These are the laws around buying and setting off fireworks at home in the UK

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 8:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 8:58 am
Are you planning on setting off fireworks for Bonfire Night? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Are you planning on setting off fireworks for Bonfire Night? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Firework displays can be an enjoyable event for the whole family to enjoy, and with Bonfire Night approaching, you might have begun thinking about letting off some fireworks at home.

If you plan on purchasing or setting off fireworks, you should be up to date on the law in the UK - otherwise, you could end up with a prison sentence or a hefty fine.

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When can I buy fireworks?

You can buy fireworks from a retailer with either a long term or short term licence.

Businesses like supermarkets and newsagents will have short term licences which only permit them to sell fireworks at specific times during the year, which are

  • 15 October to 10 November
  • 26 to 21 December
  • Three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

At other times of the year, you can only buy fireworks from licensed shops with long term licences.

You have to be over 18 years old to purchase fireworks in the UK.

When can I set off fireworks?

In the UK, the law states you must not set off or throw fireworks (including sparklers) in the street or in other public places.

You must not set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, excluding:

  • Bonfire Night (5 November), when the cut off is midnight
  • New Year’s Eve (31 December), when the cut off is 1am
  • Diwali (14 November), when the cut off is 1am
  • Chinese New Year (12 February), when the cut off is 1am

Your local authority might have differing rules regarding the curfew around fireworks, so it’s always best to check with your council and make sure there are no extra limitations.

Can I hold my own firework display?

If you want to legally hold your own firework display, you’ll need to make sure that you’re complying with all areas of the law.

Firstly, you must be over 18 and have purchased the fireworks from a licensed supplier.

Next, if you intend to set them off in a public place, you’ll first need to obtain permission from the relevant authority.

If you hold your own firework display, you have a duty of care to ensure the safety of your neighbours and any visitors that view your display. Check the online guidelines of the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents to make sure you’re fully aware of all the precautions you should take.

This year, you should also consider social distancing guidelines and the rules around mass gatherings, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

What happens if someone breaks the rules?

Under the Firework Act of 2003, if you break the law around firework usage, then you can end up with a prison sentence of up to six months, or a fine of up to £5,000.

Breaking the rules regarding fireworks is considered a criminal offence. However, if you cause damage to property or injury to someone with a firework, then you can be liable for a civil offence and could be sued.