Rhode Island Metal Scrap Statute

Rhode Island
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)

Please Note: This summary consists of two parts: the new Title 6, Chapter 11.2 "Purchase and Sale of Regulated Metals" created by 2013 Rhode Island SB 79 and effective December 31, 2013; and the existing Section 5-21 "Second-Hand Dealers" regulating old or used metals. Section 5-21-3 to Section 5-21-6 specifically covering Automobile Junkyards are not included in this summary.

Catalytic Converters are specifically covered under R.I. Gen. Laws Title 6, Chapter 11.1 "Purchase and Sale of Precious Metals", Section 6-11.1-1 to Section 6-11.1-14. The Precious Metal statutes include separate licensing, recordkeeping, retention, reporting, hold, purchase restrictions, and penalties that are not included in this summary.

Materials Covered and Other Definitions

"Regulated Metals Property" means all ferrous and nonferrous metals, but excludes aluminum beverage containers.

"Public Property" means property owned and maintained by a municipality, the state, the United States, or any quasi-governmental entity, including but not limited to items associated with public streets and sidewalks as follows:

  • Manhole covers, or other types of utility access covers including, but not limited to, water maintenance covers;
  • Highway and street signs;
  • Street light poles and fixtures;
  • Guardrails for bridges, highways, and roads;
  • Historical, commemorative, and memorial markers and plaques; and
  • Traffic directional and control signs and light signals.

Restricted Regulated Metals Property, as used in this summary and listed in Section 6-11.2-8.(a), includes any of the following property consisting of brass, bronze, copper, cast iron, stainless steel, and/or wrought iron:

  • Statutes and sculptures;
  • Weathervanes;
  • Downspouts;
  • Handrails;
  • Decorative fencing;
  • Grave markers, sculptures; plaques and vases; the appearance of which suggest that the articles have been obtained from a cemetery; and
  • Beer kegs.

"Secondary Metals Recycler" means any entity in Rhode Island engaged, from a fixed location or otherwise, in the business of paying compensation for Regulated Metal that has served its original economic purposes, whether or not the entity is engaged in converting Regulated Metals into raw materials.

DoAG as used in this summary refers to the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General.


The Licensing provision exempts the purchase of old metals from a person licensed to deal in "junk, old metals or secondhand articles" (Section 5-21) who has previously recorded the contents of the load pursuant to the Regulated Metals Recordkeeping provision and provides a written statement affirming such a record at the time of the transaction.

The Recordkeeping provision exempts junked automobiles or automobile parts from additional recordkeeping "beyond what is otherwise required by law".


Any person engaged in purchasing, selling, bartering, or dealing any Regulated Metals Property or any articles containing those metals from the general public to resell or recycle in any condition must obtain a license from the DoAG. Applicants must provide:

  • Street address, city and town where the business is to be conducted;
  • Any other information the DoAG requires.

For the applicant and/or any principals of an applicant corporation:

  • Full name, including middle name and any aliases;
  • Address of residence and the business;
  • Social security number and/or federal employer identification number.

Licenses must be displayed in a visible place at the business. Applicants must pay an annual $70 license fee. Licenses expire on January 1 and may not be assigned or transferred.


Licensees must maintain records of all transactions concerning Regulated Metals, printed legibly or typed, on forms obtained from or under the direction of the DoAG with the following information:

  • Date of the transaction;
  • The Seller's name, address, telephone number if available, and signature;
  • A copy of the Seller's photo identification;
  • License plate number, state of issue, make, and model of the delivery vehicle, when applicable.
  • Price paid;
  • A description of the Regulated Metals or a digital image of the transaction;
  • The Seller's signed statement that the Seller is the legal owner or agent of the owner authorized to sell, on a form approved by the DoAG;
  • Any further information the DoAG may deem relevant to the specific transaction.
Retention and Information Confidentiality

Records must be retained for 2 years. A Secondary Metals Recycler is prohibited from releasing a customer's information without the customer's consent unless the disclosure is made in response to a request from a law enforcement agency.


Records are to be available for inspection by any law enforcement agency by request.


At the request of a law enforcement department, records must be reported by hand delivery, mail, or electronic submission to the chief of police of the requesting department.

Reporting - Restricted Regulated Metal and Public Property

A licensee shall immediately notify the police department of any purchase or receipt of Restricted Regulated Metal Property, or of any individual attempting to sell Public Property without authorization from a governmental entity.

Hold - Restricted Regulated Metal

Automatic 3 day hold on Restricted Regulated Metal Property.

Public Property Purchase Restrictions

A licensee may only accept Public Property if the seller provides evidence of a valid contract with a government entity at the time of the transaction.

Purchase from Minors

A licensee may only purchase Regulated Metal from a minor if the minor is accompanied by the minor's parent or legal guardian.


Any person damaged or injured by the failure of a person who is required to be licensed to comply with the provisions of the law may recover the actual value of the property involved in the transaction.

A person violating the law is guilty of a misdemeanor, with punishment dependent on the value of the property involved:

  • If the value is $250 or less, up to a $500 fine and/or up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • If the value exceeds $250, up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to 1 year imprisonment.

The DoAG may suspend the regulated metals license of any person as a result of violations leading to penalties under the Regulated Metals chapter. The DoAG shall refuse to issue a license when the application is found to contain a false representation; when investigation reveals the applicant has previously been guilty of a violation of this chapter or been a partner of a partnership, member of an association, or officer, director, or member of a corporation previously guilty of a violation of this chapter. Upon determination of a valid written complaint, the AG may issue a final suspension, revocation, or refusal of a license, with hearings and appeals subject to the Administrative Procedures Act, Section 42-35.

Rules and Regulations

The DoAG may adopt and enforce regulations deemed necessary to carry out the chapter.


If a provision of the chapter is held to be invalid in any circumstance, it shall not affect any other provisions or circumstances. The chapter shall be construed and carried out so as to meet constitutional requirements.

No Preemption

The provisions shall not preempt any ordinance or regulation adopted by any town or city in accordance with Section 5-21 - Secondhand Dealers.

Local Licensing

Cities and towns may provide by ordinance for licensing of persons selling, purchasing, bartering, and dealing in junk, old metals, and any other second-hand articles, and persons establishing, operating, or maintaining automobile junkyards. Local licenses may not exceed 1 year. Licensing fees may not exceed $100 for shops or storehouses to receive junk, old metals, or secondhand articles; $5 for gatherers of such items in any bag, wagon, or cart; or $100 for automobile junkyards. Special rules apply for an "automobile junkyard".

Before granting a license for a location not already occupied at the time of application, the local licensing authority shall hold a public hearing with notice given 7 to 14 days prior in 2 public places and in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality, for which the applicant will pay a $10 fee plus the cost of posting and publishing the notice. No license will be granted if the owners or occupants of the greater part of the land within 200 feet of the location file an objection. This does not apply to an applicant whose current location is being acquired under eminent domain proceedings and who is applying for the licensing of a new location within the same locality

Recordkeeping - Old or Used Metals

Local licensing ordinances must provide that each person purchasing or receiving old or used metals, other than junked automobiles or automotive parts, must record the following for each purchase or receipt:

  • Date of the transaction;
  • Seller's name, address, telephone number, and signature;
  • Description of the old or used metals;
  • Price paid.

Records shall be produced at the request of law enforcement officials.


Local governments may set penalties for violating ordinances or operating without a license, but penalties for any one offense may not exceed a $500 fine or maximum 6 months imprisonment.

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