Explosives and fireworks licence

Premises storing explosives (fireworks and flares, air bag inflators) are required to be licenced.

If licenced, fireworks can be sold during the four seasonal occasions:

  • 15 October to 10 November inclusive
  • 26 December to 31 December inclusive
  • on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year and the 3 days immediately preceding it
  • on the day of Diwali and the 3 days immediately preceding it
Selling outside the above dates without a licence is a criminal offence

If you'd like to sell fireworks all year round, a further £500 fireworks annual suppliers licence is required.

Before applying for a licence to store fireworks or other pyrotechnic articles, read the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidance documents on storing and selling fireworks safely.

Sale of fireworks

There are legal requirements for the sale of fireworks, which include:

  • fireworks may not be sold to any person under the age of 18 years
  • fireworks cannot be sold in the street or in any public place
  • the name and address on any fireworks, when received from the manufacturer, must not be removed or altered
  • the type of fireworks you can sell
  • you must display warning notices in your premises

Advice on underage sales

For further assistance on avoiding underage sales, visit our Trading Standards page.

Applying for a licence

You can apply for a storage licence online.

Once your application is submitted and paid for online it is automatically sent to the responsible authorities, so there is no need for applicants to send in paper hard copies.

If you store less than 5kg Net Explosive Mass (NEM) of explosives, you don't need a license. The NEM is either 25% of the gross weight of the explosives or exact figure stated by the manufacturer or supplier. However, you'll still need a firework annual suppliers licence if you intend to sell fireworks all year round.

Only persons with "fixed" premises can be licensed, so fireworks cannot be sold at market stalls or other temporary sales points

Licencing

Fireworks sold by retailers are generally the types of less powerful fireworks known as hazard type 4 (Hazprod code 1.4G). Southwark Licencing allows for storage of up to 250Kg (NEM) of type 4 without the need for separation distances, or up to 2,000kgs where suitable separation distances can be maintained.

We do not recommend the sale of “display” fireworks that require a minimum safe spectator distance of 25m to members of the public. These are hazard type 3 (Hazprod code 1.3G). If you intend to store and sell these, contact Trading Standards for specific advice.

Exemptions from licensing

There are a number of exemptions for the storage of very small quantities and for very temporary storage. For example, there are allowances for storage of shooters' powders and for certain lower-risk pyrotechnic articles which include articles such as flares, fog signals, car airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. These must still be stored safely and securely. For further details, contact us.

Vary or transfer a licence

If you wish to transfer or vary an existing licence, contact the licensing team.

Fees

You can view our public control fees (pdf, 66kb) here.
For licence fees granted by HSE.

Enforcement

Our Trading Standards, Licensing and Health and Safety teams carry out rigorous enforcement of these laws, particularly during the designated fireworks selling period. The police and fire brigade may also enforce certain provisions.

Such enforcement includes carrying out under age test purchases, as it's an offence to sell a firework to anyone under the age of 18 years.

We provide further advice and guidance to traders on our business and compliance advice page.

We may revoke explosives licences when necessary. 

If you're experiencing issues applying for a licence or if you have any questions, contact us on licensing@southwark.gov.uk

Page last updated: 16 November 2017