Legal Fireworks

Is it Legal to Make Fireworks?

SPECIAL REPORT: Fireworking, the Law and You

There have been so many questions about what it takes to make fireworks legally. Far and away most of the responses to our recent fireworks survey had something to do with the legalities of fireworks making. You can see the survey results here.

Here’s the first thing to know.  The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (shorthand is “ATF’”, “BATF,” or “BATFE”) is the agency which primarily regulates the manufacture of explosives in this country.  Yes, fireworks are explosives.  The ATF has said repeatedly in writing that if you want to make fireworks for your own non-commercial use, that it is Federally legal for you to do so. And you do not need an ATF explosives manufacturing license to do so.  Here’s a link to one of their letters stating this. Save it and print it out.

ATF Fireworks Exemption Letter

With the help of our friend Ned Gorski, we’ve put together a 19-page easy to follow report entitled “Fireworking, the Law and You.” This downloadable PDF file is available FREE to you today. Simply click the link below to download.

Get Fireworking, the Law and You

Ned goes over what it takes to make fireworks legally, and even shows you how to make a magazine inexpensively to use for legal storage of the fireworks you make.

In addition to the Federal regulations, you need to understand legalities in your town,  county or in your state. As far as I know, there is no single website you can go to for legal info on local and state fireworks making.

Get Fireworking, the Law and You

I suggest you first go to your state’s legislative web site, and research “fireworks” there. Download everything you find, and follow all cross references and links. Be sure you understand your state’s legal distinctions between “fireworks” and “explosives.” Remember that although all fireworks really ARE explosives, laws and regulations frequently treat explosives and fireworks differently.

Remember that if the laws do not restrict or prohibit an activity, then you are free do to it. You may find that it is simply not possible to legally make fireworks in your state. But, either way, you need to know.

Once you have researched your state laws and regs, then check for county/city ordinances. If the info is not available online, check your local library. If you strike out there, try your fire department.

But the bottom line is that you can make and store fireworks for your own use legally without needing an ATF license. If you transport them, then you do need a license. If you store them they must be stored according to ATF regs (in the “Orange Book”), whether you have an ATF license or not.

I suggest you read every page of it.

If you decide to get any kind of ATF license for making, transporting, buying, storing fireworks, my recommendation is that you apply for an explosives manufacturing license. You can download the application for the license and the ATF reg’s on the topic free from the ATF website:

You may need to right-click the following links and select Save Link As to download the file to your computer.

The "Orange Book"

Application for license


Again, if you want to make fireworks, then apply for Explosives Manufacturing. User licenses do not allow you to make anything. Manufacturing licenses let you do everything you would want.

Finally, the Fed’s do not regulate your actual shooting/use of fireworks. That comes under local and state laws.

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Phil Kraker - January 28, 2021

After reading this again, I must admit that it makes things far more clear than I had once thought. I know what to do now and I thank you for all your help.

Phil Kraker - January 28, 2021

I am amazed that the visibly posted people find this subject matter so clear and easy to understand. At first, you emphasize that for personal use, no license is required to make and store fireworks. But everywhere else, you make it sound like we can expect the feds to come down on us, full bore, if we happen to order the wrong chemical. How do you know what we are going to make with any certain chemical that may have more than one use? If a chemical is legal unless it is used for an illegal purpose, then I resent the inference that if I should purchase a chemical that some others have intentionally misused, that I am as guilty as they are of criminal activity. If the ATF trusts us, who are you to find us guilty without trial? I could go on. Just sayin’

Joshua caminiti - November 26, 2018

This has relieved a lot of stress about the legality of what I’m doing! Thanks a million!

Jim Green - November 23, 2018

Great , Simple ,Direct; No Hype, Just facts. You want it, good directions on how to get there

Scott Morris - November 23, 2018

Thank-you for this valuable information

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