Storing explosives

The legal requirements for storing explosives are set out in the  Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014).

How much can I store, and how long can I store it?

The amount you can store, where you can store it, and how long you can store it for will depend on the type of explosive and the quantity.

Do I need a licence?

Before storing explosives, you will generally need a licence from the appropriate licensing authority. Information on how to apply for a licence is available online.

Certain quantities of explosive can be kept for short periods of time and/or limited quantities, without the need for a licence. but the separation distance requirements of the regulations will still need to be met.

Storage of explosives without a licence
Hazard type or description ER regulation How much can be kept without a licence (kg net mass)? Duration of storage
Shooter's powder 7(2)(a)(i) Up to 10 kg Indefinite
  • Shooters powder, or
  • any hazard type 3 or 4 explosive, or desensitised explosive, which is not a relevant explosive, or a combination of hazard type 3 or 4 explosives, or desensitised explosives, which are not relevant explosives; or
  • a combination of shooters' powder and any hazard type 3 or 4 explosives, or desensitised explosives, which are not relevant explosives;
7(2)(a)(ii) 5 kg in total Indefinite
Percussion caps or small arms ammunition or a mixture of them 7(2)(a)(iii) 15 kg Indefinite
Hazard Type 1 or 2 explosives regulation 7(2)(b)(i) 7 kg Up to 24 hours
A combination of Hazard Type 1 or 2 explosives with explosives of another hazard type regulation 7(2)(b)(ii)
Hazard Type 3 or 4 explosives regulation 7(2)(c) Unlimited Up to 24 hours
Hazard Type 3 explosives consisting of fireworks regulation 7(2)(d)(i), (ii) and (iii) 100 kg Up to 5 days in their place of intended use
Shooters' powders
A combination of shooters' powders and Hazard Type 3 and 4 explosives consisting of fireworks
Hazard Type 4 explosives regulation 7(2)(e)(i) 250 kg Up to 5days in their place of intended use
Hazard Type 4 fireworks regulation 7(2)(e)(ii) 50 kg Up to 21 days consecutively and not for sale or for use at work

Note: An allowance may be claimed under one heading only.

Storage of explosives with a licence

For fireworks, small arms ammunition and similar pyrotechnic articles, the mass of the explosive will be only a fraction of the total mass of the item.

If the manufacturer has provided specific information (for example on the box or on the item itself) on the weight of the explosive content then this should be used as the amount. If they have not, or if the net amount is unclear, the supplier should be contacted.

The maximum quantities that may be kept under the licence, or one of the exceptions above, are the maximum quantities that may be present at that site at any one time. This includes explosives that are only temporarily present at the site – for example explosives being transferred from one vehicle to another.

Site sharing and subletting

The duties in regulations 6 and 7 fall on the person who is manufacturing and/or storing the explosive. The licensee is accountable for compliance with the conditions of the licence; it is therefore essential that the person who holds the licence has effective control over the activities covered by the licence. Equally a person carrying out these activities would be in breach of these regulations if they did not hold a licence - even if someone else held a licence covering these activities at that site.

It is expected that in most situations the licensee would be manufacturing and/or storing on its own behalf, would be the sole occupier of the site, and would have complete control of the activities taking place there covered by the licence. There are however situations where this may not apply and where further guidance is necessary. These are:

  1. manufacture and/or storage on behalf of third parties
  2. sub-letting
  3. subsidiaries operating on the same site as the parent company

Manufacture/storage on behalf of third parties

Anyone manufacturing and/or storing explosives would normally need to hold a licence even if they are carrying out the activities on behalf of a third party.

An individual or business that contracts a third party to store on its behalf would not normally require a licence.

Who is carrying out the activity and holds the duty under the licence depends on who has effective control of the operation, ie who determines in practice what is stored and how it is stored. For example:

  • Company A is contracted to store explosives on behalf of Company B. Company B delivers the explosive to the store when Company A takes over responsibility. Company A would require the licence.
  • Company C is contracted to operate an explosives store on behalf of Company D. Company C has full control over the operation of the store. Company C would require the licence.
  • Company E is contracted to operate a store on behalf of Company F but decisions on what is stored and how are still taken by Company F. So Company F is still storing while Company E is providing labour. Company F would require the licence.

What security arrangements do I need to have in place?

Occupiers of licensed sites must take all due precautions to prevent unauthorised access.

Find out more about security arrangements for storing explosives


Most employers are required by law to insure against liability for injury or disease to their employees arising out of their employment. The Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 ensures that you have at least a minimum level of insurance cover against any such claims.

More information

Public liability insurance is not required by health and safety law. However, if you are manufacturing or storing explosives (including fireworks) you may wish to take out public liability insurance. Many industry trade associations and professional bodies require this as a condition of membership. Professional display operators using category F4 fireworks, T2 theatrical pyrotechnics or P2 pyrotechnic articles are required by product safety law to have public liability insurance in place covering their use.

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Updated: 2024-06-12