The UK Rules
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Firework Laws and License Rules

Firework Laws: Legal Age to Buy Fireworks

How old do you have to be to buy fireworks and what are the rules for setting off fireworks? Anyone younger than 18 years old cannot buy 'adult' fireworks or sparklers in the United Kingdom.

FIREWORK RULES: Legislation restricts the safe use of lit sparklers and standard fireworks by the public.

UK Firework Laws make it illegal to have fireworks in a public area unless you are 18 years or older.

Strict fireworks legislation regulates all professional pyrotechnic displays. The pyrotechnic safety rules and regulations highlight the main fireworks law UK (excluding Northern Ireland).

Fireworks rules UK apply to the purchase of devices filled with gunpowder and setting off fireworks on public land.

Note: Fireworks regulations exclude the use of traditional party poppers like those used at birthday parties.

Legal Age to Buy Fireworks UK Law

In the United Kingdom, the legal age to buy fireworks increased from 16 years to 18 years in 1997. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy 'adult' explosives or possess them in a public place.

The change in UK fireworks law and fireworks age restrictions means all explosive materials must comply with BS7114. The packaging should have outer markings according to firework safety rules. They should also fall into one of these firework law categories:

It is legal to buy fireworks and sparklers from registered sellers for private use between:

At any other time you can only buy pyrotechnics from licensed shops. Selling or using fireworks illegally could get you a fine up to £5,000 or imprisonment up to 6 months. Offenders could also receive an on-the-spot civil penalty of £90.

UK Firework Laws on Loudness Restrictions

Consumer combustible chemicals measured to be louder than 120 decibels at 15 meters cannot be sold to the public.

Setting Off Firework Laws UK

It is against the safety rules on fireworks regulations for anyone to set them off in the street and highway. You must not throw (cast) them in public places (including sparklers) between the hours of 11pm and 7am. There are exceptions for certain occasions which include:

Recreational explosive materials should only be let off on private land. An example would be your garden or on land where you have the permission of the landowner.

Note: As a rule, setting off fireworks on the beach is illegal because they could be mistaken for distress flares. Check with your council authority for any local rules or bylaws for setting off fireworks.

UK Banned Fireworks List

Category 4 mortar shell types got banned in the UK following deaths in 1996. This type launches large single projectiles into the air.

In 1997 the government also banned mini-rockets, bangers, firecrackers, and fireworks of erratic flight. This includes jumping jacks fireworks even if they are CE marked and approved for sale in other EU countries.

The definition of a mini-rocket received further restrictions in 2004. The aim was to stop anti-social behavior involving explosive materials. As a result, 'airbombs' are also not permitted.

Rules on Fireworks for Professionals

Only pyrotechnic professionals can legally purchase and use a category 4 firework. UK law considers a professional to be someone employed in a business who fires fireworks. An example would be a display outlet or a stagehand.

Most of these received training under the British Pyrotechnists Association (BPA) Professional Firers Training Scheme. They are liable under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

UK Firework Rules on Storage and Transportation

UK Firework Laws: Explosive Class 1.3GStorage of consumer fireworks at home are classed as either Hazard Type 3 (1.3G) or Hazard Type 4 (1.4G). Depending on the weight and time limits you may need to register your storage or apply for a licence.

Storage laws on fireworks do not usually apply if you are buying a simple selection box or sparklers from the supermarket. That is providing your intention is letting them off within a few days of purchase.

Fireworks are classified as explosives. It is illegal to mail them through the standard postal service. The same transportation law also applies to sparklers.

Shipping Law on Fireworks

You must ship fireworks and sparklers using an explosives courier. The products must be clearly marked in preparation for shipping.

The hazardous classification means they are also prohibited on the majority of public service. These include airlines, ferries, and shipping companies (including the Channel Tunnel).

Licence for Selling Fireworks

The Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010 is new fireworks legislation. It redefines the legal community regulations for the labelling and selling of pyrotechnics. New government fireworks regulations do not apply if they got imported before the 3rd of July 2010.

Note: New Category 1-3 products manufactured or placed on the market since the 3rd of July 2010 must comply with the Regulations and carry a CE marking.

Retailers can sell fireworks at any time of the year providing they hold a valid licence to sell them. There are two types of standard firework licences. The seasonal one which covers the period around Guy Fawkes is the most common.

The other type for New Year's Eve is the cheapest fireworks licence in the UK. Retailers holding a proper licence are subject to inspections to ensure they follow the terms. You should never buy fireworks from an illegal seller!

Disclaimer: UK firework laws are subject to change and ambiguous interpretation. This article only intends to guide firework users. It is illegal to set off a firework closer than the minimum safely viewable distance. But, the firer may still be liable in the event of any injury to a spectator. You should consult the relevant authority for confirmation of the laws prior to buying or using gunpowder or explosives. Further information is available from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Laws on Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Safety Regulations in the United Kingdom