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Licensing for the storage and sale of explosives

Strict rules are in place to control the storage and sale of fireworks or other explosives.


Apply for a licence now

There are important changes to the application process. If you are familiar with these, please select one or more of the options below.

To store explosives

Sell fireworks all year

If you are unfamiliar with the new changes, or you are a new applicant, please read on:

Licensing summary

If you intend to store fireworks or sell them to consumers, you must first obtain a licence from the council. Licences are for a person and not the premises. 

Storage licence (no separation distance) 

This type of Storage Licence is required for the storage of up to:

  • 250kg (NEM) of Hazard Type 4 (HT4) explosives
  • 25kg (NEM) of Hazard Type 3 (HT3) explosives (or a combination of HT4 and HT3)

The hazard types are explained on the HSE website and in our guidance notes. [83kb]

You do not need to separate the storage area from other buildings.

Storage licence (with separation distances) 

This type of Storage Licence is required for the storage of:

  • HT4 explosives in any quantity from 250kg to 2,000kg (NEM)

The licence will require the store to be separated from other buildings and places where the public have access.

Most small retailers elect to have the smaller licence and only large retailers and wholesalers elect to have the licence for larger quantities.

If you wish to store two tonnes or more of explosive you will need a licence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

​Useful guide:


If you store less than 5kg (NEM) of explosives including fireworks, and other pyrotechnics, then there is no need to be licensed. If all that is stored is cartridges, you can keep up to 25kg (NEM) without a licence (approximately 100,000 cartridges). Even if you are exempt, you must still comply with the safety requirements in the Regulations concerning fire prevention and control.

Annual Fireworks Licence

If you intend to sell fireworks all year round, you must also obtain an annual fireworks licence, this will be in addition to your storage licence. A premises is required to have storage licence in place before an annual fireworks licence can be granted.

If you do not have an annual fireworks licence, you can only sell fireworks at the following times:

  • between 15 October and 10 November
  • between 26 and 31 December
  • first day of Chinese New Year and the three days prior
  • Diwali and the three days prior

The law

In all areas, the Trading Standards Service is responsible for enforcing regulations on consumer safety and age of purchase. If you are selling fireworks, you have duties under:

The legislation links above may only show the original version of the legislation. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's more resources tab. 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. 

Storage and sale of fireworks

Part of the application process requires that when you complete your application form, you must confirm that you have read and understood our  Guide to the storage and sale of fireworks [266kb]


We will issue a licence on an annual basis. All licences run from 1 October through to the following 30 September.

Important new changes

We will only issue one year duration Licences to new retailers with no inspection or enforcement history.

If you wish to apply for a two, three, four, or five year licence, please note that we will take a proportionate, risk-based approach to your application that recognises the nature of your business and the likely lifetime of the licensed site eg pop up shops, freehold retail.

Factors that we will consider:

  • new retailer with no inspection or enforcement history - we will consider extending the period of your licence at renewal
  • new site where the duty holder can demonstrate robust safety management systems and/or has a good history of compliance at another licensed site - we will expect to grant the licence for the period requested by the applicant (up to the five year maximum)
  • existing site with a mixed or poor history of compliance (but where the site and person remains fit) - we will consider granting a licence for a short period
  • site with history of regularly requiring advice, where minor breaches have been identified at inspection, or that has, for example, a high (relevant) staff turnover - we will consider granting the licence for a period of less than five years

If you have any concerns about your application, please contact the Applications Processing team for further guidance before you submit your application form.

How to apply

You must apply online. The fee [207kb]​ will depend on the type of licence and amount of explosives you plan to store.

Before you start your application, please ensure that you have:

  • a valid credit or debit card
  • the full address of the premises at which you are selling or storing the fireworks or explosives 
  • if the store location does not have a postal address (eg a store in a field), please include a map (1:25,000) showing its location.
  • a floorplan of the sales area if you plan to store or display more than 12.5 kg (NEM) of fireworks there. Please feel free to submit our  specimen grid plan [335kb] 
  • the reference number for any previous application (if available)

If you intend to apply for a licence to store explosives, you may need planning permission for your store. Discuss your proposed application with the Applications Processing Team, leaving yourself plenty of time to gain approval. You will need a planning approval reference number for your storage licence application form.

In addition, it would be helpful if you could also attach a copy of your risk assessment relating to the storage of explosives/fireworks. The Health and Safety Executive has produced a Fireworks in shops retailers' risk assessment checklist that can be used as part of this risk assessment. You can upload a PDF document (restricted at less than 5MB in size) at the end of the application form.

To store explosives

Sell fireworks all year

If you wish to transfer or replace your licence, please contact the Applications Processing Team for further details.

Once we have processed your application, we will send you a licence certificate and receipt for your payment.

  Further information on the fireworks and explosives application process [93kb] »

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 30 Mar 2017 at 09:06