How To Start A Food Truck: Licenses and Permits

When starting your restaurant on wheels, it’s important to stay informed. In our last installation, we talked about the groundwork such as research, creating your financial plan, and marketing yourself. Once you’ve gotten started, it’ll be time to focus on the paperwork. Securing the correct permits and licenses, as well as following safety regulations are all crucial to the success (and legality) of your business.

Follow the Rules of the Road

Licenses and permits related to food trucks vary by state. Some permits need to be renewed every few years, while others need to be renewed by a certain date annually. Do that research! Know the specifications for your city and state. Depending on the size of the truck, you may need a commercial driver’s license. Consider joining your local food truck association help stay informed on any changes made in your city and state’s laws and regulations. In total, all permits and licenses needed to start a food truck can total anywhere from $100 to $500.

Health and Safety Regulations

Like any restaurant, health regulations must be maintained to the highest standard. Contact your local Department of Health so that your food truck can be inspected and verified for safety. Due to cooking equipment like fryers and flat top grills, your vehicle may also be subject to inspection by the local fire department. Once approved, your food truck will gain a fire safety certificate. Some states may also require a food handler’s permit. If that is the case, every employee working on your food truck would need to take a food safety class to receive the permit.

It is important to find these things out before purchasing your food truck. It is better to buy a food truck that is already as closely in line with your area’s regulations as possible instead of getting a good deal on a food truck that is not in line with regulations and then having to unnecessary money later.

Becoming an Official Business

Business licenses generally cost around $50-100. Depending on where you live, you may be charged a percentage of your gross sales, including licensing fees. Since permits and licenses are subject to change, always be informed and consider joining your local food truck association. To operate a food truck, owners are required to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS. Applying for an EIN is free, and you can register by mail, by fax or on the IRS website. Check the U.S. Small Business Administration website for more information regarding the laws in your area. Depending on your state, you may need a seller’s permit as well. If you have additional questions, contact your local county or city clerk’s office.  

Parking Your Truck

For your business to function, you’re going to need to park your truck. This means that in some cases, may need to secure parking permits. Be aware of where you are allowed and not allowed to set up shop. Your county clerk’s office will have a list available with all the commercial and noncommercial zones. You can also get in touch with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your area for information regarding parking regulations. Wherever you decide to park your truck, be mindful of other restaurants and food vendors nearby. To find an ideal parking spot with a high volume of foot traffic, follow community calendars to know when and where street fairs and flea markets are happening.

Once everything is in order, keep all your paperwork up-to-date and stay informed on the food truck industry in your area. After fulfilling all legal requirements, you’ll have the engine revving on your new food truck in no time! Be on the lookout for our next blog, where we will dive more deeply into the financial side of owning and operating a food truck.

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Author: Goodfynd

Whether you're at work, home, or just out and about in the city, we list the food trucks closest to you and do a little bit more!

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