Rules & Regulations
The Legal Side of Owning a Food Truck.
Before you get rolling with your mobile food business, you will need to get your licensing together. It would be impossible to list all the numerous permits and licensing requirements for each state, county, and city. However, there are many universal concerns that can be addressed.
Your local department of health will have the information you need, you can get started by calling to inquire about the necessary requirements. Below, we’ve included a list of the licenses and permits you will encounter when operating your business.
Always check in with your local city and state business offices to obtain a list of the permits and licenses you’ll need.
Similar to other businesses, mobile food vendors are required to have a state business license (sometimes called vendor license) which will register your food truck as a business. Some cities and counties typically require food trucks to obtain local business licenses as well.
Having a business license helps the government identify your business, and track the food truck activities for tax purposes. It assures the legitimacy of the food truck, as well as verifying you’ve met certain compliance requirements.
Before you apply for a business license, check with your local Secretary of State for any additional requirements or fees. You can research what permits and licenses you might need through the Small Business Association.Visit SBA.gov
Tax Identification Number
A Tax ID is a permit from your state that will allow you to collect sales tax. It is sometimes required when purchasing supplies or ingredients in bulk or wholesale.
Depending on your state, your tax ID is oftentimes your business number that’s been assigned on your business license. Consult your local tax office or check with the IRS to find what is required or where to find your tax number.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An Employer Identification Number is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number and is used to identify a business entity. Generally, businesses need an EIN. It is used on forms and applications instead of your personal social insurance number.
Consult your local tax office or check with the IRS to find what is required.
Vehicle Licenses for Food Trucks
Drivers license & vehicle registration
The type of license that you’ll need depends on the gross vehicle weight of the vehicle, you may be required to get a commercial license if your truck is above a certain weight. You may also be required to obtain commercial plates.
Check with your local DMV to confirm what is required.
Some states require that your mobile business must be covered by commercial car insurance. If you run your food truck in fairs or festivals, you may also be required to have general liability insurance. Businesses that have employees will need worker’s insurance.
Your state’s website can help you find which insurance your business requires.
Operating Permits for Food Trucks
Location & Parking Regulations
While you may be mobile, you can’t park just anywhere. Some counties limit food trucks, trailers, buses and carts to specific locations. Additionally, you may also have to follow limited time parking restrictions or pay for parking meters.
Some businesses, such as brewpubs, consider food trucks to be complementary to their business and allow food trucks to provide service on their property.
A list of where you can and can’t park should be available from your local county website or DMV.
Food Handlers Permit
A food handler or food manager certificate is a common standard for any food service business. Food handler training is required for handling, cooking, and storing food.
Obtaining your Food Handlers card is made easy with eFoodHandlers. eFoodHandlers is a national, ANSI-accredited food safety training provider. Their interactive program includes videos and learning exercises to provide quality training options for every learning style.
Health Department Permit
Your food truck will need to be inspected by the local health department as any restaurant would. Health departments require detailed plans to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Health departments typically have countywide jurisdiction, so you’ll have to contact the local health department and obtain approval when you start operating in a new county.
The fire department may inspect your vehicle and your cooking equipment. You’ll be educated about fire safety and be required to install a fire suppression system.
Almost all local and state governments require a fire suppression system installed in your food truck.
Laws by City
Explore what the best cities are to operate a food truck.
Data from Food Truck Nation
|New York City||26||27||18||33||$1,075||97||53|
|Number of Restrictions||Restriction Values|
|New York City||7||75||31||99||87|
|New York City||12||66||25||31||$28,085||30||43|