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.
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 ATF personnel and other agency partners to protect our communities against the diversion of explosives to illegal channels and unsafe storage of explosives. Additionally, NCETR develops explosives technical information and intelligence and serves as the fire investigation and training experts for the United States Government.
U.S. Bomb Data Center (USBDC): National repository for arson and explosive related incident data, including the reporting of explosives thefts.
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.
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.
NEW March 23, 2023: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed eCollection; eComments Requested – Action: 60-day Notice of Information Collection Under Review: Supplemental Information on Water Quality Considerations—ATF Form 5000.30 - Comment period: March 23, 2023 - April 24, 2023
NEW December 20, 2022: General Notice: Commerce in Explosives; 2022 Annual List of Explosive Materials - Effective Date: December 20, 2022
NEW December 20, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed eCollection; eComments Requested – Action: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection: Identification of Explosive Materials - Comment period: December 20, 2022 - January 19, 2023
December 13, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed eCollection; eComments Requested – Action: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection: FEL Out of Business Records - Comment period: December 12, 2022 - January 12, 2023
October 20, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed eCollection; eComments Requested – Action: 60-day Notice of Information Collection Under Review: Identification of Explosive Materials - Comment period: October 20, 2022 - December 19, 2022
September 30, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed eCollection; eComments Requested – Action: 60-day Notice of Information Collection Under Review: Federal Explosives Licensee (FEL) Out of Business Records - Comment period: September 30, 2022 - November 29, 2022
August 22, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested: Limited Permittee Transaction Report—ATF Form 5400.4 - Comment period: August 22, 2022 - September 21, 2022
May 18, 2022: 2021 Explosives Incident Report (EIR)
Explosives Industry Newsletter - October 2021
Commerce in Explosives: 2021 Annual List of Explosive Materials
ATF Explosives Industry Newsletter - December 2019
Final Rule – Rules of Practice in Explosives License and Permit Proceedings; Revisions Reflecting Changes Consistent With the Homeland Security Act of 2002 - Nov. 25, 2019
Department of Defense Contractor Inspections: ATF Inspection Process
Current Processing Times for ATF Applications (Paper and eForms)