Door-to-door salesman with flier
Did you know that signs that prohibit soliciting are not enforceable?
 
Did you know that signs (or other means of notice) that prohibit trespassing are enforceable?
 
The Police Department receives frequent calls about door-to-door peddling, solicitation and trespassing. A limited amount of this kind of activity is restricted by the Prince William County Code, but there are often misunderstandings about what police can enforce.
 
Below is a guideline to help residents determine what is, and is not, allowed in terms of individuals selling goods or services door-to-door.
 
Door-to-Door Activity
 
Door-to-door activity that is not restricted:
  • Co-op sales related to farm produce, newspapers, firewood and Christmas trees.
  • Political party or candidate activity.
  • Charitable educational or religious activity.
  • Door-to-door activity that is subject to restrictions is included within Chapter 18 of the County Code. Specifically:
  • Most private entities are required to obtain a permit and must exhibit it to any resident.
  • Door-to-door activity is not permitted from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.
 
What you need to know about handbills (fliers) as advertisements:
 
They may be subject to the restrictions of Chapter 18 of the County Code as outlined above.
Placing them in/on mailboxes violates U.S. Post Office regulations -- not any local law that is subject to Prince William County Police jurisdiction. If they are distributed in such a way that it litters is a violation of Section 22-132 of the County Code.
 
Trespassing
 
Property owners may prohibit persons from trespassing on their property but the person must first be put on notice. Signs are enforceable. Verbal in-person notice will suffice. Written notice personally served on the party is optimal.
 
The Police Department also manages a trespassing program that allows police officers to act as an agent for communities or subdivisions to enforce trespassing offenses. In those communities:
  • Areas of common property or private streets are enforceable. This includes private trails and play areas.
  • Streets under public domain (i.e. those maintained by VDOT) and the sidewalks within the right-of-way are not enforceable.
  • Private signs (such as 'no soliciting' signs) may not be placed in the state right-of-way.

Questions should be directed to the Police Department's Licensing Section at 703-792-4183.