Food truck businesses require several licenses and permits to operate. These licenses and permits must be obtained before you open for business. The food truck licenses and permits you’ll need for your food truck business differ for each city, county, and state.
Please note that some areas may require you to register your business annually, collecting a fee each time. To find out what you need for the area your business will be located in, talk to your county or city clerk. The following lists the most commonly required food truck licenses and permits.
RELATED: How To Start A Food Truck Business
Commonly Required Food Truck Licenses and Permits
Employer Identification Number
Food trucks typically require several employees. To operate within the boundaries of the law, you need an employer identification number (EIN). An EIN is used by the IRS to identify your business and collect the appropriate taxes from you, and employees. You can apply free for your state EIN by mail, fax or online by visiting the IRS website.
Every food truck business must get a business license to operate. Depending on the city and state, and scope of services provided, you may be charged a percentage of your gross sales or a yearly fee, along with the license fee.
Please Note: The food truck licenses and permits of any area are subject to change, so you may want to join your local restaurant or food truck association to stay informed on the changes in laws and local government officials and how they’ll affect your business.
Because your business is on wheels, you’ll have to make sure the truck itself and its drivers are properly licensed. Depending on the length and weight of the vehicle, certain states may require a commercial driver’s license to operate your food truck.
In some states, food truck owners need to apply for a seller’s permit so you can purchase food and other goods at wholesale prices without paying sales tax.
Food Handler’s Permit
Some cities and states require one or more employees of a food truck to get a food handler’s permit. The city or state may require one or more employees to take a food safety class before the permit is issued. Protect your food truck business. Make sure you have someone with a valid food handler’s permit be on the truck during open business hours.
Health Department Permit
Just as any restaurant is required to be inspected by the health department, your food truck (and commissary) will also need to. The review and approval of your local health department will verify that the food you prepare is being maintained and created in a safe manner.
The fire department will undoubtedly inspect your food truck if you’re using cooking equipment on board. They’ll educate you on the regulations you need to follow, and they’ll do routine inspections on your food truck fire suppression system.
The Bottom Line
It is important to meet all the regulatory requirements for your food truck. This will help you avoid costly fines and possible business closure. Each city, county and state has its own food truck licensing and permitting requirements. Vendors can search for the specific business license and permit requirements in their area at the U.S. Small Business Administration website.
Related: Food Truck Laws By City
If your city or state has their food truck licenses and permits online, let us know the url so we can update our list.