This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
Can fireworks be purchased all year round?
No. Under the Fireworks Regulations 2004, the sale of fireworks is limited to the following seasonal periods:
- 5 November (from 15 October to 10 November)
- New Year (from 26 to 31 December)
- Chinese New Year (on the first day of the Chinese New Year and the three days immediately preceding it)
- Diwali (on the day of Diwali and the three days immediately preceding it)
Retailers intending to supply fireworks to the public outside the traditional selling periods (i.e. all year round) are required to hold a licence to supply fireworks, either from the Local Authority, Fire Service or HSE.
Can anyone purchase a firework?
No, the purchase of fireworks requires age verification. Under the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015(292 KB), a retailer must not sell:
- a Christmas cracker to anyone under the age of 12 years
- F1 category fireworks to anyone under the age of 16 (ie low hazard fireworks intended for use in confined areas)
- F2 and F3 category fireworks to anyone under the age of 18 (ie low and medium hazard fireworks intended for open areas)
- F4 category fireworks to members of the public (they can only be used by professional pyrotechnicians)
Certain types of fireworks are banned altogether, including bangers, air bombs and jumping jacks.
Can anyone possess a firework?
No. Under the Fireworks Regulations 2004, it is an offence for:
- Anyone under the age of 18 to possess an adult firework (meaning category F2, F3 and F4 fireworks) in a public place
- Anyone (other than a firework professional) to possess category F4 fireworks (i.e. display fireworks)
Can fireworks be used in a public space?
No. Under the Fireworks Regulations 2004, it is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess an adult firework (meaning category F2, F3 and F4 fireworks) in a public place. “Public place” includes any place to which the public have or are permitted access, whether on payment or otherwise.
Can fireworks be let-off at any time?
No, in England and Wales, a curfew on the use of fireworks between 11pm and 7am is imposed by the Fireworks Regulations 2004. The curfew is enforced by the police.
The start of the curfew will be later for some occasions during the year when fireworks are normally used for traditional or cultural events. These are:
- 5 November when the curfew will begin at midnight
- New Year’s Eve when the curfew will not start until 1am on the following day
- Chinese New Year when the curfew will not start until 1am on the following day
- Diwali when the curfew will not start until 1am the following day
In Scotland, a curfew on the use of fireworks between 11pm and 7am is also imposed by the Fireworks (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (PDF 36 KB). However, the following exceptions would apply:
- Until 1am on the nights of Chinese New Year, Diwali and New Year’s Eve
- Until midnight on 5 November
- Local authority employees running local authority firework displays, national public celebrations or national commemorative events
- Other dispensations granted by the local authority
Can excessively loud fireworks be let off?
No. Fireworks legislation specifically prohibits the supply to the public of any category 3 firework where the noise levels exceed 120 decibels db. Category 3 fireworks are the loudest and most powerful fireworks available for public use.
Under the Policing and Crime Act 2017, it is an offence to possess a pyrotechnic article (for example, a firework, flare, or smoke bomb) at a qualifying musical event.
A pyrotechnician is a person who is responsible for the safe storage, handling and functioning of pyrotechnics and pyrotechnic devices.
How are the regulations enforced?
Using fireworks illegally can result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 6 months. An on-the-spot fine of £90 may also be levied.
- Regulation of Fireworks, Commons Library research briefing
- Fireworks: Import, storage and sale, Commons Library
- Fireworks: the law, GOV.UK
- Regulation of fireworks displays in Scotland (PDF 124 KB), SPICe briefing
- Fireworks, HSE
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.