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Whether you want to take your franchise to the next level or you just want to start with a food business, running a food truck is a great choice. However, you just don’t start the business by finding a truck, cooking, and serving the food.

As with any food-related business, there are federal, state, and local regulations you have to follow as well as permits and licenses that you have to obtain. 

Permits and licenses will vary depending on where you want to operate. Although you’ll be spending on permits and licenses, getting them before you operate saves you from paying fines. Also, the permits and licenses make your business legal. 

Food Truck Licenses And Permits

Certain permits and licenses are needed to run a food truck and that will depend on where you are in the US. However, there are some common licenses and permits that you have to get no matter where you are. Some of them may be differently named depending on the state or city but they will usually cover the same things. 

It is best to always check your locality for the list of permits and licenses required to operate. Remember that you should also obtain other permits and licenses required by the area you plan to go and visit. If you are planning to cross state lines to attend food truck festivals, then you have to make sure you check all the list of requirements for your home state and the state you are visiting. 

Usually, these permits, certifications and licenses are common requirements for all areas to open and operate your food truck business:

Business License

This license can be obtained from different states. It identifies your food truck as a business and makes it legal and registered. 

Tax ID

This is also obtained from the state. This number can also be the same number found on your business license because they are related. This will 

Employer Identification Number

This is also known as the EIN and it takes the place of your personal social insurance number when filling out forms and other applications. 

Driver’s License And Registration

The food truck is a vehicle after all, which is why you also need a driver’s license plus registration. The type of driver’s license you should have will depend on the weight of the food truck. Some may be required to have a commercial driver’s license. Also, some trucks may require commercial plates. It would be best to check your locality to see what their exact requirements are. 

Mobile Food Vendor License

This license has a reputation for being a challenge to obtain. Due to the booming food truck industry, some cities have limited the number of licenses that can operate at a given time. Some even have a very long waitlist, which is why you should first check your city to see how difficult or easy it would be to get one.

Food Handler Certificate

Any business that is in the foodservice industry needs this certificate to operate. It is standard for anyone handling, storing, or cooking food.

Parking Permit

You just can’t park your truck anywhere and sell food. You also need to have a permit where you want to park and conduct your business. Most of the time, you also have to pay for that parking spot too. 

Food Truck Commissaries

In some states and cities, it is not allowed to prepare the food on the food truck itself so a commissary or another facility where food is prepared is needed. Here, you can have a commercial kitchen to prepare food so that it would be easier to serve on the food trucks. 

Even if food preparation is allowed in some states, having a commissary would still make it easier to serve food fast. The dishes can be pre-portioned so you’ll only spend a few minutes to get the dishes ready to be served. 

It is possible to rent out a commissary for your food truck from a large commercial kitchen, which provides either a shared or private space. This option is better for startup businesses because it is less expensive than having a commissary built and licensed on your own.  


Permits and licenses required for running a food truck business can be different from one area to another. The difficulty of getting such permits and licenses also vary from one city to another. Checking your city for the list of requirements should be on the top of your list if you are planning to start a food truck business. Challenging as it may seem, many have proven that going through all of them is worth it. 

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