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Jul 4, 2024

What Permits Does a Food Truck Need in Texas?

Navigate Texas food truck regulations with our comprehensive 2024 guide on essential licenses and permits. Ensure your business is compliant and ready to serve delicious food!

What Permits Does a Food Truck Need in Texas?Getting the right food truck licenses and permits is crucial to your success, and we’re here to guide you through the process. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about obtaining the necessary licenses and permits to operate a food truck in Texas, making sure you're prepared to serve up delicious food without any legal hiccups.

The Essential Business License


First things first, every food truck in Texas needs a business license. This license is essentially your green light to operate your business within a specific city or county. It's a foundational step in making your food truck dream a reality.

How to Obtain It

Obtaining a business license might sound daunting, but it's pretty straightforward. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Determine Your Business Location: Since business licenses are issued by cities or counties, you need to know where you'll primarily operate.
  2. Visit Your Local Government Office: Head to the city or county clerk’s office or their website to find the business license application.
  3. Fill Out the Application: Provide necessary details about your business, including name, address, and type of food you’ll be serving.
  4. Submit the Application: Along with a fee, which varies by location.
  5. Wait for Approval: Processing times can vary, so check with your local office.


  • Research: Each city or county may have different requirements. Make sure to do your homework.
  • Double-Check: Ensure all your information is accurate to avoid delays.
  • Stay Organized: Keep copies of all documents and correspondence.

Food Handler’s Permit


A Food Handler’s Permit is essential for ensuring that everyone working on your food truck is trained in proper food handling and safety procedures. This permit is required for all employees to help prevent foodbourne illnesses and ensure customer safety.

How to Obtain It

Getting a Food Handler’s Permit is relatively simple. Here’s how:

  1. Find an Approved Course: Look for an accredited food handler training program, which can often be found online or through local health departments.
  2. Complete the Training: The training covers essential topics like food safety, personal hygiene, and preventing cross-contamination.
  3. Pass the Test: At the end of the course, there’s usually a test to assess your knowledge. Passing this test is required to obtain the permit.
  4. Get Your Permit: Once you pass the test, you’ll receive your Food Handler’s Permit, which you need to keep on file for inspection.


  • Train All Employees: Ensure every staff member who handles food has a permit, not just cooks but also servers and anyone else who might come into contact with food.
  • Renew as Needed: Food Handler’s Permits typically need to be renewed periodically, so keep track of expiration dates.
  • Keep Records: Maintain copies of all employees’ permits in case of inspections.

With your business license and Food Handler’s Permits in hand, you’re well on your way to getting your food truck rolling in Texas. Stay tuned for the next steps, where we'll dive into food manager certification, mobile food vendor permits, and more.

Food Manager Certification


In addition to Food Handler’s Permits for your employees, Texas requires that at least one person in your food truck has a Food Manager Certification. This certification demonstrates a higher level of food safety knowledge and is crucial for managing food operations effectively.

How to Obtain It

Here’s how to become a certified food manager:

  1. Find an Approved Course: Look for an accredited Food Manager Certification program. These programs are available both online and in-person.
  2. Complete the Training: The training covers comprehensive food safety topics, including foodborne pathogens, food storage, and preparation practices.
  3. Pass the Exam: After completing the training, you must pass a certification exam. The exam tests your knowledge on advanced food safety practices.
  4. Receive Your Certification: Once you pass the exam, you will receive your Food Manager Certification. Keep a copy of this certification in your food truck for inspection purposes.

Pro Tips

  • Certify Multiple Managers: While only one certified manager is required, having multiple certified staff members can be beneficial for shift coverage and ensuring compliance at all times.
  • Stay Updated: Food safety standards can change, so consider periodic refresher courses even if your certification is still valid.
  • Maintain Documentation: Keep your certification and any related documents organized and easily accessible.

Mobile Food Vendor Permit


The Mobile Food Vendor Permit is a specific permit required for operating a food truck in Texas. This permit is issued by the city or county health department and ensures that your food truck meets all local health and safety regulations.

Application Process

Obtaining your Mobile Food Vendor Permit involves several steps:

  1. Research Local Requirements: Different cities and counties have varying requirements for mobile food vendors. Check with your local health department for specific guidelines.
  2. Prepare Your Documents: Gather all necessary documents, including your business license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration.
  3. Complete the Application: Fill out the mobile food vendor permit application, providing detailed information about your food truck and its operations.
  4. Pay the Fee: There is typically a fee associated with the permit application. The amount can vary by location.
  5. Schedule an Inspection: Your food truck will need to pass a health and safety inspection conducted by the local health department.
  6. Receive Your Permit: After passing the inspection and meeting all requirements, you’ll receive your Mobile Food Vendor Permit.

Pro Advice

  • Understand Local Variances: Regulations can differ significantly from one area to another, so ensure you’re familiar with the specific requirements for each location where you plan to operate.
  • Prepare for Inspections: Make sure your food truck is clean and meets all health and safety standards before the inspection to avoid delays.
  • Keep Renewals in Mind: Mobile food vendor permits often need to be renewed annually. Mark your calendar to avoid missing renewal deadlines.

With your Food Manager Certification and Mobile Food Vendor Permit secured, you’re well-equipped to ensure your food truck runs safely and legally. Next, we'll cover obtaining health department permits and passing fire safety inspections to further safeguard your business.

Health Department Permit – Your Clean Bill of Health


Health department permits are critical for ensuring that your food truck meets all necessary health and safety standards. These permits demonstrate to your customers that your food is prepared in a clean and safe environment, adhering to all health regulations.

Getting Inspected

Here’s how to secure your Health Department Permit:

  1. Schedule an Inspection: Contact your local health department to schedule an inspection of your food truck.
  2. Prepare Your Truck: Ensure your food truck meets all health department standards, including proper food storage, sanitation, and waste disposal.
  3. Pass the Inspection: During the inspection, a health officer will evaluate your food truck for compliance with health regulations. They will check for things like proper refrigeration, clean surfaces, and overall food safety practices.
  4. Receive Your Permit: After passing the inspection, you will receive your Health Department Permit, which you need to display prominently in your food truck.


  • Cleanliness is Key: Maintain a high standard of cleanliness at all times to ensure you pass inspections.
  • Train Your Staff: Ensure all staff members are trained in food safety and sanitation practices.
  • Regular Maintenance: Regularly check and maintain your equipment to avoid any issues during health inspections.

Fire Department Inspection – Safety First


Fire safety is a top priority for any food truck, given the presence of cooking equipment and fuel sources. A fire department inspection ensures your food truck complies with local fire codes and is equipped to handle emergencies. This not only protects you and your staff but also your customers and surrounding property.


Here’s how to prepare for and pass your fire department inspection:

  1. Understand the Requirements: Check with your local fire department for specific fire safety requirements for food trucks.
  2. Install Fire Safety Equipment: Ensure your truck is equipped with fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and, if necessary, a fire suppression system.
  3. Conduct a Self-Inspection: Before the official inspection, conduct a thorough self-inspection to ensure everything is in order.
  4. Schedule the Inspection: Contact your local fire department to schedule an inspection.
  5. Pass the Inspection: During the inspection, the fire officer will check your equipment and overall fire safety measures.


  • Regular Checks: Regularly check your fire safety equipment to ensure it’s in working order.
  • Train Staff: Ensure your staff knows how to operate fire safety equipment and follow emergency procedures.
  • Documentation: Keep records of all fire safety equipment maintenance and inspections.

By securing your health department permit and ensuring fire safety compliance, you're taking essential steps to protect your food truck business and those around you. These permits and inspections are critical components of running a successful and safe food truck operation in Texas.

Commissary Letter of Agreement – Your Operational Base


A commissary kitchen serves as a base of operations for many food trucks, providing a space for food preparation, storage, and cleaning. Some cities in Texas require food trucks to use a licensed commissary to ensure that food handling meets health and safety standards when not on the truck.

How to Secure It

Here’s how to obtain a commissary letter of agreement:

  1. Find a Licensed Commissary: Look for a commissary kitchen that meets local health department standards and suits your needs.
  2. Negotiate Terms: Discuss the terms of use, including access hours, available facilities, and costs.
  3. Sign an Agreement: Draft and sign a formal agreement outlining your use of the commissary kitchen.
  4. Submit to Authorities: Provide a copy of the signed agreement to the local health department or regulatory body as part of your permit application.

Pro Tips

  • Choose Wisely: Select a commissary that is conveniently located and fully equipped for your operations.
  • Understand Costs: Ensure you fully understand the costs involved, including any additional fees for storage or extra hours.
  • Maintain Good Relations: Foster a good relationship with commissary management to ensure smooth operations.

Sales Tax Permit – Keeping the Tax Man Happy


To keep your food truck business running smoothly and legally, you need to collect and remit sales tax. This is where the sales tax permit comes in. Issued by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, this permit allows you to collect sales tax from your customers, ensuring that you comply with state tax laws.

How to Register

Getting your sales tax permit is a straightforward process. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Prepare Your Information: Gather essential details such as your EIN, business name, address, and description of your business activities.
  2. Visit the Texas Comptroller Website: Head to the Texas Comptroller’s online registration portal.
  3. Complete the Registration: Fill out the application with accurate information. Be thorough to avoid delays.
  4. Submit Your Application: After completing the form, submit it online. There is no fee for the initial registration.
  5. Receive Your Certificate: Once approved, you’ll receive your sales tax permit, allowing you to legally collect sales tax.

Insider Tips

  • Stay Organized: Keep records of your sales and tax collections meticulously to avoid any issues during audits.
  • File On Time: Ensure you file your sales tax returns on time to avoid penalties.
  • Understand Tax Rates: Familiarize yourself with local and state tax rates as they can vary.

With your commissary agreement and sales tax permit secured, you’re further ensuring that your food truck operates within the legal framework. These steps are vital for maintaining compliance and building a successful food truck business in Texas.

Parking Permits – Finding the Right Spot


Parking permits are essential for determining where and when you can operate your food truck. Different cities and counties in Texas have specific regulations and designated areas for food trucks. Securing the right parking permits ensures you can operate legally and avoid fines or being towed.

How to Obtain

Here’s how to navigate the process of obtaining parking permits:

  1. Research Local Regulations: Start by understanding the parking rules and regulations for food trucks in the city or county where you plan to operate. This information is typically available on local government websites.
  2. Identify Designated Areas: Some cities have specific zones or streets where food trucks are allowed to park. Make a list of these areas and note any restrictions, such as time limits or proximity to other businesses.
  3. Apply for Permits: Contact the local parking authority or municipal office to apply for the necessary permits. You may need to provide details about your truck, the type of food you serve, and your operating hours.
  4. Pay the Fees: There is often a fee associated with parking permits. Make sure you budget for these costs.
  5. Comply with Conditions: Ensure you follow all the conditions set out in your parking permit, such as operating within specific hours or maintaining a clean area around your truck.


  • Stay Informed: Regulations can change, so regularly check for updates from local authorities.
  • Network with Other Vendors: Connect with other food truck owners to share tips and information about good parking spots and local regulations.
  • Be Flexible: Have backup locations in case your preferred spot is unavailable.

Vehicle License and Registration – Keeping It Legal on the Road


Your food truck is not just a mobile kitchen; it’s also a vehicle that needs to be legally registered and licensed. Proper vehicle registration ensures your food truck is recognized as a roadworthy vehicle and compliant with state laws.

Steps to Register

Here’s how to get your food truck registered:

  1. Prepare Your Documents: Gather necessary documents, including proof of ownership, proof of insurance, and a completed vehicle registration form.
  2. Visit the DMV: Head to your local Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.
  3. Complete the Registration: Submit your documents, pay the registration fee, and complete any required inspections.
  4. Receive Your License Plate: Once processed, you’ll receive your vehicle registration and license plate.


  • Insurance: Ensure your vehicle insurance covers all aspects of your food truck operation.
  • Renew Timely: Keep track of your registration renewal dates to avoid penalties.
  • Comply with Regulations: Ensure your vehicle meets all state and local roadworthiness standards.

By securing the right parking permits and ensuring your vehicle is properly registered and licensed, you are well on your way to operating a successful food truck in Texas. These steps are critical to maintaining compliance and ensuring smooth daily operations.

Insurance – Protecting Your Business


Running a food truck comes with its own set of risks, from accidents to foodbourne illnesses. Having the right insurance coverage is crucial for protecting your business against potential lawsuits and financial losses. This includes both vehicle insurance and liability insurance for your operations.

Types of Insurance

Here’s what you need to know about the essential types of insurance for your food truck:

  1. Vehicle Insurance: This covers your food truck in case of accidents, theft, or damage. Ensure it includes comprehensive and collision coverage.
  2. General Liability Insurance: This protects your business from claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury.
  3. Product Liability Insurance: Specifically for food businesses, this covers claims related to foodborne illnesses or other issues arising from the food you serve.
  4. Workers’ Compensation Insurance: If you have employees, this insurance is necessary to cover medical expenses and lost wages if they get injured on the job.

How to Get Covered

  1. Research Providers: Look for insurance companies that specialize in food truck coverage.
  2. Compare Policies: Evaluate different policies to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider coverage limits, exclusions, and premiums.
  3. Get Quotes: Request quotes from multiple providers to compare prices and coverage.
  4. Purchase a Policy: Once you’ve chosen a policy, purchase it and ensure you understand the terms and conditions.
  5. Review Regularly: Periodically review your insurance coverage to ensure it still meets your business needs.


  • Understand Coverage: Make sure you fully understand what is and isn’t covered by your policy.
  • Bundle Policies: Consider bundling multiple types of insurance (e.g., liability, vehicle, property) for better rates.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up to date with any changes in insurance regulations or coverage options.


Navigating the complex world of food truck licenses and permits in Texas can seem daunting, but with the right information and preparation, you can set your business up for success. From securing a business license and Food Handler’s Permits to obtaining necessary health and safety permits, each step is crucial in ensuring your food truck operates legally and efficiently.

Let FoodParks Help!

Ready to find the perfect spot for your food truck in Texas? Browse our available parking locations and start your journey today! Whether you’re a seasoned food truck owner or just starting out, our platform helps you discover prime locations to maximize your business potential. Let’s get you on the road to success!

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