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.

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.

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 April 15, 2024: Agency Information Collection Activities: Extension of a Previously Approved Collection: Records and Supporting Data: Importation, Receipt, Storage, and Disposition by Explosives Importers, Manufacturers, Dealers, and Users Licensed Under Title 18 U.S.C. Chapter 40 Explosives - Comment period: April 15, 2024 - May 15, 2024

Feb. 15, 2024: Agency Information Collection Activities: Extension of a Previously Approved Collection; Police Check Inquiry — ATF Form 8620.42Comment period: Feb. 15, 2024 - April 15, 2024

Feb. 15, 2024: Agency Information Collection Activities: Extension of a Previously Approved Collection; The Arson and Explosives Training Registration for Non-ATF Employees — ATF Form 6310.1Comment period: Feb. 15, 2024 - March 18, 2024

Dec. 28, 2023: ATF Ruling 2023-2 - Use of Commercial Records for Explosives

Dec. 22, 2023: General Notice: Commerce in Explosives; 2023 Annual List of Explosive Materials - Effective Date: Dec. 22, 2023

Nov. 2, 2023: Open Letter: Notification for Previously Exempted Special Explosive Devices 

Dec. 20, 2022: General Notice: Commerce in Explosives; 2022 Annual List of Explosive Materials - Effective Date: Dec. 20, 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)

Email Updates

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