Food truck license: Florida
We’re in the golden age of food trucks.
Laden with sandy beaches and bustling outdoor shopping centers, it’s no wonder the Sunshine State is seeing a food truck boom.
With low overhead costs and unmatched mobility, food trucks offer aspiring restaurateurs a chance to share their recipes anytime, anywhere. But like any food service operation, proper licensing and permitting is an essential first step before you fire up those grills.
When it comes to obtaining a food truck license, Florida has a few requirements. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the licenses and permits you need to get your mobile restaurant off to the right start.
Essential licenses and permits for Florida food trucks
Before you delve into the piles of paperwork and applications, you will need to register an EIN with the IRS online and decide on your business name, address, phone number, and taxing classification (such as LLC or sole proprietor.)
You’ll also need a certificate of insurance (COI) for your business insurance policy, and be able to demonstrate proof of concept through a restaurant business plan.
While not an exhaustive list of everything you need, having these on hand will allow you to apply for the primary essential licenses and permits to operate a food truck in Florida:
State of Florida Business License – All businesses operating in Florida must register with the state and acquire a business license, including mobile food vendors.
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) License – The DBPR oversees licensing for restaurants and food service businesses across the state. To operate a food truck legally, you’ll need to obtain a license through their division of Hotels and Restaurants.
Florida Department of Agriculture Food Permit – Food trucks serving raw or prepackaged foods will also need a food permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). This verifies proper food preparation procedures are being followed.
Local Business License & Permits – To obtain a food truck license, Florida cities and counties almost always require a local-level business license and relevant permits. This may include a municipal business license, health permit, and parking permit, among others.
Sales Tax Registration – Registering with the Florida Department of Revenue to collect and remit sales tax is mandatory. Vendors must charge applicable sales taxes on prepared foods and other taxable items sold from the food truck.
To legally hit the streets and start serving hungry customers, Florida food truck owners must obtain these licenses and permits at both state and local levels. (Learn more about how to start a food truck business.)
The process of acquiring licenses and permits
With an understanding of the necessary state and local licenses and permits to operate a Florida food truck, let’s break down the multi-step process to acquiring them:
1. Apply for a Florida business license as either an LLC or sole proprietorship based on your business structure. This can be done online through the Florida Department of State.
2. Register for any required state licenses through the DBPR. Submit your application documents and pass the necessary inspections for a state hotel and restaurant license.
3. Obtain a Florida food permit by submitting an application to the Department of Agriculture. This is only necessary if you’ll be serving raw or prepackaged foods.
4. Check requirements for your intended service locations and apply for the necessary local business licenses, permits, and inspections.
5. Register to collect and remit sales tax through the Florida Department of Revenue. Set up your account for filing regular sales tax returns.
6. Display valid, original licenses and permits in your truck. Carry copies just in case the originals are unavailable. Renew all licenses and permits as required.
Successful licensing involves working with the DBPR, local health departments, city clerks, tax offices, and other agencies. Hiring a lawyer or permitting consultant may also help you navigate the intricacies of the process.
Estimated costs of licenses and permits
In acquiring the necessary food truck license, Florida food truck owners will find that the costs include state licensing fees, local permits, as well as numerous applications and renewal fees:
• Florida business license: $50
• DBPR food service license: $347
• FDACS food permit: $50 - $350
• Local business license: $50 - $500
• Local health permit: $100 - $500
• Sales tax registration: $5
Note that these costs are estimates and can vary significantly. The FDACS, for example, expressly states that some fees cannot be decided before an in-field inspection.
Launch your Florida food venture with CloudKitchens
While the food truck registration process involves coordination across agencies, budgeting the time and costs to get licensed is an essential investment for legally operating your mobile food business.
For a potentially faster and more affordable entry into the market, utilizing a permitted ghost kitchen provides an alternative path to commercializing your recipes while adhering to Florida regulations.
Whichever path you choose, being prepared with the required paperwork helps ensure your culinary venture operates safely and compliantly. With planning and passion, you’ll soon be on the road to sharing your creations from Miami to Daytona.
For more guidance on launching your Florida food business through ghost kitchen solutions, visit CloudKitchens to explore available commercial kitchens and learn more about our facilities. Tour a ghost kitchen with us today.
DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes and we do not guarantee any specific results and is not intended to be taken as legal or financial advice. We recommend that you consult with financial, legal, and business experts for advice on your specific idea or plan.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Mobile Food Establishments. https://www.fdacs.gov/Business-Services/Food-Establishments/Mobile-Food-Vendors
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Hotels and restaurants – food service fees. http://www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/hotels-restaurants/licensing/food-fees/
Top Dog Carts. How to Start a Mobile Food Cart Business in Florida. https://topdogcarts.com/start-mobile-food-cart-business/florida/
WaiterIO. Florida Licenses and Permits for Restaurants and Food Trucks. https://www.waiterio.com/blog/en/florida-licenses-and-permits-for-restaurants-and-food-trucks/
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