How to apply for a storage licence

It is an offence to store or sell explosives (fireworks) without a valid licence, and you must not do so until you receive your licence. Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is the enforcing authority for the Explosives Regulations 2014, which includes the storage of fireworks. 

It is your responsibility to ensure you are aware of, and comply with, the Explosives Regulations 2014. As the licensing authority we have the power to prohibit storage of explosives at the site if we believe the site is no longer suitable or the licensee becomes no longer a fit person to store explosives. We may also take enforcement action if you are not storing safely.

You should be aware that an inspecting officer will inspect your premises to make sure the storage is suitable to keep explosives. 

You must have a separate licence for every premises where you wish to store explosives or display fireworks for sale.

Accessing an application form

You can apply for a licence via the online application form.

Application information

Please note that new licence requests will only be granted for one year. The renewal of existing licences may be granted for up to five years depending on your compliance history.

Please provide as much information as possible when completing the online application form. Incomplete applications cannot be processed. It is your responsibility to ensure you have read the supporting documentation and you have applied for the correct hazard type and quantity for your store.

In order to help us process your application form, please ensure that you: 

  • Do read all supporting documentation
  • Do complete forms in full, paying particular attention to mandatory fields
  • Do ensure you have applied for the correct hazard type and quantity for your store
  • Do ensure you have submitted site and floor plans, if necessary
  • Do not send postal orders, cash or cheques as payment

If you are still unsure about any aspect of the online application and payment process, please email us at fireworks@manchesterfire.gov.uk or telephone 0161 608 4040.

Explosive/hazard type and quantity/amounts

When filling in the application form you are required to state the hazard type and the amount you wish to store.

Please note that all weights are in kilogrammes and are the Net Explosive Content (NEC) of the article, which is the weight of the explosive powder in the article and does not include any packaging or casing.

Explosive/hazard type

  • Hazard Type 4 (HT4) - you may store from 5kg up to 250kg NEC before separation distances are applied. If your storage is adjoining or in the same building as domestic/sleeping accommodation, then you may be restricted to up to 75kg NEC.
  • Hazard Type 3 (HT3) - you can only store up to 25kg NEC before separation distance are applied.
  • Mix of HT3 and HT4 - when storing both hazard types all the explosives will be classed as HT3, therefore you may only store up to 25kg NEC before separation distances apply.

Quantity/amounts

  • 5kg to 25kg NEC of explosives - this option only applies if you wish to store any HT3 fireworks and are unable to maintain any separation distances.
  • 5kg to 250kgs NEC of explosives - your risk assessment and the explosives inspecting officer’s assessment will dictate the amount you can store. This is for sites, which cannot maintain any separation distance.
  • 251kg to 2000kg NEC of explosives - this option allows for bulk storage of fireworks and separation distances will apply. This is the distance between your premises and things such as footpaths, roads and other buildings. The amount you can store will be dictated by your risk assessment and the approval of the explosives inspecting officer.

If you wish to store more than 2000kg of explosives, you should apply to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for a licence. Further information can be found on the licensing pages of their website (opens in a new window). 

Site and floor plans  

The following documents must be submitted with your application form:

  • 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.
  • If you intend to store, process or manufacture explosives within a building you should include a floor plan showing the places within the building where you intend storing, processing or manufacturing the explosives. 
  • If you intend to store or display fireworks on a shop floor, you will be required to submit a floor plan of the sales area.
  • If the store is subject to separation distances you will also need to provide an Ordinance Survey Site plan (or similar) map showing the location of the store and distances to any neighbouring buildings. The scale will depend on the separation distance; up to 200m a 1:1250 would be required while a greater distance would require a 1:25000.

If you are renewing a licence and there are no changes to the storage arrangements, which were agreed at the time of issuing the licence, then there are no requirements to resubmit plans.

Risk assessment

You will need to complete a site specific risk assessment for the storage of explosives. You will be required to produce your risk assessment when an inspecting officer visits your premises.

Your risk assessment must comply with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (opens in a new window).

An example of an appropriate risk assessment (opens in a new window) can be found on the HSE’s website. 

Proof of lease and insurance

You are required to have in place a current lease agreement for the premises that you will be using for the storage of fireworks and, if applicable, be able to provide proof of that lease to an inspecting officer during a site visit.

You should only apply for a storage licence if you have suitable storage facilities already in place and should have insurance to cover the storage of explosives.

Licence fees and refund policy

Licence fees are detailed on the “Firework licence fees” page on our website.

Payments will not be refunded once your application has been accepted. It is your responsibility to ensure you have read the supporting documentation and that you have completed the application form accurately.

Payment is not a guarantee that your licence will be approved. Should the decision is made to refuse you an explosive licence then the payment will not be refunded.

However if you have made a payment in error please email fireworks@manchesterfire.gov.uk quoting your reference number (this will have been emailed to you when you successfully made a payment), full name, contact number and reason for requesting a refund. The team will deal with your query at the earliest possible opportunity.

Inspection and enforcement

Your storage facilities will be inspected prior to an Explosives Storage Licence being granted and during the licensing period. The inspections will check for compliance with the storage regulations and your specific licence conditions. You must not store any explosives before you receive your storage licence.  

The storage licence is granted for your specific site and to you as a fit and proper person to store explosives safely. If during the licence period it is found that the storage facilities are no longer deemed safe or adequate, or if information comes to the GMCA that the licensee is no longer deemed a fit and proper person, then your licence may be revoked. You will be informed of any concerns and will have the opportunity to make representations against the revocation.

Data protection

The information submitted for your licence application will be used and retained in line with the processing of this application and the maintenance of any required registers. This information will only be disclosed in line with the Explosives Regulations 2014. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is part of the GMCA. Please read our privacy notice (opens in a new window) for more details about how we use the information provided.

If you want access to your information or wish to exercise any of your information rights please contact OfficeofDPO@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk.