Skip to code content (skip section selection)
§ 9-203. Street Vendors. 33
(1) Definitions. In this Section, the following definitions apply:
(a) Street Vendor. Any person travelling by foot, wagon, motor vehicle or any other type of conveyance from place to place, house to house or street to street or on property owned or controlled by the City of Philadelphia carrying, conveying, or transporting goods, wares or merchandise and offering and exposing them for sale, or making sales and delivering articles to purchasers; or who without travelling from place to place, sells or offers for sale products from a wagon, handcart, pushcart, motor vehicle, stand, conveyance or from his person who submits orders, and as a separate transaction, makes deliveries to purchasers. A "street vendor" shall include any "vendor", "peddler", "hawker", "huckster", "itinerant merchant", "mobile food vendor", "mobile food vehicle" or "transient vendor" but shall exclude any vendor licensed under Section 9-201 or Section 9-213. 34
(b) Goods, Wares, Merchandise shall include but not be limited to fruits, vegetables, garden truck, farm products or provisions, dairy products, fish, game, poultry, meat, plants, flowers, appliances, wearing apparel, jewelry, cosmetics and beauty aids, health products, medicines, household needs or furnishings, food of any kind, whether or not for immediate consumption, confections or drinks or any other article or thing whatsoever.
(c) Conveyance shall include any public or privately owned vehicle, method or means of transporting people, bicycle, motorized or non-motorized vehicle, handcart, pushcart, lunch wagon or any other device or thing whether or not mounted on wheels.
(d) Streets shall mean all that area legally open to public use as public streets, and sidewalks, roadways, highways, parkways, alleys and any other public way.
(e) Mobile Food Vendor. A self-contained food service operation, located in a readily movable motorized vehicle with wheels, or in a vehicle with wheels capable of being towed by a motorized vehicle, designed for the preparation, display and service of food and beverages to patrons; but not including pushcarts. 35
(f) Mobile Food Vehicle. A self-contained food service operation, located in a readily movable motorized vehicle with wheels or in a vehicle with wheels, capable of being towed by a motorized vehicle, designed for the preparation, display and service of food, beverages, or both to patrons. 36
(2) License. It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the business of a street vendor unless he or she has first obtained a license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections. All licenses will be issued according to regulations established by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
(a) Each license shall show the name and address of the licensee, the type of license issued, the kind of goods to be sold, the amount of the license fee, the date of issuance, the license number, an identifying description of any vehicle or conveyance used by the licensee plus, where applicable, the motor vehicle registration number and a photograph of the licensee not less than two inches square nor more than three inches square. Each license shall also show the expiration date of the license and the vendor's plate number which is issued by the City of Philadelphia.
(b) Every license to vend under this Section issued after the effective date of this Section shall thereafter be issued as of the first day of January of the current calendar year and shall be effective, unless suspended or revoked, until the thirty-first day of December of the same calendar year.
(3) Issuance. No license shall be issued unless:
(a) The applicant furnishes any relevant information the Department requires including but not limited to:
(.1) a physical description of the applicant, proof of identity and address, together with two photographs, of the applicant, not less than two inches square, nor more than three inches square;
(.2) a brief description of what is to be sold, and, whether produced, grown, made, manufactured or assembled by the applicant;
(.3) if employed by another the name and address of the person, firm, association, organization, company, or corporation;
(.4) if a motor vehicle is to be used, a description of it together with the motor vehicle registration number, license number;
(.5) where the applicant-vendor or his employee or attendant proposes to sell anything that is to be eaten or drunk such investigation or examination as the Department requires establishing that the applicant-vendor or his employee or attendant does not have any communicable diseases.
(b) The applicant pays the following fees: 37
(.1) a non-refundable application fee of twenty dollars ($20) for an initial license, which fee shall be credited toward the annual fee if the license is issued; and 38
(.2) an annual license fee of three hundred thirty dollars ($330). 39
(4) Identification and License Plates. Each street vendor shall, while engaged in the business of vending under this Section be required to carry a license on his person. In addition to the license, the Department shall issue a license plate and an identification badge to each vendor. The license plate shall bear the word "Vendor", the year for which issued, the number of license plate issued by the City of Philadelphia, which shall correspond to the number which appears on the vendor's license, and the name of the licensee. The word "Vendor" and the license plate number shall be of uniform size and plainly discernible. The license plate shall be attached by the vendor to the conveyance used in a place which is clearly visible to the public. While engaging in the business of vending, every vendor shall wear a badge conspicuously on the right breast of the outer garment. The badge shall be of the shape, size and style prescribed by the Department of Licenses and Inspections having engraved or embossed thereon the word "Vendor", the number of the license and the words "City of Philadelphia". The color of the identification badge and license plate shall be changed at the beginning of each calendar year, however both shall be the same color for any one year. Identification badges, license plates and licenses shall be used only by the person to whom they were issued or his employee and may not under any circumstances be transferred to any other person.
(5) Business Address or Residence. The Department shall be notified of any change in business address or residence within 30 days, by notice either in writing or in person.
(6) Compliance. All licenses shall be conditioned on continued compliance with the provisions of Title 6 (Health Code) where applicable as well as with the provisions of this Section.
(7) Prohibited Conduct. No vendor or person shall: 40
(a) stop, stand or park any vehicle, wagon, pushcart or any other conveyance upon any street for the purpose of selling, or sell on any street under any circumstances during the hours when parking, stopping or standing has been prohibited by signs or curb markings or is prohibited by the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, City Ordinance or The Philadelphia Code;
(b) stop, stand or park his vehicle or conveyance on a street nor permit it to remain there except on the roadway at the curb for the purpose of selling goods, wares, and merchandise therefrom; 41
(c) stop, stand, park, place nor allow his conveyance closer than thirty feet from any other conveyance being used by any other vendor;
(d) conduct himself or his business in such a way as would restrict or interfere with the ingress or egress of the abutting owner or tenant or to create or become a nuisance, or increase traffic congestion or delay, or constitute a hazard to traffic, life or property, or an obstruction to adequate access to fire, police, or sanitation vehicles;
(e) sell any goods, wares or merchandise within districts or on streets which have been or shall be hereafter so designated by the City Council in Section 9-205 or otherwise;
(f) sell food, drinks, ice cream or confections of any kind for immediate consumption unless he has available for public use his own litter receptacle, which shall be clearly marked and maintained for his patrons' use nor shall any vendor leave any location without first picking up, removing and disposing of all trash or refuse remaining from sales made by him;
(g) use a handcart or pushcart the dimensions of which exceed four feet in width, eight feet in length and eight feet in height;
(h) use any conveyance, device or thing whatsoever which, when fully loaded with merchandise, cannot be easily moved and maintained under control by the licensee, his employee or attendant;
(i) set up, maintain or permit the use of any tables, crates, cartons, racks, devices or thing of any kind or description to increase the selling or display capacity of his conveyance, cart or vehicle;
(j) sell any merchandise or any other article or thing whatsoever on any street where sidewalk sales are prohibited under any ordinances of this City or City Code provision;
(k) leave any conveyance unattended at any time or store, park, or leave same overnight on any city sidewalk or street or at any vending location permitted under subsection (10)(b) hereof, unless the Department approves a Mobile Food Vendor to remain overnight in connection with a special event sponsored by the City; 42
(l) engage in the business of vending between twelve midnight and seven a.m.;
(m) sell any merchandise or any other article or thing whatsoever on any property owned or controlled by the City of Philadelphia, except for streets, unless permission has been expressly granted by the City of Philadelphia; 43
(o) stop, stand or park his vehicle or conveyance for the purpose of selling any goods, wares and merchandise on the following roadways: 45
(.1) Cedar Park avenue from 6900 - 7100 on both sides;
(.2) 1600 and 1700 blocks of Callowhill street on both sides;
(.3) Sixteenth street between Vine street and Hamilton street on both sides;
(.4) The south side of Spring Garden street between Broad street and 16th street; 46
(.5) Spring Garden street, from 16th street to 18th street. 47
(.6) West Olney avenue, from Church Lane to Ogontz avenue. 48
(p) A special street vendor district is created on Callowhill street between Fifteenth and Sixteenth streets. The following provisions shall apply to such special district: 49
(.1) The Department shall designate two (2) permitted street vendor locations for the placement of one truck per vendor within the special district. No street vendor may vend within the special district unless such vendor has been assigned by the Department to a particular location within the special district, which permitted location is non-transferable and may only be used by the specific vendor assigned to that location.
(.2) The Department shall determine which street vendors shall be assigned to the two (2) permitted locations within the special district by giving priority to street vendors according to the length of time they have conducted licensed street vending operations in the immediate vicinity of the district. The two (2) vending assignments shall only be granted to businesses that have no affiliation with one another. In the event either of the locations is permanently vacated by a vendor, the Department may assign a new vendor to a location within the district off of a waiting list maintained by the Department.
(.3) Any street vendor licensed to vend in the special district must, in addition to fulfilling all other requirements for the licensing of street vendors generally, agree to such conditions regarding handbilling and verbal solicitation for the purpose of advertising or recommending the vendor's product or services within two blocks of the street vendor's location as may be required by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
(.4) Vendors within the special district shall meet the requirements of subsections (8)(c) and (8)(d) of this Section.
(q) Sell any fireworks. 50
(8) A special street vendor district is hereby created on Thirty-second street between Market street and Chestnut street. The following provisions shall apply to such special district: 51
(a) The Department shall designate ten (10) permitted street vendor locations within the special district. No street vendor may vend within the special district unless such vendor has been assigned by the Department to a particular location within the special district.
(b) The Department shall determine which street vendors shall be assigned to the ten (10) permitted locations within the special district by giving priority to street vendors according to the length of time they have conducted licensed street vending operations within the special district. If two (2) or more street vendors have equal seniority, the Department shall determine priority by lottery. Any street vendor displaced from the special district by this process shall be placed on a waiting list for any locations within the special district which may later become available. The Department may provide by regulation for other persons to apply for positions on the waiting list, and for a lottery system to rank such other persons who may be added to the waiting list.
(d) Street vendors within the special district shall be subject to all provisions applicable to street vendors generally, as provided in this Section and any other provision of this Code or other applicable law.
(8.1) A special street vendor district is hereby created exclusively for street vendors on North Twentieth street between West Clarkson avenue and Belfield avenue. The following provisions shall apply to such special district: 53
(a) Street vending shall be permitted only from Monday through Saturday, and only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
(b) The Department shall designate eight (8) permitted street vendor locations within the special district. Street vendors shall be located on the west side of North 20th street between West Clarkson avenue and Belfield avenue. No street vendor may vend within the special district unless such vendor has been assigned by the Department to a particular location within the special district.
(c) A street vendor shall be at least five (5) feet from other street vendors.
(d) The Department shall determine which street vendors shall initially be assigned to the eight (8) permitted locations within the special district, provided that priority shall be given to street vendors located on West Olney avenue from Church Lane to Ogontz avenue as of September 25, 2017. Thereafter, the Department shall maintain a waiting list for any locations within the special district which may later become available.
(e) Street vendors within the special district shall be subject to all provisions applicable to street vendors generally, as provided in this Section and any other provision of this Code or other applicable law.
(f) Vending other than by street vendors permitted under this subsection 9-203(8.1) is prohibited within the special district.
(9) Street Vending on Designated Streets. 54
(a) Street vending shall be permitted on the following streets only from Monday through Saturday, and only between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., with the additional limitations set forth below:
(.1) The east side of North 58th street, between Callowhill street and Vine street, for up to two (2) vending locations;
(.2) The east side of North 77th street, between City Line avenue and Overbrook avenue, for one (1) vending location;
(.3) The west side of the 300 block of North 63rd street for one (1) vending location;
(.4) The east side of the 2400 block of Bryn Mawr avenue for one (1) vending location;
(.5) The east side of North 54th street, between Columbia avenue and Lebanon avenue, for one (1) vending location;
(.6) The east side of North 13th Street, between West Olney Avenue and West Tabor Road, for one (1) vending location; and 55
(.7) The west side of the 5000 block of Wissahickon Avenue. 56
(b) The Department shall designate the exact location for each individual vendor. No street vendor may vend on any street listed in subsection (9)(a) of this Section unless such vendor has been assigned by the Department to a particular location on that street. Such permitted location is non-transferable and may only be used by the specific vendor assigned to that location.
(c) The Department shall promulgate regulations devising procedures to choose among applicants for a particular location, including but not limited to, preference based upon seniority. Applicants for vendor sites shall be selected by the Department in accordance with such regulations.
(d) Street vendors permitted under subsection (9)(a) shall be subject to all provisions applicable to street vendors generally, as provided in this Section and any other provision of this Code or other applicable law, except that such vendors shall be exempt from the provisions of subsection 9-203(7)(e) and subsection 9-205(8)(p)(.328) to the extent that those subsections prohibit street vending on the streets designated in subsection 9-203(9)(a).
(10) Mobile Food Vendors on Privately-owned Property. 57
(a) Mobile Food Vendors may operate on privately-owned property, with the permission of the property owner or lessee, subject to the following requirements.
(.1) The Mobile Food Vendor and the owner or lessee of the property have obtained all applicable licenses and permits.
(.2) The Mobile Food Vendor refrains from conduct prohibited under subsection 9-203(7).
(.3) The Mobile Food Vendor displays, at all times on the vehicle, a current license to vend in accordance with subsection 9-203(2), and the name of the owner or operator of the Mobile Food Vendor.
(.4) The Mobile Food Vendor displays, at all times, in a location visible to patrons, the name and contact information for the property owner or lessee who has given permission for the operation of the Mobile Food Vendor on the property.
(.5) Signs. No signs, except the following, shall be permitted:
(.a) Signs permanently attached to the mobile food vending vehicle; and
(.b) One portable non-digital menu sign, no more than 12 square feet, located on the ground in the customer service area, provided that any portable menu sign shall be removed at the end of operating hours.
(.6) Lighting. If the Mobile Food Vendor operates after dark, the owner or lessee of the property or the Mobile Food Vendor shall provide appropriate lighting in accordance with the following requirements:
(.a) The lighting shall be limited to an overall average level of illumination of two horizontal foot-candles; and
(.b) The illumination shall be oriented to prevent glare on surrounding areas.
(.7) Accessory outdoor seating is permitted, with the property owner's permission, provided it does not encroach upon the public right-of-way.
(.9) Mobile Food Vendor and any accessory outdoor seating shall not remain on a property more than one hour before and one hour after the permitted hours of operation.
(.10) No amplified sound or loudspeakers shall be permitted.
(.11) At least one trash receptacle and one recycling receptacle shall be provided, for use by patrons, in a location that does not interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
(.12) At the end of each day of operation, the operator of the Mobile Food Vendor shall collect and remove all trash and debris generated on the property by its operation or patrons.
(.13) No generators shall be operated on the exterior of the Mobile Food Vendor, unless they are permanently mounted on the truck.
(.14) The Mobile Food Vendor shall not interfere with visibility at any driveway or intersection, or with pedestrian or vehicular ingress and egress with respect to the property.
(.15) The Mobile Food Vendor shall serve pedestrians only; drive-through and drive-in service is prohibited.
(.16) Sites shall be maintained accessible to persons with disabilities.
(b) Permitted Locations. Mobile Food Vendors shall be permitted to operate on privately-owned property in the following areas:
(c) Prohibited Locations and Operations.
(.1) No Mobile Food Vendor shall operate on a historic site, as designated under Chapter 14-1000 of this Code or by the National Register of Historic Places.
(.2) A Mobile Food Vendor shall not operate on any portion of a parking lot, where the vending vehicle would reduce the number of parking spaces to fewer than the required minimum for that lot, or where it would block any of the following: a parking aisle, access to loading or service areas, emergency access, or a fire lane. Further, such vendor shall not locate its vehicle within fifteen (15) feet in all directions from any fire hydrant, fire department connection, driveway entrance, alley, handicapped parking space, or vegetation.
(d) Where the provisions of this subsection 9-203(10) conflict with other provisions of this Chapter, the provisions of this subsection shall apply.
(11) Special Requirements for Mobile Food Vehicles that Use Propane or Compressed Natural Gas. 59 In addition to all other requirements of this Section and any other applicable laws and regulations, a mobile food vehicle using propane or compressed natural gas shall comply with the following requirements:
(a) Models. Only U.S. DOT-approved models of propane and natural gas tanks (49 C.F.R. 178) shall be used on mobile food vehicles. Tanks shall be labeled properly with prominent safety placards, in accordance with U.S. DOT regulations (49 C.F.R. 178). Tanks shall be equipped with a regulator as prescribed by the National Fire Protection Association Code ("NFPA"). No quick-connect devices (as defined in NFPA 58) shall be permitted except on chassis-mounted tanks, and then only if they are equipped with a manual shut-off.
(b) Mounting and Placement of Tanks. The mounting and placement of propane and natural gas tanks shall withstand impact equal to four times the weight of the filled propane or natural gas container, in accordance with NFPA 58. Tanks shall be secure and conform with NFPA standards relating to the safe mounting of tanks. Propane and natural gas tanks shall be installed upon the vehicles in one of the following ways:
(.1) Outside mounted in a semi-enclosed cabinet, with vents at the bottom to facilitate the diffusion of vapors, vapor-tight to the interior of the vehicle, with a weather-protected regulator and a leak indicator in accordance with NFPA standards;
(.2) Outside mounted, secured on top and bottom and stabilized (for example, with a strap), vapor- tight to the interior of the vehicle, mounted no less than 28 inches above the ground with a weather-protected regulator; or
(.3) Chassis-mounted, in accordance with NFPA 58.
No propane or natural gas tanks shall be installed on the roof or stored inside the vehicle.
(c) Propane and natural gas tanks shall be equipped with an overfill protective device and turned off while the mobile food vehicle is in motion, any time the vehicle is unattended, and when the vehicle is stored overnight.
(d) All propane and natural gas piping shall be constructed and installed in accordance with NFPA standards and shall be made of steel, copper or brass. Plastic piping is prohibited.
(e) A mobile food vehicle shall carry no more than a total of 120 pounds of propane or natural gas.
(f) A person who has successfully completed a propane and natural gas handling and safety course, approved by the Department of Labor and Industry to be in compliance with propane industry standards, shall be present at all times during which the mobile food vehicle is being operated. Such person shall have a certificate of successful completion of the course readily available, upon the request of any agency or department of the City.
(g) Mobile food vehicles shall have their propane or natural gas systems inspected by a propane professional every ninety (90) days. After the inspection, the professional shall produce a maintenance report with the results of the inspection. This report shall be kept in the vehicle, at all times for a minimum of one (1) year, and shall be readily available, upon the request of any agency or department of the City. If the report identifies an unsafe condition in the operation of the propane or natural gas tanks, the operator of the mobile food vehicle shall take all action necessary and appropriate to remedy the unsafe condition and to obtain a maintenance report indicating the tanks are in safe working order prior to the resumption of business operations. No mobile food vehicle shall operate its propane or natural gas system more than ninety (90) days after the date of its last maintenance report.
(h) If a leak, fire or other safety incident occurs, the mobile food vehicle operator shall seek immediate maintenance, and the vehicle shall not be returned to service until it has been inspected and certified as safe, by a licensed propane company operator. The incident, inspection and safe certification shall be made a part of the maintenance report, and this report shall be submitted to the Fire Department, or such other Department as the Mayor may designate, within five (5) business days of receipt.
(i) Propane and natural gas tank refilling or exchange shall be performed only by a licensed propane and natural gas company operator or by a mobile food vendor who has completed a training course pertaining to refilling and exchange, that has been approved by the Department of Labor and Industry. All refills and exchanges shall take place at facilities approved by the Department of Labor and Industry. Refills and exchanges shall not take place on City streets or at other mobile food vending sites.
(j) All maintenance records and refills and exchanges of tanks for mobile food vehicles shall be kept by the mobile food vehicle owner.
(k) Mobile food vehicle owners shall be responsible for testing their propane and natural gas systems for leaks with a Underwriters Laboratories ("UL")-Classified and Mine Safety and Health Administration-certified combustible gas detector at each instance of refill or exchange. Such testing shall be completed and recorded before the vehicle leaves the refill and exchange facility.
(l) The Fire Department, or such other Department as the Mayor may designate, is authorized to inspect propane and natural gas systems, at anytime, for compliance with the provisions of this subsection and any other applicable provisions of law.
(12) Penalties. 60
(b) In addition to the penalties contained in Section 9-105, any license issued under this Section may be suspended or revoked for any of the following reasons:
(.1) fraud, misrepresentation or knowingly false statement contained in the application for the license;
(.2) fraud, misrepresentation or knowingly false statement in the course of carrying on the business of vending;
(.3) conducting the business of vending in such a manner as to create a public nuisance, cause a breach of the peace or constitute a danger to the public health, safety, welfare or morals or interfering with the rights of abutting property owners.
(13) Construction. 62 No part of this Section or the Section itself shall be construed to be in amplification or derogation of the rights or responsibilities of abutting property owners. Any remedy, rights or obligations provided to such owners of property or their successors in interest under the law of Real Property or the Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shall be in addition to the remedies, rights, obligations or penalties provided hereunder.
(14) Severability. 63 Each of the provisions of this Section is severable, and if any provision is held invalid, the remaining provisions shall not be affected, but shall remain in full force and effect.
Source: 1925 Ordinances, p. 292; amended, 1941 Ordinances, p. 409; amended, 1975 Ordinances, pp. 548 and 1640; repealed and amended, 1976 Ordinances, p. 193.
Amended, 1993 Ordinances, p. 127; amended, Bill No. 050384 (approved June 29, 2005); amended, Bill No. 150056-A (approved May 5, 2015); amended, Bill No. 140644 (approved June 2, 2015). Section 2 of Bill No. 140644 provides: "This Ordinance shall take effect immediately, provided that any provision, requiring authorization of the General Assembly, shall take effect six months after such authorization."
Added, Bill No. 150056-A (approved May 5, 2015).
Amended, 1988 Ordinances, p. 339; amended, 1992 Ordinances, p. 550; amended, Bill No. 170164 (approved April 4, 2017).
Amended, Bill No. 090777-A (approved February 17, 2010).
Amended, Bill No. 080853 (approved December 8, 2008).
Amended, Bill No. 960085-A (approved December 21, 1999).
Added, Bill No. 725 (approved May 25, 1995). Enrolled bill neglected to italicize all new language. Amended, Bill No. 020169 (approved May 15, 2002).
Amended, Bill No. 150056-A (approved May 5, 2015).
Added, 1993 Ordinances, p. 127.
Added, Bill No. 960085-A (approved December 21, 1999).
Added, Bill No. 020169 (approved May 15, 2002).
Added, Bill No. 080654 (approved November 19, 2008).
Added, Bill No. 170905 (approved December 12, 2017).
Added, Bill No. 020169 (approved May 15, 2002).
Added, Bill No. 181004 (approved June 26, 2019).
Added, 1994 Ordinances, p. 677.
Added, Bill No. 170905 (approved December 12, 2017).
Added, Bill No. 090812 (approved January 13, 2010).
Added, Bill No. 150267 (approved June 30, 2015).
Added, Bill No. 150661 (approved December 23, 2015).
Added, Bill No. 150056-A (approved May 5, 2015).
Enrolled bill read "203(10)(b)".
Amended, 1990 Ordinances, p. 715; renumbered, 1994 Ordinances, p. 677; renumbered, Bill No. 090812 (approved January 13, 2010). Bill No. 150056-A added a new subsection (10) but failed to renumber subsequent subsections; renumbered by Code editor. Renumbered, Bill No. 140644 (approved June 2, 2015). See note 34 for effective date provisions. Enrolled bill renumbered as subsection (11); renumbered by Code editor.
Renumbered, 1994 Ordinances, p. 677; renumbered, Bill No. 090812 (approved January 13, 2010). Bill No. 150056-A added a new subsection (10) but failed to renumber subsequent subsections; renumbered by Code editor. Renumbered, Bill No. 140644 (approved June 2, 2015). See note 34 for effective date provisions. Enrolled bill renumbered as subsection (12); renumbered by Code editor.
Renumbered, 1994 Ordinances, p. 677; renumbered, Bill No. 090812 (approved January 13, 2010). Bill No. 150056-A added a new subsection (10) but failed to renumber subsequent subsections; renumbered by Code editor. Renumbered, Bill No. 140644 (approved June 2, 2015). See note 34 for effective date provisions. Enrolled bill renumbered as subsection (13); renumbered by Code editor.