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Explosives Licensing

Explosives Regulations 2014

The new Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER 2014) came into force on 1 October 2014 and has replaced the Manufacturer Storage of Explosives Regulations (MSER).


ER 2014 consolidates and therefore revokes a number of existing explosives regulations.  It brings together the requirements of health and safety related explosives legislation into a framework based around common topics such as authorisation, safety, security and placing on the market.  As a result of the consolidation the Approved Code of Practice to the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (L139) has been withdrawn.  Guidance relating to the security of explosives (HSE Circular 1/2005), and guidance on the placing of civil use explosives on the market (L66) have also been withdrawn. 

A copy of the new ER 2014 can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk

The main changes to the regulatory framework include:

  • Merging registrations into the licensing system
  • Allowing local authorities to issue licences up to 5 years, aligning them with equivalent HSE/police-issued licences
  • Extending licensing to address storage of ammonium nitrate blasting intermediate (ANBI)
  • Exceptions for keeping higher hazard and desensitised explosives without a licence have been updated
  • Tables of separation distances have been restructured to better allow for sites with more than one store; the tables have also been revised to cover quantities of explosives greater than 2000kg
  • A revised list of explosives that can be acquired or acquired and kept without an explosives certificate from the police
  • The repeal of the Fireworks Act 1951, as its remaining provisions have been superseded by the Pyrotechnic (Safety) Regulations 2010 can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk 

The Explosives Regulations is supported by two overarching guidance documents L150 the safety of explosives and L151 the security of explosives (see below).

This publication is for anyone who has duties under the safety provisions of the Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014) (SI 2014/1638).  It is particularly relevant to duty holders such as employers, private individuals and other people manufacturing explosives, storing larger quantities of explosives or storing explosives that present higher hazards or greater risks of initiation.  


Download L150 - The Safety of Explosives

This publication is for anyone who has duties under the security provisions of the Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014).  It is particularly relevant to duty holders:

  • Acquiring, keeping and transferring relevant explosives
  • Manufacturing, storing, transferring and placing on the market civil explosives
  • Manufacturing, possessing or transferring plastic explosives


Download L151 - The Security of Explosives

Both these documents are structured around the fundamental objectives, described as ‘statements of success’ that all duty holders in the industry should achieve in a manner proportionate to their business.

The table below explains where to apply for a licence to manufacture or store explosives.

Activity Licensing Authority Enforcing Authority
Manufacture of explosives Health & Safety Executive (HSE) HSE
Manufacture and storage of any quantity of explosives at Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) regulated sites Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) ONR
Storage of more than 2000kg of explosives HSE HSE
Manufacture and storage of Ammonium Nitrate Blasting Intermediate (ANBI) HSE or ONR (at ONR regulated sites) HSE or ONR (at ONR regulated sites)
Storage of any quantity of explosives on the surface of a mine, whether in a building or not HSE HSE
Storage of any quantity of explosives within a harbour areas HSE HSE
Storage of up to 2000kg of explosives if some of the explosives are either:
  • Smokeless powder, or percussion caps
  • A relevant explosive that requires an explosives certificate* (e.g. blasting explosives or black powder)
  • Ammunition the acquisition of which is regulated or prohibited by virtue of the firearms Act 1968-97
  • Explosives that are to be stored by a person who is a registered firearms dealer
Police Police
Storage of up to 2000kg of other explosives (including fireworks and small arms ammunition) where separation distances can be met, none of which requires and explosives certificate* Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
Storage of up to 2000kg of explosives where separation distances in Regulation 27 and schedule 5 cannot be met HSE or ONR ( at ONR regulated sites) Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
Handling explosives in a harbour HSE HSE
On-site mixing n/a HSE

* Explosives that do not require an explosives certificate are listed in

Schedule 2 to the Explosives Regulations 2014 [1]


Current Registered or Licence holders

If you hold a Licence or Registration under MSER we will contact you in advance of its expiry to explain the transition process.  The quantities referred to in MSER are the Net Explosive Quantity (NEQ) and not the gross weight.

NEQ is the quantity of the actual explosive contained within the product and is sometimes also referred to as Net Explosive Content (NEC) or Powder Weight (PW).  For fireworks (or other pyrotechnic articles) if the NEQ weight is not available, then it is taken as being 25% of the gross weight.

Do I need a Licence?

A Licence is required if storing:

  • Up to 250kg of Hazard Type 4 explosives
  • Up to 100kg of a combination of Hazard Type 3 and 4 explosives
  • Up to 100kg of Hazard Type 3 explosives

This includes both the amount held on a shop floor sales area as well as in stock rooms or storage areas.  If you would like to store larger quantities of explosives, over 250kg of Hazard Type 4 (or over 100kg of Hazard Type 3) you need a licence.

If you store less than 5kg of explosives, then there is no need to be licensed.  In the case of fireworks, most for retail sale are Hazard Type 4, but some may be Hazard Type 3 (usually marked 1.3G).  If you are storing any Hazard Type 3 explosives your entire stock should be treated as such and therefore no more than a maximum 100kg can be stored.  However if you are then storing more than 25kg, you are also subject to separation distances from other buildings, accommodation or public areas.

The quantities are often marked on the outer packaging but if you are in any doubt as to the Hazard Type or NEQ you should seek advice from your supplier, as responsibility to store in a safe manner and within permitted quantities rests with the licence holder.

Applying for a Licence


Current fees for the licensing can be found at the HSE website.

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:

Fire Service - Community Safety Admin
St Austell Community Fire Station
Carlyon Road, St Austell, PL25 4LD

Telephone: 01726 72582
Email: csadmin@fire.cornwall.gov.uk

Business Fire Safety

Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service
St Austell Fire Station
Carlyon Road
St Austell
PL25 4LD

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