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Explosives Licensing

Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations

For the full regulations please refer to the The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005.


The main requirements of the regulations are as follows:

  • Anyone manufacturing or storing explosives must take appropriate measures to prevent fire or explosion; to limit the extent of any fire or explosion should one occur; and protect persons in the event of a fire or explosion. These are the key requirements of the regulations and are backed up by extensive guidance in the Approved Code of Practice;
  • In most cases a separation distance must be maintained between the explosives building and neighbouring inhabited buildings. This is intended to ensure that risks to those living or working in the area are kept to an acceptable level. If there is development in this separation zone then the quantity that may be kept must be reduced;
  • With certain exceptions a licence is required for the manufacture or storage of explosives. HSE licenses manufacturing activities because of the greater risks involved. HSE also licenses larger explosives storage facilities. In most cases, stores holding less than two tonnes of explosives are either licensed or registered by the local authority or the police;
  • HSE may not grant a licence for a manufacturing facility or, in most cases, store until the local authority has given its assent (normally following a public hearing). This is an important safeguard in the present system that is to be retained.

Manufacture and storage of explosives - licensing requirements

If you want to store or manufacture explosives you will need a licence or to register with your local licensing authority.
This applies to a wide variety of substances and articles including:

This will depend on the quantity and type of explosive you want to store and where you live.

For 2000kg of explosive or more

If you wish to store more than 2000kg of explosive, you will need a licence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

For more than 250kg but less than 2000kg of explosive

If you wish to store up to 2000kg of an explosive that requires an explosives certificate (e.g. blasting explosive or black powder), you will need a licence or registration from Devon and Cornwall Police. Visit Devon and Cornwall Constabulary website for further information and an application form.  

For less than 250kg of explosive

If you wish to store up to 250kg of other explosives - including fireworks and small arms ammunition (none of which requires an explosives certificate), you will need to apply to by filling out the form using the link below:

 Explosives Registration Application Form

Current fees for the registration can be found from the HSE website via this link: Fees for Registration and Licensing of Explosives

Payment will need to be payable to Cornwall Council before the licensing authority will consider an application.

Send the completed application form and cheque to:

Service Delivery Admin Support Team
Falmouth Community Fire Station
Trescobeas Road, Falmouth, TR11 2LQ

Telephone: 01326 212412
Email: fire@cornwall.gov.uk

More extensive information will be required for applications to HSE for a licence for manufacturing or a larger store, where the licence will be subject to local authority assent.

The process for considering licence applications

If the application is for a licence, the licensing authority will normally wish to visit the proposed store. The licensing authority may also wish to visit the storage place if the application is for a registration.

Can a local authority refuse an application?

An application can be refused, but normally only in exceptional circumstances. There are two circumstances when a licensing authority might refuse a licence:

  • If it believes that the site of the proposed store is unsuitable on safety grounds.
  • If it has evidence that leads it to take the view that the applicant is not a fit person to store explosives.


Anyone wishing to manufacture explosives will need to apply to the HSE for a licence.

Inspection of Registered Premises

The occupier of registered premises must allow any authorised officer to inspect the place and receptacles where explosives are kept, and the registration must be renewed annually or bi-annually.

Licence/registration document

The licensing authority will issue a certificate which will in most cases set out:

  • The name and address of the licensee/registered person
  • The address of the store
  • The amount and type of explosive that may be kept there

Revocation of registrations / licenses

A registration or licence can be revoked, in exceptional circumstances.


As the Explosives Act 1875 has now been replaced by the above legislation, you will no longer be required to register to store up to 5 kg (Net) of explosives, (this would probably equate to approx 50 airbags). 

However, should you also store any other explosives; for example fireworks or ammunition you will still need to be registered.

Please remember that although there is no longer a need for registration for the storage of explosive charges for air bags, you still have a responsibility to ensure that any explosives kept on your premises are done so in a safe manner.  We would encourage you to continue to store these in locked containers and ensure there are effective health and safety procedures in place.


As the Explosives Act 1875 has now been replaced by the above legislation, any licence / registration to store gunpowder in the future will be issued by the Police only.  If you store less than 10 kg of black powder or 5 kg of shooters powder you may not need to be licensed/registered to store.

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