28 June 2019

Jams and lemonade stands – what’s the law on selling stuff outside your home?

Lemonade Stand

Just at the beginning of the summer and as we move in to the school holidays, you might find your enterprising young Dragon’s Den prospect may want to set up their own stall selling a cool glass of homemade lemonade to thirsty passers-by. It gives them a whole host of life-skills, tops up their pocket money and teaches children about the world of business.

But is it legal? And do you really want your enterprising eight-year-old to learn about the red-tape of local council by-laws?  So, is it okay to sell homemade produce like jams, cupcakes and lemonade from a stall in your front garden?

Trader’s Licences

Every council has a different set of rules and regulations that need to be checked before you open up your lemonade stall. Many local councils demand that anyone, regardless of how cute they look in pigtails, has a Street Trader’s Licence if you’re operating on public land.

However, if you’re operating on private land, then as long as you have the landowner’s permission, you do not necessarily need an Street Trader’s Licence. So, as long as your lemonade stall doesn’t overhang onto the pavement, you should be fine to open for business.

But, and there is a big but, you may still need to register your food business with the local council, and if you’re selling food and drink, you’ll also need a food hygiene certificate.

Food hygiene certificates

Don’t panic. These are much easier to get than you think.  You can go online and, in around 90 minutes and for a few pounds, get a food hygiene certificate that’s valid for a year. Even if your eight-year-old is a little young to apply for one, a parent or guardian can do it for them. A level 1 certificate is quite adequate for a simple lemonade stall, although if you want to expand into other food and drinks then a level 2 certificate is the bare minimum you’ll require.

Again, for a small fee, an online Food Allergy Awareness training course is advisable if you’re serious about starting a small food and drink business and if you decide to take your stall to local events or on the road, then you will very likely need a Hawker’s licence or Street Trader’s Licence, public liability insurance, and a valid food hygiene certificate and Food Allergy Training certificate too.

What is a Hawkers licence?

The 1697 Pedlar’s Act made it legal for costermongers to ‘hawk’ their wares on the street. It’s now been replaced by a Pedlar’s Certificate, which can be applied for through the government’s website. It allows you to sell goods in the street, but you cannot have a fixed stall or pitch, so you’ll be carrying your wares around with you. A Pedlar’s Certificate can be used anywhere in the country, but remember if you want to set up a fixed pitch, you’ll need a street trader’s licence.


Public liability insurance is absolutely crucial. If you’re selling consumables, even if it’s just lemonade, and a customer becomes sick after ingesting your food or drink then they could sue. The financial consequences could be devastating, and all for the sake of a few lemons. It may seem like overkill, but consumers do have rights under the Consumers Act 2017, including the option to sue for financial redress if they become ill after eating or drinking food supplied by a seller.

This deluge of legislation seems like a very quick way to kill your child’s entrepreneurial spirit. But if they’re determined to make a go out of a little business venture, then it’s well worth talking to a legal expert in consumer law to make sure you get all your ducks (or lemonade glasses) in a row before you open for business.

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