Begging, hawking and police move-on powers

Begging is not an offence in the ACT.

There are some laws restricting hawking in the ACT, which generally involves moving around and selling goods and services out of a vehicle. You’ll usually need a permit to hawk in the ACT.

The police have the power to direct people to leave public places where they recently have, are, or are likely to, behave violently, damage property or cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety.

1. Begging

It is not a crime to beg in a public place in the ACT.

2. Hawking

Generally, a hawker is someone who moves around and sells goods or services out of a vehicle. It is illegal for a person to carry on business as a hawker, if in doing so, the person obstructs the movement of people or vehicles on public unleased land (public territory land like carparks, footpaths and parks). If a person does this, they could be fined up to $4800.

You will generally be required to get a permit to hawk, if your hawking is carried on in a way which excludes members of the public from the place you are selling. If you do not hold a permit you may be fined up to $3200. An exception to this rule applies where you carry on the business of hawking for 30 minutes or less in any location, and each location is 180 meters away from a place selling similar goods or services.

3. Police move-on powers

The police can tell a person to leave a public place if they believe that the person has recently behaved, is behaving, or is likely:

  • to behave in a violent or intimidating way,
  • to damage property; or
  • to engage in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety.

The police can tell the person to stay away from the public place for up to 6 hours, and direct them to leave the public place a particular way.

A person who is told by police to either leave a public place, stay away from a public place or leave in a particular way must do so. If the person does not do what they are told by the police, they may be fined up to $320.


The material in this fact sheet is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this publication without first getting legal advice about their particular situations.
If you would like more information, please contact Street Law on (02) 6218 7900 or Street Law is a program of Canberra Community Law Ltd.
© Canberra Community Law Ltd. Not to be reproduced without permission or acknowledgement.
Last updated: 14 May 2021

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