EFFECT OF TITLE XI ON THE FIREWORKS INDUSTRY
Title XI, Regulation of Explosives
Public Law 91-452
Purpose. The purpose of this circular is to clarify the provisions of the Federal
explosives regulations with respect to fireworks.
Background. Title XI of Public Law 91-452 (18 U. S. C. Chapter 40) establishes
Federal controls over explosive materials which include black powder and other
pyrotechnic compositions commonly used in fireworks. Part 181 of Title 26, Code
of Federal Regulations, contains the regulations which implement Title XI. Section
181.141(h) of those regulations exempts "The importation and distribution of fireworks in a finished state, commonly sold at retail for personal use in compliance
with State laws or local ordinances." Because of the many questions that have
arisen concerning this exemption, the following guidelines are established.
What is exempt.
The exemption applies only to "common fireworks" in a finished state, classified under Department of Transportation regulations as Class "C" Explosives (49
CFR 173.100(r)). It does not apply to "special fireworks" classified as Class "B"
Explosives under those regulations.
The law and regulations also exempt black powder in quantities not exceeding
five pounds. Therefore, the manufacture, acquisition or storage of black powder
in quantities of five pounds or less which may be used in manufacturing any type
of fireworks is exempt from regulation. Quantities in excess of five pounds are
subject to all the regulatory controls even though ultimately used in making
"common fireworks" which are exempt under the regulations.
Who needs a license.
Manufacturers of black powder in quantities exceeding five pounds.
Manufacturers of any other explosive material used in manufacturing "special
fireworks" (Class "B") or "common fireworks" (Class "C").
Importers of or dealers in "special fireworks" (Class "B").
Who needs a permit.
A person acquiring or transporting "special fireworks" (Class "B") interstate
for his own use and not for resale. Agencies of the United States or of any state
or political subdivision thereof are exempt from the permit requirements.
A person, other than a licensee, acquiring or transporting explosive materials
interstate for use in manufacturing "special fireworks" (Class "B") or "common
fireworks" (Class "C"), unless the materials consist of black powder of a quantity
not exceeding five pounds.
Types of permits.
User permit allows the permittee to acquire, transport, ship and receive
"special fireworks" (Class "B") in interstate or foreign commerce for his own use
and not for resale. This permit is issued at a cost of twenty dollars for a one-year
period and is renewable at a cost of ten dollars.
User-limited permit is identical to the user permit but is issued for a
single transaction at a cost of two dollars and is not renewable. A new permit
must be obtained for each transaction. This type of permit is advantageous to
civic and veterans organizations who wish to conduct a single display such as
on the Fourth of July.
"Special fireworks" (Class "B") must be stored in a type 1, 2, 3, or 4 storage
In storage facilities where weight restrictions apply, the net weight of the
explosive materials may be used. To determine the actual weight of the explosive
materials it may be necessary to contact the manufacturer.
A person may, without a permit, purchase "special fireworks" (Class "B") in
his State of residence by completing a Form 4710, Explosives Transaction Record,
with the dealer. He may also purchase "special fireworks" (Class "B"), without
a permit, in a contiguous (bordering) State provided his State of residence has
enacted legislation, currently in force, authorizing its residents to lawfully
purchase explosives in a contiguous State and provided he completes a Form 4710,
Explosives Transaction Record, with the dealer.
Licensees and permittees should become familiar with the unlawful acts contained in Section 842 of Title 18, United States Code.
The provisions of Title XI must be complied with even though State statutes
or local ordinances may authorize the acquisition, possession, distribution,
transportation or use of "special fireworks" (Class "B") for agricultural or
Rex D. Davis,
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division