Publication 111, Operators of Swap Meets, Flea Markets, or Special Events

November 2013

  • Operators
  • Sellers and Vendors
  • Additional Information

If you operate a swap meet, flea market, or special event in California, state law requires you to keep written records of all people who sell at your events. You may not rent space to sellers unless they give you the written documentation described in this publication.

What is a swap meet, flea market, or special event?

A swap meet, flea market, or special event is any event where:

  • Two or more people or businesses offer merchandise for sale or exchange, and
  • Prospective sellers are charged a fee for space rental or prospective buyers are charged an admission fee.

Required seller information you must obtain

Information requirements depend on the seller’s status.

You must:

  • Document certain information on all sellers who conduct activities on premises you own or control.

Convenient form for required seller information

You can use a BOE-410-D, Swap Meets, Flea Markets, or Special Events Certification, to obtain the required information from your sellers. The form is also available by calling our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115.

If you choose not to use the form, it is important that you still obtain all of the required seller information, in writing.

The required seller information includes:

  • Seller’s business name
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone number
  • Driver license number or state issued-identification (ID) and the name of the issuing state
  • Description of items sold or displayed
  • Seller’s permit number

If no seller’s permit is required to be held, then a reason must be provided by the seller, such as:

  • My retail product sales are not subject to tax
  • My sales are exempt occasional sales
  • I sell on behalf of a section 6015 retailer
  • I am a qualified itinerant vendor

Although it is not required, we recommend you obtain a copy of each seller’s permit for your records. It is important to retain copies of seller verification documents for at least four years.

BOE verification of seller’s permit status

You may not rent space to sellers until you have verification that they hold a valid seller’s permit, unless, they are not required to hold a seller’s permit as provided in the previous section.

If we send you a request for information on sellers who have conducted activities on your premises, you must provide this information or copies of individual seller verification documents within 30 days of our written request. We will verify the information you provide and let you know if any of the sellers at your event incorrectly represented their seller’s permit status.

Verify a seller’s permit

You must have the seller’s permit number that you want to verify. A typical permit number begins with the letters SR followed by two or three more letters and an eight- or nine-digit number, for example: SR-KHE-12-345678 or SR-AR-123-456789). The BOE offers a number of convenient ways to check for a valid seller’s permit. You can:

Note: A cigarette/tobacco license and an eWaste Recycling Fee account can also be verified.

BOE site visits

Our representatives periodically visit selling events to verify that operators have complied with the legal requirements for operating a swap meet, flea market, or special event. Our representatives may also check to see that sellers making taxable sales are displaying their seller’s permits as required by law.

At each visit, BOE employees will:

  • Identify themselves and show identification;
  • Verify the existence of a seller’s permit, fee permits and other business licenses/permits that may be required, including a city or county business license, if appropriate;
  • Review your required documentation to verify that it is updated with the correct information;
  • Provide guidance on reporting your information correctly;
  • Answer questions you may have.

What happens if I don’t have the right documentation for my event?

If you do not keep permit and/or license information on all sellers who conduct activities on premises you own or control, you may be violating state law (Revenue and Taxation Code section 6073).

You may be required to pay a penalty of up to $1,000 for each seller for which you fail to keep records if that person is required to hold a seller’s permit and does not hold a valid permit for sales made on your premises.

Note: This publication summarizes the law and applicable regulations in effect when the publication was written, as noted above. However, changes in the law or in regulations may have occurred since that time. If there is a conflict between the text in this publication and the law, the application of tax will be based on the law and not on this publication


Information you must provide the operator

You can use a BOE-410-D, Swap Meets, Flea Markets, or Special Events Certification, to provide the required information to the operator of the event where you sell your items. The form is also available by calling our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115.

Sellers who must hold a seller’s permit

People who sell new or used merchandise in California, including handcrafted items, are generally required to hold a seller’s permit. Sellers who are required to hold permits must give operators, in writing, their:

  • Business name
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone number
  • Driver license number or state-identification (ID) along with the name of the issuing state
  • Description of items sold or displayed
  • Seller’s permit number

Even though it is not required, we recommend you provide a copy of your seller’s permit to the event operator.

Permit requirements for selling at temporary locations

You need to register for a sub-permit for the temporary location, even if you already hold a seller’s permit for your permanent place of business. You will report the sales made at these locations when filing your sales and use tax returns.

We offer a number of easy ways for you to register and obtain a sub-permit. You can apply:

  • Online, or
  • In person at our field offices and state that you would like to register and obtain a sub-permit for your temporary selling location(s).

If you need assistance, call our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115, weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific time), except state holidays.

When you register for these temporary locations, you will ensure that cities and counties receive the appropriate local and district taxes.

What should I do when the event is completed?

You must notify the BOE in writing, by calling us, or by visiting one of our field offices, if you no longer make sales at a business location, including a temporary selling location registered under your account.

Sellers who are not required to hold a seller’s permit

Certain sellers may not be required to hold a seller’s permit. You can use a BOE-410-D, Swap Meets, Flea Markets, or Special Events Certification, to provide the required information to the operator of the event where you sell your items. The form is also available by calling our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115.

If you are not required to hold a seller’s permit, you must identify that:

  1. You are an occasional seller
  2. All of your retail sales are tax exempt
  3. You sell only items purchased from section 6015 retailers
  4. You are a qualified itinerant vendor

Sellers who fall under conditions 2, 3, or 4 must describe the items they sell and state that they do not have to pay tax on those sales.

Occasional sellers

Due to the number, scope, and character of their selling activities, some sellers are not required to hold a seller’s permit. For example, a person that holds a garage sale no more than two times each year could qualify as an occasional seller. Please see Regulation 1595, Occasional SalesóSale of a BusinessóBusiness Reorganization, for additional information on occasional sellers.

Sellers who make only exempt sales

Some sellers are not required to hold a seller’s permit because all of their sales are exempt from sales and use tax. For example, if they sell only fresh produce or other cold food products “to go” they do not need a seller’s permit. However, cold food sellers do need a seller’s permit if they:

  1. Sell food to be consumed in places where admission is charged,
  2. Sell carbonated or alcoholic beverages, or
  3. Provide tables, chairs, counters, or other dining facilities for their customers.

Please see Regulation 1602, Food Products, and Regulation 1603, Taxable Sales of Food Products, and publication 22, Dining and Beverage Industry, for additional information regarding food and beverage sales.

Section 6015 retailers

Some sellers are not required to hold a seller’s permit because they sell only products purchased from dealers we have approved as section 6015 retailers. The seller is required to provide the name of the product supplier to operators. For example, people who sell new Avon or Tupperware usually buy those items from section 6015 retailers.

Qualified itinerant vendors

From April 1, 2010, through December 31, 2022 some U.S. veterans are considered “qualified itinerant vendors.” They are the consumers of the products they sell under certain conditions. As consumers, qualified itinerant vendors are not required to hold a seller’s permit.

There are some exceptions. Itinerant veteran vendors who are engaged in catering or vending machine businesses, or who sell alcoholic beverages or single items for more than $100, are generally required to obtain a seller’s permit. For additional information, you may refer to Revenue and Taxation Code section 6018.3, Itinerant Veteran Vendors.

If you are not sure whether you need a seller’s permit or whether your sales are taxable, you may contact our Customer Service Center for help at 1-800-400-7115, weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific time), except state holidays.