Explosives

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.

What's New

NEW July 6, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested; Transactions Among Licensees/Permittees, Limited - Comment period: July 6, 2022 - August 5, 2022

June 22, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested; Appeals of Background Checks - Comment period: June 22, 2022 - July 22, 2022

June 15, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested; Limited Permittee Transaction Report—ATF Form 5400.4 (Form 5400.4) - Comment period: June 15, 2022 - August 15, 2022

June 15, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested; Voluntary Magazine Questionnaire for Agencies/Entities That Store Explosive Materials - Comment period: June 15, 2022 - July 15, 2022

May 26, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested; Furnishing of Samples - Comment period: May 26, 2022 - June 27, 2022

May 18, 2022: 2021 Explosives Incident Report (EIR)

May 13, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested; Report of Stolen or Lost Intrastate Purchase of Explosives Coupon (IPEC) - Comment period: May 13, 2022 - July 12, 2022

April 21, 2022: Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested; List of Responsible Persons - Comment period: April 21, 2022 - May 23, 2022

April 7, 2022: Agency Information Collection;Activities; Proposed eCollection of eComments Requested; Voluntary Magazine Questionnaire for Agencies/Entities That Store Explosive Materials - Comment period: April 7, 2022 - June 6, 2022

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)

Email Updates

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