What are the rules for using fireworks in Switzerland?

What are the rules for using fireworks in Switzerland?

Major national holidays are some of the only times of the year when families and individuals in Switzerland can go out to buy and set off fireworks. However, before you start planning your latest light show, there are several strict rules and regulations to follow before your rockets can take to the sky. Here’s a brief summary.

Are fireworks allowed in Switzerland?

While they are allowed, Switzerland is infamous for its highly strict rules regarding fireworks, with most being banned for all but a few days a year. In most Swiss cantons, fireworks are only allowed to be used during the evenings and mornings after July 31, August 1 (Swiss National Day) and December 31 (New Year's Eve and Day) - although exceptions may be made for certain canton-specific events.

The sale of fireworks is also heavily regulated, with sales only starting a few weeks before each event. In addition, each Swiss council (Gemeinde) and canton reserves the right to ban fireworks, even during designated holidays.

To help budding fireworks users across the country, local authorities, the Federal Office of Police (FedPol) and the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) have released guidelines relating to whether residents can import fireworks or not, and when and where they can actually be used.

Important rules for setting off fireworks in Switzerland

In their guidelines, the FOCBS noted that even if you have successfully purchased fireworks in Switzerland or imported them from abroad, it “does not automatically mean that they may also be used.” Prospective fireworks users should still keep an eye out for rules and regulations regarding where and when fireworks can be set off. Here are some top tips.

What general rules should I follow when setting off fireworks?

Some general rules to follow around fireworks when you set them off are:

  • Place the fireworks as far away from buildings, farming fields and woodland as possible - ideally 200 metres away
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks and older children must be supervised
  • Do not set fireworks off in crowds and maintain a safe distance from them once lit
  • Never hold lit fireworks in your hand (unless they are sparklers)
  • Do not try to re-light fireworks
  • Do not try to light fireworks while drunk or impaired
  • Never light fireworks indoors, and try to point them away from people's houses and any flammable material
  • Always keep water on hand in case a firework malfunctions

It is also important to be conscious of the noise that you generate by setting off fireworks. Be sure to inform your neighbours about your plans, especially if they have dogs, cats or other noise-sensitive animals.

Check the firework rules for your local area

Many Swiss cities and towns have their own regulations regarding where and when fireworks can be set off. In Basel, for example, fireworks are only allowed to be lit on July 31, August 1 and December 31 between 6pm and 1am the next day, no fireworks are allowed within 200 metres of hospitals and zoos and those breaking the rules will face fines of 150 francs.

Therefore, before you light your first fireworks, make sure to check what the rules are for your local area. Many local authorities will have information on their websites, and in the lead-up to events where fireworks are allowed, most areas will begin awareness campaigns through signage and press releases.

Check for forest fire warnings and firework bans

Finally, you have to be mindful of the weather. With heatwaves becoming more common during the summer, if the authorities deem the risk of forest fires to be high enough, they will prohibit the use of fireworks. Canton Valais in July 2023, for example, banned the use of fireworks weeks ahead of national day, after a major forest fire started in the canton.

To see what fire warnings are in place in real-time, check out the Swiss Natural Hazards Portal.

Can people import fireworks to Switzerland?

When it comes to bringing fireworks into Switzerland from abroad, the emergency services said that “in principle, an import licence issued by the Federal Office of Police is required to be able to import fireworks.” However, tourists and travellers to Switzerland are allowed to import 2,5 kilograms of F1, F2 and F3 category (ones designed for personal use) fireworks per person without a permit.

Check whether your firework is banned

However, while people are permitted to import a limited amount of fireworks to Switzerland, certain types that may be allowed in neighbouring countries are banned. In the FOCBS' statement, they noted that “fireworks that explode on the ground (such as firecrackers and petards) are generally not permitted for import. Also forbidden for import are "lady crackers" that are longer than 22 millimetres and / or have a diameter greater than 3 millimetres.“

Anyone who is looking to import fireworks is encouraged to check with Swiss customs authorities before they try to bring the devices across the border. Any violation of these rules will be reported to the police and may result in legal action.

Should I import fireworks in the first place?

As you can likely tell from what is listed above, local authorities would rather you not buy and bring in fireworks from abroad. Switzerland’s strict firework rules are designed so that no pyrotechnics are imported that are considered by the government to be dangerous. The system is also designed to allow the authorities to strictly regulate when and where fireworks can be sold and set off.

Where can I buy fireworks in Switzerland?

Instead of going through the hassle of importing them, it is recommended to buy fireworks in Switzerland. They can be bought in temporary shops usually placed outside major supermarkets in the lead-up to events, and while they may be more expensive, at least you know they are legal and allowed.

Fireworks in Switzerland explained

As you can likely tell, the majority of rules, restrictions and regulations around fireworks are designed to ensure people's safety and make sure the devices do not harm others or the natural environment. If this piece leaves you less keen to set off your own fireworks then first, sorry, and second, don't worry! During the events where fireworks are allowed, most communities put on professionally run drone or firework displays which are almost always safe and spectacular!

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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