NYE: What you need to know about using fireworks in Germany

NYE: What you need to know about using fireworks in Germany

Now that Christmas is over, all the food has been eaten and all the presents have been opened, there’s only one thing to look forward to: New Year’s Eve. That’s right, people - Silvester, the next big German holiday is right around the corner and it’s time to party!

Now, we know a Silvester party would be nothing without an amazing fireworks display. However, if you are planning on bringing in the New Year in style, it wouldn’t help to brush up on the rules and regulations regarding the use of fireworks in Germany, to keep you safe and out of trouble.

New Years celebration with sparklers and champagne

Firework rules in Germany

Laws surrounding the use of fireworks are strictly enforced in Germany - and have been tightened up in recent years, with many German cities issuing bans on fireworks in public places this year. So, make sure you do your research and stay on the right side of the law.

Types of fireworks in Germany

There are four different categories (Klasse) of fireworks in Germany, depending on the amount of explosives they contain. Each different category has different rules surrounding its usage.

Category F1

Fireworks under Klasse 1 are generally smaller fireworks that contain the least amount of explosives. Anyone over the age of 12 can buy these fireworks, which are sold all year round. These fireworks are usually meant for kids and include things like sparklers, streamers and poppers or bangers.

children using sparklers

Category F2

These fireworks are your "typical" garden fireworks such as small rockets and fountains. To purchase these kinds of fireworks you must be over the age of 18 and will more often than not have to show ID. Under German law, you can set off as many of these fireworks as you like on New Year’s Eve.

Category F3

Klasse 3 fireworks are designated display fireworks. These fireworks are generally bigger and louder than Klasse 2 fireworks and are only sold to people with a special licence. If you want to get your hands on these bad boys, you will have to apply for the licence at your local Office for Occupational Safety and Health.

Category F4

Fireworks that fall under this category are professional-grade fireworks, that have no limit to the amount of explosives they contain. These fireworks are only available to professional pyrotechnicians. They are designated under EU law as fireworks that can pose grave danger.

When and where can you buy fireworks in Germany?

Klasse 1 fireworks can be bought all year round by people over the age of 12. Bigger fireworks can usually only be found and bought at licensed shops. However, from December 28 to 30, shops all around the country will stock and sell fireworks for your Silvester needs.

The Department for Customs and Imports, Zoll, recommends buying fireworks from shops rather than on the internet or from street sellers. This is because store-bought fireworks follow safety standards that comply with EU law and are tested before sale. If you have bought fireworks from off the street or the internet, make sure you check the box for the Klasse and BAM number.

If you are returning from your Christmas holidays in time for Silvester and want to bring your own fireworks, then it’s best to stay on the right side of the law. All fireworks from non-EU countries must be declared at the customs office. The import of unauthorised fireworks is strictly prohibited, and they will be seized upon entry. Anyone silly enough to try to bring unauthorised fireworks into the country will find themselves in big trouble with the police.

chinese fireworks

When and where can you set fireworks off?

Fireworks, in Klasse 2 and above, are only allowed to be set off in Germany from December 31 to January 1. The personal use of these fireworks is prohibited at any other time of the year, although you can apply for official approval for a firework display at certain events like birthdays or weddings.

Klasse 2 or higher fireworks cannot be set off near hospitals, churches, care homes or houses with thatched roofs (for obvious reasons). Some towns and municipalities uphold firework restrictions, even on New Year’s Eve. This is usually in an effort to protect historically important buildings or medieval town centres.

Firework bans in German cities

Recently, amidst reports of the growing misuse of fireworks in public, some cities have banned the use of fireworks in certain public places. Berlin has imposed bans on the public use of fireworks in certain parts of the city, including Alexanderplatz and Pariser Platz.

Hamburg has also implemented ban zones at Jungfernstieg and along the Elbe riverbanks. Both cities imposed the bans due to the number of injuries sustained in previous years by members of the public, police and firefighters. To avoid any trouble, make sure you do your research on places that have banned the use of public fireworks.

firework display hamburg

Firework safety

Above all, make sure you stay safe this Silvester. Take the necessary precautions when using fireworks to avoid harming yourself and others around you. Here are a few basic rules to ensure you make it to next year relatively pain-free.

  • Always monitor kids who are using sparklers or poppers and do not let young children operate larger fireworks.
  • Never put any body part over a firework once it has been lit; step back immediately.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to dispose of sparklers or if anything else goes wrong.
  • Do not point fireworks at another person.
  • Don’t try to relight dud fireworks (they might have a delayed reaction).
  • Once a firework has finished burning, soak it in water before discarding to avoid fires.

Most importantly - have fun! Frohes neues Jahr! 

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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