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Create Hong Kong
Commerce and Economic Development Bureau
Entertainment Special Effects Licensing Authority
Guidance Notes No. 5

Requirements for Import and Use of Pyrotechnic Materials

A. Import of PSEM

Prior to import Pyrotechnic Special Effects Materials (PSEM) under the Entertainment Special Effects Ordinance (Cap. 560), an applicant shall comply with the following requirements:

(1) PSEM approved by the Authority/registered and included in the PSEM Register

To import PSEM that have already been approved by this Authority or registered and included in the PSEM Register, the importer shall submit a list of the proposed PSEM (including the net explosives quantity and quantity of each type) to be imported into Hong Kong. He also needs to obtain a conveyance permit issued by the Authority prior to the arrival of the PSEM at Hong Kong. A conveyance permit is required for custom clearance and for conveying the proposed PSEM on arrival to an approved storage. (Note: Importers should already have secured adequate storage space in Government Explosives Depot or in licensed PSEM stores in designated area, and such information should be provided in the application for the conveyance permit.)

(2) Pyrotechnic materials not approved by the Authority/not registered and included in the PSEM Register

To import pyrotechnic materials that are not approved by the Authority/not registered and included in the PSEM Register, in addition to complying with the requirements set out in para. A(1) above, the importer shall go through the process set out in Part B below.

The Trade and Industry Department has specified special requirements for the import of strategic commodities. Pyrotechnic materials used for producing special effects may be considered as strategic commodities. If in doubt, please contact the Trade and Industry Department at 2392 2922 for the matters relating to import of pyrotechnic materials under the Import and Export Ordinance (Chapter 60, Laws of Hong Kong) (web page:

B. Approval of PSEM

Under section 14 of the Entertainment Special Effects Ordinance (ESEO), all PSEM shall have already been approved/registered and included in the PSEM Register by this Authority before they may be supplied, conveyed, stored or used in Hong Kong. This requirement seeks to ensure that unsafe pyrotechnic materials are not available in Hong Kong. For pyrotechnic materials that have never been used in Hong Kong before, normally we may only grant approval instead of registration initially. Application procedures for approval are as follows:

(1) Documentation

The applicant shall submit a completed application form for Approval/Registration of Pyrotechnic Special Effects Materials (Annex 1) for the pyrotechnic materials to be imported. The following essential supporting information/documents shall be provided together with the application form. Lacking in any of such information/documents will result in rejection of the application.

  • Name and address of the manufacturer
  • Material safety data sheets (MSDS)
  • UN classification certificate
  • Drawings and technical specifications (including duration and height of effects, fallout radius, all-fire and no-fire currents)
  • Composition and net explosives quantity for each component
  • After-effects (including toxicity of fumes and other by-products)
  • Shelf life (with manufacture date) or expiry date

The applicant shall also submit any other information related to the product or to the effects of the product upon request by the Authority.

(2) Demonstration and Approval

The applicant may be required to arrange for firing of the pyrotechnic materials in the presence of officers of this Authority to demonstrate the installation and firing methods, the actual effects and fallout area, and the reliability of the materials. For the purpose of this demonstration, an approval may be given for import and conveyance of these pyrotechnic materials. The demonstration shall be conducted in a suitable venue by approved Special Effects Operator(s) with appropriate fire fighting equipment on standby. Any incurred costs shall be at the expense of the applicant. After a successful demonstration, the pyrotechnic materials will be approved for supply, conveyance, store and use as PSEM under the ESEO.

C. Registration of PSEM

Application for registration of PSEM will only be considered if the product has been approved as PSEM for a period of time (say 2 years) and has been successfully used in several entertainment events (say 3 events) in a safe manner. If an applicant submits an application for registration of an approved PSEM and supporting documents as stated in para. B(1) above have not been submitted to the Authority before, he/she shall submit these documents to the Authority for review. The Authority will also carry out a review of the products in list of approved PSEM, and may of his own accord enter any of the approved PSEM into the Register, in accordance with section 17(2) of the ESEO. Besides, the Authority may, where he considers it necessary in the interests of public safety, cancel the registration of any PSEM and remove it from the register pursuant to Section 15(b) of the Entertainment Special Effects (General) Regulation (ESE(G)R).

D. Use of PSEM

To safeguard the public, the audience, the performers and the working crew, the use of PSEM for producing entertainment special effects is subject to various licensing and safety requirements. In addition to using PSEM which must be approved/registered and included in the register, applicants are also required to convince the Authority that the PSEM can be safely handled and fired in a particular setting. Some of the general requirements that applicants must comply with are listed below:

  • Apply for discharge permits for the event (submit details of the discharge and all relevant documents)
  • Take out public liability insurance
  • Engage an adequate number of suitably qualified Special Effects Operators and Special Effects Assistants
  • Obtain consent of the owner/agent/management of the venue to use special effects materials
  • Conduct demonstration of the proposed effects (if required by the Authority)
  • Apply for a conveyance permit (if not exempted)
  • Provide adequate number of spotters and security guards for crowd control (subject to scale of the discharge and other circumstances)
  • Provide adequate and effective fire fighting equipment and personal protective equipment

Entertainment Special Effects Licensing Authority
30 September 2020

ESELA Guidance Notes 5 (30.09.2020)

Download: Application for Approval/Registration of Pyrotechnic Special Effects Materials

PDF File E-form

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