Do You Need a Permit for a Garage Sale

A garage sale is a great opportunity to earn a few bucks and supplement your income. However, you might be wondering about the legalities and paperwork behind it, such as permits.

So, do you need a permit for a garage sale? While this depends on where you live, almost every state and district in North America may require one.

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Read on, if you want to find out more about garage sale permits and how to apply for one.

Do Garage Sales Require a Permit

In the majority of cases, you’ll need a permit before starting a garage sale. However, this mainly depends on where you live and the local laws in your area.

For instance, some local authorities will require a permit no matter how small the garage sale is while others will only require a permit if you plan on holding these garage sales multiple times per year.

Additionally, some states might require a permit if you’re going to hold these sales on a regular schedule to supplement your income.

As a rule of thumb, the more this garage sale will look like a business, the bigger the chances it would require a garage sale permit.

For instance, if you want to sell special or regulated items, you need a permit for that. You need to post local advertisements or signs, you might also need a permit for that, and so on.

Many states will also apply specific seller rules on items subjected to recalls, such as children’s items like cribs, toys, and playpens. Agreeing to these terms might also be part of the permit application process.

All these laws will vary depending on the local laws in your area, so you have to contact the authorities about any special legal take on garage sales there.

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Garage Sale

There are plenty of aspects that require you to hire a lawyer for legal processing. However, hiring a lawyer for a garage sale application is quite uncommon.

Most states’ laws try to make the process as simple and streamlined as possible, with many of them working by filling out an online application. But more on the application process in the following sections.

How Much Does a Garage Sale Permit Cost

Funny Garage Sale - Our Crap Could Be Your Crap Sign - Garage Sale Signs for Yard with Stakes - Set of 3

In the end of the day, garage sales aren’t supposed to be a serious form of business, so it would be counterintuitive to make the fees for a garage sale permit high.

Once again, this depends on where you live and the laws there. Some states might not require any fees for the application while others may add a minor one.

Keep in mind that a garage sale permit might be a relatively low one, but that won’t apply fines and these can add up pretty quickly if you do anything illegal, so make sure that you check local authorities regarding rules and regulations for a garage sale.

How to Apply for a Garage Sale Permit

Now that you know more about permits, here’s a step by step guide that shows you how to apply for a garage sale permit.

Once again, the specifics of applying for a garage sale permit may change depending on where you live, so you have to look up the local laws in your area.

Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility for Holding a Garage Sale

Garage sales are allowed to all residents of a specific region or state. However, each one will have different eligibility laws, such as age, legal status, and other specifics.

For instance, most states in the U.S. will allow the residents to hold garage sales a specific number of times per year, usually 2 or 3, among other eligibility rules.

Luckily, almost every state will post its legal requirements and eligibility rules online, so a simple look-up in the state’s website should be more than enough.

Step 2: Prepare All the Documents Necessary for the Permit

Under the tab of eligibility, there should be a list of all the documents necessary for the permit. Luckily, these requirements are usually as simple as proof of ID, whether it’s a driver’s license, social security number, a voter ID card, or others.

Step 3: Get Written Permission from the Owner (For Non-Owners)

If you’re a tenant, or you’re holding the garage sale in other places, such as a multifamily residential building, a place of worship, or a school, you’ll need written permission from the facility’s head or the owner.

The written permission will usually be notarized and includes the exact time and address where the garage sale is going to be held. 

Step 4: Notify the Neighbors

This one isn’t necessarily a requirement in most regions, but it’s always a nice gesture to let your neighbors know of your garage sale, which is also a good way to spread the word and earn a few first customers!

Step 5: File an Application for a Garage Sale

With all the documents in hand, you’re now ready to submit an application for the garage sale. Recently, many states simplified the application process, so you can apply for the permit online or through the mail.

The exact details will vary from one area to another, but the general process is usually the same.

How Long Can a Garage Sale Last

Depending on the local laws, the garage sale may extend to anywhere between 3 consecutive days to a week. You’re usually allowed up to 2 or 3 garage sales in a calendar year.

Are There Some Specific Items That Are Illegal to Be Sold in a Garage Sale

In addition to any illegal items like weapons and explosives, there are some legal ones that may not be allowed in a garage sale.

Having those sold at your yard sale may void the terms of your permit and land you heavy fines or worse.

As always, these items vary depending on the state laws, but many states prohibit the sales of items that require a special license, such as tobacco and alcohol.


There you have it, a complete guide with everything you need to know about garage sale permits and the process of applying for one.

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