Mobile Food Vending

Mobile food vending is a popular entry point for many food business entrepreneurs who are wanting to enter the food industry or expand their current operations.

However, starting a mobile food operation comes with its own unique requirements and regulations. The guide below will help you navigate through the different steps as you start or grow your mobile food business. Our FAQ page may also help answer some of your questions as you navigate through the different steps.

Explore the Path to Mobile Food Vending in Seattle (click map below to enlarge)

What is mobile food vending?streetFoodVendors

  • A food cart on the sidewalk
  • A vehicle used to prepare and serve food
  • A truck that drives through the city and vends on the sidewalk

What do I need to operate a mobile food business in Seattle?

Review the checklist of requirements and consider these questions:


  1. Are you a registered business in the State of Washington?
  2. Do you have a City of Seattle business license?
    • Every food cart, truck or trailer vendor is required to have a City of Seattle business license. Apply online.
    • If operating outside of the City of Seattle, other City specific business licenses may be required.


  1. Do you plan to operate from a food truck or trailer?
  2. Do you have a Mobile Food Unit Permit or exemption from Public Health – Seattle & King County?
    • A mobile food establishment permit includes: food carts, trailers, trucks, and food kiosks.
    • A permit or exemption must be obtained from Public Health to operate a food vending cart or food vehicle (truck or trailer) or kiosk in the City of Seattle.
    • All food vendors are required to be within 200 feet from a usable restroom that has soap and paper/hand dryer and hot water that is at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Portable toilets are not allowed.
    • All food vendors are required to operate out of an approved commissary kitchen within King County.
    • King County health permits are not transferrable.
    • If operating outside of King County, health permit(s) from each respective county may be required.
  3. Are you planning on using liquid petroleum gas (propane) or an open flame (wood or charcoal) to prepare the food? 


  1. Where would you like to vend?

Helpful Links

Seattle Food Truck: Where the Trucks Are

SDOT Director’s Rule – Vending Design Guidelines

Washington State Food Truck Association

“Food Trucks for Dummies” – Eater