Tips for Car Boot Sales and Boot Fairs

Do you need a licence for car boot sales?

"Do you need a licence for car boot sales?" is one of the most common questions we get asked by would be car boot operators.

We would love to be able to tell you that there is a central Government resource for car boot licencing with all the information you need and a simple license application process. Unfortunatley, that's not the case.

As things stand there is no consensus among local authorities as to how car boot sales should be defined. That is, are they markets or they a classification in their own right? Some councils will permit a small number of sales per year at the same location (usually 14) without a market licence, but you must inform the council of the date of the first sale before it takes place. Others will permit car boot sales without a license if all the proceeds go to charity. While others, and this is becoming more common now, impose the normal conditions attached to market licences.

Currently there is a growing degree or resentment from car boot operators towards local authorities and councils for a greater number of boot sales being treated the same as markets, and indeed some smaller car boot sales have closed down claiming they can ill afford the licence fees, or can't be bothered with the bureacracy surrounding the application process.

The reasons behind these additional restrictions are varied but seem to be caused by two driving factors. The first, and more cyncial view, is that in our struggling economy it's an obvious way for the local authorities to raise some additional revenue. In reality most licence fees are under £175 for a year (under £100 for a temporary licence) and we doubt the difference between the cost in administration and the fee itself justifes this approach. Nevertheless, it's still enough to put off the smaller one-off and non-charitable car boot sale, or someone testing the market for the first time.

The second driving factor is the considerable growth in the number of car boot sales in the last few years, again largely driven by the economy. Even car boot sales on private land create additional issues and costs for the immediate area. Sometimes it's simply additional waste collections, but sometimes there are impacts to traffic, public rights or way and environmental concerns.

This is where we make our plea! If you are considering starting up a car boot sale, do it right and do it by the book, and please please please be considerate of your neighbours. For example, do you have sufficient parking on site without necessitating people parking on verges or in local shop spaces, have you arranged for additional waste collections, have you considered access to and from to avoid road congestion? It's important to address each of these concerns properly so as not to fall on the wrong side of the local authority and in so doing make it easier for car boot sale operators who follow.

So back to the original question... do you need a license to run a car boot sale? Well, quite simply it depends where you are and which local authority you fall under. Bottom line, you REALLY need to ask, so give your local authority a call or check out their website.

With a view to making things a little easier we have started a list of links for local aucthorities and council pages dealing with this very subject. Just select the local authority or region from the drop down menu below and click Go. If your local authority, council or region is not listed yet we may still be researching it so bear with us...

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