This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.

Licensing of explosives


The law

It is illegal for a business to store fireworks without being registered or licensed by Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Service.

It is illegal to sell adult fireworks or sparklers to anyone under the age of eighteen.

It is illegal for anyone under the age of eighteen to possess adult fireworks in a public place.

It it illegal to display for sale or sell fireworks outside the following periods: 

  • first day of Chinese New Year and 3 days prior
  • Diwali and 3 days prior
  • between 15 October and 10 November
  • between 26 and 31 December

The courts may impose a fine of up to £5,000 or up to 6 months imprisonment or both.


Trading Standards Officers may carry out exercises using underage volunteers to test purchase fireworks in the period leading up to and after 5 November and New Year, as well as Diwali and the Chinese New Year.


The following maximum amounts are permitted for storage on registered premises. All weights listed in the following paragraphs are net weights of explosives contained in the fireworks: 

  • sales area - 12.5kg in a small shop, rising to 75kg in large superstores etc
  • non-public areas - 250kg (less the amount in the sales area), however in premises which contain or adjoin domestic or sleeping accommodation this is reduced to 75kg, unless specific constructional requirements are met

In areas where the public have access you can keep fireworks in glass showcases, metal containers, wooden boxes, cupboards or drawers, but these must be locked or positioned so that no unauthorised person can reach them. Each container must not contain more than 12.5kg net weight of explosive. You must not put glass showcases containing fireworks in your shop window

Fireworks stored elsewhere in the building must be kept in closed fire-resistant containers. The fireworks should be kept in their transport packaging for as long as possible, and only opened when needed.

Any container used for keeping fireworks must not contain other articles.

You and your employees must take due care to prevent unauthorised access to any fireworks and accidents involving fire.

Safety precautions

Keep all passages and stairways clear so that, if a fire should occur, escape is not hampered. See that doors are not obstructed.

Do not store fireworks in passageways or under stairs.

Keep water-type fire extinguishers handy and see that they are properly maintained (buckets of water and sand are a useful stand-by).

Label the containers: ‘Fireworks Highly Flammable’, and keep them closed.

Keep all fireworks in a dry place.

Disconnect from the electricity supply any electrical fitting inside a display case while the case is being used for displaying fireworks.

See that there is no smoking at or near the stands or counters where fireworks are being sold or displayed. Put up ‘NO SMOKING’ notices.