Fireworks and Online Age Verification - The Real Truth

What is the Legal Age to Buy Fireworks?

The legal age to buy fireworks varies between countries. For example, the minimum age to purchase consumer fireworks in Europe and most states is between 12 and 18, depending on the type of Fireworks. Furthermore, some countries, such as the U.K., prohibit the sale of fireworks during specific times of the year; thus, age verification systems must be in place to avoid selling to minors.

Most countries differentiate between consumer fireworks (novelty fireworks) and display fireworks. Consumer fireworks are less dangerous, less noisy, and suitable for use by the general public. Display fireworks are heavy-duty fireworks used in large-scale firework shows, and most countries are only allowed for purchase and use by licensed firework operators. 

There are four categories of fireworks in the U.K. (F1, F2, F3, F4). The first three are consumer fireworks allowed for purchase by the general public, and the last is considered display fireworks prohibited for general use.

In this article:



Fireworks in the U.S.: Legal Age and Regulations

Each U.S. state has different laws regarding fireworks. There are two types of firecrackers:

  • Novelty firecrackers—consumer-grade fireworks available to the public. These include party poppers, snappers, snake-glow worms, sparklers, and toy cars.
  • Display firecrackers—used by professionals to carry out firecracker shows for the public.

Legal Age for Novelty Firecrackers

The legal age to purchase consumer fireworks varies from 12 to 18 years old, depending on the state. 

It is currently legal to buy consumer fireworks in 46 states. However, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Vermont, and Illinois only allow purchases of novelty fireworks, and Massachusetts does not allow any sale of fireworks.

Legal Restrictions for Display Firecrackers

At the federal level, the U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed a set of codes that set minimum standards for the use and safety of fireworks. In addition, state and local jurisdictions may further restrict the use and safety requirements of display fireworks. 

Generally, these jurisdictions require a licensed operator to perform the show. Requirements vary from state to state, but licensed operators and staff typically require several hours of training in the safe use of fireworks.

Legal restrictions for display firewalls include the distance from spectators, maximum shell size, firing location requirements, electrical firing systems, and safety equipment worn by fireworks crews. These guidelines are in the NFPA 1123 fireworks code.

Fireworks in the U.K.: Legal age and Regulations

The following laws govern the use of fireworks in England, Scotland, and Wales:

  • Fireworks Regulations 2004 (approved under powers delegated from Fireworks Act 2003)
  • Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015
  • British Standards BS 7114 and BS-EN 15947-2015

Generally, according to these laws, children under 18 may not purchase fireworks or use fireworks in a public place.

The laws define special times of the year in which the sale of fireworks is allowable and generally disallow sale at other times:

  • Chinese New Year and three days before it
  • Diwali and three days before it
  • Guy Fawkes Night (October 15 to November 10)
  • New Year (December 26 to December 31)

Typically, supermarkets and other retailers sell fireworks between October and November and during the general New Year and do not sell them at different times. 

Illegal use or purchase of fireworks can result in a fine of £5,000 or imprisonment of up to six months.

Fireworks in Europe: Legal age and Regulations

There are two E.U. directives regulating E.U. Member states concerning fireworks:

  • Directive 2013/29/E.U.—sets uniform rules for fireworks in the E.U.
  • Directive 2014/58/E.U.—establishes a fireworks tracking system on the open market.

These guidelines divide fireworks into four categories related to hazards, explosives, safe distances, and noise levels:

  • F1—fireworks allowable in closed spaces have low risk and low noise levels.
  • F2—fireworks suitable for outdoor use in enclosed spaces, with low risk and low noise level
  • F3—fireworks with moderate risk, where the noise level is not harmful to humans and suitable for large outdoor areas.
  • F4—people with specialized training can only use high-risk fireworks with noise levels not harmful to humans.

The minimal age limit for the purchase of fireworks, which importers and distributors must observe, is as follows:

  • F1: 12 years and up
  • F2: 16 years and up
  • F3: 18 years and up

Category F4 fireworks are not available to the general public and are limited to professionals. In addition, individual E.U. member states may also prohibit consumers from selling, owning, or using other fireworks categories.

Age Verification for Buying Fireworks Online

Children often use the I.D. information of their parents or another adult to purchase items online. Unfortunately, this can lead sellers of regulated items like fireworks to lose credibility and be subject to legal penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Age verification is when a seller verifies that a buyer's age is correct, typically by verifying a user's I.D. digitally or in person.

Today, most online sellers do not use manual verification because it is time-consuming and error-prone. However, online age verification solutions can help safely and efficiently verify the age of buyers, regardless of their location in the world, to help comply with firework sale laws and regulations.

Online age verification is a fast, automated process that provides results in less than a minute. The process works as follows:

  1. The potential buyer enters the date of birth and presents an I.D. or other identification method, such as a passport or driver's license.
  2. The age verification system reads the document and matches the date of birth of the document with the data provided by the buyer. Advanced age verification systems use several techniques to verify that the I.D. document is authentic.
  3. After the verification process is complete, end users can view the results and proceed to make their purchase.
  4. The age verification system provides a record of the verification process so that authorities can ensure compliance.

Related content: Read our guide to age verification online

Age Verification for Fireworks Sellers with BlueCheck

BlueCheck's industry-leading identity verification infrastructure enables merchants to grow their business faster. Serving a wide variety of industries, our solutions are custom-tailored to the unique needs of our customers, including PACT Act and eCommerce compliant offerings. 

Schedule a call today with a BlueCheck specialist to learn more about our Age & ID Verification solutions.