Firework Legislation and the Law

As a retailer, you should be aware of your responsibilities and changes to legislation. 

New legislation has been introduced to help to make fireworks safer to use and to tackle their deliberate misuse.  It affects how fireworks are imported, sold and used, and places restrictions on possession.  It means that fireworks will be safer, less noisy and can only be let off at certain times.  It also means that those misusing them to either damage property or injure will be able to be dealt with by the relevant authorities.  Retailers as well as consumers have new responsibilities.

The age for purchasing fireworks remains the same for:

  • Party Poppers
  • Snaps
  • Throw Downs
  • Caps
  • Novelty Matches
  • Serpents

These may only only be supplied to persons over the age of 16.

All other fireworks (including sparklers) may only be supplied to persons over the age of 18 years.

It is an offense for under 18's to possess adult fireworks in public places. It is also an offence for anyone (other than a professional) to possess category 4 (professional display) fireworks.

Retailers are required to display the following notice in an A3 size with lettering at least 16mm high in a prominent position:

"It is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18 and it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in a public place."

Failure to comply with the law can lead to a penalty of up to £5,000 and six months imprisonment. 

The following links provide further information for retailers storing and selling fireworks:

Professional fireworks

The changes to the law mean that some fireworks can only be bought and used by firework professionals.

These include:

  • Air bombs
  • Aerial shells, aerial maroons, shells-in-mortar and maroons-in-mortar
  • All bangers, (including batteries containing bangers, such as Chinese Crackers)
  • Mini rockets
  • Some category 2 and 3 fireworks, which exceed size limits in the 1997 regulations
  • Fireworks with erratic flight (e.g. ground spinners, jumping jacks, squibs) 
  • All Category 4 fireworks (large display fireworks)

In addition:

  • Retail boxes of fireworks may not be split and sold separately
  • Packs of sparklers have to bear a warning - "warning: not to be given to children under five years of age"
  • Fireworks that fall outside the regulations must be labelled:
    • "This device may not be sold to, or used by, a member of the general public and may not be supplied to the public"
    (Please note the word 'supplied' is used to cover:
    • sale
    • giving away
    • possession for supply in the course of a business or part of a business)

What to do with banned stock

Please examine your old stock and your new stock for any banned products.  Your supplier can help you to identify any incorrect stock.  Any banned stock can only be disposed of in the following manner:

  • Return it to your supplier
  • Sell it to a professional display operator (e.g. a person competent, trained and insured for such activities)
  • Sell it to a professional special effects operator

Selling and using fireworks

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) and Devon and Cornwall Police are working in partnership with all major retailers. This is to ensure that members of the public organising their own firework displays do so in a safe and responsible manner. 

We are asking all firework retailers in Cornwall to take part in our "Safe Sell, Safe Use" firework safety campaign.

How you can help

We would like your business to become an active partner in this very important campaign. You can do so by asking your staff to place the "Safe Sell, Safe Use" stickers provided on to every box of fireworks that you sell.

If your business has not received a firework safety pack please contact Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service to request one.

Please contact the 24 hour Fire Safety Advice using the details on this page.

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