Locked out?

Our locksmiths guide explains what services a locksmith can provide, and how to make sure you hire a reputable one.

You may laugh at locksmiths, but you’re still very happy to see one when you discover you’re locked out of the house late at night. A locksmith is a tradesman who specialises in installing and removing locks of various kinds, and even opening them when their keys or combinations have been locked – ideally without damaging it or the door. Here are a few of their most common services:

  • Installing new locks – whether you have lost control of your keys or the locks are just old and worn, a locksmith can fit now locks to most kinds of doors and closures.
  • Cutting a new Key – a locksmith can almost always duplicate an existing key, and may be able to create an all new one to fit certain locks of their settings are known. 
  • Repairing and maintaining locks – high end locks are very expensive, and a bit of TLC every few years is much less costly than replacement. 
  • Emergency lock opening – when you’ve locked your keys in the car or locked yourself out of a home or safe, a locksmith can usually open a lock without having to ‘break in’ to the home, vehicle or other locked item. 

How do I hire one?

There are upwards of 2000 skilled locksmiths trading in the UK, and the majority of them can be found online. If it is not an emergency, shop around a bit and find one near you with good prices and good customer reviews. 

However, if it is a real emergency – like being locked out of the home at 2am – you might only care about how soon they can get to you. Do a search for ‘emergency call-out locksmith (location)’ to find the one you need quickly. 

How can I avoid the dodgy ones?

Look for (or ask for) their Master Locksmith’s Association license. The MLA is recognised by the Home Office as the authoritative body who sets the standards for locksmiths in the UK. 

What should it cost?

I can’t give a definitive answer there, as making a copy of a house key at their shop during the day is miles cheaper than having them come out and open your front door in the middle of the night. If you are in a small village up north you might have only one emergency call-out locksmith who could name their own price. In the heart of London there might be 100 mobile locksmiths competing for business, and commensurately lower prices. The only advice there is to check for customer reviews, and see whether other customers were happy with their price and service. 

One last word of advice – if you’re reading this, you probably don’t need an emergency locksmith right this second. Choose the best one or two now anyway, and add them as a contact in your phone. When you do need one, you won’t feel like doing a whole lot of research!