6 questions about itinerant Businesses

6 questions about itinerant Businesses

Does your business require you to go to your customers and not the reverse? Or you simply don’t have the funds needed to open a shop on Avenue Louise? There are many situations in which an itinerant business provides a credible alternative to setting up in retail premises. However, it is essential to get information before starting… 

WHAT DOES ITINERANT BUSINESS MEAN IN BRUSSELS?

The first question you should ask is, obviously, about the business itself: how do you define itinerant business? Does your business fit its regulations or not? Although this may seem self-evident at first glance, we’ll see that you can’t always trust appearances.

First, here is the definition: “an itinerant business consists in an offer to sell and a display for the purpose of selling products and services to consumers by a merchant outside of their establishment(s) registered with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises or by any other person who doesn’t have such an establishment”.

Therefore, this legislation is applicable to any person, whether they are a merchant or not, involved in this type of sales.

It covers both product sales and service sales.

On the other hand, it does not include:

  • sales to businesses for business purposes (for example, a salesperson who visits local retailers to offer them accounting software);
  • the services provided by professionals whose profession is subject to ethical rules approved by the public authorities.

WHAT DOES AN ITINERANT BUSINESS AUTHORISATION CONSIST OF?

This is an authorisation required by anyone who is involved in an itinerant business. In order to obtain one, submit a request at an approved business advice centre (FR). There are three different types:

  • The employer authorisation is issued in the name of the employer as a natural person or to the company via their manager;
  • Employee A authorisation issued in the name of the company is, as a result, interchangeable between employees. It allows for the exercise of the profession anywhere except in the consumer’s home.
  • Employee B authorisation issued in the name of a specific person allows for the exercise of the profession in all authorised locations, including in the consumer’s home.

ARE OTHER AUTHORISATIONS REQUIRED FOR THE EXERCISE OF AN ITINERANT BUSINESS?

Yes, other authorisations are required.

For example, municipalities each have their own rules. They decide:

  • on the places, days and times of the events that take place in their territory (for example, a market);
  • the products and services that can be sold there; 
  • the allocation of spaces and their size.

In addition, other authorisations are required to exercise any activity, whether itinerant or otherwise. They include management (FR) and profession qualifications.

An AFSCA authorisation (FR) is also required for projects in the food industry. However, it isn’t required for occasional vendors.

WERE CAN YOU OPERATE AN ITINERANT BUSINESS?

For consumer protection purposes, you aren’t allowed to set up your stand just anywhere.  An itinerant business can only be operated:

  • at the consumer’s home between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm;
  • in certain specifically designated locations:
    • public markets;
    • private markets authorised by the municipality;
    • public land;
    • the private shoulders of public roadways and commercial car parks with the prior authorisation of the municipality and of the owner;
    • train station, metro and airport concourses;
    • retail galleries;
    • funfairs, for itinerant fair food activities only;
    • hospitality businesses, but only for flower sales.
  • during certain events:
    • flea markets authorised by the municipality;
    • cultural and sports events, as long as the products sold are related to the topic of the event or are snacks.

IS THE ITINERANT BUSINESS AUTHORISATION WAIVED FOR SOME LOCATIONS?

Yes! Different events allow occasional sales that don’t require an itinerant business authorisation (under certain conditions):

  • Sidewalk sales and other events that promote community life;
  • Trade, agricultural and artisanal fairs and shows when the main purpose is promotional;
  • Sales by merchants in front of their shop, in the street. On the other hand, they require municipal authorisation;
  • Sales in the premises of another merchant;
  • Promotional sales outside of the establishment;
  • Sales in the consumer’s home at their express request;
  • Home parties: meetings of friends at home where a salesperson comes and presents their product.
  • Sales at the farm.

IS IT FORBIDDEN FOR ITINERANT BUSINESS’ TO SELL CERTAIN TYPES OF PRODUCTS?

Yes, there is a list of products which itinerant businesses are forbidden from selling:

  • medicines, medicinal plants, or preparations made with them;
  • medical and orthopaedic devices;
  • corrective lenses and frames, corrective contact lenses;
  • precious metals and stones, real and cultured pearls;
  • arms and ammunition.

In addition, products and services valued over €250 can’t be sold in consumers’ homes. However, a waiver is in place for:

  • water, gas, electricity and telephony services
  • television and Internet access
  • sales of electrical appliances and services related to the set-up of the house and yard have been capped at maximum €700 and limited to the sale of a single article or service

As we’ve seen in this article, itinerant business is governed by rules which must be complied with. To find out more about this topic, go to the Brussels Economy and Employment website (FR) which details many of the points discussed above from a more technical standpoint.

Let's stay in touch

Join more than 25,000 subscribers and receive every fortnight in your mailbox our free newsletter (only in French or Dutch), packed with the latest news, fascinating testimonials, actionable advice and an overview of useful workshops and networking activities for entrepreneurs in Brussels !