These details are what UKRA currently understands to be correct however we have not had these checked by a lawyer or the HSE.
After years of discussions between UKRA and the HSE, most rocketeers now require very little paperwork. All model, mid and even some smaller high powered engines can now be purchased without an Explosives Licence. A Recipient Competent Authority is always required for transportation purposes.
Rocketeers who wish to purchase any of the following will still require the Explosives Licence issued by their local police force:
- Larger motors (from about mid K upwards). This will vary by manufacturer due to the differences in propellant mass and packaging strategies. Your vendor will be able to provide a full list of UN numbers and cross reference them with the Explosives Regulations.
- Motors combined with black powder (any quantity)
- Motors not on the list of exempted motors (see schedule 2 and schedule 3 of the Explosives Regulations, link below
The law in summary states that any person over the age of 18 is allowed to purchase and store a combined total of 5kg of explosives if that explosive is contained within a list of exemptions and each motor being less than 1Kg net propellant (see the HSE pages here).
Please note that with regard rocket motors the weight is the net propellant weight and not the gross weight which will include packaging. If you do not know the net propellant weight, then the law states that you must assume one quarter of the product weight is propellant, however all propellant weights are readily available from the manufacturer and many resources online (including http://thrustcurve.org/) so you are unlikely to be able to use this defence in practice.
Details of the exemption may be found in Schedule 2 of the Explosives Regulations 2014 paragraph 10. The following UN numbers are listed under the exemption - 0186, 0272, 0349, 0351 and 0471. If you or the motors do not meet the criteria above then you will need to get an Explosives Licence to purchase or store the motors.
To apply for a Storage licence you will need to fill in an ER1 form, to apply for a Acquire and Keep licence you will need to fill in an ER4 form. Both of these application processes are likely to incur fees and you should contact your local police firearms division. We have found most success contacting your local police force directly, most police forces publish the contact details for their FEO (Firearms Enquiry Officers) on their websites.
A Recipient Competent Authority (RCA) is required for anyone who will be transporting motors, even those covered by the exemptions. Explosives certificates issues by Police forces after 2012 should include the RCA document (see "How do I apply for, or renew an RCA document?" here). For those without explosives certificates the HSE has prepared a template letter in Word format for Rocketeers to apply to move their model rocket motors. The completed letter can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the address on the letter. The letter includes all the information for the exempted motors and also includes UN numbers for other common items that are exempt from the need for an explosives license e.g. quickmatch, igniters, Estes motors and PIC.
If in doubt or you have any further questions, your vendor will have full details of the legal requirements for purchase, storage and transport of your motors. The full details of the legislation can be found in the S.I. 1638 - Explosives Regulations 2014.
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