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What Licenses & Permits Do I Need to Operate a Food Truck?

at 1:00PM Friday- April 5th, 2019 by Food Truck Spaces

Since the advent of food trucks, government regulations have been aiming to stay ahead of the trucks. This has caused hyper-regulation in every state, city, and county that has a mobile food unit department. Many counties and cities do not communicate regardless of being in the same state. To make it even more complicated, departments within the counties and cities also do not communicate with each other, placing the communication burden on food truck operators. Yes, you read that right. If you are a food truck operator it is up to you to tell the fire department, the mayor’s office, the health department, and any other agency regulating your business what each department has on file for your truck. You will also have to submit the same paperwork multiple times to each department – this is common practice at this point.

Okay moving on. Licenses and permits vary per region you decide to operate your truck. The main licenses and permits that require attention are health permit, liquid-propane permit, proximity restrictions, emissions guidelines, property & restroom permits, event permits, and staffing regulations. Keep in mind, that is not a comprehensive list as each region varies.

It is very important to pull all required licenses and permits for the city, county, and state that you will be operating in. This should be done before designing the buildout of your truck. The design of your truck should be approved by all necessary regulating parties prior to construction. This is extremely important as you will risk operating a non-compliant vehicle if you choose not to consult with all regulating agencies. Furthermore, it is very important to document and keep records of all permits, architectural drawings/blueprints, and licenses. An up to date copy of all documents should be placed in a binder inside your truck at all times in the event of an inspection.
Lastly, since cities and counties are also split into different districts of labor (DOL), it is important to understand the differing requirements for the differing DOLs that you intend to operate. Typically, medical centers and downtown areas require the most rigid regulations. Because you are compliant in the city does not always mean you will be compliant in the DOL of that city. It is always best to reach out to your local governing agency to attain further details.

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