Transient Merchants

​A transient merchant is a person or business who conducts business in one locality or travels the state selling goods and merchandise while spending less than 6 months in a locality in each year. Such merchants may be required to post a bond and obtain a permit from the county clerk of each county where it conducts business. This program allows transient merchants to sell their goods and merchandise in Kentucky, while protecting Kentucky residents from scams and fraud.

To protect your business and the consuming public:

  • Check with the county clerk to see if a permit has been issued; and
  • Call your local county attorney or the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection at (502) 696-5389 if you suspect a violation.

Statutes governing transient merchantsKRS 365 sections .650 to .695

Is a transient merchant permit required?

A transient merchant permit is required with limited exceptions. Exceptions include:

  • Crafts or items made by hand when offered for sale by the person who made the items;
  • A sale sponsored by any religious, educational, public service or charitable organization;
  • Wholesale trade shows;
  • Sales by catalog for future delivery;
  • Sales not involving goods or merchandise, such as home repairs.

Application for Permit

Transient merchants wishing to conduct business in Kentucky must fill out an application for and obtain a permit in each county where the merchant wants to transact goods and services. This must be done no later than ten (10) days prior to the transaction of business.

Duty of County Clerk

If an application is approved, the county clerk forwards a copy of to the Revenue Cabinet and the Attorney General.

Registered Agent

Transient merchants are required to have a registered agent who is a resident of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Permit Fee

The permit fee is twenty-five dollars ($25.00) and is paid to the county clerk where the application for permit is submitted.


Transient merchants who offer to sell goods and merchandise that have an aggregate market value of fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500.00) or more are required to secure a bond and provide evidence to it.

Buyer's Right of Cancellation

Any buyer who purchases from a transient merchant goods with a value in excess of fifty dollars ($50.00), shall acquire the right of cancellation and any other rights granted to a buyer by KRS 367.420 to 367.60.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Transient Merchant?
"Transient merchant" means any person, firm, corporation, partnership or other entity which engages in, does or transacts any temporary or transient business in the state, either in one (1) locality or in traveling from place to place in the state, offering for sale or selling goods, wares, merchandise or commodities of any kind, and includes those merchants who, for the purpose of carrying on such business, hire, lease, use or occupy any building, structure, motor vehicle or real estate

What does temporary or transient business mean?
"Temporary or transient business" means any business conducted for the sale or offer for sale of goods, wares or merchandise which is carried on in any building, structure, motor vehicle or real estate in one (1) locality for a period of less than six (6) months in each year.

What are the Exemptions from filing a transient merchant application?
The provisions of KRS 365.650 to 365.695 shall not apply to:

  • Sales at wholesale to retail merchants by commercial selling agents in the usual course of business;
  • Wholesale trade shows or conventions;
  • Sales of goods, wares or merchandise by sample catalogue or brochure for future delivery;
  • Participants in fairs and convention center activities when the participants' businesses are conducted primarily for amusement or entertainment;
  • Any general sale, fair, auction or bazaar sponsored by any religious, educational, public service or charitable organization;
  • Garage sales held on premises devoted to residential use;
  • Sales of crafts or items made by hand and sold or offered for sale by the person making such crafts or handmade items;
  • Sales of locally grown agricultural products;
  • Sales made by a seller at residential premises pursuant to an invitation issued by the owner or legal occupant of such premises;
  • Sheriffs, constables, or other public or court officers, or any other person or persons acting under the direction or authority of any court, state or federal, selling goods, wares or merchandise in the course of their official duties;
  • Flea market vendors who can demonstrate compliance with KRS 139.550;
  • Professions and occupations licensed and regulated by the state when the activities are performed within the scope of their respective statutory and regulatory authority; and
  • Temporary sales at another location by businesses with a permanent business location within the State of Kentucky.

Where do I get a transient merchant application?
At the County Clerk's Office in the county in which you will be transacting business.

Do I have to file for a transient merchant application in every county?
An application must be completed in each county in which you will be transacting business at least 10 days prior to beginning sales.

How much is the permit fee?
The fee is $25.00 for each county in which you will be transacting business.

Do I need a bond?
Any applicant selling goods, wares or merchandise, not exempted from the transient merchant law, with an aggregate market value of $1,500.00 dollars or more, shall file with the Attorney General's office a cash or surety bond in the amount of $1,000.00 or five percent (5%) of the retail value of any goods, wares or merchandise to be offered for sale, whichever sum is greater.

Do I need a bond for each location?
A bond is required for each county that you will be transacting business. However, if you have several locations within the same county, the bond amount shall include total aggregate market value of all locations within that county.

Where do I file the bond?
The bond is filed with the Office of the Attorney General. Upon receipt of the bond by the Attorney General's Office, a certificate of security is sent to the County Clerk's Office to issue the Transient Merchant Permit.

Where do I get a bond?
The most common process for obtaining a surety bond is through an insurance company.

What is the duration of the bond?
The bond shall be maintained so long as the transient merchant conducts business in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and for a period of one (1) year after the termination of such business and shall be released only when the transient merchant furnishes satisfactory proof to the Attorney General that it has satisfied all claims of purchasers of goods, wares or merchandise for such merchant, and that all state and local sales taxes and other taxes have been paid. For example: If your sale begins July 1 and ends July 15, the bond duration must be from July 1 (when the sale begins) until July 15 of the following year after the sale ends.

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