No Shoes, No Service? No Way! It’s Perfectly Legal To Go Barefoot In Most Public Stores And Restaurants

The truth about the "no shoes" sign: Contrary to popular belief, there are no federal or state laws that ban a person from shopping at a store or eating at a restaurant while barefoot.

It’s Perfectly Legal to go Barefoot in Public Stores and Restaurants

If the only thing stopping you from jumping aboard the barefoot trend is concern about the law, rest assured that it is perfectly legal in all 50 states to frequent most public establishments while barefoot

Many people assume it’s illegal to go bare soled in public places due to the many signs that read something along the lines of: “No shoes, no service,” or “Shoes are required due to Health Department regulations.” This prevents many a brave “sole” from heading to the mall for a bit of shopping or eating out at their favorite restaurant without shoes.

However, in virtually all cases, the signs are not representing true state or federal laws. Health department codes in all 50 states do not regulate customer clothing — and that includes footwear. This means that it’s not the law that prohibits customers from entering establishments barefoot, but rather the establishments themselves that may be banning it, the same way some restaurants and clubs have dress codes that require suit jackets and dress shoes.

There are only a few exceptions to the barefoot freedom laws, and that includes some boardwalks and government buildings that require patrons wear shoes. Meanwhile, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets out guidelines concerning footwear, but their rules only apply to employees, NOT to customers in stores and restaurants. 

Proof That It's Legal To Go Barefoot In All 50 States

If you’d like to see definite proof that going barefoot is allowed in the particular state you live in, you’re in luck. Several members of the Society for Barefoot Living took it upon themselves to write letters to the health departments in all 50 states in order to confirm that customers are not legally required to wear shoes in public places. To see the official response from the state you live in, check out the PDF letters from various state officials here

In the meantime, happy barefooting! After all, you’re well within your rights to wander around town without shoes, even into your favorite shops and eateries. And if you’re lucky, you may even live in a state like Hawaii or Texas, where some places have been known to hang signs that read, “No Shoes? No Shirt? No Problem!” 

For more information on the barefoot walking trend, including how to begin to walking barefoot, what risks are associated with barefoot walking and why going barefoot can be beneficial for your health, check out our article The Truth About Walking Barefoot: Are Bare Feet Better?

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Kambra Clifford