Fireworks are explosives and have strict rules attached to their sale, possession and use. If you breach these rules – whether as a consumer or a retailer – then you could face a criminal prosecution or a Fixed Penalty Notice.
Some of these rules might surprise you. For example, did you know that it is illegal to sell Christmas crackers to individuals under the age of 12? Our criminal defence solicitors explain all…
Fireworks and The Law
We deal with all areas of criminal law, including offences relating to explosives and firearms. If you need a criminal defence solicitor for any reason, contact us at Ashmans. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Who can sell fireworks?
Retailers who sell fireworks year-round must have a licence. Without a licence, shops can only sell fireworks during certain seasonal periods, which are:
- Chinese New Year and the three days prior
- Diwali and the three days prior
- Bonfire Night (15 October to 10 November)
- New Year (26 to 31 December)
Any unlicenced retailer who is found selling fireworks outside these seasonal periods could face a fine or six months’ imprisonment. The sale of some types of fireworks is also prohibited. This includes the sale of excessively loud fireworks.
Previously, all fireworks placed on the market in the UK had to have the CE mark on them. This is an EU standard which will no longer be valid in the UK from 1 January 2023. Going forward, all fireworks placed on the market must instead have the UKCA mark.
Who can buy fireworks?
Fireworks are split into four categories:
- F1 fireworks present a very low hazard and negligible noise level. These are intended for use in confined areas, including inside domestic buildings.
- F2 fireworks present a low hazard and low noise level intended for use in outdoor confined areas, such as a garden.
- F3 fireworks present a medium hazard, intended for outdoor use in large open areas, where noise level is not harmful to human health.
- F4 fireworks present a high hazard intended for use only by persons with specialist knowledge and whose noise level is not harmful to human health.
F1 fireworks can be bought by anyone aged 16 or over. F2 and F3 fireworks can be bought by anyone aged 18 or over. F4 fireworks can only be purchased by industry professionals. Also, Christmas crackers can only be bought by those aged 12 and over.
Anyone under the age of 18 caught in possession of an F2/F3/F4 firework in a public place could receive a Fixed Penalty Notice from the police. If caught at a music event, then the maximum penalty is three months in prison and/or a fine.
When can you use fireworks?
Fireworks can be used on any day of the year between 7am and 11pm. This curfew is extended to midnight on 5th November and 1am on New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year and Diwali. The curfew is not applicable to F1 fireworks or F2 sparklers.
Breaching the curfew can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice, a fine or six months’ imprisonment. However, it is possible to get permission to use fireworks between 11pm and 7am.
There are additional rules in relation to the manufacture, storage and distribution of fireworks. Those who import fireworks into the country also have various obligations which are separate from those placed on manufacturers.
If you are involved in the making, importing or selling of fireworks in any way, it is vital to familiarise yourself with the rules. Breaching the regulations could land you in trouble with the law.
Firework Legal Regulations
If you have been accused of a criminal offence relating to explosives (such as fireworks), please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors for free legal advice.
Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.