Locksmith For Safes: Finding The Best Safe Locksmith

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Need to keep your cash or valuables safe and sound against burglary and/or fire?

One of the best ways to keep these things safe is in a, well, a safe!

Safes and vaults are amongst the most secure ways of protecting everything from cash to jewellery, sensitive documents, data, firearms, or anything else that you need to keep protected from burglary or damage.

Safes and vault doors also happen to be amongst the most complex and secure locks that a qualified locksmith near you can deal with.

In fact, not all locksmiths provide safe and vault services - but some do, so it's always worth enquiring with a few reputable locksmiths before choosing one.

What are safes and vaults?

How do they work?

What should you know if you need to buy a new safe or if you need to repair, relocate, or dispose of a safe or repair a vault door?

This guide will provide a brief overview of safes and vaults in the UK and how a locksmith can help you with their services.

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Table of Contents:

Safes & Vaults

Locksmith for safes and vaults

Generally, safes and vaults are both secure lockable boxes that are designed to secure cash and/or valuable objects against burglary and/or fire.

They both accomplish the same thing, but we refer to them differently. What are the differences between safes and vaults?

The short answer is that a safe is relatively small, meant only for the valuable objects to be placed within.

Vaults are relatively large and built into a room, providing access by authorised individuals.
But the slightly longer answer is: all vaults are safes, but not all safes are vaults.

Safes are an overall term denoting a cube-like container that securely protects valuables against burglary or fire (or both).

Larger safes, typically those built as an entire room within a building, are most commonly referred to as vaults or strongrooms and are most commonly found in banks.

Sometimes the terms strongbox, coffer, or strongroom are used as terms for safes or vaults, depending on region and purpose.

Although safes can be (and often must be) mounted directly to a structure, e.g. under flooring, on or inside a wall, the term safe will be used to denote a smaller container not meant for people to enter - only valuables.

The term vault will be used to denote a larger container whereby people can enter.

Different types of safes and vaults

There are many different types of safes and vaults used in homes and businesses in the UK.

Below are a few examples:

Home safes

Available in many sizes and with different functions, home safes provide homeowners with a secure place to store cash, jewellery, sensitive documents, data, and more.

Generally, home safes can range from around 3L to 200L in capacity and come with many different locking mechanisms, with the most common being keyed locks and digital keypads.

Unless specifically stated, home safes protect against burglary and are not fire or water resistant.

Fire safes

When homeowners or business owners want (or need) to protect the contents of their safe against a fire, a fireproof safe is necessary.

Fireproof safes are often needed for protecting paper documents, data, and/or magnetic media.

Remember that not all safes offer fire resistance.

Small safes

In many homes and commonly seen in hotel rooms, small safes offer suitable security for storing things like cash, a passport, or other sensitive documents.

Small safes also tend to be far more versatile than bigger ones in that they can be more cleverly hidden in a building.

Business safes

Businesses that transact in large quantities of cash and/or need secure storage solutions for valuable objects (e.g. jewellery, items of historic or sentimental significance) should consider a suitable safe.

Many insurance policies require that business owners keep their valuables in a safe, so this is important for insurance reasons as well in the event that the business needs to make a claim.

Cash safes

A simple cash safe is generally needed for homes or businesses that need a straightforward and secure method of storing cash.

Home cash safes tend to be slim and may or may not be portable, i.e. no need to affix to a building.

Business cash safes can sometimes be larger, vault-like machines that accept cash deposits and have time lock features that only allow the user to withdraw a specified amount (e.g. £20) in a given interval.

These latter cash safes are ideal for convenience shops or retail shops where burglary is a threat, since the burglar simply cannot afford to wait and will only, at most, be able to steal a smaller amount.

Luxury safes

It may seem silly to look for a luxury safe when the whole point is that the safe is hidden away someplace secure.

Regardless, some homeowners opt for luxury brand safes that not only look sleek but are also often built of higher-quality materials and offer features such as biometric fingerprint locking mechanisms, interior lighting, and more.

Home vaults

Normally only needed for high net worth or ultra high net worth individuals, a home vault can provide incredible protection against burglary and store a room full of valuables.

Most home vaults are impractical for the average homeowner as their construction requirements can be extremely limiting, i.e. built in a basement or into an existing concrete structure with sufficient space.

Bank vaults

One of the most common places to find a vault is at a bank.

Naturally, the amount of cash and personal valuables held in safety deposit boxes requires that banks use the highest security vaults.

Many banks use complex locking mechanisms that are beyond the remit of the average locksmith, although a highly skilled and specialised locksmith may be able to service bank vault doors, locks, and electric door motors.

Note that many of these terms can overlap. In other words, a home safe can be small and protect against fire and burglary, for example.

Safe lock systems

How are safes kept secure? With locks, of course! Below are some of the most common locking mechanisms used on safe doors in the UK:

Key locks

Just like for your front door, a physical key is one of the most common ways to open a safe.

Generally, safe keys are far more secure and unique than a Chubb or Yale key and instead use double-bitted (two sides with ‘teeth') keys that are more complex to duplicate.

The disadvantage to keyed locks is that if you lose or misplace the key, regaining entry to the safe can be very challenging.

Some safe manufacturers require proof such as an invoice that you indeed purchased the safe and require authorisation for a replacement key.

Keypads (mechanical and electronic)

One of the most common types of safe lock is a keypad.

Mechanical or electronic keypads require a PIN key to gain entry and forego the need to carry a physical key.

These safes generally require battery power to operate.

Electronic safes can be far more secure since many will be able to keep an audit trail, so you can know if and when an attempt was made to open the safe.

Biometrics (fingerprint)

Common on luxury safes and in highly secure vaults, biometric locks use information such as a fingerprint (almost like most mobile phones) to open the door.

Some biometric safe locks use a combination of fingerprint + key or keypad.

More advanced biometric measures such as vein or retina scanners are mostly used in top-security vaults and are not common for safes.

Dial (combination)

Although famous in Hollywood films, combination locks that use a rotating dial are quite rare in most modern safes.

These locks do not require any batteries to operate, nor does the owner need to carry around a physical key.

Memorising a combination of numbers is all that's needed to operate the dial and to open the safe.

Dual locks (Shanghai locks)

More complex and secure safes and vault safety deposit boxes often use dual lock systems that are a hybrid of either two keys (aka Shanghai locks) that must be turnt simultaneously, or a keypad and key combination.

Multiple locking mechanisms can increase security greatly by presenting multiple barriers for a would-be burglar.

Vault door and lock systems

Many experienced locksmiths can assist homeowners and business owners with safes, but vault door services are much more specialised and complex in nature.

Vaults are much more permanent than everyday home safes, for example, and their doors often use far more complex locking mechanisms such as advanced biometrics, electronic keypads, and two key/combination systems (like Shanghai locks) in order to secure the contents inside.

Historically, vaults used steel-reinforced concrete walls at least 0.31m thick and robust doors 1.1m thick.

Many old vaults in America from the early 19th and 20th centuries are so impregnable that they still resist burglaries to this day.

Today's vaults use a series of heavy, steel bolts that protrude from the door and into the frame of the vault, much like a deadlock in your home - just much, much bigger.

The locking mechanism is usually found on the inside of the door, so interacting with the lock usually means that one needs to gain entry, which in itself can be a Herculean task requiring a high level of skill and experience.

For these reasons, vault owners (including for personal home vaults) should always ensure that their locksmith has expertise in this specific discipline of locksmithing.

Locksmiths that work with vault doors can often service the vault door hinges, repair the door's electric motor, and service the locking mechanism.

Security safes vs fire safes

Most safes can be categorised as security safes, with the intended purpose being to resist against burglary.

Not all safes are resistant to fire or water, however, which is why many individuals choose fireproof safes that can withstand a fire and keep the contents safe.

Below are some of the key differences between ordinary security safes and fireproof safes.

Security safes

The primary purpose of a security safe is to protect the contents from burglary.

Security safes must therefore be made of robust materials and have highly secure locking mechanisms.

Most security safes can be physically bolted to a wall or elsewhere within a building, but some are portable - which can be a security concern.

Security safes can contain just about anything from cash to personal valuables, but they will not necessarily be safe in the event of a fire.

Extreme temperatures render the inside of the safe like an oven, which can spoil or damage the contents if the safe is not also fireproof.

There are multiple standards in place for rating the security of various security safes in the UK, which will be explained below.

For insurance purposes, a security safe must generally be resistant to being moved, have sufficient wall and door strength and thickness, have an acceptable build quality, and use a sufficiently secure and complex locking mechanism.

Fireproof safes

The primary purpose of a fireproof safe is to protect the contents from fire.
Most fireproof safes are also security safes.

Some safes are also resistant to water immersion and/or sprinkling, e.g. from a building's fire sprinkler nozzle.

The main types of valuables that are stored in fireproof safes are physical paper documents, data and digital media, and magnetic media.

A fireproof safe must ensure the following to preserve these valuables:

Physical paper documents: resistance of 177°C to prevent combustion.

Digital media (SSD drives, CDs, DVDs, etc.): resistance of 120°C to avoid data corruption.

Magnetic media (tape & film roll): resistance of 52°C to prevent spoilage.

Fireproof safes are tested and certified independently for their fire resistance properties.

Generally, the standards for fireproof safes vary a lot more than the standards required of security safes.

It is worth considering that fireproof safes tend to have much thicker walls that act as insulation against high temperatures.

This means that you should always consider the inner and outer dimensions to ensure that the safe is appropriately sized for your needs.

Safe locksmith services

Locksmiths that provide safe and vault services generally provide a few core services for customers, including:

Safe installation

Whether you've purchased your own safe and need assistance affixing it to your building, under floorboards, or behind a wall, or if you are considering a safe and don't know where to start, a locksmith can help.

Many locksmiths can supply safes from trusted manufacturers and install them on your property, help you program the key (for keypads), and duplicate physical keys if needed.

For insurance purposes, many insurance providers in the UK for homes and especially businesses will require that the safe is securely affixed to the building in order to make an insurance claim.

This is one of a few reasons why you may wish to reconsider purchasing a safe that cannot easily be affixed to your property.

Safe relocation and disposal

Whether you need to move a safe to another property or elsewhere within the same building, a locksmith can help you with safe relocation services.

These include dismantling the bolts keeping the safe in place, moving the safe to its new location, and securing it there.

For property owners that no longer need their safe and wish to dispose of it efficiently, a locksmith can also help.

Safe opening & key and lock repairs

Some of the most common safe and vault services that a locksmith can assist with are opening a safe, repairing the locking mechanism, and duplicating keys.

Key duplication for safes is not as straightforward as with other key cutting services, however, since safes are (by design) supposed to be enormously difficult to open without the correct key.

Most safes use double-bitted keys that require additional complexity and labour in order to fit the lock, and some keys cannot simply be duplicated at all.

In these latter cases, permission from the safe manufacturer is often required in the form of an invoice.

For this reason, it's important to NOT place your safe receipt/invoice inside of the safe itself, but instead to keep it safe elsewhere in your home or business.

If your safe is not opening properly and the problem is the locking mechanism, a qualified locksmith can help you regain entry.

For similar security reasons to those mentioned above, opening a safe can require extensive labour.

Vault door and locks

Perhaps the most secure of all locks commonly used today, vault doors and locking mechanisms require highly skilled locksmiths to service.

For this reason, the average locksmith in the UK do not provide vault door services and only highly experienced specialist locksmiths can assist banks, government institutions, and others with vault door and lock servicing.

How strong does a safe need to be?

A safe needs to be secure enough to protect against unwanted entry from burglars. That's the short answer.

The old saying "a good key can open many locks, but a [rubbish] lock is opened by many keys" is often used in relation to dating and relationships, but it holds quite a bit of truth literally as well.

Your safe should be secure enough to be only unlocked by your key, not by any old key that can be easily duplicated.

For this reason, safes in the UK need to be certified in accordance with standardised security ratings.

In the UK, safe security ratings require appropriate certification in order to be insured for their contents.

This is overseen by the Association of Insurance Surveyors (AiS) and the typical certification scheme is the European Norm (EN) or Eurograde rating (sometimes called "cash rating") as shown in the below table:

Level of Security

Eurograde Rating (Roman/Arabic)

European Norm Standard

Cash Rating (£)

Valuables Rating (10x)

Lock(s) Required

Standard S1 EN14450-S1 £2,000 £20,000

1 x EN1300 Class A


S2 EN14450-S2 £4,000 £40,000
0/0 EN1143-1 £6,000 £60,000
I/1 £10,000 £100,000


II/2 £17,500 £175,000
III/3 £35,000 £350,000

1 x EN1300 Class B

IV/4 £60,000 £600,000

2 x EN1300 Class B


V/5 £100,000 £1,000,000
VI/6 £150,000 £1,500,000

2 x EN1300 Class C

VII/7 £250,000 £2,500,000

Generally, it is best to purchase a safe that has the Eurograde rating required by your insurance provider (or better).

In order to accommodate for extra storage, try to account for around 30% more than your currently needed storage space and keep in mind the interior capacity and dimensions as they may be significantly smaller than anticipated due to the wall thickness of safes such as fireproof safes.

Safe and vault standards in the UK

As seen in the above table, safes in the UK must adhere to the European norm standards for security in order to gain insurance approval from the AiS.

Generally, the higher the Eurograde rating, the better security of the safe/vault.

The Eurograde system is applicable to safes and vaults and actually goes from Grade 0-XIII (0-13), but normally those with grades beyond Grade VI (6) are reserved for specific cases such as bank vaults.

For these types of vaults, the maximum insurance coverage is not completely relevant anymore (£3.5 million in cash / £35 million in valuables) as insurance providers generally provide custom quotes for these clients.

Below are some of the key safe and vault standards in the UK:

  • BS EN 1143-1: the prevailing standard for secure storage units, including ATM safes, security safes, vaults, vault doors, and locks for storage units.
  • Secured by Design: the Police Service's Secured by Design scheme includes BS EN 1143-1:2019.
  • BS 7582:2005: relevant for reconditioned, refurbished, and used safes, BS7582 outlines the code of practice for these types of safe.
  • BS EN 1047: European testing standard recognised by British Standards for fireproof safes. If your safe was made and certified in the UK or in the European Union, look for this standard. If you've purchased a safe from the United States, look for the standard UL 72 instead as it is similar but also includes a drop test.

The safe door should contain one or more symbols on the inside referring to the above standards, the AiS logo, or the logo of the authority responsible for testing and certification in Europe (e.g. VdS in Germany or RISE in Sweden).

Keep in mind that any safe weighing 1,000kg or less must normally be bolted and secured in place on the building (e.g. on a concrete or load-bearing wall) in order to qualify the contents for insurance coverage.

Locksmiths for safes near me

Who can service a safe or vault door for me?

The most reliable way of servicing your safe or vault door is to get in touch with a reputable, genuine, and trustworthy locksmith in the UK.

Most domestic and commercial locksmiths can help with key cutting and lock repair services, as well as open up a safe in the event that you cannot open it.

Always enquire with your locksmith and obtain a quote beforehand, and give them as much information as possible so that the quote can be as accurate as possible.

This can save you from having to pay far more than anticipated, and it also lets the locksmith know what tools and how much labour will likely be required for the job at hand.

Locksmiths for vaults and safes: Frequently asked questions

What types of safes are available for home or business use in the UK?

There are a myriad of safes available for home and business use in the UK, varying in their size, manufacture, fire and burglary resistance ratings, insurance cash and valuables ratings, and price.

Some of the most common safes used in homes and businesses include floor safes, mini-safes (e.g. in hotels), wall-mounted safes, cash deposit safes, and luxury safes.

What should I consider when choosing a safe for my home or business?

Some of the most important considerations when shopping for a safe for your home or business include the size and weight, security features, locking mechanism, insurance cash & valuables ratings, fire and burglary resistance, as well as its intended use.

Generally, purchasing a safe with around 30% more space than currently needed is best.

Can I install a safe myself, or do I need to hire a professional?

Some mini-safes can be installed without professional assistance.

However, many safes must be secured to the floor or wall to meet insurance requirements and thus require the assistance of a security consultant or a professional locksmith.

How often should I change the combination or key to my safe?

If your safe uses a combination or keycode, you should change it periodically to ensure that it is secure and safe.

This is especially important for business safes when your business experiences employee turnover and/or if you suspect that the key or combination to the safe has been compromised.

Are there any insurance requirements for safes?

Yes. In order to be insure the contents of your safe, it is essential that you abide by a few basic requirements.

Firstly, the safe should be rated for cash/valuables according to Eurograde ratings and the contents should be within the given threshold.

Moreover, safes weighing 1,000kg or less must normally be bolted or otherwise secured to the floor or a load-bearing wall. Enquire with your insurance provider when in doubt.

Can I get a home vault installed in my home?

Although relatively uncommon, home vaults may be suitable for ultra-high net worth individuals that require top-notch security for their homes.

Home safe installation can be highly complex and as such may require multiple consultations with property security consultants and specialised locksmiths.

Locksmiths for safes near me

When it comes to finding locksmiths for safes and vaults near you, here are some additional tips:

  • Be wary of locksmiths who come to your door unannounced. These are often scammers who will try to take advantage of you.
  • Don't pay for the work upfront. Only pay after the job is done and you're satisfied with the results.
  • Keep a record of the locksmith's name, license number, and insurance information. This will come in handy in case you need to file a complaint later on.

Get quotes from residential or commercial locksmiths near you.