How to Legally Sell Art on the Streets of New York City

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Stick to the correct places, and you can legally sell your art in New York City.
Stick to the correct places, and you can legally sell your art in New York City. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

In New York City, you don't need any type of license or permit to sell art on the streets. Being an artist means that you're under special constitutional protections. The trick to legally selling your art on the streets in New York City is to follow the rules that apply to any street vendor. If you don't follow the rules, you're likely to be arrested and your art could even be taken from you. With so many places to sell your art, it's simple to find a place to sell it without breaking any laws.

Apply for a New York state tax identification number online (see Resources). Even though you don't need a permit, you have to be able to show evidence of your tax identification number. Keep your completed registration with you at all times.

Only sell art on sidewalks more than 12 feet wide. Your art display can only be 5 feet high, 8 feet long and 3 feet wide.

Always stand 20 feet from doors if they open to a building that is commercial in any way. If it's a residential building, you can reduce that to 10 feet. Never touch or attach your display to city property such as fire hydrants, telephone poles or signs. In parks, you can't block walkways or touch benches.

Obtain permission from an owner before you prop your art against his property, which includes fences and signs. Never display the art you're intending to sell on your car.

Set up your stand on almost any street or in any park. In most places, you can sell your art 24 hours per day. Some complex rules apply to people selling art on the specific streets, such as times when selling is prohibited and certain circumstances under which you cannot sell art on a street (see Resources to check if any restrictions apply to a street that interests you).

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