Becoming a Street Vendor... Where do I start?
by CharlotteW, Former Moderator
- Created: March 18, 2009, 12:56 pm
- Updated: June 13, 2011, 10:35 am
You probably have seen or even purchased something from a street vender or peddler at some point – whether on vacation or in your own town. Consider for a moment self-employment and the opportunity to work outdoors with a schedule that is always convenient for you. Sounds perfect, right? Becoming a street vendor may seem like a relatively easy goal to accomplish but it involves diligence and patience to acquire the proper licenses and permits and operate it as a legal business.
Getting Started – Take Baby Steps
If you’re a first-time vendor or peddler and are unsure at first if you’re ready to commit to street vending and peddling, try selling your general merchandise at local flea markets, holiday markets, and street fairs where, in most cases, only a temporary sales license is necessary. However, if you plan to sell food be prepared for a more in depth application process.
Get the Right Licenses and Permits
License and permit requirements for street vendors and peddlers generally vary based on the locality of the business and the items you plan to sell.
Generally, you will need to obtain the following permits:
a) Sales tax permit from your state government’s revenue agency
b) Tax certificate from your local government revenue agency
c) A general business license from your city or county clerk’s office.
d) An additional vendor or peddler’s license from your city or county government
You will also need to comply with any general licensing and registration requirements that apply to all businesses in your state.
For instance, in March 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed Local Law 9, which established only 1,000 permits for Green Carts in New York City. Green Carts are mobile food carts that sell raw fruits and vegetables at designated areas within each of the five boroughs.
To operate a Green Cart, you need both a mobile food vending license and a Green Cart permit. To acquire them, a Certificate of Authority to Collect Sales Tax is required. Once you have that certificate you can apply for licenses and permits by contacting your state or county’s Department of Licenses and Inspections. And in case you are wondering what the city of New York does with all those applicants beyond 1,000? Once they have the required Certificate of Authority to Collect Sales Tax and applicable licenses and permits their name is added to the waiting list.
If you intend to practice food related street vending contact your state or county’s Department of Health which regulates and issues food related licenses and permits. You will likely be required to attend a Food Protection Course for Mobile Food Vendors. The cost of the course ranges from $50 to $75.00 and can take up to four hours over two days.
Location, Location, Location
As you complete the required legal documents, consider precisely where your business will be located. Laws concerning dates, times, and locations for vendors to operate usually vary from city to city. Larger cities like New York and Philadelphia have limits on the number of vendors so be sure to check with your city or county government when considering a location for your business.
Of course, keep us up to date with your progress on the Business.gov Community where other vendors and peddlers can share their experiences!
Business.gov – Provides license and permit information for your state
FoodSafety.gov – Provides Federal and state contacts for licensing and food safety information.
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Legal terms and rules explained