What do I need to do if I want to trade on the street in Merton?

If you want to operate a business in Merton, not contained within a building, you need to apply for a Street Trading Licence. These licences cover market stalls, food vans, shop forecourts, and tables and chairs on the public highway. A licence fee is payable for street trading in the borough. The fee involved depends on the type of licence you request.

In general, any form of selling of goods or the provision of services taking place in the street or on the public highway, or up to 7 metres distance from the highway, will require a licence. The public highway counts as the road and pavement.

Where can I trade?

There are several different ways of trading in Merton using a street trading licence, these are listed below. For more information visit our individual section pages:

Mitcham Market
Abbotsbury Road Market - Morden
Remote Pitches including Food vans
Tables and Chairs

How can I become a street trader?

In the first instance you will have to apply for a licence. There are two types of licences – a temporary licence and a permanent licence. Our markets operate through the use of temporary licences and all prospective traders are required to register with us before they can commence trading. Permanent licences are issued for specific designated sites not within a market and are renewed annually. 

What is the difference between a temporary or casual trading licence and a permanent licence?

A temporary licence can be valid from one day up to six months. It allows you to trade on an available or vacant pitch at any of our markets. Temporary licences are also used to trial remote sites in the borough once an application has been received for a permanent licence.

A permanent licence is issued for a permanent fixed pitch, forecourt display or the placement of tables and chairs on the highway. Applications for a permanent licence are received and go through the consultation process to check their suitability. Permanent licences are often preceded by temporary licences for at least three months during the application process. A permanent licence is valid for 12 months and can be renewed annually.

A casual licence is the same as a temporary licence and is used on our market sites. As all traders need to be registered with us, a casual licence in Merton reflects someone who is not a regular trader at our markets. Casual fees are higher than regular market fees.

How do I apply for a licence?

You will need to complete an application form and bring it in person or send it recorded delivery with the requested documents to the Civic Centre London Road Morden Surrey SM4 5DX. An appointment must be made before attending the Civic Centre.

If you do not complete the form correctly or bring all the documents we need, we will be unable to process your application.

What do I need to bring with my application form?

You’ll need to provide:

  • Application fee, this covers administration costs and is non-refundable, please see our fees list for appropriate charge.
  • 3 identical passport size photographs, clear copies of a up-to-date photo with your full face showing. If you intend to employ any assistants, you will also need 2 photographs of each assistant.
  • Proof of ID with your name and address, one of which must be photographic e.g. passport or photo driving licence (we can't accept old-style paper licences), 2 recent utility bills (no more than three months old) such as gas, phone, water, electricity or council tax. Mobile phone bills are not accepted.
  • Proof of public liability insurance cover with a minimum of £2 million. This should show your name and address, policy number, validity dates, and the level of cover.
  • National Insurance Number  e.g. National Insurance card, Inland Revenue document, tax statement, Benefits Agency document, pay slip, P45 or P60.
  • Samples of the product you want to sell

We will copy your original documents when you attend the building. If you are sending an application by post we can accept copies but will need to see the original documentation before issuing a licence.

Why do I need to come into the office to make a licence application?

We need to be able to verify your likeness in your photographs, require your signature and can only accept original documents(we will take copies and let you take the originals to take away with you). It is also easier for us to discuss your sample products and your business plans. We may be able to offer advice on trading before you get started.

When you come into the office, make sure you:

  • have completed the application form
  • bring all the original documents you need, passport photographs and samples of the products you want to sell
  • it’s a good idea to call the office before you come to make an appointment

Also if you’re subject to immigration control i.e Non British, Non EEA Citizen, non- Commonwealth Citizen with the right of abode, or a Commonwealth working holiday maker, you’ll need to bring your papers from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.

If you are a non EEA student we won’t be able to give you a licence. Non EEA student cannot be self employed and street traders fall under the self employed bracket.

Why do I need Public Liability Insurance?

Public liability insurance is needed to cover you for any accidents, including personal injury or death to anyone shopping at or around your stall. Public liability insurance protects market traders for any compensation that may have to be paid including legal costs.

How long will my application take to process?

You’ll need to come into the Civic Centre London Road Morden Surrey SM4 5DX .You can make an appointment by calling 020 8545 3969.

  • If you’re applying for a temporary licence and meet all the criteria, it takes approximately 5 working days to process. We may be able to get you started sooner but please expect to wait 5 days.
  • If you’re applying for a permanent licence, once you submit your application it should take a minimum of 3 months, but we’ll give you a better idea of the time when you come in with your application.

Will an application form be accepted without all the correct documents?

No. Unless we receive all requested documentation we cannot take the application. If you do not have/forget your original documents we can continue with your application as long as we see copies of all the requested documentation. This is subject to us seeing the originals before issuing a licence. If you’re not sure what to bring, contact us on 020 8545 3969

Alternatively there’s a list of all the requirements in the application pack.

How can I become a food trader?

Firstly, you will need proof of relevant food hygiene training certificate before you can apply for a permanent licence to sell food.

If you don’t have a certificate you need to make your own arrangements to attend food hygiene training. You can find out more about training from Merton Environmental Health on 020 8545 3969. You’ll also need to register your business with Environmental Health.

Visit the Starting up a food business page for more information.

Do I still need a licence if I do not want to sell food?

Yes, whatever you want to sell you’ll need a street trading licence.

How old do I need to be to become a market trader?

You need to be 17 or older to become a market trader in London.

How can I get a mobile street trading licence?

We don’t licence mobile traders in Merton – mobile or itinerant traders are not allowed to operate in the borough. There are special circumstances for ice cream traders. Please contact the office for more information and advice regarding this.

How much do street trading licences cost?

There is an administration fee for processing applications. This fee is non-refundable. Please make sure you follow all the application guidelines and provide all the required documents.

Please visit our Street Trading Fees page on the left for a full list of our current licence and application fees.

Where can I get more information on market trading?

For more information on market trading, please visit our Markets page on the left. If you can not find the information you require please call our Street Trading service on 020 8545 3969. Officers will be able to provide you with a variety of general information over the phone and answer any queries you may have.

I want to make a complaint regarding Street Trading

To make a complaint about one of our markets, one of our traders or street trading in general, contact us on the contact details below:

In the first instance the Street Trading Section will do their best to resolve your complaint in line with our policy. For more information please see Merton's Complaints Policy.

Contact us

Street Trading
Regulatory Services Partnership
London Borough of Merton
Merton Civic Centre
London Road

Telephone: 020 8545 3969

Email: licensing@merton.gov.uk