food cart

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)

First time?

On this page:

Plan Review Process

Step 1: Get the Plan Review Packet

Plan Review Packet (1.28 MB)

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.

License Application (117.56 KB)

What's next?

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.

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Change Ownership

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:

  • Change of Ownership Form (1.55 MB)
  • 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.

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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.

Commissary Verification & License Form (107.52 KB)

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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:

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Restroom & Wastewater Forms

Restroom Agreement (57.35 KB)
Formulario de requisto de baño (59.73 KB)
Wastewater Disposal Form (98.39 KB)

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Food carts:

  • Classes 1, 2, 3: $570
  • Class 4: $690
  • Plan Review $595
  • Plan Review Rush: $1,790
  • Commissary license $540
  • Warehouse license $475

Fee Schedule (59.74 KB)

Pay Fees Online

We'll email you an invoice and you can pay online using your invoice number. Make a payment»


Licenses are good for one calendar year. Renew your license by paying the license fee by January 1 of each year.

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Contact Us

Questions? Contact the plans examiner. Spanish- and Vietnamese-speaking staff available. Interpreters in other languages available by appointment.

Multnomah County Environmental Health
919 NE 19th Ave, Suite 170N *(temporary address through summer)
Portland, Oregon (Map)
503-988-5844 fax

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am - 4:30pm