you wish to store up to two tonnes of an explosive that requires an explosives certificate (eg blasting explosive or black powder) you will need a licence or registration from your local police.
  • If you live in the metropolitan counties, ie West Midlands, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear, or South, and West Yorkshire you will need to apply to the fire and rescue service.
  • In other areas you will normally need to contact the trading standards department of your local authority. If you are within the RBWM then it is us, so please use the contact us. If you need to find your local Trading Standards then please see the Trading Standards SE Authorities webpage..

How to make an application
The registration and licence application form is available in pdf format below. Please complete and print this form for return to us with the correct fee.

The amount of information needed for the application will depend on the type of registration or licence. For most licences the licensing authority will need to know:

  • the name of the applicant;
  • nature of the business;
  • where you plan to keep the explosives;
    the type(s) and quantities of explosives to be kept
  • More extensive information will be required for applications to HSE for a licence for manufacturing or a larger store, where the licence will be subject to local authority assent.

Fees for applications
A fee will be payable before the licensing authority will consider an application. Information on current fee levels can be found below.

The process for considering licence applications
If the application is for a licence, the licensing authority will normally wish to visit the proposed store. The licensing authority may also wish to visit the storage place if the application is for a registration. In most cases where HSE is the licensing authority, once HSE has approved the application, the applicant will then need to ask the local authority for its assent before HSE can grant the licence.

Can a local authority refuse an application?
An application can be refused, but normally only in exceptional circumstances. There are two circumstances when a licensing authority might refuse a licence:

  • if it believes that the site of the proposed store is unsuitable on safety grounds. An obvious example would be someone wanting to store fireworks at a petrol station;
  • if it has evidence that leads it to take the view that the applicant is not a fit person to store explosives.

There is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Licence/registration document

The licensing authority will issue a certificate which will in most cases set out:

  • the name and address of the licensee/registered person
  • the address of the store
  • the amount and type of explosive that may be kept there

HSE licences may include more detailed information on, for example:

  • the layout of the site
  • construction of the buildings
  • the use of the buildings (some buildings may be used for storage only, and some for manufacturing only).

Revocation of registrations/licences
A registration or licence can be revoked, in exceptional circumstances.

Fees for licences granted by local licensing authorities

Fees valid until May 2014

Type of Application Price
Licence £175
Licence Renewal £83
Registration £105
Registration Renewal £52
Licence Variation Price
Amending name of licensee or address of site £35
Any other kind of variation Reasonable cost of the work done by the licensing authority
Transfer of licence or registration £35
Replacement licence document £35

Please note that the time-limited fees given above are for whole years. Fees for parts of a year would be on a pro-rata basis. For example:

  • the fee for a new local authority storage licence for 9 months would be £131.25 (three quarters of the annual fee of £175);

These fees above are accurate until May 2014 only.

No VAT is payable on these fees.

Explosives - Information - Enforcement

In general terms the division of responsibilities is as follows. HSE has licensing and enforcement responsibility for:

  • manufacture
  • stores of more than two tonnes
  • storage at mines and in harbour areas on-site mixing
  • transport of explosives

Local authorities' Trading Standards Departments, fire services and the police are responsible for licensing and enforcement for stores holding less than two tonnes of explosive. The licensing/enforcment responsibility will depend on the type of explosive and on the area.

  • The police are the enforcing authority if the explosives include either smokeless powder or an explosive that does requires and explosive certificate.
  • The local authority or fire and rescue services are the enforcing authority if the explosives do not require an explosive certificate.
  • The Fire and Rescue Service is the enforcing authority in the metropolitan counties (ie West Midlands, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear, South, and West Yorkshire) as well as in Cornwall and Oxfordshire the local licensing authority is the fire and rescue service.
  • in all other areas the enforcing authority will normally be the Trading Standards Team of the local authority (in some parts of England this will be part of the County Council).

(A list of the explosives which do not require an explosive certificate can be found in Schedule 1 to the Control of Explosives Regulations).

Back to top

Explosives storage licence application

The explosives licence is now available to complete and pay online.

How do you rate this information/service?
Help - What does this mean? |
Find us on: 
RBWM on Facebook RBWM on Twitter RBWM on YouTube
Polish Punjabi Urdu
Modified: 2013-05-10
Published: Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:01:50
Author: Allison Helyer
Editor: Allison.Helyer
RDCMS ID: 19360