Offensive Weapons Act 2019 - Retailers & Couriers

OWA Retailer Title


Further provisions of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 mean that from the 6th of April 2022, as a retailer and or courier there will be statutory expectations placed on you by law to help strengthen the response to violent crime. The act makes it illegal for individuals to possess dangerous weapons in private, including knuckledusters, zombie knives and death star knives - we have further details of this on our Offensive Weapons Act page. As a retailer, you will now be expected to carry out further checks on purchasers, label packages to ensure it is clear they contain a bladed article and ensure they can only be delivered in person to someone 18 years old or over. Packages containing bladed articles will not be able to be left in a delivery locker or in a 'safe' place by law. Watch our video below to find out more about these changes.

For Retailers:


For Couriers:


What is a bladed article?

To fall within the definition of a bladed product within the meaning of the Act the item must have a blade and be capable of causing serious injury to a person that involves cutting that person’s skin. This means that knives that could not cause such an injury will not fall within the definition of bladed product and can be delivered to residential premises. Most cutlery knives, for example, are therefore unlikely to be considered as bladed products but would be a “bladed article” for the purposes of the Act and sellers would therefore need to carry out age verification checks, both in-store and online, in relation to sales of these items but they would not be subject to age verification checks on delivery to residential addresses. Items such as scissors or garden shears, that do not fall within the confines of age restricted sales legislation under the CJA 1988 and, therefore, cannot be considered as a “bladed product” according to current government statutory guidance.


What must I do at point of sale?

The legislation states that at the point of sale of a bladed item, you must have a system in place to check the purchaser is 18 years old or over. Specifically, the buyer confirming their age by simply ticking a box is NOT enough. It will be up to a court of law to decide wether measures taken to conduct age verification were sufficient. There are multiple solutions available in this space including, but not limited to, software that can check photos including identification, background check solutions using credit profiles or trusted identity services. 

Secured by Design (SBD) is the official police security initiative that works to provide safe places to live, work, shop and visit. If you have queries in regards to implementing solutions, you can contact them for further details 


How must packages be labelled?

The Act requires that, where a package is to be collected from a collection point, a package containing a bladed or sharply pointed article, or corrosive product, must be clearly marked to indicate that it contains an item with a blade, a sharp point or a corrosive product and that it should only be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over. Many courier companies will offer bespoke packaging solutions or stickers combined with an age verification system if you are regularly delivering bladed items.


owa package labelling


What must take place at point of delivery?

The seller needs to prove that they had procedures in place which were likely to ensure that any bladed product would be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over, and that they have taken all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to ensure that the package has not been delivered to someone aged under 18. The government’s view is that the seller may be able to satisfy this requirement by following measures in respect of an adequate age verification system, labelled packaging and ensuring age checks are undertaken at the point of delivery.


How can I ensure my staff remain safe during a delivery?

The Metropolitan Police and the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime have previously worked together to present guidance on responsible retailing of knives. Please view our training modules on how to challenge someone for ID and when to call the police for further guidance on deliveries in which you or your staff have concerns. For further free training or input in this regard, please contact the Metropolitan Police Business Crime Hub who are able to assist.


Further resources

Read our guidance for the public on the Offensive Weapons Act 2019

Government response to consultation on the Offensive Weapons Act 2019

British Home Enhancement Trade Association - for guidance on packaging