Do You Need a Permit For a Garage Sale? (Quite Often)

A couple of weeks ago, we had a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) meeting and voted to have a garage sale in the spring of next year. A question was posed, do you need a permit for a garage sale? Being a former cautious bank compliance officer, I had doubts, but most people didn’t think we needed it. So, I decided to find an answer.

Garage sales are an easy and sometimes fun way to get rid of items you no longer need while getting some cash in return.  Before putting your stuff out on the lawn, it is important to consider some requirements you may be subject to.

Whether you need a permit for a garage sale depends on where you are located. But most cities require a permit and sometimes a fee, which typically ranges between $5 – $15. Also, many towns limit how many garage sales you can have per year and how many days they may last. In addition, virtually all places have signs and flyers requirements, and restrictions.

Let’s start by determining where you can get information about a garage sale permit. 

Where Can You Find Out if You Need a Permit for Your Garage Sale?

Lewes City Hall

To find out if you need a permit for your garage sale, you should start by contacting someone at your City Hall or an equivalent official entity for your area. But brace yourself because you may have to contact a few places before you get an answer.

At least, this was my experience. 

I first sent an email to the City Clerk in the City Manager’s Office in Lewes and waited for a week to receive no answer. I could have called for my next step, but since I was in the area, I decided to go to the City Hall in person.

When I asked them if I needed a permit to have a garage sale in Lewes, they looked puzzled. As if they have never heard that question. Then they asked me where I lived. I said in Lewes. But where in Lewes they continued. 

I gave them my address, and they said that I didn’t live within the incorporated city area and that I have to go to Sussex County in Georgetown to get an answer. I was just trying to get a simple answer, not a history lesson.

Drove to Georgetown to Get an Answer

Determined to get a response, I drove to Georgetown. About a 20 miles drive from my home.

Sussex County Administrative Offices

When I arrived at the Administrative Offices of Sussex County in Georgetown, I went through security, was escorted to a desk, and received my coveted answer.

You only need a permit in Lewes when you have more than 3 garage sales per year. I asked if there was anywhere online to find out about all the requirements. The man behind the desk said to look on the Sussex County website. I looked and found nothing.

So, I will take his word for it.

I wonder how they determine which location has had more than 3 garage sales per year. Your guess is as good as mine. They probably wait until people complain.

Either way, I got my answer, and I will report to our HOA board. We should not have any problems with our one summer garage sale.

Of course, I recommend that you call first, but if you need a permit, sometimes you may be asked to go in person to show proof of residency and complete the paperwork.

Typical Requirements of Garage Sales 

Every place is different, but most cities require a permit and limit how many times per year you can hold garage sales and how many days each garage sale can last. They also have restrictions on signs and flyers.

Permit Fees

Sometimes a permit is required, but there is no fee. However, most often, cities charge a small fee to cover administrative expenses. 

Here is a sample of cities with the charges they impose. For this sample, we see a range from $0 to $31:

Passaic, NJ$5
Temple City, CA$0
Chicago, Il$0
Downey, CA$10
City of Newman, CA$7.50
Richardson, TX$0
City of Coral Gables, FL$31

As you can see the City of Coral Gables in Florida has a rather pricy permit fee. Let’s watch a video to learn what else is required to have a garage sale if you live in this city.

Time Limits

Based on my research, most cities limit how many yard sales you can have per year and how many days can the yard sale last.

Passaic, NJ23
Temple City, CA22
Chicago, Il33
Downey, CAUnknown3
City of Newman, CA23
Richardson, TX33
City of Coral Gables, FL22

Signs and Flyers Requirements

There are also signs and flyers requirements that may not be obvious to many people. So, let’s go over what you need to be aware of if you live in one of these sample cities.

Passaic, NJYou may place no goods or signs in or on the public right-of-way or in any way interfere with the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic thereon.
Temple City, CAYou may place 1 sign not to exceed 5 square feet may be displayed on the premises of the sale. Signs may be displayed on legally parked vehicles. Signs may not be placed on any public property or in the public right-of-way.
Chicago, IlYou may not advertise your sale by posting signs or any other material (flags, banners, etc.) on any city property (i.e. light poles, traffic signals, bus stops, etc.) including string banners between light poles. You are entitled to post signs on your own property only.
Downey, CAIt is illegal to post signs on public utility poles, street signs, traffic signs, trees, and in the public right-of-way. Posting of such signs will result in you being assessed a $25.00 removal fee for each sign and the filing of a criminal complaint.
City of Newman, CASigns advertising sales are limited to: a) Size of six square feet. b) Display at the site of sale only. c) Display during hours of sale only.
Richardson, TXNo requirements found.
City of Coral Gables, FLYou shall only display one (1) sign of not more than forty (40) square inches on the premises which shall not be erected closer than five (5) feet to the front or side property lines. No other signs shall be displayed on or off the premises. 

This is a good time to determine if garage and yard sales are dead.


Before you embark on your next garage sale, you’ll need to find out if you need a permit. Take some time to discover what other requirements your city or town may impose so that you are ready to have a great garage sale.

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