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Licensing of Explosives

Anyone who wishes to acquire and/or keep any explosive must first apply for an appropriate certificate under the Explosives Regulations 2014.

Explosives covered by the regulations can be used for commercial or leisure purposes. You must be able to provide good reason for acquiring or keeping any explosive material.

For example you would need a certificate for:

  • Sporting and social use: Gunpowder (black powder) for shooting, such as muzzle-loading, shotguns and rifles, or at events where re-enactments of historical battles involve the use of muzzle-loading muskets and cannons.
  • Caving activities: Explosives used to win rock or displace large quantities of rock underground.
  • Explosives for use in a commercial environment.

Types of Certificates Available

Acquire Only 

For permission to obtain explosives which are to be used and not kept or stored overnight. The certificate is issued for up to five years.

All applicants applying for an explosives certificate to acquire only where the application is for a grant will be visited to ensure that they fulfil the criteria for a ‘fit and responsible person’.

Acquire and Keep

For permission to obtain explosives and to keep them in an approved place of storage. This certificate is issued for up to five years.

We will visit and inspect storage meets legal requirements before any ‘acquire and keep’ certificate is granted.

Application forms

There are three application forms depending on the use and type of explosive needed.

Application for an Explosives Certificate - Form ER4

  • For companies, clubs and societies, powder masters or users.
  • Not applicable for personally held firearms and shotguns, or historic re-enactment.

Application for an Explosives Certificate - Form ER4a

  • For individuals wishing to use black powder in their own firearms or shotguns, or for historic re-enactment events.
  • Use this form for an ‘acquire only’ or an ‘acquire and keep’ certificate for black powder.
  • Not applicable to clubs, societies, or organisations or for any explosive other than black powder.

Application for Renewal of an Explosive Certificate for Blackpowder to be used in Firearms - Form ER4b 

  • Should be used when renewing an explosives certificate at the same time as a firearm or shotgun certificate.

Dealing With Your Application

It is important to use the correct form, if you are in any doubt, please contact the Explosives Licensing Team for advice prior to application or renewal.

If you are a certificate holder it is your responsibility to ensure your application is submitted in good time for any renewal enquiries to be completed. We would suggest submitting application 12 weeks in advance of your expiry date. 

We will ask for more information if you haven’t given enough detail on the form for a certificate to be granted. It is for you to provide good reason to support your application.

If you are having difficulty viewing the application forms, download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader by visiting get.adobe.com/uk/reader

Related documents

  • PDF icon Form ER4 Application for an Explosives Certificate
    Last updated: 22 December 2016
  • PDF icon Form ER4a Application for an Explosives Certificate
    Last updated: 22 December 2016
  • PDF icon Form ER4b Application for Renewal of an Explosive Certificate for Blackpowder to be used in Firearms
    Last updated: 22 December 2016