Yes, you need a license which is known as an ice cream vending license or mobile food vending license to sell ice cream from a cart in the United States of America, and of course in most countries of the world.
As an ice cream retailer, you are selling food (ice cream) to the public, and the government wants to ensure that the food is safe and that the vendor is following proper food handling procedures.
Note that depending on the state or city you plan to start your ice cream cart business, you may need additional licenses and permits to be able to legally sell ice cream from your cart.
Apart from that, different states and cities also have different requirements you must meet before you are issued an ice cream vending license.
Generally, mobile food vendors in the United States must meet specific requirements for their vehicles or carts. These requirements can include equipment standards, signage, and cleanliness.
In this article, we will discuss the steps you will need to follow before you can obtain an ice cream vending license in the United States of America, and also the additional permits you will need.
Steps to Obtain an Ice Cream Vending License
Step One: Contact Your Local Health Department
The first step you are expected to take if you want to obtain the needed ice cream vending license for your ice cream cart business is to contact your local health department or business licensing office to find out what the requirements are.
As stated earlier in this article, apart from the general requirements, your local health department, city or county government, or licensing agency may have some additional requirements.
But you must be required to attach any required documents, such as a copy of your menu, vehicle registration, insurance certificate, and food handler certifications.
Step Two: Complete an Application and Pay a Fee
Note that in some cities or counties, the application form can be a strictly online form, some can be hard copy forms or both. It is important to note that the fees vary from state to state.
For example, in California, a Food truck license/permit costs between $250 to $500 per year. In New York, the license fee for a new applicant is $50, and renewal is $60.
Step Three: Provide Proof of Food Safety Training
Proof of food safety training is documentation or certification that demonstrates that an individual or a food handler has completed a recognized food safety training program.
The truth is that without attending food safety training and obtaining a certificate, you will not be issued an ice cream vending license.
Upon successful completion of the food safety training program, you will receive a food handler’s card or certificate, which serves as proof of your training.
Note that this card or certificate is typically valid for a specific period, and individuals may need to renew it through additional training.
Step Four: Have Your Ice Cream Cart Inspected by a Health Inspector
This is necessary because once you have obtained your license, you will be required to follow all applicable food safety regulations.
This includes keeping your cart clean and sanitary, storing your ice cream properly, and using food-handling gloves when serving customers.
Note that in addition to an ice cream vending license, you will also need to obtain other permits, such as a zoning permit or a mobile food vendor permit, and as stated earlier in this article, the specific requirements for these permits vary from state to state and even from city to city. This is why you must not fail to check with your local authorities.