Explosives application forms

Anyone who wishes to acquire and/or keep any explosive must first apply for an appropriate certificate under the Explosives Regulations 2014.

Explosives covered by the regulations are generalised as black powder, blasting explosives and detonators, and can be used for commercial or leisure purposes.

For example you would need a certificate for:

  • Sporting and social use: Gunpowder (black powder) for shooting, such as muzzle-loading handguns, shotguns and rifles, or at events where re-enactments of historical battles involve the use of muzzle-loading muskets and cannons. More information on shooters’ powders.
  • Special effects for film and theatre: Battle simulation effects by historic re-enactment societies.
  • Mines and quarries: Explosives used to win rock or displace large quantities of rock underground.
  • Explosives for the safe demolition of buildings or bridges.

Certificates available:

Acquire only: For permission to obtain explosives which are to be used straight away and not kept overnight. The certificate lasts up to five years.

Acquire and keep: For permission to obtain explosives and to keep them in an approved place of storage. This certificate also lasts up to five years.

Application forms

There are three application forms depending on the use and type of explosive needed: 

ER4a: For individuals wishing to use black powder in their own firearms or shotguns, or for historic re-enactment events.

  • Use this form for an ‘acquire only’ or an ‘acquire and keep’ certificate for black powder.
  • Not applicable to clubs, societies, or organisations or for any explosive other than black powder.

ER4: For companies, clubs and societies, powder masters or users.

  • Not applicable for personally held firearms and shotguns, or historic re-enactment when using black powder only.


  • Similar to Form ER4a but should be used when renewing an explosives certificate at the same time as a firearm or shotgun certificate.

Dealing with your application

It is important to use the correct form – if you are in any doubt, please contact the Explosives Licensing Team for advice.

Please allow at least 30 days for your application to be processed. You can also apply for a certificate by telephone and email.

Sometimes, the police will ask for more information if you haven’t given enough detail on the form for a certificate to be granted.

Police will visit you before any ‘acquire and keep’ certificate is granted; they will assess the application and advise you about secure storage of the explosive.

All applicants applying for an explosives certificate to acquire only where the application is for a grant will be visited to ensure that they fulfil the criteria for a ‘fit and responsible person’.


Explosives Licensing team
Firearms and Explosives Licensing Unit
Devon & Cornwall Police
Middlemoor, Exeter
Tel: 01392 226221

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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