ATF is responsible for regulating explosives, including display fireworks, to prevent the mishandling and illegal use of explosive materials. ATF’s regulatory enforcement and investigative programs work closely with industry members to ensure the proper storage and safeguarding of these items.

Display Fireworks

Image of fireworks over the D.C. monumentDisplay fireworks are the large fireworks used in shows, generally under the supervision of a trained pyrotechnician. Display fireworks include aerial shells, cakes, candles, and other display pieces that meet the definition of ‘display fireworks’ in 27 CFR § 555.11. They frequently are, or contain salutes, which create bright flashes of light and/or loud reports. Display fireworks are classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as fireworks UN0333, UN0334 or UN0335.

The regulations at 27 CFR, Part 555, require that any person engaging in the business of importing, manufacturing, dealing in, receiving or transporting display fireworks must first obtain a federal explosives license or permit from ATF for the specific activity.

Consumer Fireworks

Used firecracker on the groundConsumer fireworks are the small fireworks usually sold at stands around the Fourth of July holiday. They include ground devices containing less than 50 milligrams of flash powder, and aerial devices containing less than 130 milligrams of flash powder. Because consumer fireworks contain pyrotechnic compositions classified by ATF as explosive materials, the manufacturing of consumer fireworks for commercial purposes requires an ATF manufacturer’s license. Consumer fireworks are classified by DOT as fireworks UN0336 or UN0337.

ATF does not regulate the importation, distribution, or storage of completed consumer fireworks, but other federal, state, and local agencies do regulate these items to a varying degree. Before buying any consumer fireworks, check with your local and state governments to ensure they are not prohibited in your area.

Articles Pyrotechnic

Articles pyrotechnic are similar to consumer fireworks in chemical composition and construction but are not intended for consumer use. The importation, distribution and storage of articles pyrotechnic are generally exempt from ATF’s explosives regulations if they meet all of the criteria indicated in 27 CFR 555.11 and 555.141(a)(7). Because they contain pyrotechnic compositions classified by ATF as explosive materials, the manufacturing of articles pyrotechnic for commercial purposes requires an ATF manufacturer’s license.

Firework Related Rulings

ATF Ruling 2007-2, Temporary Storage in Vehicles

Approves temporary storage of display fireworks in locked, attended vehicles at magazine and fireworks display site, under certain conditions.

ATF Ruling 2012-2, Storage in Uncovered Bins

Approves storage of display fireworks in fixed, unmarked, uncovered bins in magazines under specific conditions.



Last Reviewed September 2, 2022