Image of an explosion in an open mine
Image of an explosion in an open mine

Explosives are any chemical compound, mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion. The term includes, but is not limited to, black powder, pellet powder, initiating explosives, ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) mixtures, safety fuses, squibs, mixed binary explosives, and igniters. Explosives are also present in items such as automotive air bag inflators, special industrial tools, fire extinguishers, some pest control devices, some model rocket engines, fireworks, and special effects in the entertainment industry.

ATF’s Role in the Explosives Industry

ATF is dedicated to preventing terrorism, reducing violent crime involving the criminal misuse of explosives, and protecting the public by enforcing laws and regulations (Title 27 CFR Chapter II, Part 555) governing the explosives industries. ATF investigates and prevents crimes that involve the unlawful manufacture, sale, possession and use of explosives.

Services and Programs

Federal Explosives Licensing Center (FELC): Issues licenses and permits to persons who wish to receive or transport explosives in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce or to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing and/or distributing explosives materials.

Training Programs: Courses for ATF personnel and other agency partners to protect our communities against the diversion of explosives to illegal channels and unsafe storage of explosives.

U.S. Bomb Data Center (USBDC): National repository for arson and explosive related incident data, including the reporting of explosives thefts.

Explosives Relief of Disability (EROD): Persons prohibited from receiving, possessing shipping or transporting explosives may make application for relief from the EROD section.

National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR): Provides training in advanced explosives for bomb technicians, criminal investigators and military personnel. Additionally, NCETR develops explosives technical information and intelligence and serves as the fire investigation and training experts for the United States.

Inspections: ATF Industry Operations Investigators inspect the magazines and records of every explosives licensee and permittee on a regular basis to ensure compliance with federal explosives regulations.

If you need assistance regarding explosives enforcement-related issues, please contact your local ATF office.

Outreach Activities

While primarily focused on law enforcement and regulatory duties, ATF also strives to work and consult with the explosives industry and its associations. ATF communicates with the industry to identify areas of weakness and vulnerability in explosives security and to ensure public safety. ATF works with federal explosives licensees, permittees, other regulatory agencies, and the public via conferences, seminars, meetings, phone, email and written correspondence.

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