Before we get started at all, this is not a guide on how legal kitchen knives are or can be, in the UK. If you came here because of your kitchen knives, you might as well skip the rest of the article right now since you have nothing to worry about.
As long as you keep using the kitchen knives in the way they have been intended, that is.
If you are here for other kinds of knives, though, then you should worry about how legal knives are in the UK, which knives are legal, what grey areas to consider, and other general pieces of advice I can offer you.
Let’s get to it, then.
So, are knives illegal in the UK or not?
The true answer here is that it depends.
Some knives are outright illegal in the UK – such as butterfly knives, bowie knives, and ballistic knives, among others. However, certain can be legal and illegal under certain conditions.
Such conditions could be your age as a knife buyer/ owner, the purpose/ intent of possessing the knife, how long the knife is, how the knife is changing hands, and much more.
That is why I have put up this piece to address some of those concerns you might have with your special knives in the UK.
If you have also thought UK knife laws are ridiculous, you might start to understand them better when you are done with this piece.
What knives are legal in the UK?
First of all, you know kitchen knives remain legal in the UK and everywhere else. After all, they are designed for use in the kitchen and are neither constituted as weapons nor dangerous materials, even if they can be.
Once we have that out of the way, there is a little grey area again. Knives that were previously considered illegal can still be carried legally if they satisfy the following conditions:
- Knives taken to a gallery for exhibition;
- Knives you take to and from your workplace;
- Knives you carry for the sole aim of using them in a movie, or other theatre production;
- The blade is not more than 3 inches long;
- Knives owned and carried as part of a religion.
Note that you can still be arrested and charged for carrying a knife illegally even if you satisfy the conditions above. However, the onus lies on the court of law to prove your innocence or guilt in owning and carrying the knives in the first place.
What knives are illegal to carry in the UK?
Unless you have a good reason, there are several knives you should never carry when in the UK. You should not be caught selling these knives either lest you get sanctioned with a second felony.
Here are some of the knives that the UK laws frown upon:
- Butterfly knives – read more about why they are illegal
- Bowie knives – the bowie knife history is enough to tell you why they are banned
- Dirks and daggers
- Gravity knives
- Push daggers and
There are a series of other non-common knives explicitly designed under UK laws as being illegal. I don’t see more of them around so I wouldn’t bother, but that might be the knife you are worried about.
Check this official resource for a full list of the knives to avoid carrying in public.
Lock vs Non-Lock knives
When you check most UK legislation around what knives you can safely carry in public or not, you see that they are mostly defined under lock and non-locking knives.
Generally, lock knives are referred to as blades that can be opened and refolded into position with the push of a button. This means a switchblade would naturally fall under such knives.
Even though they are a kind of folding blade, they are not referred to as the normal folding knives for the sake of this law’s interpretation.
On top of that, lock knives can also be in the form of multi-tool knives like your swiss army blades. As long as they fulfill the conditions above, they are deemed illegal to carry.
Furthermore, even if the lock knife has a blade less than 3 inches long (which is still allowable under the law for non-locking knives), the locking mechanism alone makes it illegal.
That said, lock knives are not illegal to carry in the UK if the carrier (i.e., you) has a valid and legal reason for carrying them.
What knives can you legally carry in the UK?
If you want to buy knives for EDC in the UK, you should ensure they are neither locking knives (so you don’t have to always explain yourself) nor are they more than 3 inches in length.
Most people, including me, do well with a folding knife we carry daily, so you don’t have to go looking for specialty knives either.
If you want one of these, the table below contains some options to help you decide:
|S/N||Knife||Core Steel||Blade Type||Blade Length||Price|
|1||Kershaw Scallion Pocket Knife||420HC steel||Folding||2.4″||Check on Amazon|
|2||Smith & Wesson Black Ops Folding Knife||4034 high carbon steel||Folding||3.3||Check on Amazon|
|3||CRKT Scribe Compact EDC Knife||5Cr15MoV high carbon steel||Fixed||1.74||Check on Amazon|
|4||Gerber Principle Fixed Blade Knife||420HC steel||Fixed||3.1||Check on Amazon|
FAQs on Knife Legality in the UK
Are Bowie Knives illegal in the UK?
The bowie knife is not legal in the UK even though it is a non-locking knife.
This knife is usually more than 3 inches long (measured from the blade alone) which violates the laws in the country. Likewise, the knife is understandably associated with violence, so it makes sense that it is not allowed in public unless you had a good reason for carrying one.
Even at that, it might take a court of law to prove that your said reason for carrying the bowie knife is passable.
What is the legal age to buy knives in the UK?
Kitchen knives are not considered weapons and can be sold to buyers from the age of 16 or over. For EDC knives, the law is specific in that these knives should not be sold to people under the age of 18.
You might need to provide an ID assuring the seller that you are above this age before they sell to you. In the case that you are the seller, the onus lies on you to also ensure you are not selling knives to any underaged users lest you get charged.
Can you carry a swiss army knife in the UK?
A swiss army knife is a multi-tool you are legally allowed to carry in the UK. As most of these knives are, make sure the blade is no more than 3 inches long and the swiss army knife you have chosen doesn’t come with some sort of assisted locking mechanism.
For starters, you can check out this swiss army knife guide to choose legal SAKs to use in the UK.