Kentucky Metal Scrap Statute

The State Metals Theft Laws summaries are not intended to provide or be relied as a legal advice. This material is provided to serve as a reasonable compilation of the most current state scrap laws and is intended to be a resource or supplement to, and provide ideas for, compliance with all applicable laws. The ISRI State Scrap Laws are subject to change and readers should visit to make certain they are reading the most recent version of ISRI's summaries of the State Metals Theft Laws
Overview of Provisions (use the section titles to travel directly to that section)
Materials Covered and Other Definitions

Metal Objects, as used in this summary, refers to the following as listed in Section 433.890:

  • Catalytic converters;
  • Returnable metal beverage containers capable of holding more than 2 liters;
  • Railroad rails; or
  • Nonferrous Metal or an alloy thereof, or an object containing nonferrous or an alloy.

"Nonferrous Metals" means metal not containing significant quantities of iron, including but not limited to copper, brass, aluminum, bronze, lead, zinc, nickel, and alloys thereof.

"Ferrous Metals" means any metal containing significant quantities of iron or steel.

"Restricted metals" means any of the following metal items:

  • Manhole covers;
  • Electric light poles or other utility poles;
  • Guardrails;
  • Street signs, traffic signs, or traffic signals;
  • Whole road tiles;
  • Funeral markers or funeral vases;
  • Railroad equipment, including but not limited to a tie plate, signal house, control box, switch plate, e-clip, or rail tie junction;
  • Condensing or evaporating coils made from copper, aluminum, or aluminumcopper, including the tubing or rods from a heating or air conditioning unit that is not from a window air conditioning unit or automobile air conditioning unit;
  • Stainless steel beer kegs;
  • A catalytic converter or any nonferrous part of a catalytic converter unless purchased as part of a vehicle; or
  • Storm drain covers.

Copper Wire or Coaxial Cable belonging to a utility or cable provider, such as communication, transmission, distribution, or service wire shall also be included as "Restricted Metal" for the Payment Restrictions and Reporting provisions, but not the Proof of Ownership - Restricted Metals provision.

"Secondary Metals Recycler" (referred to as Recycler in this summary) means:

  • Any person engaged in the business of gathering or obtaining metals that have served their original economic purpose or performing the manufacturing process by which metals are converted into raw material products consisting of prepared grades and having an existing or potential monetary value;
  • Any person who has facilities for performing the manufacturing process by which metals are converted into raw material products as described, other than by the exclusive use of hand tools; or
  • Any recycler, dealer in junk or metals, dealer in secondhand articles, vendor of bottles or rags, or collector of or dealer in articles found in ashes, garbage, or other refuse, whether a dealer, collector, or vendor operates an established place of business or an itinerant business.

"Secondary metals recycler" shall not include a municipal solid waste department or any entity which has been issued a municipal solid waste transporter license by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and which gathers or obtains ferrous or nonferrous metals in a vehicle registered in Kentucky to transport solid waste.


Metal Objects provisions shall not apply to the purchase, sale, or transfer of:

  • A motor vehicle, aircraft, or other item that is licensed by the state or federal government pursuant to a legitimate transfer of title or issuance of a junk title;
  • A firearm, firearm part, firearm accessory, ammunition, or ammunition component;
  • A knife, knife parts, accessory or sheath for a knife, or knifemaking products;
  • A nonreturnable used beverage container or food container;
  • Jewelry, household goods containing metal, garden tools, and similar household items, except for a catalytic converter or returnable metal beverage container capable of holding more than 2 liters, which takes place at a flea market or yard sale;
  • A single transaction involving a purchase price of $10 or less, but more than 2 such transactions with the same Seller in a 7 day period shall be reportable transactions;
  • Material disposed of as trash or refuse which is collected by a municipal waste department or by a licensed waste hauler and no payment is made to the person from whom the material is collected by the collector;
  • Metal Objects from a person who has maintained a record pursuant to this section to a person who is to further recycle the metal or object containing the metal;
  • Metal Objects under a written contract with an organization, corporation, or association registered with the Commonwealth as a charitable, philanthropic, religious, fraternal, civic, patriotic, social, or school sponsored organization;
  • Metal Objects, pursuant to a written contract, from a manufacturing, industrial or other commercial vendor that generates such in the ordinary course of business;
  • An item purchased by, pawned to, or sold by a pawnbroker licensed pursuant to KRS Chapter 226, engaging in the business authorized by that chapter; or
  • Any Ferrous Metal item, except for a catalytic converter, returnable metal beverage container of more than 2 liters, or railroad rails.

Nonreturnable used beverage containers are exempt from the Payment Restrictions and Proof of Ownership - Restricted Metal provisions.

Restricted Metal provisions shall not apply to the following:

  • Purchases from a Recycler;
  • Purchases from an organization, corporation, or association registered with the Commonwealth as a charitable, philanthropic, religious, fraternal, civic, patriotic, social, or school-sponsored organization;
  • Purchases pursuant to a written contract, from a manufacturing, industrial, or other commercial vendor that generates Restricted Metals in the ordinary course of business; or
  • A motor vehicle, aircraft, or other item that is licensed by the state or federal government pursuant to a legitimate transfer of title or issuance of a junk title.
Recordkeeping - Metal Objects

A Recycler shall keep a record in hard copy, digital, or electronic format of transactions involving Metal Objects with the following:

  • A copy of the Seller's valid government-issued identification containing the Seller's name, photograph, and signature. If the Recycler already has a copy on file, they may instead reference the number on the identification for future purchases.
  • License number and state of the motor vehicle used to transport the Metal Objects;
  • The Time and Date of the transaction;
  • A description in the usage of the trade of the kind and weight of the railroad rail, nonferrous metal or an alloy thereof, or an object containing such nonferrous;
  • The amount paid and the unit basis of the purchase (ounce, pound, etc.);

• If smelted, burned, or melted:

  • A signed certificate of ownership from the Seller stating that the Seller is the owner of the metal and entitled to sell it; or
  • A signed certificate from the owner stating that they are the owner and that the Seller is authorized to sell on their behalf.


Proof of Ownership - Restricted Metals

For purchases of Restricted Metals, a Recycler must also obtain one of the following:

  • Reasonable proof that the Seller owns the property, such as a receipt or bill of Sale;
  • Reasonable proof that the Seller is an employee, agent, or contractor of a governmental entity, utility company, cemetery, railroad, manufacturer, or other person, business, or entity owning the property; and is authorized to sell the item. The Recycler may retain on file an official document on the letterhead of the owner indicating that the Seller is authorized to sell; such a letter must be dated within 365 days of the transaction.


No Purchase from Minors - Metal Objects

No purchase of Metal Objects from a person who is less than 18 years old.


Retention and Destruction

A Recycler must retain Metal Object transaction records for 2 years, after which time the material may be retained, destroyed in a manner that protects the identity of the owner of the property and seller of the property, or transferred to a law enforcement agency specified in the Reporting provision. If the Recycler ceases business they shall transfer all records to such a law enforcement agency. Law enforcement agencies receiving Metal Object transaction records shall follow the same retention and destruction guidelines.


Inspection- Metal Objects

During business hours a Recycler shall permit any peace officer to inspect the records, and if the officer deems it necessary to locate specific stolen property, any Metal Object received.


Reporting - Metal Objects

Upon written request of the sheriff or chief of police, as appropriate, a Recycler shall report Metal Object transaction records in person, in digital format, in writing, or by electronic means within 24 hours of the transaction to all of the following that apply:

  • The sheriff of the county or counties where the purchase was made and where the business is located, as well as
  • The police department or departments of the city, county, urban-county, charter county, consolidated local government, or unified local government where the purchase was made and where the business is located.

Metal Object Reports shall be sent until a written notice to cease sending the reports is received. A request may relate to:

  • All records of purchases;
  • Records of a specific class of metals or items purchased;
  • Records of purchases during a specific period of time; or
  • Records of a specific purchase or purchases.
Reporting - Restricted Metal

For Restricted Metal, A Recycler shall automatically make a report at the end of each business day in digital format, in writing, or by electronic means to any of the law enforcement agencies specified in the Reporting - Metal Objects provision that apply. The Restricted Metal report shall include the following disclosure:

"This information is for the designated recipient only and may contain privileged, proprietary, or otherwise private information. If you are not the intended recipient of this information, you are hereby notified that any use, distribution, copying, or disclosure of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this information in error, please notify the sender and purge the communication immediately."



Recyclers must retain a Metal Object in its original form or a photograph or digital image of the property for 3 business days from the date of purchase. Upon giving notice to the Recycler, a peace officer with reasonable cause to believe a Metal Object may be stolen may seize the Metal Object as evidence or extend the hold period for an additional 30 days.


Payment Restrictions - Restricted Metals

No cash transactions for Restricted Metals. Payment shall be by check mailed by the Recycler no sooner than 1 day after the purchase transaction directly to the street address of the Seller, issued to and payable to the Seller. Payment shall not be mailed to a Post Office box.


Stolen Metals Notifications

Recyclers shall maintain at their place of business or have immediate access to an email address, facsimile, or other equipment on which notifications of stolen Restricted, Ferrous, or Nonferrous Metals may be expeditiously received from law enforcement officials or electronic metal theft notification systems. The equipment shall be operable at all times during the Recycler's customary business hours. A Recycler shall notify the Office within 2 days of any change of contact information used for stolen metals notifications.



A Recycler's certificate of registration shall be conspicuously displayed at the location listed on the application, or at each business location if the Recycler owns more than one. Recyclers shall submit to a name-based background check and obtain a certificate of registration for each Secondary Metals Recycling location from the Office of Occupations and Professions of the Public Protection Cabinet. The application shall contain:

  • The name of the Recycling business;
  • The name or names of each applicant (includes officers if the Recycler is owned by a corporation or other entity)
  • The address of each Recycling business owned by the applicant; and
  • Contact information for the receipt of notifications of stolen metals.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old; corporations and other such entities must be organized and qualified to do business in Kentucky. Application and renewal fees shall equal the actual administrative processing costs. Applicants must also provide written authorization to the State Police Department to perform a name-based background check on each applicant and release the results to the Office; the State Police may charge the applicant a fee equal to actual costs for processing the request. The Office shall not register applicants who have been convicted of or entered a plea of guilty, nolo contendere, or an Alford plea, to a felony involving: theft, larceny, dealing in stolen property, receiving stolen property, burglary, embezzlement, or obtaining property by false pretenses, any felony drug offense, or knowingly and intentionally violating the Kentucky laws relating to registration as a secondary metals recycler.

A list of registered Recyclers shall be public information and available upon written request to the Office. The Office shall promulgate administrative regulations, but shall not be responsible for any disciplinary action against Recyclers seeking an application.



A person is guilty of "failure to maintain a register of metals and objects containing metal" if they fail or refuse to abide by the Recordkeeping, Retention and Destruction, Inspection, or Reporting provisions as they apply to Metal Objects, and is subject to up to a $100 fine and/or 30 days imprisonment in the county jail.

A person is guilty of "unlawful acts relating to the purchase or disposition of metals" if they violate any provisions that apply to Metal Objects other than the Recordkeeping provisions, and is subject to up to a $100 fine and/or 30 days imprisonment in the county jail.

A person is guilty of "providing fraudulent identification for the sale of metals" and commits a Class A Misdemeanor if they provide any false, fraudulent, altered, or counterfeit information or documentation required by the Recordkeeping - Metal Objects provision.


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This summary of State Metals Theft Laws is being viewed on this website under license and is owned and copyrighted by Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. ("ISRI"),1615 L Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036.