These Are the States Where Fireworks Are Legal
Before you attempt to light up the night with a DIY fireworks spectacle, find out the states where fireworks are legal.
There’s nothing more American than watching 4th of July fireworks—not even apple pie. As fun as the celebratory sparks are, they’re also heavily regulated from state to state, and they aren’t legal everywhere in the U.S.
Depending on where you’re watching—or lighting—4th of July fireworks displays this year, it’s crucial to know all local legal and safety measures. Find out below if you can legally set off explosives in your state. Then, read up on why dogs are scared of fireworks (plus, how to help). And if setting off fireworks isn’t your thing, check out these other festive 4th of July ideas.
Which are the states where fireworks are legal?
Forty-nine states plus Washington, DC, allow consumer fireworks in some form, but exactly what that form is varies by states. Depending on state laws, it might help you determine where to take the best 4th of July vacation.
For example, Indiana is relatively lenient compared with other states.
There, all consumer fireworks that comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the U.S. Consumer Products Commission are permitted, though you must be 18 to purchase them, and there are limitations on when you can buy and use them. Fireworks can only be set off from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on non-holidays, but can go later on special occasions, like midnight on the 4th of July, two hours after sunset during 4th of July weekend, and 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, California is one of the states where fireworks are legal but with stricter limits.
In California, ground and handheld sparkling devices are legal, as are cylindrical and cone fountains, wheel and ground spinners, illuminating torches, and certain flitter sparklers. Anyone 16 or older is able to purchase those, but only from noon on June 28 through noon on July 6. Illegal are things like firecrackers, roman candles, chasers, wire and wooden stick sparklers, and skyrockets.
There are also three states—Hawaii, Nevada, and Wyoming—that allow each county to establish its own regulations regarding consumer fireworks.
Whether you’re lighting up on the 4th or Memorial Day, for a simple breakdown, these are the states where fireworks are legal, by category:
States permitting a majority of consumer fireworks:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
States permitting the sale and use of fireworks that are non-aerial and non-explosive (also known as “safe and sane”):
- Maryland (aside from certain counties)
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- Washington, DC
What type of fireworks are illegal?
Each state has different regulations about what types of fireworks are permitted, but it’s important to understand what makes fireworks unsafe. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the fuses on fireworks have to burn somewhere between three and nine seconds; this is called the “fuse burn time” standard, and it prevents injuries caused by not being able to get away from the explosive in time.
Legal fireworks can also only have a maximum of 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic composition. Anything greater than that amount is considered unregulated. Also, if it’s missing a warning label, they’re likely illegal; it’s required by federal law for all fireworks to have a warning label. If your state has strict fireworks laws, leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals and find a display to enjoy, like one of America’s most spectacular 4th of July fireworks shows.
Where are fireworks illegal?
There’s only one state that completely bans all consumer fireworks, and that’s Massachusetts. However, they do permit fireworks displays put on by professionals, so you can still catch a show for the 4th of July. Now that you know what’s legal where, test your smarts with this 4th of July trivia.
- Consumer ProductsSafety Commission: “Consumer Fireworks Testing Manual”
- Mass.gov: “Leave Fireworks to the Professionals”
- American Pyrotechnics Association: “Directory of State Requirements for Public Fireworks Displays”
- World Population Review: “Fireworks Laws by State 2022”