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What Licenses Do You Need to Start a Food Truck?

F. Michael Ayaz

If you are a California entrepreneur interested in starting a restaurant, you may want to consider operating a food truck. This alternative to a traditional restaurant offers a variety of unique benefits, including traveling to different locations and perfecting a small menu of excellent dishes. Starting a food truck business in California requires you to get several permits and licenses.

Based on the guidelines of the California Business Portal, a food truck operator is a mobile food vendor. You must get permission to operate from various federal, state and city authorities. For example, you must decide what type of legal entity you want your business to be, and you may need to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS. You may also need to apply for a business license in your city or county and obtain a health permit. If you plan to hire employees, you may need to get Worker’s Compensation Insurance.

There are several required permits that are unique to the mobile food industry. You may need to contact the California Department of Housing and Community Development to get a “commercial modular” title and registration for your truck. Additionally, you or one of your employees must pass the examination for a Food Safety Certification. It is also important to make plans for where you want to take your truck to sell food. Different cities and counties may have rules about where you may park and operate. You may need to acquire Use Permits for different locations. A Use Permit generally includes information about acceptable operational hours, advertising and equipment.

This information about food truck licenses and permits is intended only to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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