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How to Get a Food Truck License

If you are thinking of opening a food truck business, you have a lot to consider. One of the most complicated aspects is making sure your business is properly licensed. Combing a food sales operation and a vehicle comes with some interesting licensing requirements, which we’ll review below. Read on to learn more about what is all part of a food truck license.  

What is a Food Truck License?

Which licenses your food truck business needs can vary, depending on your city, county and state. Below are some common types of licenses a food truck may have to carry.    

  • Business License: You will need a business license. Operators typically choose between an LLC, Sole Proprietorship or Cottage Food Business.  
  • Vehicle License: You may need your vehicle licensed by your state, like you would your own car.  
  • Seller’s Permit: These are available in some states to allow you to purchase goods for your business at wholesale prices without the sales tax.  
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): You use these to help file your taxes if you have employees. If you don’t have employees, you can simply use your social security number.   
  • Driver’s License: If you’re the driver of the food truck, you’re going to need a driver’s license. If your food truck is larger, you may need a commercial driver’s license.   
  • Food Handler’s Permit: This is an especially important food truck license. If you handle food, many states require you to carry this type of permit. It tells the state you know how to safely handle, store and prepare food. You complete a test for this permit.
  • Health Department Permit: Along similar lines, this permit tells the state that you have the equipment and processes in place to serve food in a safe manner.   
  • Fire Certificate: Your food truck may have to be inspected by a fire department to make sure that your truck is safe. Inspections typically cover placement of fire extinguishers, electrical wiring and the like.   
  • Parking Permit: Make sure you are always placing your food truck in places where it is legal to park. Some cities may require that you have parking permits.  
  • Special Event Permit: This permit allows you to sell food during certain events and may be required. You can usually find out if this applies from the event coordinator.  
  • Commissary Letter of Agreement: According to FoodTruckEmpire.com, some areas require you to start each day in a commercial kitchen. This essentially proves that you do so.    
  • Standard Operating Procedures Document: This document shows how you make each item for your food truck, along with sanitation procedures. Some cities may require such a document.  
  • Certificate of Insurance: You may also be required to provide proof that you have food truck insurance. This type of insurance has a wide variety of products and considerations, which you can read about here.

Where Do You Find a Food Truck License?

According to Mobile-Cuisine.com, you can check with your county or city clerk to see which permits you locally need to make sure your food truck is operating legally.  

Another useful resource is the U.S. Small Business Administration. You can find a verity of guides and access free business counseling.  

Final Thoughts

Due to the complexity of combining a food business with a moving vehicle, you have many different permits and licenses to keep track of as a food truck operator. These can vary between different locations, as well. You can check with the city or county clerk as a food truck license starting point or contact organizations like the U.S. Small Business Administration for assistance. 

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