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Identification and traceability of explosives

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Manufacturers or importers are required to mark most civil explosives with a unique identification code. Where it is required the unique identification code must be marked on (or in certain cases attached to) each individual item. Different marking requirements apply depending on the size of the explosive. This requirement applies to all civil use explosives, covered by Directive 2014/28/EU,  manufactured or imported after 5 April 2013. It does not apply to civil use explosives manufactured or imported before 5 April 2013 which can be placed on the market and transported throughout the EU provided that all other requirements of the Directive are met.

The record keeping requirements of ER2014 came into force on 5 April 2015. Further information is available.


European Directive 2008/43/EC introduced marking and record keeping requirements for civil use explosives across Europe and set in place a system for the identification and traceability of explosives at every point in the supply chain. This followed security issues raised by the Madrid train bombings in 2004, which killed 191 people, and injured over 1800 others.

In 2012, Directive 2008/43/EC was amended by Directive 2012/4/EU. The amendments removed some items from scope, delayed the coming into force date, and provided more certainty in relation to the marking requirements for small explosives items

Marking of items

The marking must be firmly affixed to the article in a durable and legible way.

The unique identification is described in Schedule 6 of ER2014 and is made up of:

Items too small to mark individually

If the explosive is too small to be marked with all of this information only some of the information will be required. Schedule 7 of the regulations details this information.

Exceptions to marking requirements

Manufacturers are not required to mark civil explosives that are manufactured for export providing that the civil explosives are marked in accordance with identification in accordance with the traceability requirements of the importing country.

Importers are not required to mark civil explosives if they are already marked with a unique identification compliant with Schedule 6 of the regulations.

The requirement to mark civil explosives does not apply to:

Further information

L151 Explosives Regulations 2014 Guidance on Regulations – Security provisions provides further information on the marking of items.

Find out more about unique identification requirements.

Explosives Regulations 2014 (Amendment) Regulations 2016.

The European commission have produced a set of questions and answers concerning the implementation of Directive 93/15/EEC which provides additional guidance on this topic.

Updated: 2019-11-21