In today’s security-conscious world, the locksmith holds an esteemed position as the only tradesperson who can magically open impassable barriers to get you back into your home or car if you’re locked out – or fit the devices required by your insurance company (or your sense of personal safety) to keep your home and possessions safe and sound.

When you’ve just bought a new property, it’s a good idea to get all the locks changed as you have no idea how many sets of keys are in circulation, particularly if it’s been rented out. It’s also important to check the requirements of your home insurance to make sure your home security meets the terms you agreed and there won’t be a problem if you need to claim. There any many standards of locks, so you need to be sure you have the right ones fitted.

What they do

Locksmiths carry out a very skilled job that includes:

  • Installing, repairing, or rebuilding mechanical or electrical locking devices
  • Repairing and replacing worn tumblers, springs, and other lock parts
  • Cutting new or duplicate keys
  • Opening door locks without using keys
  • Opening safe locks by drilling
  • Keeping records of company keys and acting as a keyholder

What they charge

If you’re looking for a locksmith, chances are something’s gone wrong  – which is why their charges fall into the ‘emergency call out’ category, particularly if it’s late at night or at the weekend.

Prices for an emergency locksmith vary but expect to pay around:

  • £70 to remove a broken key from a lock
  • £120 to replace a cylinder in a uPVC door
  • £120 to open one mortice and a Yale lock if you have lost your keys

What to ask

You need to ensure your locksmith is properly insured with liability cover and professional indemnity; particularly if they are carrying out work on your car or anything that would be expensive to repair if damaged.

When you call an emergency locksmith, we recommend asking a few sensible questions as follows:

  • Will they drill the lock and then change it? That’s a bad sign – a trained locksmith will always try and pick your lock first
  • Can they provide a fixed quote?
  • Are they a member of ICL or MLA (see below)

Trades to trust

Surprisingly, locksmiths in the UK are not regulated. However, membership of one or more of the following trade bodies is a key sign that you’re hiring a trustworthy, professional locksmith who’ll get the job done correctly.

The Institute of Certified Locksmiths is the association of locksmiths who offer value, high standards and a guaranteed non-destructive service that won’t break your locks – or the bank.

The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) vets, inspects and trains locksmiths to meet high standards. It runs a licensing scheme for approved companies based on strict criteria. The Guild of Key Cutters, part of the MLA improves standards in the key cutting industry through professionalism and training.

The law

The standards for locks are produced by the British Standards Institution (BSI). If a product has been certified by the British Standard Institute for meeting the required security standards, they’ll display the British Standard Kite Mark.

These numbers are the most common. Domestic locks will usually be BS3621.

  • BS3621– The BS3621 standard is for mortice and cylinder rim locks where a key is used on both sides of the lock. As long as the key is removed from the lock, this lock is secure against intruders that try to operate the lock by reaching through a letterbox or breaking glass nearby.
  • BS8621- The BS8621 standard is for locks that need a key for entry but not for exit. These locks are often seen in blocks of flats or apartments that use a key on the outside of the door and a thumb turn on the inside. This lock allows emergency escape without the use of a key at all times.
  • BS10621- The BS10621 standard is for locks that can only be locked by a key from the outside. The locks can be opened from inside without the use of a key unless the function has been disabled by the positive use of a key from outside. These locks are best used on properties with another route of escape.

Ready to hire?

3 is the magic number

As always, try and get three quotes from three different locksmiths to ensure you pay a fair price for the job.

Certification and references

Don’t be shy about asking for any relevant certification and proof of public liability insurance.