North Carolina Fireworks Laws

Fireworks garbage day after July 4th
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As a general rule, North Carolina's fireworks laws are pretty restrictive. Our neighbor to the south, South Carolina, does have much more inclusive laws, though, and many people travel over the border to get their annual fireworks. In fact, most fireworks are legal in South Carolina. Remember, many fireworks you can purchase across the border are not legal in North Carolina, so use them at your own risk.

But what fireworks can you have in North Carolina? Here's a rundown.

Legal Fireworks in North Carolina

Fireworks that are legal in North Carolina include poppers, sparklers, fountains and other novelty items that don't explode, spin, leave the ground or fly through the air. The Charlotte fire department put out a great list of examples of legal fireworks: snake and glow worms, smoke devices, noisemakers like snappers and string poppers and wire sparklers. Many people mistakenly believe that all fireworks are legal on holidays like July 4, but that's not true. The same laws still hold true all year. Also, the city of Charlotte abides by the same rules as the rest of the state. As mentioned above, South Carolina laws are far less strict.

Illegal Fireworks in North Carolina

Fireworks that are illegal in North Carolina include firecrackers, ones that spin on the ground, roman candles, bottle rockets, or any aerial fireworks.

Essentially, any firework that leaves the ground is not legal in North Carolina.

North Carolina Fireworks Permits

State law requires that anyone shooting indoor or outdoor fireworks must submit an application to the State Fire Marshal, attend a safety class, and pass a written exam. Contact the NCDOI for more details.

Violators of the state's fireworks law face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable by a fine up to $500 and or imprisonment of up to six months.

You must be 18 years old to legally buy fireworks in North Carolina. The age of fireworks purchase is 16 in South Carolina.

Fireworks Safety

Since our state's laws are pretty tight, many people assume that they're in safe hands. The majority of injuries annually from fireworks though are from smaller devices, like fountains and sparklers. The Charlotte fire department offers these tips for safety:

  • Buy from reliable fireworks vendors Never alter fireworks or try to make your own
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket
  • Loose clothing should not be worn while handling fireworks
  • Fireworks are not toys and should only be handled by responsible adults.
  • Have a hose or bucket of water nearby in case of a fire emergency
  • Light one firework at a time and move away from it quickly, if a firework does not light the first time, do not attempt to light it again
  • Ignite your fireworks outdoors on a paved surface, away from grass, trees and other vegetation
  • Never shoot fireworks from a metal or glass container