How to Get a Food Vendor's License in California

By Adam Raphael ; Updated June 05, 2017
Young couple ordering from a food truck

Working as a street vendor requires a license for selling food and a license for your mobile food unit as well. A food vending business is a versatile and mobile business that can grow and develop like any other venture.

Choose what type of a food vendor license you want to apply for. There are different requirements for fixed location vendors and transient vendors. You should decide whether you want a fixed location or whether you want to be able to move around California to be able to follow various events.

Contact your local city hall to see whether the area you want to work in is zoned for food vending. You will need a zoning permit, a public health permit from your county and a business license from your city.

Visit the website of California’s Department of Taxation: State of California Franchise Tax Board (see references) and print out an application form or fill it out online. Send the complete application to the department with the other additional documents that may be required.

Apply for a business license. Go to your city’s official website and go to the business licenses section. There is either an application form to download and print or an online application. Fill out the application form online or print out the form and send it to your local government office. Pay the licensing fee.

Fill out a Food Vendor Commissary Authorization form that is requested by the Public Health Department of California. Submit the form to the Environmental Health Services in order to get an approval and to receive a public health permit.

Post your food vendor license in your place of business where the public can see it. Information such as your contact information and the name of your business has to be stated clearly in the license.

Renew your food vendor license every year. You will notified through mail when it is time to renew.

Tip

Vendors who sell in one location less than 10 minutes at a time do not need a zoning permit. This applies to ice-cream and hot-dog trucks and similar businesses. The California Retail Food Facilities Law governs health standards for all food sales.

Warning

Large cities have a very limited number of food vendor permits, so make sure to apply well in advance.

About the Author

Adam Raphael has been writing technical and health-related articles for a variety of online sources for five years. His articles have appeared on a variety of popular blogs and other websites.