Is it legal to put flyers on cars? Where can you post flyers legally?

September 25, 2019

Flyer printing is a proven way to promote your business, event or nonprofit organization. Distribution is key to flyer marketing success: the more places you post your flyers, the more people you can reach. Of course, you want to stay on the right side of the law, so keep reading to learn about where you can post flyers legally.

Can you post flyers on public property?

In most cases, freedom of speech grants you the right to post flyers in public parks, on community bulletin boards, utility poles and other public property. You can also hand flyers out directly to passers-by on the sidewalk, so long as you do not harass them or obstruct their paths.

However, that doesn’t mean you can post flyers anywhere you’d like without getting into legal hot water. Other laws, such as those that prohibit litter and inflammatory content, might make it illegal to post flyers in some public areas.

Anti-littering laws might make it illegal to post flyers on utility poles, for example. If you use staples to hang your flyers, you could even be cited for damaging public property.

Granted, there’s a difference between what is technically illegal and what authorities will enforce – but you should still strive to adhere to local ordinances. The last thing you want is for your business to be publicly shamed in newspapers and on social media for violating the law.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to make sure your flyer posting is legal: simply ask your local government. They’ll be able to tell you where you can legally post flyers – and where you can’t. In some areas, you might need to pay for a license or permit to distribute flyers on public property legally.

promotional flyer

Flyer for Pixelated Party in Brooklyn, New York

Can you post flyers on private property?

In general, laws prohibit flyer distribution on private property without the owner’s permission. That’s not a big deal, since it’s a good idea to get permission before distributing your flyers anyway.

It’s a simple ask to see if you can post flyers in business lobbies, grocery store bulletin boards, on retail countertops, on windows and doors and other private property. Many business owners will be happy to let you post your flyers, especially if you offer to return the favor.

Note that you cannot legally place flyers in mailboxes located outside of or attached to private property. However, you can slip flyers in door mail slots or post them on homeowners’ doors – though, door hangers and direct mailers might be better options.

Again, all you need to do is ask permission. If it’s granted, it’s a good idea to get it in writing. That way, you can avoid potential legal issues (including trespassing) if there is a miscommunication between private property owners.

marketing flyer

Club card flyer design by Tim Northon for Corbett’s House of Horror

Can you place flyers under car windshield wipers?

Is it legal to place flyers on cars? That depends on the situation.

If you own the parking lot property, it’s probably legal to place flyers under car windshield wipers unless a local ordinance otherwise prohibits it. The same goes for cars parked along streets and in public parking lots.

If you want to place flyers on cars in shopping mall or grocery store parking lots, you’ll need to get permission from the property owner. Expect to be denied unless you represent a charity or nonprofit organization, which are often granted exemptions. Businesses usually do not want to risk annoying their customers. Ever notice the “no solicitation” and “no handbill” signs in private parking lots? Those are directed at flyer distributors.

What about event flyers? If you own the property, you’re probably free to place flyers on cars; if you don’t, be sure to get permission from the venue owner. Cars parked in private residential driveways are off limits.

printed flyer

Club card flyer design by R.Black for SF IndieFest’s Roller Disco

If you decide to post flyers on cars, always gently place them under windshield wipers and never use tape, glue or any other material to affix them to vehicles. You don’t want to damage cars and end up fined or sued for damaging private property.

The bottom line? Always ask authorities about local laws and get permission – in writing – from private property owners before you distribute your flyers. It’s the only way to be certain you’re complying with the law, and it’s the best way to ensure your flyer marketing investment isn’t wasted.

Ready to boost business with a successful flyer marketing campaign? Maximize your ROI with discount flyer printing today!

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The PsPrint Blog is a resource for graphic designers, freelancers, small business owners and fans of print marketing. You'll find helpful techniques on printing everything there is to print, including business cards, postcards, brochures, stickers, invitations, greeting cards, door hangers, magnets and more. The PsPrint Blog shares creative ways to improve your design and layout skills, and useful tips for marketing your business in any medium. We also like to have a little fun, sharing design inspiration and spotlighting some our favorite customers' printed pieces in our "Hot Off the Press" series.