As a street vendor, for your business to be a legal entity, operating within city or municipalities limits, you will need to obtain a street vending license per requirements of your local governing body. In most cities the process for obtaining such a license is fairly straightforward, however there are limits to the number of licenses that can be issued and you might find yourself on a waiting list and in some cities this waiting list may even be closed. Requirements vary from municipality to municipality, so you will need to start by checking with you city's licensing department.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Required application forms
- Tax information
Contact your city's licensing department and request information regarding the required licenses and permits needed to operate as a street vendor for your particular type of business. Other resources will also include your local Chamber of Commerce, which can assist you with information regarding requirements.
Secure all the required forms for application, and depending on the type of street vending license you are applying for you will also need to apply for various permits from the appropriate city or state departments. For example, is your are going to have a hot dog stand, you will need to apply for the appropriate license, along with various permits from the local or state health department and have a food handler's card in most areas.
Secure liability insurance and make sure you have copies available for proof. You will also need to gather all your tax data to submit to the city when applying, such as any tax identification numbers issued by the state or Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or if a sole proprietor, your Social Security number will be required.
Write out a check for all license and permit fees, made payable to the department specified on the vending license application and each permit application.
Submit your completed application packet along with checks for fees associated with the licenses you are applying for, your tax details and proof of application for or approval of required permits. Some localities will require you to submit in person, while others will request you to mail your packet to the address provided on the application form. You will also need to enclose copies of your valid liability insurance card.
Prepare for and pass any and all required inspections to secure your permits, otherwise your license will not be issued. Without the license and proper permits, you will not be able to operate your street vending business. You will need to display all licenses and permits where the public can see them as well.
Tips and warnings
- If you are selling on private property, rather than in a place that is designated as city, commercial or public property, in most localities you will not need a vendor's license.
- In some cities such as New York, you have the option to rent a vendor's license from other vendors who have bought batches of licenses and permits. However, keep in mind some cities, like New York view the rental of such permits invalid, although the permit itself is valid. This is due to the fact the license was issued to someone else, rather than to your directly.
- Do not begin operations without the required license and permits. In most localities you will be subject to heavy fines and penalties and in some case denial of any future applications for a street vending license. Remember in some cities the demands for licenses fro outweigh the availability. Those who cooperate with the systems are far more likely to make progress than those who shun the system for personal benefit.
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