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Food Truck License – The Permits You Need To Operate

by Nathan Zachary
food truck food

Starting a mobile food catering business is simpler than a restaurant. However, you have to acquire the necessary food truck license. In reality, you’ll need multiple permits to initiate your project.

While restaurants and food trucks share a few similarities, significant differences exist regarding licenses and permits.

Licenses you need

Instead of dilly-dallying any further, this topic will delve directly into the details. You’ll need the following licenses to sell food legally in your city.

Business License

The first one is obvious – a business license or “vendor license.” It’ll contain basic business operation guidelines. With it, you can operate your company in the city and state you desire.

Your government will recognize you as a legitimate business owner once you acquire it. It can also track your company for tax purposes.

You’ll have to spend between $50 and $500 for a food truck business license. This significant difference exists because the application prices change from one city to another.

License holders have to be aware of their license expiry dates and the method of renewing them.


The next license you’ll need is the Employer Identification Number or EIN. It has another name that everyone knows – Social Security Number.

The EIN is a federal tax ID number that gets your business registered under the IRS. With it, you can open a business bank account, create a credit profile, and hire workers.

In some states, people receive this license along with their business license. You can apply for EIN for free via the website of IRS.

Driver’s license

When it comes to driving a food truck, you’ll need a valid driver’s license. How else can you take your vehicle out on the streets?

A driver’s license isn’t necessary for automobile owners only. Food truck business owners also need it to operate. A standard driver’s license should be enough for business purposes.

Then again, in some states, the length and weight of the vehicle will determine whether you must apply for a commercial vehicle driver’s license or not. You can acquire it by paying between $10 and $100 based on the state and license type.

Food handler’s permit

Another license included in this list is the food handler’s license, also called the food manager’s certificate. You can receive it only if you complete food handler training and food safety courses.

In most states, the manager is the only one who needs it to run the company. Other states, however, require the employees to possess this license.

Local governments want to ensure that every employee of the business is aware of preparing, handling, cooking, and storing food on-premises.

Customers will also breathe a sigh of relief when they’ll see this license. They’ll know that you and your staff members are knowledgeable and possess the necessary sanitation and food-handling skills.

The food handler’s permit won’t cost more than $50, and it’ll remain valid for almost five years.

Health department permit

In the end, you’ll need a license from the health department to sell your food truck food. Also called the food service license, the permit from the health department indicates that your tuck passed all health inspection procedures.

When you apply for it, an agent from the health department will scrutinize your truck to determine health code violations if any. The inspector will also provide you with notes on things you must correct. They’ll also ascertain the overall grade of the vehicle.

Acquiring this food truck license will cost you between $50 and $1,000 depending on the city.

Other permits

Here are a few other licenses you may need depending on the city you operate in.

  1. Seller’s permit – This permit is necessary for some states to allow the business owner to buy ingredients and supplies at wholesale prices without paying sales tax.
  1. Fire certificate – There are a few counties where you’ll need to get your vehicle inspected by the fire department. Only then can you sell your food truck food.
  1. Parking license – You must check with your regional county clerk if you need parking permits in the areas where you plan to operate. After all, some of the streets may be off-limits to business owners.
  1. Commissary letter of agreement – The city where you’ll run your company may need you to store your materials and prepare the food in a commissary kitchen. Only then can you set out for the day to do business. To do that, you’ll need this license.
  1. SOP document – SOP stands for standard operating procedures. While it’s rare, you’ll need the SOP document to be able to open your business to the public.

Final considerations Well, there you have it – all the licenses you may need to operate your food truck business. You’ll need some or all of them. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t forget to research what permits you require.

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