Do I Need a Seller's Permit to Sell in the Street?

by Mary Jane; Updated September 26, 2017

A seller’s permit is also called a vendor’s permit. The permit allows a business owner or salesman to sell merchandise or other tangible property in the state where the permit is issued. The state can issue a temporary license for a one-time sales event on the street or a regular seller’s permit for continuous and ongoing sales. Permits are issued by a state’s department of consumer affairs, department of revenue or secretary of state depending on a given state’s business laws and regulations.

Seller’s Permit Definition

A seller’s permit allows a business owner or salesperson to conduct business with specific tangible and taxable items approved by the state, where the permit is issued. According to Urban Justice Center's Street Vendor Project website, a person selling art, painting and photography may not be required to have a permit based on the laws of the state. However, people selling items such as T-shirts, buttons, jewelry and crafts communicating an idea, opinion or belief will need a seller’s permit to conduct these transactions legally.

Seller’s Permit Exemptions

Each state has its own list of exemptions for people who do not need seller’s permits. For example, the state of New York does not require people to get a seller’s permit if they are selling newspapers, pamphlets, books, artwork, prints and sculptures. However, all of these products must be sold from a merchandising booth or stand. If a street fair is taking place, the seller must get a temporary seller’s permit for that specific event.

Seller’s Permits and Food Products

People who plan to sell food products in the street must get permission to do so from the state’s health department. Food products may have specific requirements to ensure the safety and health standards are met. For example, New York food sellers must keep the food products in a pushcart and get a license from the New York Department of Health.

Amount of Permits and Fees

Street sellers who have several locations around a given city must get a seller’s permit for each location where sales are made. This means that each stand or merchandising booth must display a seller’s permit, according to the California State Board of Equalization. A seller’s permit is free of charge from the given state, where the sales are taking place.

Selling Without a Permit

A seller may face criminal charges, if she conducts sales without a legal seller’s permit. According to Street Vendor Project website, the seller may be arrested and the merchandise and products may be confiscated.

About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.