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Manufacturing and authorizing explosives

To manufacture explosives in Canada, including fireworks and ammunition, you must ensure that the specific explosive is authorized in Canada. You must also apply for a licence or certificate to operate manufacturing sites. There are some exemptions from these requirements (see below), such as manufacturing ammunition for personal use.

For the purposes of authorization, and licences and certificates for manufacturing, explosives can include blasting explosives, propellant powders, ammunition, fireworks, model rocket motors and reactive targets.

Authorization of explosives

Explosives that are manufactured, transported, bought, sold, stored, used in Canada or imported into Canada must be authorized by Natural Resources Canada. Explosives do not need to be authorized in some circumstances, such as:

  • manufacturing small arms cartridges or black powder cartouches for personal use
  • transporting explosives in transit
  • importing ammunition, propellant powders and primers for personal use

For more information about exemptions, see the Explosives Regulations section 5 and the Explosives Regulations section 25.

For explosives authorized in Canada, consult the list of authorized explosives. The list does not include military or law enforcement explosives and explosives authorized for a specified period.

Applying for authorization

If the explosive substance or item you plan to manufacture or import is not on the list of authorized explosives, you must apply for authorization through the electronic Licence Management System (eLMS).

Make sure to include:

  • product technical drawings / chemical compositions
  • packaging and labelling instructions (in both official languages)
  • test results from other countries (if applicable)

Natural Resources Canada’s Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD) reviews the application. If information is missing or clarifications are needed, ERD will contact you.

Classification of explosives

During the authorization process, ERD classifies the explosive substance or item to identify the hazards posed by the explosive substance or item intransport. The substance or item is assigned a type, hazard category and, for Class 1 dangerous goods, a UN number. For example, consumer fireworks would be classified for transport as Fireworks, 1.4G, UN0336.

When classifying an explosive, ERD may accept classifications provided by competent authorities in other countries. These include the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the United States, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Germany, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the United Kingdom, and L'Institut national de l'environnement industriel et des risques (Ineris) in France. ERD may also determine the transport classification of an explosive by comparing it to other explosives that are packaged similarly. In some instances, ERD may ask for samples to be tested through the Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CERL) to decide on the classification or to get further assurances of the product’s safety. The tests are used to determine the product’s safety and conformity with the manufacturer’s specifications, as well as setting any applicable restrictions.

When an explosive is authorized

If you apply for authorization of an explosive, and the Chief Inspector of Explosives authorizes the explosive, you will receive a letter with a Notice of Authorization via eLMS. The Notice includes the trade names and/or part numbers of the new explosives, their complete classification, packaging instructions, list of references, terms and conditions, intended use and other details.

Once an explosive is authorized, it is added to the list of authorized explosives. Military or law enforcement explosives and explosives authorized for a specified period do not appear on the list.

For more information about the authorization of explosives, consult the following guidelines:

Licences, certificates and guidelines to manufacture explosives

To operate explosives manufacturing sites, including an explosives factory, a satellite site, a customer site or a temporary site, you must get a licence or certificate, depending on the size of the operation and type of site. Licences are for long-term sites. Certificates are for sites that are temporary and occasional.

An explosives factory or workplace is a site to manufacture blasting explosives, jet perforating guns, ammunition, fireworks and any other type of explosive.

Consult the following guidelines for information on how to meet regulatory requirements for specific types of operations:

Types of licences and certificates

For permanent operations, you need either a Division 1 or Division 2 factory licence. For operations that are occasional and temporary, you need either a Division 1 satellite site certificate, or a Division 2 manufacturing certificate. For details about Division 1 and Division 2 factory licences and certificates, consult the Explosives Regulations.

Apply for licences and certificates through the electronic Licence Management System (eLMS), or use the following forms.

Division 1 factories

Upload these forms through eLMS.

Division 2 factories

Upload these forms through eLMS.

Mobile process units

Upload these forms through eLMS.

Some special activities do not require a licence or certificate, for example, mixing together the ingredients of a multi-ingredient kit (such as a reactive target), and removing explosives from, or repackaging explosives at, the site of an accident or spill. For more information about these exceptions, consult the Explosives Regulations. In addition, you are permitted to manufacture ammunition for personal use without a manufacturing licence or certificate under certain conditions. For more information, consult section 305 of the Explosives Regulations.

There are fees for all licences and certificates. For current fees, consult the web page on fees and service standards. All manufacturing licences and certificates must be renewed annually.

Contact us

Find contact information for general inquiries or urgent requests related to explosives, fireworks, ammunition or restricted components.

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