Getting Started

If you are just getting started, the following list contains basic items you will need:  


  • Business plan (see helpful PDF template at bottom of this page)
  • Washington State business license
  • Web domain and website provider
  • File your LLC or Corp status w/Secretary of State
  • - File for your Federal Tax ID #
  • City license(s)
  • Bank account, Paypal 
  • POS sales system 
  • Facebook AND Twitter !
  • State L & I permit (see below for more Labor and Industry info)
  • County health & fire department permits
  • Street use permit (if you plan to vend on public property)
  • Research & find your commissary kitchen (especially if you are in a rural area)
  • Washington state food handler card
  • Cash & Carry/Costco account
  • Accounting software (Quickbooks) and/or Accountant (see below)
  • Plan a press release (consider scheduling a "soft opening")
  • Consider a security system
  • Business cards, customer punch cards, T-shirts, aprons, other marketing and/or swag (Vistaprint)
  • Street Food Vendor Checklist
  • Check municipal requirements or restrictions in your area.
  • Research other menus & cuisine types , study other food truck operators & visit many events to learn what the public wants!
  • Mobile vendor insurance policy.

Best generator info found here.

Getting Your Food Truck Approved for Business in Washington


Our first recommendation is to research the viability of your food truck business based on the county in which you first choose to get permitted.  Mobile Food Vending in Seattle is a helpful resource guide distributed by the Restaurant Success program site.


The basic requirements to operate a mobile street-food unit:



  • Obtain a state business license and register your trade name through the Department of Revenue (online: ; by mail: State of Washington, Business Licensing Services, PO Box 9034, Olympia, WA 98507-9034) 
  • Obtain a city business license (each city will have its own requirements: ) and research the vending laws in the cities you plan to locate and any zoning restrictions.


Labor and Industry Approval/Insignia


Health Department or District Approval


  • Applicants are required to first, create a plan for review and approval before applying for a mobile food unit permit.  There is a fee for both your plan review and for the permit application.  (Each county has different fees and applications.)
  • If you plan to vend at specified locations for more than 1-hour, you will also need a signed sales site (restroom) agreement.  Items required for your plan review may include: unit floor plans, commissary agreement form, restroom agreement, food prep flow chart, route information, detailed menu, and a description of your business plan.
  • Research and find an approved commissary kitchen in your county. (WAC State Food Code 246-215 Part-9 requires mobile units, when not in operation, to be stored at approved commissary.)
  • Obtain water & sewer approval pending location in the county. (Approx 40% of Wa is on septic)
  • Research if your county also requires a catering license if you plan to cater private events.
  • Obtain your food worker’s card (Chapter 246-217 WAC)  15-minute online course found here.



·       Obtain an Annual Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) Permit For Food Vending (each city may require)

·       Check with your city Fire Department or Regional Fire Authority if an initial safety inspection and/or permit is required.


Street Vending

        Vending “in the public right of way” requires a street-use permit from Department of  Transportation or the City Planning Department.


o    In Seattle:;  the various types of vending permits are listed there.  (Permit Application including three sets of your site plans with dimensions of vending unit.)

Regarding Mobile Catering:

Check the city license requirements as each are different.

If you are vending in another county temporarily, you will only need their temporary permit.  Some cities only require a general business license if you operate there more than a few days.  Some cities require both a general business license and a mobile food license (obviously we are against this and are working on code changes around the state, hello 281 cities!)  Regarding taxes, you will want to record the city tax code  ( where you cater if that city did require a license.

Finance Resources:

Business Impact NW  Funding for small businesses in Washington.

Contact: Roland Chaiton, CGBP

Sr.VP/Sr. Loan Officer

206.324.4330 x111


7-Ways to Fund a Food Truck - Great article related to funding a new mobile food business.


The owner of "Wich, Please" raised nearly $30,000 in startup funds for the food truck through the entrepreneurial website Kickstarter. Depending on how people pledged, backers received items such as bumper stickers, Twitter shout-outs, free sandwiches, and permission to cut to the front of the line at the sandwich truck.


Local Bookkeeping Services


The Avitus Group (specializes in small business)

Leanna Sauerlender is contact: 

Cell: 425.229.2310 -


Out of The Kitchen Operations, LLC  

Contact Alhasha McLean:,    

Services Provided: 

Operations support, Bookkeeping, Invoicing, Accounts Payable/Receivable

Administrative support, Public Relations, Social Media management

Process & Procedure development, Payroll, Reconciling & Reporting

When figuring out your daily cost to vend at a particular location, be sure to include: your taxes, insurance, depreciation, overhead, travel time, propane, consumables/packaging, vending fees, credit card fees and fuel in addition to your food costs and labor (including prep and clean-up

time).  You have to include all these things to get your true cost.

Find a VERY helpful costing spreadhseet here:

Spreadsheet Daily Truck Report Costs.xls
Microsoft Excel Table 14.9 KB


An app created by the owner of My Sweet Lil Cakes, a mobile food vendor in the Seattle area.  The app was created to help food truck chefs in scaling recipes, cost saving, shopping and more, check it out here: