HM Insights

Remember, remember how to stay legal this November!

For some time, the Scottish Government has been keen to bring in greater restrictions in relation to the purchasing and use of fireworks. They are inherently dangerous and result in thousands of injuries, both to people and animals, in the United Kingdom every year. Most recently, Sainsbury’s have announced they will no longer sell fireworks due to the distress they cause in animals every year.

In June this year the The Fireworks (Scotland) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 2021 came into force amending the previous 2004 regulations. 

Here is an up-to-date summary on what’s legal and what’s not:

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Purchasing Fireworks

 In the UK, consumers over the age of 18 years old can purchase fireworks at any time of the year. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in a public place.

Due to the new regulations:

  • Fireworks can only be sold in Scotland between 7am and 6pm, unless you are buying on behalf of a community or public display or similar, or live outside of Scotland.
  • There is now a maximum amount of fireworks which can be sold at any one time. In Scotland you can only purchase 5kg NEC, unless, again, you are buying on behalf of a community or public display or similar, or live outside of Scotland
  • You can only purchase fireworks intended for use by the general public. These will be classified as Category F2 (with a safety distance to spectators of at least 8m and often 15m or 20m) or Category F3 (25m safety distance).
  • Fireworks marked as Category F4 are for use by professionals only. There is no available training or license available in the UK that entitles any member of the public to buy or use Category F4 fireworks.
  • Specialist firework shops have to apply for a license to sell fireworks all year round. Supermarkets that sells fireworks are restricted to selling periods such as the run-up to Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.

The Big Display

Fireworks may only be used by the general public during the permitted hours of day between 6pm and 11pm except on the following 4 nights:

Bonfire Night itself (November 5th): 6pm until midnight.
New Year’s Eve (December 31st): 6pm until 1am.
Diwali (varies, 2021 date is 4th November): 6pm until 1am.
Chinese New Year (varies, 2022 date is 1st February): 6pm until 1am.

Exempt Groups

Certain groups are exempt from the Regulations and may use fireworks out with the permitted hours, between 7am and 6pm:

  • Community groups, including charitable, religious, recreational and political organisations, who can continue to organise public displays between 7am and 6pm
  • Professional organisers or operators of firework displays
  • Businesses involved in the supply of fireworks and who use fireworks in connection with that business can continue to do so between 7am and 6pm
  • Regulatory authorities can continue to use fireworks between the hours of 7am and 6pm in the exercise of their powers or duties in connection with the use and/or regulation of fireworks

Planning a firework display?

You must let your fireworks off in your own garden or on land you have permission to fire from. It is illegal to let fireworks off in a public place, such as in the street or a park.

If your display involves the public as spectators you may want to obtain insurance in the event that an accident occurs.  

Be safe and have fun this 5th November!