Fireworks and the law: retailers


Under the provisions of the Firework Regulations 2004 it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in a public place and it is illegal to sell fireworks to under 18s. Remember - sparklers should never be given to under fives.

The age limit for buying most fireworks is 18. All sparkler packets must carry the words 'Warning: not to be given to children under five years of age'. Since the end of 1997, it has been against the law to sell or supply bangers, aerial shells, mini-rockets and some types of bigger Roman candles to the public. It is also illegal to sell air bombs now known as shot tubes.

No one should buy fireworks other than responsible adults who are going to supervise the use of fireworks on their own property.

Important notes to retailers:

  • It is illegal to sell bangers
  • There is a requirement that suppliers selling fireworks all year round should be licenced - having the effect of restricting sales to within certain defined periods. The periods where selling without a licence is permitted are:
    • Bonfire night (October 15 to November 10) 
    • New Year (December 26 to December 31) 
    • Chinese New Year (on the first day of the Chinese New Year and the three days immediately preceding it)
    • Diwali (on the day of Diwali and the three days immediately preceding it)
  • There is a requirement that suppliers of fireworks display a large notice, or in the case of mail order sales display a notice in a prominent place, informing and reminding consumers of the law in relation to underage sale and possession
  • It is the retailers responsibility to check that they are not supplying fireworks to under 18's
  • Retailers breaking the law could face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment.

It is also illegal to break open retail packs of fireworks and sell them individually. Some fireworks are intended to be sold individually, but these do not come in packs. The reason why packs must not be broken open is that many of the instructions for using the fireworks safely are printed on the packet and not on the individual firework.