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Becoming a Street Vendor... Where do I start?

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Becoming a Street Vendor... Where do I start?

Published: March 18, 2009 Updated: June 13, 2011

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!


Additional resources:

· Business.gov – Provides license and permit information for your state

· FoodSafety.gov – Provides Federal and state contacts for licensing and food safety information.

Message Edited by CharlotteW on 03-19-2009 05:39 PM

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Good Morning if anyone can answer my question i welcome your responces: When applying for a Tax ID#/ Vendors license can i use my name or do i have to go with the company name? Myself and my Business partner already have a Tax ID# in another state and are in the process of obtaining one for NYS but we are unsure of the rules and regulations. Thank you
For becoming a street vendor,its necessary to have a valid license otherwise, it would be very cost effective,,if some penalty would be charged.Anyways very nice description.Do post more & more like this.
very nice post.Liked the the title very much.Before starting any business,necessary strategies must be done,same for the cheap vps hosting windows.Can VPS Hosting services be started by taking the baby steps as it comprises very sophisticated strategies.
Gail Anderson who has many years in the vendor business as written a new book, “Complete Vendors Guide (From Flea Markets To County Fairs)” It take you through step by step from licensing, finding product and event to growing the business. I highly recommend it. You can find it on Ebay.
In all honesty you don't really need a license if you are just an individual/mom/pops shops selling things on ebay or out of our home. But if your business involves more people then you want to consider getting licensed to protect your investments and such. It is also a good idea to get a credit card processing account which you can get now a days in just about one of 2 business days. Some companies specialized in just that.Message Edited by NicoleD on 06-26-2009 01:08 PM
If you sell food on the street, I think you need additional licenses because you need to ensure the food is kept clean. John.VPS HostingSmall Business Web HostMessage Edited by NicoleD on 09-30-2009 12:18 PM
You post is very accurate, and a sad commentary on what is wrong with America...when is government going to stop trying to stick its fingers INTO EVERYTHING?  But then this would take us into a whole discussion on a National Flat Tax...seriously, Street Vending in many ways is the ultimate Small Business incubator...why make it then so difficult?

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