East Devon District Council is providing clearer guidance to enable genuine pedlars to continue to trade in the district. Many streets in seaside towns are busy with shoppers and tourists, particularly during the summer months. The Council has designated some of its streets (including pedestrian areas) as “consent streets” (needing the consent of the Council to trade), with some streets in Sidmouth still remaining as “prohibited streets” (where trading is prohibited).  In locations where people would wish to sell their goods, the streets would be blocked and congested if East Devon District Council had not set up controls.

A pedlar is someone who travels and trades on foot, going from town to town or house to house selling goods or offering their skills in handicrafts. A pedlar must hold a certificate granted by the Police. The certificate is valid for one year and applies throughout the United Kingdom. Certificates cannot be issued to people under the age of 17. Someone who acts as a pedlar without a certificate commits an offence.

To apply for a pedlar's certificate, you must contact your local police station. A person legitimately trading under a pedlar's certificate from the Police may also trade in a street, even those with street trading restrictions in place, on a limited basis, provided they abide by the following rules:

  • A pedlar is a pedestrian
  • A pedlar trades whilst travelling rather than travelling to trade
  • A pedlar goes to customers rather than them going to him/her
  • A pedlar must not remain stationary for long periods of time
  • A pedlar cannot set up a stall and wait for people to approach

One of the exceptions to the need for a street trading consent concerns a person who holds a valid pedlars certificate and who properly acts as a pedlar. Government consultation on street trading and pedlary along with a number of court cases under the Pedlars Act support the guidance given below:

  1. A pedlar must 'go from town to town' so as not to frequent the same town or location every day in East Devon
  2. A pedlar must 'travel and trade on foot' so should not use a motor vehicle to carry goods to East Devon
  3. A pedlar can remain static in the same location for a maximum of 20 minutes after arrival. You should then move on (at a reasonable speed) to a location which is at least 50 metres away from the first location, and again not remain in that second location for more than 20 minutes without returning to the original location. These requirements are intended to keep a pedlar trading while on the move
  4. As a pedlar you must carry goods, continually moving from area to area and not just moving around a town centre, tourist area or in prohibited locations such as Market Square, Sidmouth
  5. Pedlars should not use large wheeled trolleys or similar as a device to carry and expose for sale all, or the vast majority of your goods as these can cause an obstruction of the highway which is an offence (Sec. 137 Highways Act 1980)
  6. Pedlars who trade legitimately are welcome in the district but traders using a pedlar's licence to illegally participate in street trading in either prohibited or consent streets could face enforcement action including the possibility of prosecution under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982
  7. East Devon District Council will work with the Police by seeking suspension/revocation of a pedlar licence and to recover court costs under any circumstances where prosecution may be necessary

For further information regarding street trading please contact East Devon District Council licensing team (email

Relevant Case Law:

Stevenage Council v Wright 1996

Standing in one place (where street trading was prohibited) without a consent selling items. Acting as a pedlar with a pedlar's certificate would normally be exempt from the prohibition, prosecution occurred as street trading unlawfully.

London Borough of Croydon v William Burden

Officers observing a pedlar selling, and moving only a few yards during each visit, stationary for periods between 15 minutes and in excess of an hour whilst selling to the public.  Prosecution through not moving (conducting a sale and then moving on).

Other Cases:

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council v Dunn 1996

(Stationary selling for longer than 20 minutes)

Westminster City Council (Elmasoglu) 1996

(selling from a moving barrow)

Unauthorised street trading under the Local Government (Misc. Provisions) Act 1982 is liable to a fine of up to £1000 for each offence upon conviction at the Magistrate's Court