Licensed to lock?

Since 1st February, 2017, licensing has been extended to contractors operating in the locksmith sector, writes Paul Scallan, CEO, the Private Security Authority. The private security industry plays a crucial role in our society protecting billions of euros worth of goods and services while ensuring the safety of millions of individuals whether in their homes, at work or elsewhere. The importance of the industry in our economy, homes and social environment should not be underestimated.

The Private Security Services Act 2004 provides for the regulation of the industry and ensures the interests of consumers are protected through the establishment, promotion, monitoring and enforcement of appropriate standards. The Act also identifies locksmiths as one of the sectors to be regulated by the Private Security Authority (PSA).

In May 2013, the PSA established a working group to develop a standard for the licensing of locksmiths. The group included the Irish Security Industry Association, the Associated Locksmiths of Ireland and the Irish Locksmiths Organisation, as well as representatives from An Garda Síochána and the National Standards Authority of Ireland, among others.

During the development process, the Authority held two public consultations on the licensing of the sector. A range of submissions were received including submissions from Hardware Association Ireland and others in the hardware business. These helped the working group to develop PSA 55:2016 – Standard for the Licensing of Locksmiths, the standard prescribed by the PSA for the licensing of locksmiths.

Definition of ‘locksmith’

The standard, which is available on the PSA’s website,, defines a locksmith as a person: who provides a security service installing, opening, maintaining, repairing or servicing  security equipment that, consists of mechanical, electronic or other locking devices designed, constructed or adapted to prevent unauthorised access to or within premises where such equipment is situated or consists of mechanical, electronic or other locking devices designed, constructed or adapted to prevent unauthorised access to motor vehicles and includes a person who, in connection with the provision of the services referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), originates, duplicates or provides by copy or code restricted keys, safe keys or motor vehicle transponder keys, gives advice relating to the installation of such equipment or advice relating to the protection of such devices from damage or interference.

The standard also provides the following definition of what a restricted key is: a key or lock whose sale and/or distribution is limited by the lock manufacturer in order to reduce unauthorised key proliferation or a key that is cut by reference to a specific code. The PSA has announced that locker keys, post box keys and keys for similar devices do not fall within the definition of coded keys.

Importantly for the hardware industry, the PSA has provided a number of clarifications on what does not require a licence, these include,

• A person who solely supplies locking devices whether on its own or as part of a fitting but does not install or open or maintain or repair or service or originate keys or other opening devices for such locking devices;

• A person who copies keys for locking devices using a machine where the keys are duplicated from an existing key that is not a safe, strong room or otherwise restricted key;

• A person who copies coded keys which do not require a key registration card or similar to obtain a code and which are used for locking post boxes, lockers and like devices;

• A person who is recognised by a motor vehicle manufacturer or distributor as a person authorised to service motor vehicles.

The PSA recognises that the introduction of a regulatory environment will always create difficulties for those operating in the sector and those on the peripheries. The PSA will monitor closely the effect that the introduction of regulation will have on locksmiths and others, and will provide further guidance and clarification where regulation has impacted in an unforeseen way. An information note on licensing has been published on our website and will be updated when required.

Breaking the law

From the 1st February, 2017, it will be an offence to provide a security service as a locksmith without a licence. It will also be an offence to engage or employ an unlicensed locksmith. In both cases, you could be fined up to €3,000 and/or receive a jail sentence of up to five years. For those who wish to apply for a licence, application forms and guidelines are available on the PSA website, The PSA licensing unit can also be contacted directly at and will be happy to provide assistance to anyone who needs clarification on the new licensing system.

The Private Security Authority (PSA) is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of the private security industry in Ireland.