The issue of fireworks regulation has jumped to the top of the news agenda after a series of incidents on Guy Fawkes night.

There were violent clashes in Edinburgh, where police officers came under fire from fireworks, petrol bombs and other projectiles, and in Glasgow where four people, including a police officer, were taken to the Royal Infirmary for treatment.

New legislation in Scotland came into place on June 30 which states members of the public need a licence to buy and use certain types of fireworks, and their sale to children is illegal.

A European directive sets a minimum level of regulation on fireworks, as well as categorising the devices into categories between F1 and F4, with the first being small incendiaries such as sparklers and the last being big explosives only to be used by persons with specialised knowledge.

Read More: Violent clashes with riot police sparks calls for ban on sale of fireworks

It is illegal to sell F4 fireworks to non-professionals throughout the EU but individual members states can impose their own restrictions on other categories.

While Guy Fawkes night is a tradition unique to Britain, many other countries in Europe have national days which are traditionally marked with fireworks.

Below are some examples of the regulations in different countries across the continent.

Czech Republic

The Herald: Prague cityscape view

Czechs are not allowed to set off rockets of over 10kg without a licence.

If the fireworks are over that size designation then a report must be made prior to the event to the local municipality and police.

The laws were brought in in 2015 after an number of issues, including one in which Prague's New Year display was launched from Střelecký island on the Vltava and three injured swans fell onto the spectators.

In the capital, it's illegal to set off fireworks after 10pm except for on New Year's Eve.


In Denmark, only professionals with a licence can purchase or set off fireworks except for at specific times of the year.

They are legal to buy for adults from mid-December, but it's only permissible to set off rockets between December 27 and January 1.

The current government is proposing a ban on the use of fireworks on all days except for December 31 and January 1, which is passed would come into effect for the 2024-25 New Year.


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In France it is illegal to carry fireworks and other similar articles on public transport, while the sale of "pyrotechnic articles to people who do not possess the specific technical knowledge or do not meet the age conditions…to acquire, hold, handle, or use them" is punishable by six months in prison, and a fine of €7,500.

Earlier this year the country banned the sale, possession and transport of fireworks for a week after the violent protests which followed the killing of a teenager by police.

That included the national holiday of Bastille Day on July 14, which is traditionally celebrated with fireworks.

Read More: Edinburgh riot: Police Scotland condemns ‘disgusting disorder’


People over the age of 18 are permitted to set off small fireworks with an F2 designation on December 31 and January 1. Lighting fireworks is forbidden near churches, hospitals, retirement homes and wooden or thatch-roofed buildings, while it's illegal to sell F3 or F4 fireworks to the general public.

Earlier this year there were calls for an outright ban on private fireworks after emergency services were targeted on New Year's Eve.

Republic of Ireland

Ireland has some of the strictest laws in Europe regarding fireworks.

Only F1 category fireworks such as sparklers are for sale to the general public, with fines or even prison for people who caught selling, buying, owning or lighting fireworks.


Beyond the European Union directives, there are no federal restrictions on the use of fireworks in Italy.

Individual municipalities can impose their own laws, with the town of Collechio in the province of Parma mandating that all fireworks must be silent.


Only licenced professionals are permitted to set off fireworks in the Netherlands, except for during New Year's Eve from 6pm on 31 December to 2am on January 1.

In 2000 the Enschede fireworks disaster killed 23 people when a fire in a storage facility triggered a devastating explosion which destroyed more than 400 homes and left close to 1,000 people injured.