Common Questions and Answers of Federal Explosive
Regulations and Storage Requirements (Rev. 1.0) - April 28, 1994
Q1: Who in rocketry is affected by the Federal explosives law?
A1: The law affects all people who use, purchase, or store any high-power rocketry product or products which are subject to the Federal explosives law. It also
affects those who ship, transport, or receive explosive materials.
Q2: What high-power rocketry products are subject to the Federal explosives law?
A2: Any single-use motor containing propellant mass greater than 62.5 grams, or any reloadable rocket motor product containing a propellant grain which weighs
more than 62.5 grams. Thermalite (in any length) electric matches (squibs) are also subject to the law.
Q3: To whom is the distribution of affected high-power rocket commodities prohibited?
A3: A user shall not knowingly distribute any affected high-power rocket commodity to any person who:
1) Is under 21 years of age;
2) Has been convicted in any court of any crime punishable by imprisonment by a term exceeding one year;
3) Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
4) Is a fugitive from justice;
5) Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance, as defined in the Controlled Substances Act; or
6) Has been adjudicated a mental defective.
A user shall not knowingly distribute any affected high-power rocket commodity to any person who:
1)The user knows or has reason to believe does not reside in the state in which the licensees' place of residence is located;
2) Is in any state where the purchase, possession, or use of affected high-power rocket commodity would be in violation of any state law or any published
ordinance applicable at the place of distribution;
3) The user has reason to believe intends to transport the affected high-power rocket commodity into a state where the purchase, possession, or use of affected
high-power rocket materials is prohibited, or which does not permit its residents to transport or ship these materials into the state, or receive these materials into the
4) The user has reasonable cause to believe intends to use the affected high-power rocket commodity for other than a lawful purpose.
Q4: Is a user required to have a Federal explosives user permit in order to be in possession of affected high-power rocket commodities?
A4: No. A person who has not acquired a user permit from the Federal government, if not barred as discussed in Q3 above, may purchase affected high-power
rocket commodities only in the state in which he resides.
Q5: When a person purchases an affected high-power rocket commodity, does he have to sign anything?
A5: Yes. ATF Form 5400.4 will be executed by the buyer for purchases of affected high-power rocket commodities. A Federal explosives permittee (user) who
purchases affected high-power rocket commodities is not required to complete 5400.4.
Q6: Does Federal law and regulations provide penalties form purchasers who give false information to a licensee (dealer or manufacturer) at the time of purchase?
A6: Yes. The penalty for providing false information or misrepresented identification is a maximum 10 years' imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.
Q7: When a person purchases an affected high-power rocket commodity, is the Federal government notified?
A7: No. The executed Form 5400.4 remains on the dealer's/manufacturer's premises.
Q8: Are thefts of explosives covered under the law?
A8: Yes. Any person discovering a theft or a loss of an affected high-power rocket commodity from stock must, in accordance with regulations, report it to ATF
and to the appropriate local authorities within 24 hours.
Also, it is unlawful to receive, conceal, transport, ship, store, barter, sell, or dispose, of any affected high-power rocket commodity knowing or having reasonable
cause to believe that such materials were stolen.
Q9: Will anyone investigate accidents involving an affected high-power rocket commodity?
A9: ATF is authorized to inspect the site of any accident or fire where there is reason to believe that explosive materials, such as a high-power rocket commodity,
were involved. Other Federal agencies, or state or local agencies, might also investigate such incidents, depending on the circumstances.
Q10: Is the rocket propellant in model rocket kits considered to be an explosive?
A10: No. Not if it does not meet the definition of an affected high-power rocket commodity.
Q11: I want to buy a small quantity of an affected high-power rocket commodity from my local dealer to use at my local launch site. Do I need a Federal users
A11: No, provided that it is purchased in your state of residence, and not transported across state lines. A Federal users permit is required when a non-licensee
acquires or transports an affected high-power rocket commodity in interstate or foreign commerce. It allows transactions for personal transactions, only.
Federal explosive storage requirements apply to non-permittee as well as to permittee. Except for those items and activities, such as model rocketry, given exempt
status, all persons who purchase an affected high-power rocket commodity (either intrastate or interstate) and who intend to store same must have storage facilities
which meet the requirements of Federal law.
Q12: Which activities are covered by permits?
A12: A permit allows acquisition, and transportation of an affected high-power rocket commodity in interstate and foreign commerce. Only one permit is needed
by a permittee who uses an effected high-power rocket commodity in more than one location.
Q13: May black powder be sold (e.g. for ejection charge) without a license?
A13: No. Anyone who sells black powder, regardless of quantity, must be licensed as an explosives dealer.
Q14: How would a person qualify for a Federal users permit?
A14: The chief, firearms and explosives licensing center, will approve a properly-completed application for a permit if the applicant:
1) Is 21 years of age or older;
2) Is not a person to whom distribution of an affected high-power rocket commodity is prohibited under the Act (the Federal law);
3) Has not willfully violated any provisions of the Act;
4) Has not knowingly withheld information or has not made any false or fictitious statement intended or likely to deceive concerning his application;
5) Has storage for the class (low explosive) of an affected high-power rocket commodity, as described on the application, unless he establishes that his operations
to be conducted will not require the storage of an affected high-power rocket commodity;
6) Is familiar with and understands all published state laws and local ordinances relating to affected high-power rocket commodities in which he intends to conduct
ATF Form 5400.13/5400.16 must be filed to obtain a permit.
Q15: Does a Federal permit exempt the holder from state or local requirements?
A15: No. A permit confers no right or privilege to conduct operations including storage, contrary to state or other law.
Where a situation arises where state or local requirements are more stringent than the Federal, the more stringent requirement must be followed.
Q16: For what period of time is a permit valid?
A16: An original permit is issued for a period of one year. A renewal permit is issued for a period of three years.
Q17: Can a permit be revoked?
A17: Yes. The regional director (compliance) may revoke any permit if the holder has violated any provisions of the law or regulations.
Q18: What are the fees for a permit?
A18: The original permit fee for a user is $20. The renewal permit fee is $10.
Q19: Will the government investigate an applicant for a permit?
A19: ATF may investigate any applicant and inspect all places of storage before issuing a license or permit.
Q20: Will a permittee be notified in advance when his permit needs to be renewed?
A20: Yes. Prior to expiration of the permit, a permittee will be notified by way of ATF Form 5400.14/5400.15, part III, "Renewal of Explosive License or Permit,"
an application form which must be completed and timely filed in order to affect renewal.
Q21: Does a person who obtains a permit have to keep records of an affected high-power rocket commodity transaction?
A21: Yes. A permittee must keep records of all acquisitions and dispositions of an affected high-power rocket commodity.
Q22: Must a permittee maintain a summary of magazine transactions?
A22: Yes. After the initial inventory required by regulations has been taken, the inventory shall be entered in a record of daily transactions. At the close of each day,
explosives shall be recorded by class, e.g. low explosive, as to the total quantity received in and removed from each magazine during the day and as to totals
remaining on hand at the end of each day.
Q23: Must I keep my affected high-power rocket commodity's records on the site of the magazine to which these records pertain?
A23: No. A permittee of an approved explosives storage facility may keep the records required at a centrally-located area on the premises, provided that a daily
record of transactions for each magazine is maintained.
Q24: When must a report be made of a shortage or a theft of an affected high-power rocket commodity?
A24: Any discrepancy which might indicate a theft or a loss shall, within 24 hours, be reported by telephone to ATF. Permittee must confirm the report by filing a
completed form 5400.5 with the nearest ATF District Office. All other persons must confirm the report by letter to the nearest ATF office. A report must also be
made to local authorities.
Q25: Is there a requirement for an annual inventory?
A25: An inventory is required to be taken at least once a year.
Q26: Who must meet storage requirements?
A26: All persons who store an affected high-power rocket commodity shall store them in conformity with the provisions of Federal regulations.
Q27: May a person store an affected high-power rocket commodity in a residence or dwelling?
A27: No. A person may not store an affected high-power rocket commodity in a residence or dwelling. Under certain conditions, storage facilities may be located
in a warehouse or in a wholesale or retail establishment, the maximum allowable quantity being 50 pounds.
Q28: Is it necessary to inspect one's storage facilities on a regular basis?
A28: Yes. Any person storing an affected high-power rocket commodity must inspect his storage facilities at intervals not greater than seven days, to determine
whether the contents are intact, or a theft or an unauthorized entry has occurred.
Q29: What are the requirements for relocating an approved storage facility, or making changes or additions to the same?
A29: Notification of ATF is usually required.
Q30: I bought six high-power rocket motors to fly at our local launch. I have two left over, may I give them to my friend who does not have a Federal explosives
A30: You may give them to your friend only if he resides in the same state in which you reside. If either you or your friend store the motors, storage must be in
conformity with Federal regulations.
Note: This is Federal law only. State and local laws may differ.
Federal storage requirements - Type 4 magazine
In order to meet Federal storage requirements for an affected high- power rocket commodity, it is recommended that a Type 4 magazine be used. This magazine
must be constructed with the following specifications:
1) Hinges and hasps shall be attached to doors by welding or riveting or bolting (nuts on inside of door).
2) Each door shall be equipped with two mortise locks, or two padlocks fastened in separate hasps and staples, or a combination of a mortise lock and a padlock,
or a mortise lock requiring two keys to open, or a three-point lock. Locks shall be five-tumbler or five-blade. Padlocks shall be protected with 1/4" steel caps
constructed to prevent sawing or level actions on locks/hasps. Note: Outdoor/mobile storage facilities with one steel, case-hardened, five-tumbler padlock having
at least a 3/8" diameter shackle, have been determined by the Director to meet necessary requirements.
3) Electrical lighting used in any magazine must meet National Electrical Code standards for conditions present. All electric switches must be located outside of the
magazine, and comply with the National Electrical Code. Battery-activated safety lighting may be used in all explosives magazines.
4) Storage facilities shall be kept clean, dry, and free of grit, paper, empty packages and containers, and rubbish. Explosive materials shall not be placed directly
against interior walls of a storage facility. Brooms and other cleaning utensils shall have no spark-producing metal parts. Only tools made of non-sparking materials
shall be used in Type 4 magazines. (Metal slitters may be used for opening fiberboard containers. Metal tools other than non-sparking transfer conveyers shall not
be stored in any magazine containing explosives.) Area surrounding storage facilities shall be kept clear of rubbish, brush, dry grass, or trees less than ten feet tall
for not less than 25 feet in all directions. Any other combustible materials shall be kept a distance of not less than 50 feet from an outdoor storage.
A Type 4 storage facility may be a building, an igloo, or army-type structure, a tunnel, a dugout, a box, a trailer, or a semi-trailer, or other mobile facility. It shall be
fire-resistant, weather- resistant, and theft-resistant. All Type 4 magazines shall meet the following requirements:
1) They shall be constructed of masonry, metal-covered wood, fabricated metal, or combinations of these materials.
2) The doors or covers shall be constructed of metal, or solid wood covered with metal.
3) The foundation shall be constructed of brick, cement block, concrete, stone, or wood posts. If piers or posts are used, space under buildings shall be enclosed
4) The interior shall be lined with non-sparking material. No sparking metal construction shall be exposed below the top of walls and interior. All nails shall be
blind-nailed or countersunk.
5) The ground around outdoor storage facilities shall slope away for drainage. Unintended vehicle storage facilities shall have wheels removed or shall be
immobilized by kingpin locking devices.
6) No indoor storage facility shall be located in a residence or dwelling, nor contain in excess of fifty pounds of a low explosive material.
For further information, it is highly recommended that one obtain ATF - EXPLOSIVES LAW AND REGULATIONS (ATF P 5400.7). /
PLEASE, don't call the 'BATF' -- With out first reading the rules.