Legality of panhandling and does it require a permit in some areas?


Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
This may be a dumb question, but I am curious, are panhandlers' required by law to obtain a permit before going out to ask for donations on the street? I ask because most people I've ever seen panhandle are the poor or people without a home. Of course there are some people who lie about being poor and do this sort of thing for a living. But, do some states require a permit to panhandle? And if so, what's the process to get one? Do the poor also need to obtain a permit?
United States
Here in Wisconsin you're legally allowed to panhandle as long as you're not doing what is called "Aggressive Panhandling". Which happens to be illegal here, and could get you in trouble for disorderly conduct. The reason it's allowed is because it's a part of the free speech rights in Wisconsin.

I remember you saying you lived in Michigan, and I took a look on the rules there, and it looks to be legal there as well. I also checked to see if it's legal throughout the US and it seems to be so. But each state still has rules and some do require a permit or even a license to do it, some even asking for a small fee.

But yeah, looks like you can do it pretty much throughout the US without much issue.
Sometimes it comes down to the city you live in. Interestingly enough, in some areas you get the permit through the sheriff's office, which could be meant as a deterrent. In other places, it's downright illegal, no matter what. Getting caught can mean going to jail and getting fined.
It's not a dumb question at all! Laws regarding panhandling vary widely and yes, some states or localities do require permits for panhandling. However, requiring a permit for panhandling can be a debatable issue, as it raises questions about the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness or poverty. The main idea about the requirement is to prevent aggressive or fraudulent solicitation.