Explosives licence

In most cases where an individual or business is acquiring, keeping, transferring, storing or manufacturing explosives, an explosives licence is required from the relevant authority. Across the West Midlands, we are responsible for granting an explosive licence.

For details on the types of licence, costs, general guidance and how to apply, please scroll down.

It is important that you read all the guidance and ensure you complete the correct forms for your application.

What is an Explosives Licence?

An explosives licence is a document that allows the holder to store and/or manufacture explosives. The holder of an explosives licence is the person that makes sure its conditions are being met.

The easiest way to apply for an explosive licence is to complete online application form on the ‘how to apply’ tab. If you’re applying for the first time for your premises, part of the process includes a site inspection by one of our officers. Our guidance notes answer some of the most frequently asked questions, so please read them thoroughly before you start to apply to ensure you choose the correct licence and give us the details we need.

You should only use our application form if you want to store less than 2000kg of explosives, and it should not be used to store the explosives listed in Note 1 of the guidance notes.

Further information is available from the Health and Safety Executive website. For queries, e-mail administration@wmfs.net.

The Licence Types Available

There are three main license applications which can be applied for via our website. One for a NEW standard storage license within prescribed periods (periods are detailed in the guidance section), up to 2000kg. The second is a RENEWAL standard storage license within prescribed periods, up to 2000kg (this applies if you have an existing licence which has not yet expired and your circumstances and premises have not changed). The third is an additional application required when you wish to sell fireworks all year-round, rather then just within prescribed periods.

For applications requiring more than 2000kg of storage, this is done through the Health and Safety Executive. More details on licence types and how to apply with them if you need to can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website.

For a new or renewal licence, in addition to completing the online application form you will also need to attach the following documents to your form, an upload area is provided within the online form to do this, so have them ready when you complete it -:

  • You should include a plan to a scale that suitably shows the location of your site in relation to its surroundings. If your site doesn’t have a postal address, the scale should normally be a minimum of 1:25000.
  • Where stores are identified as needing to maintain separation distances, you should also include an Ordnance Survey site plan (or similar.) This should include the location of the store and distances to any neighbouring buildings. The plan should show any areas where you intend to process or manufacture explosives where a licence for those activities is not required under regulation 6 of ER2014. The scale will depend on the separation distance. For a distance of up to 200 metres, a 1:1250 would normally be required while greater distance would require a 1:2500 or even a SuperPlan. Where this plan clearly identifies the location of the site in relation to its surroundings it can be substituted for the plan referred to in 6 above.
  • Where applicants are planning to store or display more than 12.5kg of fireworks on a shop floor, you’ll need to include a floor plan of the sales area.
  • If you intend to store, process or manufacture explosives within a building that is also used for other purposes you should include a floor plan showing the places within the building where you intend storing, processing or manufacturing the explosives.

Guidance to applicants 

IMPORTANT It is your responsibility to ensure you are aware of, and comply with, the Explosives Regulations 2014. The licensing authority (West Midlands Fire Service, within the West Midlands conurbation) has the power to prohibit storage of explosives at the site if it believes the site is no longer suitable. It may also take enforcement action if you are not storing safely. 

If you are intending to supply fireworks outside the normal permitted periods e.g. (26-31 December), Chinese New Year and three days before, October 15th-November 10th and Diwali and three days before, you will also need to make a separate application to us for a licence to comply with the Fireworks Regulations 2004. 

General information on completing the application 

  1. Our online applications should not be used for an application for a licence to store the explosives listed below: 
  • relevant explosives 
  • ammunition the acquisition of which is regulated or prohibited by virtue of the Firearms Act 1968 and its amendments 
  • smokeless powder or percussion caps 
  • explosives stored by a person who is registered as a firearms dealer under section 33 of the Firearms Act 1968 

If you want to store the explosives listed above, you should use form ER2. Please email administration@wmfs.net for further details. 

You should only use our forms if you want to store not more than 2000kg of explosives. If you want to store more than 2000kg of explosives you should apply to the Health and Safety Executive for a licence. Further information on licensing can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/explosives/licensing/how-to-apply.htm 

2. Our online forms are set up to take all the required information we believe we need, however, if there is further information you can or wish to provide to aid your application, you can submit an additional document in the ‘uploads’ area with supplementary information if needed. 

3. Please contact us if you have any questions about completing our online forms or about your application.  

4. Please note: Any previous convictions you may have may be subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and you do not have to include convictions that are ‘spent’ on this application form. Where the application relates to a corporate body or company, convictions of all directors should be listed. Where the application relates in Scotland to a partnership, convictions of all partners should be listed. Information on how Licensing Authorities will consider the relevance of previous convictions to an application for a licence can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/explosives/index.htm 

5. Separation distances – please see Regulation 27 and Schedule 5 of the Explosives Regulations 2014. You will not normally be required to maintain separation distances if you store no more than: 

  • 250kg HT4 
  • 25kg HT3 (or combination of HT3 and HT4) 
  • 0.1kg HT1 
  • 0.1kg HT2 

on one site. If you are unsure whether your store or on places where you will be manufacturing or processing explosives on site are subject to separation distances, please contact us. 

 The following documents should be submitted with the application form (our online forms have an uploads area for you to do this): 

  1.  A plan to a scale sufficient to show the location of the site in relation to its surroundings (i.e. named or numbered roads, hamlets, villages or geographical features). Where the site does not have a postal address this should normally be a minimum scale of 1:25000. 
  2.  If the store is subject to separation distances you will also need to provide an Ordnance SurveySiteplan (or similar) map showing the location of the store and distances to any neighbouring buildings. The plan should also show any areas where you intend to process or manufacture explosives where a licence for those activities is not required under regulation 6 of Explosives Regulations 2014. The scale will depend on the separation distance. For a distance of up to 200 metres, a 1:1250 would normally be required while greater distance would require a 1:2500 or even a SuperPlan. Where this plan clearly identifies the location of the site in relation to its surroundings it can be substituted for the plan referred to in 6 above.
  3. If you intend to store or display more than 12.5kg of fireworks on a shop floor, we will require you submit a floor plan of the sales area.
  4. If you intend to store, process or manufacture explosives within a building that is also used for other purposes you should include a floor plan showing the places within the building where you intend storing, processing or manufacturing the explosives.
  5. The fee must also be submitted with the application(in the case of renewal and year-round licences. For new applications, a fee will be payable but is not taken until your application has been reviewed). Information on fees can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/explosives/licensing/fees.htm, or on our explosives licence information page https://www.wmfs.net/our-services/licensing/explosives-licence/. 

Hazard type and quantity 

  1. We will need to know the hazard type and quantity of the explosives you wish to store to determine whether your store is suitable. The quantity you will be allowed to store will depend on the hazard type of the explosives. Please contact your supplier if you are uncertain about the hazard types of explosive you wish to store. 
  2. The “quantity” refers to the ‘net mass’ of the explosives. This means the weight of the explosive contained within an article i.e. less packaging, casings, etc

Period of validity 

  1. Licences for fireworks and other explosives that do not require an explosive certificate may be granted for up to 5 years, as we determine. 

Explosive Licence Charges

New storage and sales licences (within prescribed periods)

Under 250kg nec 1 year £109
Above £250kg nec 1 year £185

Renewal storage and sales licences (within prescribed periods)

Under 250kg nec 1 year £54
Above 250kg nec 1 year £86

Licence for all year round sales

Selling Licence 1 year £500

All payments for licences are taken electronically by our website. In the case of renewal or year-round licences, these are taken at the point your application is completed online. For new licences, payment is requested from you following review of your application and a site visit, but you will be directed to pay electronically. For queries about other payment methods please email administration@wmfs.net

Applying for a licence.

You can apply for your explosives licence on our website. To do this, select the licence you require from the options below and complete the online form. For renewals and year-round fireworks licences, online payment with a credit or debit card is required when you complete the form. For new licences, payment is completed following receipt of your application and the relevant checks or site inspections are carried out.

All fees paid to us for licences and certificates are non-refundable, so please ensure you choose the correct licence and enter your details carefully. For additional guidance around your application please email administration@wmfs.net

New Licence

If you’ve not had an explosives licence before, or your existing licence has expired.

Renewal Licence

If you are renewing an existing explosives licence.

Year-round sales licence

Required to sell fireworks outside of standard periods (bonfire night, new year etc.)