If you have any doubts over the safety of the goods you wish to sell – don't sell them.
If you sell at a car boot sale it is strongly recommended that you become familiar with the legal implications of doing so.
It's a sad fact that while there are many genuine non-trader sellers and many legitimate traders, there are also many non-legitimate traders who sell at car boot sales under the guise of private individuals, with a view to escaping tax, VAT and their legal and moral obligations to their customers.
Working out whether you're a trader or a private individual
Ask yourself whether the goods you are selling are your own personal property.
If they're not and you're buying goods for the express purpose of selling them for a profit, you're very likely to be considered a trader under the law. Also, if you sell at car boot sales on a regular basis, even if it's only once every couple of months, you may be regarded as a trader.
If you employ anyone and/or sell the same type of goods from other venues, such as markets or from home, you're almost certainly a trader in the eyes of the law.
Register as a business
If you regularly trade in second-hand goods, you must register your business premises.
You can get an application form from Number One Riverside, Smith Street, Rochdale OL16 1XU.
Goods for sale
We can only identify some of the common areas of concern on this page, but if you're not sure please contact Trading Standards for guidance.
Given the potential risks, it is advisable that electrical goods are examined by a competent electrician before being put on sale. Please remember:
- Most electrical appliances must be supplied with a fitted standard plug. This does not apply to appliances intended to be permanently connected to the fixed wiring.
- Plugs should be marked as being BS BEAB, BSI or ASIA approved with insulation on live and neutral pins. You should also check that the cord grip is fitted correctly and the mains lead is not frayed or broken.
- Guards and other safety devices that are fitted are working, providing adequate protection against potential hazards.
- All new electrical goods have to comply with a range of detailed legislation in order to ensure the safety of users. They also have to be either earthed or insulated.
Food and drink
Drinks, confectionery, snacks and cakes should only be sold by our authorised supplier and not by car boot sellers.
Toys must be marked with suitable warnings about the recommended age of the child they are suitable for.
- Have no accessible points and edges.
- Must not be flammable.
- Stop quickly if they are moving toys.
- Not release toxic chemicals, for example, from paints.
- Not, if electrical, operate at more than 24 volts.
- Be clean and hygienic.
- Have no easily removable small parts.
- Not represent a choking hazard.
- Have instructions on safe use.
- All new toys have to bear a CE mark (to show that toy safety standards are met), the name and address of the manufacturers and other requirements.
You can get further advice from Trading Standards.
All second-hand upholstered furniture must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations.
This means that they must be match resistant or contain a fire-resistant interliner and all fillings must pass fire-resistant tests (the only exemption is for furniture manufactured before the 1950s) compliance should be indicated by the presence of permanent labels on the furniture.
The same rules apply if selling new upholstered furniture.
Videos and DVDs
These should be labelled with the appropriate classification and not sold to anyone under age.
For example, an "18" classification should not be sold to anyone under the age of 18. Remember, only licensed sex shops can sell "R18" videos.
Offensive and controversial materials
Products that promote, incite or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organisations with such views must not be sold.
A number of goods are controlled by specific controls. Examples include oil heaters, prams and pushchairs, tyres and hood cords in children’s garments.
You can get advice on specific product safety issues from Trading Standards.
To sell or have in possession for sale counterfeit goods is a criminal offence. If you do sell counterfeits you risk prosecution and the forfeiture of the goods together with a fine or possible imprisonment.
As well as counterfeit goods you should avoid selling items that infringe the copyright of others, for example, unauthorised smart cards for satellite TV decoders.
Rights and obligations
If you are trading at car boot sales, consumers are legally entitled to expect that any items sold are:
- As described
- Of satisfactory quality
- Fit for purchase
If you are a private individual selling unwanted goods, consumers are entitled to put faith in any description you apply. For example, if you describe a watch as "working" it should be.
Other seller obligations include:
- If you're a trader you will need to declare earnings. For example for tax purposes.
- If you are trading under a company name rather than as an individual you will need to publicly display your trading name.
- Price indications should not be misleading.
- Goods bought duty-free, including perfumes, alcohol and cigarettes, should not be re-sold.
- Fireworks, firearms, air guns and other weapons should not be sold at car boot sales.