A Guide to Food Truck Licensing, Part 2

Food truck licensing is extremely important when it comes to the food truck industry.

Food Service and Safety Licenses and Health Department Permits are of optimal importance in the food truck industry. Without meeting food storage, preparation, handling, and sanitation standards, you will not be able to legally operate and may cause harm to customers and risk to the business by doing so illegally.

Typically, the authority on health-related permits is the state or local Department of Health, although it may also be called the Department of Public Health or the Department of Environmental Health.

To keep your food service license current, your mobile kitchen will be subject to on-site inspections, sometimes at random, and you must provide proof of insurance and sales tax registration.

A Food Handler’s License, Permit, or Certification is required for any business selling edible goods and could require you and/or your staff to complete a food safety certification program.

Similarly, a Food Manager’s License certifies a business to manage a food handling and preparation in compliance with health code. Food Manager Identification can be acquired once food management and/or handling certification has been completed. Some places, like Washington DC, require Certified Food Manager Identification to be displayed during hours of operations.

If you are required by state or local law to use a commissary, you will still need your food truck to meet health and safety standards. The commercial kitchen space you choose to employ must also be up to code.

When determining where to lay down roots, take cleanliness and sanitation into consideration and get proof of the commissary’s Health Department certifications as you will need them to obtain the same for your business since part of your food handling will take place there.

You’ll need fire safety approval before officially opening for business as well. An inspection permit will be issued from the local Fire Department once you meet all fire safety standards including the proper handling of any on-board fire hazards and the installation and testing of required fire detection and extinguishing systems.

Driving & Parking

Investigate regulations on weight, capacity, maintenance, and inspection of your vehicle. A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required in some states if your food truck weighs over 26,000 pounds.

To obtain a CDL you may need to provide a driving history report dating up to ten years back and meet various physical and health related qualifications. Even if you don’t need a CDL, you will need commercial registration for your vehicle as it is a business. Visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles to find out the rules applicable to your operation and to apply for needed registration and licensing.