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Procedure for Obtaining EX Numbers Under APA Standard 87-1


To expedite your application be sure to use the sample APA Fireworks Approval Application.

To complete an EX Number application the following guidelines have been established.

Note 1: An application can be as broad (e.g., cylindrical star shell covering an assortment of colors) or as specific (e.g., 3 inch red and green cylindrical star shell) as you wish. It is your choice to have a few or many EX numbers to cover your products.

Note 2: An item may be sold under several different names to different customers by using your product code or item number for the "item name" in the application. This will enable you to ship the item under various product names without having to revise your EX Approval number every time you change the item name.

  • The thermal stability test, will require the manufacturer or the applicant to follow the procedure provide on the thermal stability test page. The application must provide the information on the person who actually conducted the test, as well as the test results. The manufacturer, importer, or any testing laboratory can perform the test.
  • Prepare a cover sheet (see example) to accompany your application. If you are submitting applications for more than one item, only one cover sheet is required. DOT scans applications into a computer and staples can cause delays in the processing. A complete submittal includes a cover sheet, application, chemical composition sheet and diagram of the item. Each application must have a signed certification declaring conformance to 2018 APA Standard 87-1 standard. The preferred method is to submit applications directly into the PHMSA Fireworks Portal, Fireworks online approval process. Additionally, email to: will be accepted.

For additional questions or information regarding the 2018 APA Standard 87-1, contact:

Ms. Julie L. Heckman
American Pyrotechnics Association


U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Engineering and Sciences, Energetic Materials


Guidelines on Completing an EX Number Application

  1. Item Name - Use the actual item name, the name of the series, if applicable, or an item number. (i.e., 3 Inch Red Star Shell (specific item,) XYZ Display Shell Series (for a series of shells of different effects and sizes,) or F001-18 (item number).)
  2. Name and Address of the Applicant - This must be the manufacturer's physical location. The name of a responsible person (and their job title) at the applicant company must be provided. All information needs to be provided in English. The phone number, email address, and U.S. Designated Agent information is required in accordance with 49 CFR section 105.40 in the application.
  3. DOT Class - Mark the correct classification for the device: Fireworks, UN0335, 1.3G; or Fireworks, UN 0336, 1.4G. For a pyrotechnic device intended for professional use in the entertainment industry, use the Article, Pyrotechnic UN 0431 or Fireworks [for professional use only] UN0336.
  4. Manufacturer - Provide the name, physical manufacturing, address, email, and telephone number of the actual manufacturer of the fireworks. The applicant must be the manufacturer. A US designated agent may submit an application on behalf of a manufacturer.
  5. Category of Device - Check the appropriate category, i.e.: mine/shell, rocket, cylindrical fountain, etc.
  6. Diagram of the Device - VERY IMPORTANT: The diagram must identify all the internal components, in English. Indicate dimensions on the diagram, identify things such as fuse location, clay plugs, lift charge or propellant, stars, etc. If the diagram is not clear, approval will be delayed.

    Note: If the device is produced in more than one size, indicate the dimensions for each size. If the application covers a series of devices, show a typical, representative diagram for one item in the series.

  7. Chemical Composition - First, be certain that all the chemicals used in the device(s) are listed in Permitted and Restricted Chemicals Table found in each of the 2018 APA 87-1 standards.
    1. First, list the name of the device, (or series) and the total weight of pyrotechnic composition in the device. For a series of items, list the maximum total weight that is used in the largest item in the series.
    2. Then, list the name of each type of chemical composition used in the device, (or series) and the maximum weight of that composition used in the device (or used in any item in the series.) (i.e.: Red star, 15 g; black powder propellant, 10 g; report powder, 125 mg per report.)
    3. Then complete the chemical composition sheet. List the percentage by weight of each chemical used in each composition.
  8. Description of the Device - Fill in the information requested.
  9. Thermal Stability Test - This test must be performed prior to submitting the item for approval.
  10. Certification - This section must be dated, and must be signed by the applicant. This is the person that DOT will direct any questions to regarding the application. Only an authorized representative of the company can certify the application.


Your file for each device must consist of:

  1. The application (following guidelines 1-10.)  must be signed and dated.
  2. An attached diagram of device.
  3. The chemical composition information.
  4. For foreign applicants, a U.S. designated agent letter.

Additional Details: Diagram of the Device

  1. English must be used to identify internal components.
  2. Internal and external dimensions of tubes and bases must be shown on the diagram, including length and diameter. Metric values should be used.
  3. The point where external ignition fuse enters the device must be shown, as well as the connection sequence of all internal fuses. Any empty tubes used to complete the geometric pattern of a multiple-tube device must be clearly marked, "empty tube."
  4. All names given (of the item as well as the internal components) correspond to the description of the device contained in the application. Identification of chemical compositions in the diagram must also correspond to the terms used on the chemical composition page. (i.e., if the term, bursting charge, is used on the diagram to indicate the location of a composition found in the device, the chemical composition (and weight) of the bursting charge must be given on the chemical composition page.)
  5. Drawings must be legible.

Note: Clear and concise drawings are always appreciated.

Thermal Stability Test for Fireworks

Any fireworks device approved for transportation as a 1.3G or 1.4G explosive by DOT must be thermally stable. The explosive material must not ignite spontaneously or undergo marked decomposition when subjected to a temperature of 167°F (75°C) for 48 consecutive hours.

Thermal stability test is performed by placing a weighed sample in a preheated oven. The oven temperature should be monitored throughout the experiment to determine that a minimum temperature of 75°C is maintained. The sample is removed after 48 hours and it is allowed to cool to room temperature. The sample is checked visually for any noticeable decomposition, and it is then re-weighed. The weight loss should be minimal, and no significant change in color or physical appearance should be noticeable. The sample fails the thermal stability test if it ignites, explodes, or markedly decomposes during the testing.

Note: It is strongly recommended that the thermal stability not be conducted on large, intact devices, which could produce devastating consequences in the event of an ignition during testing. The components used in such large fireworks can be tested, rather than the complete device. Any components that would be in contact with each other in the finished item must be placed in contact for the thermal stability testing. The sample should be placed in a pan or on aluminum foil during the test to prevent any pyrotechnic dust or particles from contaminating the oven. The oven should be cleaned on a regular basis.


A commercial laboratory-type oven is best for conducting the thermal stability test and explosion-proof wiring and equipment is preferred. An oven capable of controlling temperature to ± 2° C is required for the test.

A major factor in the selection of equipment and design of the test facility will be the type of fireworks to be tested. If quantities of pyrotechnic composition in excess of several grams are to be tested, the thermal stability tests must be conducted in an isolated facility. Personnel should not be working in the vicinity of an un-barricaded oven while a thermal stability test is in progress.

Safety is critical in the performance of thermal stability tests. It must be assumed that there is a distinct possibility that the sample will ignite during the test, and precautions must be taken to minimize the consequences of ignition and the resultant fire or explosion.

Complete the thermal stability test section of the application once the test has been completed. Indicate whether the test was performed on the finished item, or on the components as they are present together in the item.