Do you want to start a food truck and you want to know how much a permit cost? If YES, here is the estimated cost for a food truck permit in major cities. Food truck businesses require several licenses and permits to operate. These licenses and permits must be obtained before you open for business. The food truck licenses and permits you’ll need for your food truck business differ for each city, county, and state.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Food Truck Permit in Major Cities?

Generally, food truck permits and licenses can cost you anywhere around $10,000 depending on your state or county of doing business. In this article, we’ll help you outline the basic costs you will be faced with when you try to acquire your food truck licenses and permits.

New York City

  • Mobile food vendor personal license: $74–$200
  • Mobile food vending unit permit (for each truck you operate): $15–$200
  • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene permit: $280, plus $25 if you manufacture frozen desserts
  • New York State tax permit and certificate (must file quarterly): No fee
  • Food handling certification: $25
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): No fee, if you file yourself
  • Driver’s license and registration: $140–$180

Los Angeles

  • Business tax certificate (from the Office of Finance): No fee
  • Public health operating license (from the L.A. County Department of Public Health – Environmental Health and Safety): $150–$600+
  • Licensed commissary rental or ownership: Ownership prices vary. For rental, $500 to $1,500 per truck per month
  • Manager’s food safety certification (for you and any employees): $99 per person (for course and exam)
  • Food handler permit: $7 per person
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): No fee
  • Driver’s license and registration: $110–$260

Chicago

  • Mobile food license (either mobile food dispenser or mobile food preparer): $700–$1,000 (2-year term)
  • Retail food establishment or shared kitchen user business license: $330–$660 per shared kitchen or user
  • City of Chicago food sanitation manager certificate: $40
  • Fire safety permit (if your truck has a gasoline or electric generator, propane, compressed natural gas, or fire-suppression hood): $250
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): No fee
  • Driver’s license and registration: $200–$250

Toronto

  • Food handler certification: $40-$90
  • Mobile food vending permit: $1175.41 application fee ($781.85 for renewals). $3128.17–$6256.34 permit fee
  • Refreshment truck license (one for you as the owner and then additional licenses for anyone else driving or preparing/serving food in the truck): $1,030.25 for the first year as owner ($690.01 for renewals). $342.52 for the first year as driver or assistant ($253.49 for renewals)
  • Green P permit (if you want to do business in city parking lots): Regular and hourly rates vary
  • Temporary sign permit (if you have A-frame or mobile signs separate from your food truck): $121.49–$159.83
  • Driver’s license and registration: $210–$250
  • Commercial vehicle operator registration (if your food truck weighs over 4,500 kg): $35
  • Business license: $60–$80

Vancouver

  • Street food vending permit: $53.06 application fee. $879.71–$1173.37 + GST permit fee
  • Roaming food vending permit (allows you to change locations): $158.89–$316.56 + GST (per vending unit)
  • Food service permit (allows you to serve more than prepackaged food): $75 per month
  • Vending unit storage facility (aka commissary): No fee
  • Municipal vehicle decal: $25–$40
  • Commercial vehicle license and registration: $150–$170
  • Business license: $40

Commonly Required Food Truck Licenses and Permits in USA

Employer Identification Number

Food trucks typically require several employees, so they must always get an employer identification number. An EIN is a federal tax ID issued by the IRS to identify a business entity. It’s a little like a social security number, but much less sensitive for document usage.

Whether you incorporated the food truck as an LLC or partnership, it’s generally advised that most entrepreneurs register for an EIN. Having an EIN allows you to open a business bank account and establish a credit profile.

To operate within the boundaries of the law, you need an employer identification number (EIN). An EIN is used by the IRS to identify your business and collect the appropriate taxes from you, and employees. You can apply free for your state EIN by mail, fax or online by visiting the IRS website.

Business License

Every food truck business must get a business license to operate. Depending on the city and state, and scope of services provided, you may be charged a percentage of your gross sales or a yearly fee, along with the license fee. Depending on your state, your business license can go anywhere from $75 to $150.

You should note that food truck licenses and permits of any area are subject to change, so you may want to join your local restaurant or food truck association to stay informed on the changes in laws and local government officials and how they’ll affect your business.

Vehicle License

Because your business is on wheels, you’ll have to make sure the truck itself and its drivers are properly licensed. Depending on the length and weight of the vehicle, certain states may require a commercial driver’s license to operate your food truck. Getting this license can cost between $75 and $100.

Food Truck Application

To get your food truck license, you need to fill in an application, and this application will need some money to submit it with. This will cost you between $100 and $500.

Seller’s Permit

In some states, food truck owners need to apply for a seller’s permit so you can purchase food and other goods at wholesale prices without paying sales tax. The seller’s permit is usually free if you are not owing the state tax.

Food Handler’s Permit

Some cities and states require one or more employees of a food truck to get a food handler’s permit. The city or state may require one or more employees to take a food safety class before the permit is issued. Protect your food truck business, make sure you have someone with a valid food handler’s permit be on the truck during open business hours.

The retail cost of the Food Handlers Card is somewhere around $10.00 per person, and it includes the training, the test, and the Food Handlers Card upon successfully passing the test with a 70% or better. The entire process is done online on a computer, and the certificate can be printed at home or from any computer that has a printer.

Mobile food handlers’ license

Every employee who works on a food truck is required to carry a mobile food handlers license. Between taking an exam and filling out paperwork, the process of getting the license takes one to two months from start to finish and costs a little over $100. It has to be renewed every two years. This usually costs about $100 per employee.

Health Department Permit

Just as any restaurant is required to be inspected by the health department, your food truck (and commissary) will also need to. The review and approval of your local health department will verify that the food you prepare is being maintained and created in a safe manner. This permit will cost you between $250 and $1,000.

Fire Certificates

The fire department will undoubtedly inspect your food truck if you’re using cooking equipment on board. They’ll educate you on the regulations you need to follow, and they’ll do routine inspections on your food truck fire suppression system. For all that, they’ll need you to pay a fee of between $100 and $150.

Parking permit/tickets

Food trucks are not permitted to park wherever they want. So you’ll need permits for the areas in which your truck will be stationed. You’re often required to pay for parking too. This may not be a permit on its own, but parking tickets is something food truck owners face regularly, so they usually figure it into their expenses.

Trucks can expect to pay a good deal in parking tickets. On a bad day, you can accumulate up to three tickets, which range from $65 to over $100. Depending on where in the city you park and how nice the meter attendants are in your area, you can expect to pay anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month in tickets.

On average, expect to shell out $600 a month. That’s for regular street parking. You can also serve out of a private lot. They won’t give parking tickets there, but you have to pay for the privilege of parking in the lot. Budget about $600 per month for this.

Ejike Cynthia