Fireworks are a big part of many British festivities. We don’t just have big displays on New Year’s Eve but also during Bonfire Night and private parties from birthdays to weddings. But what are the fireworks laws like around the world? Are they illegal?
What do the British firework laws say about using fireworks?
Before we check out the different firework laws around the world, it’s a good idea to remind ourselves that firework laws exist here in Britain as well. While fireworks are a big part of our celebrations, you can’t just set up a display whenever you want.
First, fireworks cannot be sold or handled in public by anyone under the age of 18. Furthermore, the fireworks on sale fall under three separate categories with their own specific rules. These are:
- Category 1 fireworks are indoor fireworks that can be used in restricted areas.
- Category 2 fireworks require an 8-metre viewing distance.
- Category 3 fireworks require a 25-metre viewing distance.
Professional firework experts can also get their hands on Category 4 fireworks – these are often used in professional displays. For this, you need to have trained under the British Pyrotechnists Association and its programs.
There are also restrictions on the use of fireworks in the UK. Fireworks are not allowed to be set off between 11 pm and 7 am. However, you can use fireworks until 1 am on the following days:
- Chinese New Year
- New Year’s Eve
On Bonfire Night, the extended period is until midnight.
Overall, you’ll be able to enjoy fireworks rather liberally around the country and add these fantastic things to your birthday parties or even the big wedding day!
Where are fireworks illegal?
Some countries have taken a different approach to fireworks. There are quite a few examples of European countries where firework sale and use is restricted to a short period around New Year’s Eve.
Here are a few examples of the firework laws in different European countries:
- Germany allows fireworks for sale in the three days prior to New Year’s Eve.
- Finland allows the sale of fireworks between Christmas and New Year’s Eve but you can only use them from 6 pm to 2 am on New Year’s Eve.
- Ireland requires anyone using fireworks to have a professional fireworks operator present at the display and the sale of fireworks is very restricted.
In the US, the states are given freedom to choose their firework laws. Two states, Delaware and Massachusetts, ban all consumer fireworks – you simply can’t buy any type of firework at any time.
But other states have a less restrictive approach, allowing certain types of fireworks to be sold and used around 4th of July and the Christmas-New Year holiday period.
Interestingly, New Zealand allows the sale of fireworks only for the four days leading up to November 5. However, you are free to use fireworks at any time of the day on any day of the year!
One country that bans fireworks outright is Chile. You can’t buy or use fireworks without the appropriate licence. Therefore, the only way to enjoy fireworks in the country is by attending a professional fireworks display. Luckily, there are plenty of those – check out the above video for some Chilean fireworks excitement!