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Transfer of explosives

This page contains information on the controls that apply to the transfer of explosives within Great Britain (GB) under the Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfers of Explosives Regulations 1993. It outlines the responsibilities for those involved in the transfer of explosives, the documentation required and how to apply for it.


When being transferred ALL explosives covered by the Regulations must be accompanied by a Recipient Competent Authority (RCA) document. Depending on the particular circumstances you will obtain your RCA from either your local Police Authority or HSE.

What is a transfer of explosives?

In this context, transfer means the moving of explosives from one place to another.   Moving explosives within a site (such as a factory, mine, quarry, construction site or a re-enactment display area) is exempt from the Regulations.

Who do the Regulations apply to?

The regulations apply to anyone who transfers explosives, be they individuals or companies.

Do the Regulations apply to all explosives?

The regulations apply to transfers of ALL explosives – except:

In relation to the exclusion for 'explosives intended for lawful use by the police or armed forces' this refers to the 'intended use'. In this context, a distinction needs to be drawn between the immediate use and possible eventual use for military purposes. A starting point for determining whether the explosive falls within the exclusion would be whether the explosive falls within the Common Military List of the European Union. In principle, such explosives could be regarded as military explosives. However, the possibility of dual use cannot be excluded. If the immediate consignee is a commercial company, the rules of the Directive should apply up to the point it becomes clear the ultimate use is military.

If the explosive is not on the Common Military List it should be regarded as a commercial explosive and treated accordingly unless the consignee is the armed forces or the police.

What are my responsibilities under the transfer requirements?


If you are a supplier (consignor) you must ensure that the person or company (the consignee) you are consigning explosives to has an RCA document covering the explosives to be transferred.

The consignee has to send you a valid RCA document or a certified true copy when ordering, or show you an RCA document if collecting in person, before the transfer can take place.

If dispatching a consignment of explosives with a carrier, you must give the carrier the consignee’s RCA document, or certified copy, which must then accompany the explosives throughout their entire journey.

Your regular consignees may decide to send you a batch of certified copies of their RCA document to avoid delays when ordering. You must then ensure that one document accompanies each consignment.


If you are a carrier you must receive from the consignor an RCA document, or a certified true copy, approving the transfer of any explosives covered by the transfer requirements.

The RCA document must accompany the explosives during their journey. If different modes of transport are used during the transfer the RCA document must be passed from one to the other with the explosives.

If you are carrying to more than one consignment on the same vehicle, each individual consignment must be accompanied by the consignee’s RCA document, or a certified copy.

At the completion of the journey the RCA document must be passed to the consignee with the delivered explosives. It is the carrier's responsibility to ensure that the consignee’s RCA document always accompanies the explosives.

Receiving explosives

If you are receiving explosives (consignee) you must obtain an RCA document before any explosives are transferred to you.

You will then have to send or show the RCA document, or a certified copy, to your supplier (consignor) before the transfer can take place.

If you receive explosives regularly, you may wish to send a batch of certified copies of your RCA document to your supplier to avoid delays.

Moving explosives

If you are moving your own explosives you become the consignor, the carrier and the consignee and should simply keep your RCA document with you.

If you collect your own explosives from a supplier (consignor), you will need to show them the RCA document, or a certified copy, before you can take the explosives.

You must ensure that the RCA document accompanies the explosives at all times during the transfer.


If you take part in historical battle re-enactments, you do not need an RCA document if you only acquire explosives (eg black powder) at the site of re-enactment and do not move the explosives off the site. In all other cases, you will require an RCA document, and will have to comply with the other transfer requirements.


HSE have prepared a template letter for Rocketeers to apply to move their model rocket motors. The completed letter can be sent by email to or by post to the address on the letter.

Own use load or re-loaders

If you load or reload sporting ammunition for your own use, you do not require an RCA document in respect of the components of that ammunition. However, buyers or sellers of bulk components will need an RCA document and have to comply with the other transfer requirements.

How do I apply for, or renew an RCA document?

If you hold an Explosives Certificate under COER issued before 1st June 2012 you should contact HSE for your RCA document. Either post or email HSE’s Explosives Inspectorate a copy (not the original) of both sides of your current Explosives Certificate. You should also contact HSE if your require an RCA document and the transfer of explosives is between EU states, or if your explosives are listed under COER Schedule 1.

In England and Wales - All new COER certificates issued after 1st June 2012 should contain an RCA document. If you are applying for a new/replacement COER certificate. You should contact your local Police explosives liaison officer. Your new COER certificate will contain an RCA document without you needing to contact HSE.

In Scotland - Holders of COER certificates from Police services in Scotland should continue to apply to HSE for an RCA document.

Your RCA document will include the UN Numbers of the explosives shown on your explosives certificate. It will also include the UN Numbers for those explosives to which the transfer requirements apply but which do not require an Explosives Certificate to acquire and keep (eg smokeless powder) that you have indicated on your application form. The RCA document's expiry date will be the same as the expiry date on your Explosives Certificate.

If you require a RCA document but do not hold an Explosives Certificate, as you only acquire or keep explosives contained on COER Schedule 1 - contact the HSE Explosives Inspectorate clearly stating which explosives you wish to transfer.

The Regulations require you to keep the RCA document or a certified copy for a period of three years after completion of the transfer. In practice, this normally means three years after expiry of the RCA document

Transfers from overseas

If you wish to receive explosives directly from other EU Member States, you will need an Intra Community Transfer document (ICT). This allows authorisation of the transfer by each Member State through which the explosives will pass.

ICT applications normally take 5 working days to process. Where an urgent and unforeseen situation arises, HSE normally requires at least 48 hours notice, from receipt of all information, to process an ICT.

The form contains explanatory notes for guidance.

You should:

HSE will complete and endorse part 6 and return three copies to you. You must then send the copies to the competent authorities of each Member State through which the explosives will pass to obtain their authorisation. It is your duty to ensure that the explosives listed on the ICT application have been properly classified by a Competent Authority of a Contracting Party to the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).  For information on classification of explosives see Classification of Explosives.

The document must accompany the explosives at all times until they arrive at their destination.

If you are exporting explosives to someone in another EU Member State, It is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that you are provided with an authorised ICT to accompany the explosives.


The Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfers of Explosives Regulations 1993 (POMSTER) include controls on the transfer of explosives. These apply to all movements of civil explosives – whether import, export, or movements within Great Britain (parallel regulations apply in Northern Ireland). The regulations implement Council Directive 93/15/EEC in Great Britain.

Further Information

The guide to Placing on the Market and Supervision of Transfers of Explosives Regulations 1993 can be found on the HSE web site.

Updated 2013-07-01