UK Law On The Sale, Purchase, & The Carrying Of Knives

Adults who carry a knife face a maximum punishment of four years in prison and an infinite fine. If you are convicted of carrying a knife more than once, you will face a prison sentence.

Knife-related fundamental laws


Possessing a prohibited knife or weapon is a crime. Additionally, the following actions are illegal.

  • To import, sell, rent, lend, or gift a prohibited knife or weapon into the United Kingdom.

  • To carry any knife in public without a valid reason, unless it is a manual folding blade of less than three inches in length.

  • To sell a knife to anybody under the age of 18, unless the blade is a manual folding blade measuring less than three inches in length.

  • To use any knife in a menacing manner.

In Scotland, sixteen to eighteen-year-olds are permitted to purchase cutlery and kitchen knives.

Lock knives are not classified as folding knives and are therefore forbidden to carry in public unless there is a compelling cause to do so.


Knives that are securely locked

  • have blades that are locked and refolded with the push of a button;

  • include multi-tool knives - instruments that double as a screwdriver or can opener;

  • as well as prohibited knives and weapons.

Unless a lawful exemption exists, it is illegal to bring into the UK, possess, sell, hire, lend, or give someone a prohibited knife.

Types of Knives—Descriptions

  • Butterfly knives—Alternately referred to as 'balisongs'. A handle with a central split that reveals a blade.

  • Knives disguised as commonplace objects—A blade or sharp point concealed within an everyday object such as a buckle, phone, brush, or lipstick.

  • Also called as 'switchblades' or 'automatic knives', flick knives or gravity knives.

  • Folding knives—Knives that open automatically, either through gravity or by pressing a button or other part of the knife.

  • Stealth knives—Knives or spikes constructed of non-metal that are not intended for use at home, with food, or as a toy.

  • Knives with a cutting edge, a serrated edge, and imagery or words implying they are used for violence.

  • Swords—A curved blade greater than 50 centimetres in length, with few exceptions for antiques, swords forged using traditional processes, and swords manufactured prior to 1954.

  • Sword stick—A hollow walking stick or cane with a blade embedded in it.

  • A push dagger is a knife with a handle that fits inside a clenched fist and a blade that emerges between two fingers.

  • Blowpipes—Occasionally referred to as 'blow guns'. A hollow tube through which hard pellets or darts are shot by blowing.

  • Telescopic truncheons.

  • A knife that automatically extends or can be extended by activating a button or spring located in or attached to the handle.

  • Straight, side-handled, or friction-lock truncheons are referred to as batons.

  • A hollow kubotan is a container in the shape of a cylinder that contains a number of sharp spikes.

  • Shurikens - Shurikens are also referred to as'shaken', 'death stars', or 'throwing stars'. A rigid, non-flexible plate with three or more pointed ends designed to be hurled.

  • A sickle attached to a rope, cable, chain, or wire is called a kusari gama.

  • A hook-knife hooked to a rope, cable, chain, or wire is called a kyoketsu shoge.

  • 'Manrikigusari' or 'kusari'—A weight or hand grip attached to a rope, cord, chain, or wire.

  • Hand claws—A metal or other hard material ring worn around the wrist from which sharp spikes protrude.

  • Foot claws—A bar of metal or another hard substance worn on the foot that protrudes a number of sharp spikes.

  • Knuckle dusters—A metal or other hard material band worn around the knuckles of one or more fingers.

  • Cyclone or spiral knives—A blade featuring one or more spiral-shaped cutting edges that terminate in a point.

  • Knife-carrying belt buckle—A buckle that includes or conceals a knife.

You should check with your local police department to determine whether a knife or weapon is unlawful.

Reasons to carry a knife or other weapon


Several compelling reasons to carry a knife or weapon in public include the following:


  • transporting job-related blades to and from work,

  • exhibiting it in a gallery or museum,

  • if it will be utilized in theatre, cinema, television, historical reenactment, or religious purposes, as some Sikhs do with their kirpan.

  • if it will be demonstrated or utilized to teach someone how to use it.


If you're charged with illegally carrying a knife or weapon, a court will determine whether you have a legitimate purpose to do so.


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