APA Advisory - Special Permit for Importing Articles Pyrotechnic

June 2, 2021


SUBJECT:  Special Permit Required to Import UN0431, Articles Pyrotechnic from China as UN0335, Fireworks, 1.3G

As reported in the June issue of Sparks, China is insisting that Articles Pyrotechnic (UN0431) transit as 1.3G Fireworks, UN0335 creating a host of U.S. regulatory problems, including improper shipping classification. In the U.S. under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), UN0431, Articles Pyrotechnic for Technical Purposes are classified as 1.4G, not 1.3G and PHMSA has issued EX Approvals for these devices under the 1.4G shipping classification. Furthermore, ATF monitors Customs data on containers of 1.3G coming into the country and then monitors inventory acquisition and disposition records of that product during ATF inspections at Federal Explosive Licensee (FEL) facilities – however, Articles Pyrotechnic are exempt from ATF regulation including storage and recordkeeping requirements.


Since last Fall, APA Vice President, Steve Pelkey and Executive Director Julie Heckman have engaged PHMSA in a dialogue regarding China CIQ and Custom authorities classifying larger consumer items as 1.3G product. The consumer fireworks reclassification issue has settled down a bit, however recent discussions have focused on the current problem of Articles Pyrotechnic requiring a 1.3G classification by China to transit to the U.S.  

Working with Ryan Paquet, Vice President, Hazmat Safety Consulting, and former Director of Approvals and Permits at PHMSA, we have prepared a Special Permit (SP) Application that authorizes UN0431, Articles Pyrotechnic, 1.4G to be transported from China to their final destination in the U.S. as UN0335,1.3G Fireworks. The SP was approved on May 20, 2021 and a copy can be viewed here.

Requirements of the Special Permit

Under the SP, each outer package must be marked as 1.3G, UN0335 (in lieu of 1.4G, UN0431) and include the appropriate EX Approval issued by PHMSA. The outer packaging must also be marked with the DOT Special Permit number – which will alert customs, federal, state and local enforcement officials, and inspectors that something is “unique” about the shipment. 

Packagings and containers must be marked and placarded as 1.3G explosives for multi-modal movement until they reach their final destination in the U.S. Once the shipment reaches its final destination, the importer and holder of the SP may relabel the devices (it is our understanding that China is providing the 1.4G Articles Pyrotechnic product replacement labels in the shipping cartons) and the importer can remark the outer shipping carton as 1.4G. 

ATF Considerations

Beginning in late 2020, APA apprised ATF of this classification situation and on June 1 convened a meeting with agency officials to specifically discuss the recently issued SP. APA alerted the ATF that we anticipate a number of display companies will file to become a “party to” that permit and that we wished to provide clear guidance to our members. The association wants to ensure all issues pertaining to markings, recordkeeping, and inspection related issues were understood and addressed, so that ATF can properly advise field inspectors of what to expect.

The following guidance was clarified with ATF officials at the June 1 meeting:

•  ATF will issue a bulletin to all Field Divisions to alert them of this industry shipping situation and brief the Field to the unique marking issues related to the SP. 

•  ATF was clear, Articles Pyrotechnic are exempt from ATF regulation and they remain exempt under the SP because DOT’s classification of the devices being imported under the SP are in fact, Articles Pyrotechnic. 

•  If a company imports such devices as UN0335, Fireworks, 1.3G they are still considered exempt from ATF regulation as soon as they enter the U.S provided that they are transported under a SP.  

•  Once the devices shipped under the SP arrive at your facility, companies do not need to put these shipments into ATF storage. Simply maintain the shipping papers accompanying the shipment and maintain a copy of the SP authorizing you to import these devices as 1.3G. 

•  These devices are not subject to ATF recordkeeping requirements including acquisition or disposition records.  However, it would be prudent to put a label on the shipping cartons immediately upon receipt stating the proper shipping name:  UN0431, Articles Pyrotechnic for Technical Purposes, 1.4G and the SP number, before you place the cartons into non-regulated storage. This will give you additional time to then relabel each device with the device replacement label and the shipping cartons before you offer these devices for transport to one of your displays or for downstream purchase.  

Don't Delay Filing to Become a Party to the SP

It is crucial that any display company who plans to import UN0431 Articles Pyrotechnic from China as 1.3G file to become a “party to” this SP.  As mentioned above, ATF monitors importation of 1.3G and you do not want to get tied up in an ATF inspection looking for containers you imported as 1.3G that are actually 1.4G and not subject to ATF storage or recordkeeping. The SP and your shipping carton markings with the SP number will serve as your compliance record and safety net. Processing time for “party to” applications can take between 30-90 days, so please plan ahead to have your SP status approved before your containers arrive.

Ryan Paquet, Hazmat Safety Consulting can assist members in preparing and submitting “party to” SP applications for a modest fee. The heavy lift on getting this SP was already done and paid for by Atlas PyroVision Entertainment.  We extend our gratitude to Steve Pelkey for jumping in to assist with this entire complex regulatory situation. 

If you’d like to begin immediately on a “party to” application, Ryan’s Paquet’s contact information is below.  Please note, while the attached SP states that “no party status will be granted”, that was an error on PHMSA’s part and we’ve been assured if we submit one additional full application that is identical in nature, PHMSA will grant “party to” status. 

Ryan F Paquet, PG
Vice President
Hazmat Safety Consulting
1-401-222-0412  Cell
Ryan’s email:  [email protected]

In your email please include in the subject line:  APA SP Party To Status and copy Julie Heckman, [email protected] as she has promised to keep ATF apprised of the number of SP participants and party to holders.

In the event you run into any confusion with ATF Field Ops inspectors with these shipments and you have “party to” status to the SP, contact your ATF Area Supervisor. If you need additional assistance, contact Ms. Heckman.

We are grateful to PHMSA and ATF for their willingness to work in partnership with the APA to address this urgent industry matter promptly.

If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Heckman at [email protected] or via cell 240-401-4513.

Advisory #2021-14