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Your guide to hiring a locksmith

If you find yourself locked out of your house, you’ve lost your car keys or you need to organise for a lock repair – who are you going to call? A locksmith. Here’s how to hire a locksmith that you can trust for the job.

Hiring Advice Practical measures for preventing scams and choosing reputable trades

Imagine you find yourself locked out of your house, you’ve lost your car keys or you need to arrange for a lock repair. Who are you going to call? A locksmith of course!

In this guide, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about hiring a locksmith – from what a locksmith does to some tips for finding a good local locksmith. But first things first…

What is a locksmith?

A locksmith is a professional tradesperson who works with locks for a living – whether that be fitting locks, opening locks, carrying out lock repairs or any other lock-related jobs.

A door locksmith deals with the locks on buildings (including both doors and windows). Often, they’ll be trained in dealing with both domestic and commercial locks, so you can call the same person whether you need help with a lock on your house or office. On the other hand, an auto locksmith only deals with locks on automobiles such as cars, vans and motorbikes.

Locksmiths can either work from a shop or they might offer a mobile locksmith service. In some cases, they’ll do both!

What does a locksmith do?

Two locksmiths repairing a door lockLocksmiths spend a lot of their time helping people who’ve been locked out of their homes. They’re typically the first person to call if you’ve lost your keys or locked them inside (other than your housemate to check if they have a spare key, of course!).

However, locksmiths also carry out many other lock-related tasks. Popular locksmith services include:

  • Key cutting (including keys for garage door locks, window locks and padlocks)
  • Cutting, programming and repairing car keys
  • Fitting, opening and repairing safes
  • Installing access control systems
  • Door unlocking/lock open service
  • Emergency car opening
  • Lock repair service
  • Lock fitting
  • Emergency lock replacement
  • Advising on security options

Door unlocking services

If you’ve sadly found yourself sat on your doorstep wishing your keys were in your hand, you’re probably going to need the help of a locksmith sooner rather than later (by which we mean immediately!). Luckily, most local locksmiths will offer a house lockout service to get you back indoors as quickly as possible – often with the help of an emergency lock replacement.

Emergency callouts tend to come with an additional fee that you’ll need to factor in, especially if it’s outside of standard business hours. But when it comes to getting you back inside your home sweet home, it’ll be worth the price. Even so, it’s a good idea to confirm upfront how much they charge for their lockout service, so you’re not left with an unexpected bill at the end.

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How to find a good local locksmith

When it comes to finding a local locksmith, it’s important that you hire someone you can trust. Here are a few tried-and-tested ways to find a good locksmith in your area.

  1. Ask your friends and family. Getting recommendations from people you know can give you confidence in who you’re hiring.
  2. Read online reviews. Checking what people are saying about the locksmiths in your area can give you a good indication of the best locksmiths near you.
  3. Use Checkatrade! Using our online search is a great way to find a professional locksmith service that you can rely on.

Before a locksmith can join Checkatrade, we run 14 checks to check that they provide excellent quality service. All of our members are then rated by customers throughout their membership on their reliability and timekeeping, tidiness, courtesy and more. So, you can be sure you’re finding a trusted locksmith who’s been recommended by your neighbours.

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Questions you should ask a locksmith

So, you’ve found a local locksmith – or a few – and now you’re working out whether they’re the right person for the job. Here are some key questions to ask before you commit.

Are you insured?

Locksmiths will be handling some of your most prized possessions, like your car or your home. Making sure they’re insured gives you peace of mind in case there are any accidents.

Are you able to work with transponder chip keys?

Most modern car keys have these chips in them, but locksmiths need specialist training to work with them. If you need a new car key cut, make sure the locksmith is able to work with the type of key you have.

Can you give me an idea of the price?

For many types of locksmithing jobs, the locksmith should be able to give you an estimate over the phone. This is especially good to know in an emergency; the last thing you want is for a locksmith to arrive only for you to find out it’s more expensive than you hoped! Be aware that unforeseen circumstances may affect the actual cost of the job, and it’s worth confirming the price with the locksmith once they’ve had the chance to properly examine the task.

Are you a member of the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA)?

While there isn’t any legal requirement for a locksmith to have a license, looking out for locksmiths approved by the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) can give you confidence that their work will be to a high standard.

What experience and training do you have?

Locksmiths in the UK don’t need to have any specific qualifications, and many learn their trade by becoming a trainee or apprentice first. However, knowing that your locksmith has received a certain level of formal training is always helpful in ensuring they can provide a high-quality service. Which brings us onto…Locksmith doing carrying out lock repair

What qualifications should a locksmith have?

While there are no requirements for locksmiths to have qualifications, and many learn their trade on the job, there are a number of qualifications and accreditations that locksmiths may hold.

Locksmiths who have completed a Master Locksmiths Association apprenticeship will hold a Level 2 Certificate in Locksmithing, which is currently the only nationally recognised locksmithing qualification. However, there are specialist training courses available for certain types of car keys, UPVC locks, access control systems and restricted key systems.

If you need specialist locksmithing work carried out, ask whether the locksmith has experience in carrying out similar work, and have a look at their reviews to see what their past customers have to say.

Hire a trusted locksmith with the help of Checkatrade

At Checkatrade, we make it quick and easy for you to find a trade that you can trust. Our members have to pass up to 14 checks and are regularly rated by customers so that you can be sure they’re upholding high standards of workmanship and service.

There are locksmiths all around the UK registered on Checkatrade. Use our online search to find one that comes highly recommended by your neighbours.

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Are locksmiths worth it?

Yes! Locks are an integral part of keeping you, your family and your possessions safe, so you don’t want to take any chances with them. Hiring a professional locksmith will give you the peace of mind that your job has been completed to a high standard, and that there’s no compromise when it comes to your safety and security.

What do I need to know before hiring a locksmith in the UK?

Before hiring a locksmith in the UK, we’d recommend checking:

  • Their reviews
  • Whether they’re insured
  • Whether they’re a member of the MLA
  • What experience and training they have
  • Their prices

Does a locksmith need proof of ownership in the UK?

Yes! A locksmith will need to see some photo ID to make sure that you’re the owner or resident of your property before carrying out work. Usually, this will be a driving licence or a passport together with a bill to show that you live in the property. If you’re locked out without ID, you might be able to get your neighbours to verify your identity until you’re able to get into your home to fetch it.

How can you trust a locksmith?

The best way of being sure you can trust a locksmith is to get recommendations through word of mouth or to read online reviews. Using a Checkatrade member is a great shout as you’ll know that their reviews have been verified and that your locksmith has passed up to 14 checks to become a member.

Can a locksmith copy the key without the original?

Yes, you can make a duplicate key without the original. However, if you don’t have the original, it isn’t recommended to make a copy of a copy. Instead, a professional locksmith can use a code cutter to analyse your lock and cut a key to match.

Can a locksmith open a lock without breaking it?

Yes! A locksmith can open your lock without breaking it. If you’re locked out, they’ll usually use non-destructive methods to open your door so that neither your lock nor your door is damaged.

How not to be scammed by a locksmith?

To avoid being scammed by a locksmith, it’s important to make sure that the individual you’re approaching runs a genuine business. Ask what their experience is and make sure to check reviews on unbiased third-party sites such as Checkatrade.

We’d always recommend using a locksmith that is a member of the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA). Finally, always ask for a locksmith’s prices upfront and then ask them to confirm the price once they’ve assessed the job in person.

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8/10 homeowners would choose a tradesperson endorsed by Checkatrade over one who isn't*

Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021. *8 out of 10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade compared to one that isn’t endorsed.

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What others think of this article:

Thomas Wilson

They are quite honest and highly competent in their work, and I truly enjoyed their services. Thank you very much. It is highly suggested for first-time users. MiKey Auto Locksmith

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