All food carts (mobile food units) must be licensed by the Health Department. This includes carts, trailers, trucks, drive-through coffee stands and kiosks. All food carts must remain on wheels.
Anyone interested in operating a food cart must go through a plan review process before new construction or remodeling can begin. Allow plenty of time for this process.
You must submit plans for review and approval if you are:
- Opening a new cart
- Doing a major remodel (plumbing, electrical, or replacing structural items)
- Changing ownership (for carts out of service longer than 1 year)
Step 1: Get the Plan Review Packet
This packet explains all the requirements and will guide you through the plan review process. It contains all the forms you'll need and a checklist of documents to include with your plans.
Step 2: Submit Your Application Packet
Once you complete your plans for your cart according to the Plan Review Packet, it’s time to send it to us. If we don't receive all the required documents, your application could be delayed.
Your application should include:
- Plan review application packet
- Plan review fee payment
- Warehouse and/or commissary fee payments (if licenses are needed)
The food cart license fee is separate. You can pay this later.
It may take up to 15 business days after we receive your final payment to review your packet.
Once you receive our approval letter you can begin construction. If your plans are not approved, we’ll contact you to get additional information.
Step 3: Schedule a Pre-Opening Inspection
Once your plan has been approved and construction is complete, call or email us to schedule your pre-opening inspection. It’s also time to pay your license fee. We can inspect food carts anywhere in Multnomah County.
If your food cart passes inspection you’ll be approved to operate. We’ll send your license in the mail. Post it inside your cart along with a copy of any other licenses (commissary, warehouse, fire permit, etc.)
Your license is good for one calendar year. To renew it, pay the license fee each year by December 31. License fees paid after September 31 will be prorated.
You’re required to tell us when your location or menu changes. Email or call us.^Back to top
If you’re buying or leasing a food cart that has operated within the past 12 months, you’ll need to apply for a change of ownership and get your own license. Licenses are not transferable.
A plan review may be required if the cart hasn’t operated in over a year, or if we cannot verify who last operated the cart.
You may also need to modify the cart if the previous owner made major structural changes since the last plan review (for example, if the sinks or tanks were replaced), or if it doesn’t meet code. You can call or email us to find out if the cart you’re interested in meets code.
To apply, send us:
- License fee
- Warehouse and/or commissary license fees (if needed)
- Photo of the previous license, if you have a copy
- Photo of the cart’s VIN number, if it has one
It may take up to 15 business days after we receive your final payment to review your packet.^Back to top
If your cart requires you to operate from a licensed commissary (commercial kitchen), you must apply for a commissary operator’s license and pay the commissary license fee. Most food carts will need a commissary unless they have a 3-compartment sink.
If your cart is owned by a restaurant, or if you are just dropping off/picking up dishes, you still need to complete and send us a commissary verification form.
Food and equipment not stored in your cart or commissary must be stored in a licensed warehouse and meet warehouse regulations. You can’t take it home with you.
To apply for a license, send us:
- License fee
- Classes 1, 2, 3: $570
- Class 4: $690
- Plan Review $595
- Plan Review Rush: $1,790
- Commissary license $540
- Warehouse license $475
Licenses are good for one calendar year. Renew your license by paying the license fee by January 1 of each year.
Questions? Contact the plans examiner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-988-3400.
Spanish- and Vietnamese-speaking staff available. Interpreters in other languages available by appointment.
Multnomah County Environmental Health
847 NE 19th Ave, Ste 350
Portland, Oregon (Map)
Business hours: 8am - 4:30pm