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Temporary food service business permit

What is a temporary food business?

Temporary food businesses operate at events such as:

  • Fairs
  • Festivals
  • Fundraisers
  • Farmers markets
  • Concert series
  • Sporting events
  • Circuses
  • Carnivals
  • Conventions

Temporary food businesses must operate at the same location with a fixed menu for:

  • Less than 21 days, or
  • Up to 3 days per week for an approved recurring event, such as a farmers market or concert series.

At least one person with a valid food worker card must be at the event at all times to oversee other workers.

Learn how to get a food worker card.

Temporary food service plan guide

View the checklist and guidelines covering every area of your event.

Environmental Health Food Protection Program 

  • For Seattle/western King County, address: 401 5th Avenue, Suite 1100, Seattle, WA 98104 
  • For Bellevue/eastern King County, address: 14350 SE Eastgate Way, Bellevue, WA 98007

Permit fees

Permit type  Single Event Permit  Multiple (5) Event Permits  Unlimited Event Permits 
Minimal  $128  None  $252
 Moderate  $309  $684*  $801*
 Complex  $374  $748*  $908*

*A certified booth operator is required. $101 course fee.

Blanket permit, $229 non-refundable deposit + $229.80 per hour for all inspector services.

Temporary food service permit applications

The preferred and most efficient way to submit your plans and application is online. After you submit your application, we will contact you about the approval status. If you would like a paper copy of the application mailed to you, please call us at 206-263-9566.

Apply for your permit online

Submit fees and completed application at least 14 days before the event. A late fee of $50 will be charged for applications received 3 to 5 days before the event; applications received 2 days before the event require in person approval at our office and a $100 late fee. After you submit your application, we will contact you about the approval status.

If you can’t submit online, please print, fill out and mail in the temporary food service application for your event. If you would like a paper copy of the application mailed to you, please call us at 206-263-9566.

Mail to: Environmental Health Food Protection Program

  • For Seattle/western King County, address: 401 5th Avenue, Suite 1100, Seattle, WA 98104
  • For Bellevue/eastern King County, address: 14350 SE Eastgate Way, Bellevue, WA 98007

Note: if you buy your first of multiple or unlimited permits with a printed, mailed-in application, you can’t switch to the online payment option for future permits.

The 3 documents below can’t be processed online. Please print and mail in the completed forms to the appropriate address listed above.

Certified Booth Operator training - part of the voluntary incentive program

This training is for those vendors participating in the voluntary incentive permit program. Multiple and unlimited moderate or complex permits require each business to have a Certified Booth Operator. But they are not required to be on-site during the market or event.

  • Certification lasts 2 years.
  • You must preregister. We will not allow walk-ins.
  • To register for a class, print and complete the Certified Booth Operator Application form (517 KB), and mail to our office with a check for payment. Allow time for mailing and processing; offices are not currently open for walk-in customers. Note: you will not receive a confirmation email that you are registered. We will only contact you if the class is full or if there are other changes.
  • We honor current Tacoma-Pierce County Certified Booth Operator certifications in King County.

Courses are located in downtown Seattle at the Chinook Building, 401 – 5th Ave. The course rooms are located on the ground floor past the elevators.

2024 CBO class dates (2nd Tuesday of each month)

  • Tuesday, August 13, 2024, 10 am - 11:30 am, Room #121
  • Tuesday, September 10, 2024, 10 am - 11:30 am, Room #121
  • Tuesday, October 8, 2024, 10 am - 11:30 am, Room #121

What type of temporary event food permit should I get?

Review the information below to help you decide which permit to get. The type of temporary permit depends on the complexity of the food you are serving and how it's handled. You may also choose an incentive-based permit option. This allows you to attend multiple events for a lower cost if you can show good food safety practices.

1. What kind of food are you serving?

There are 3 levels of permits based on how complex your food will be:

  • Minimal food handling - Pre-packaged Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS)* food made under permit; no handling of unpackaged food — no sampling.
  • Moderate food handling - Unpackaged TCS* foods and preparation of non-TCS foods; includes sampling; not including raw animal products; reheating commercially made foods (USDA/WSDA); hot holding; no cooling.
  • Complex food handling - Food cooked from raw animal products; serving raw animal products; cooling steps – any foods cooked and cooled in a prep-kitchen.

*Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods include meat, poultry, cooked starches, sliced melons, sprouts, fresh herb and garlic-in-oil mixtures, dairy products, cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes, and cooked produce.

2. Are you going to one event or will you go to more than one event or market in a year?

Use these guidelines to determine which permit category is best for your business for the year. We are not able to change permit category after your selection. If you select the wrong permit category, we will refund the permit fee charge (minus $25 processing fee). You will need to reapply for the correct permit category.

If one event, you should buy a single event permit

  • Submit an application and receive a permit for event.
  • Receive an approval for each permit.

Minimal temporary food permit (single event)

No Certified Booth Operator required.

  • You only offer prepackaged TCS foods.
    • All foods are packaged.
    • No sampling of unpackaged foods.

Moderate temporary food permit (single event)

  • May apply for additional single permits at any time.
  • No Certified Booth Operator required.

Complex temporary food permit (single event)

  • May apply for additional single permits at any time.
  • No Certified Booth Operator required.

If more than one event or market, consider these options

Minimal unlimited temporary food permit

  • Can attend unlimited number of events and markets until the end of the calendar year.
  • Location information required for first event; notification not required for additional events.
  • No Certified Booth Operator required.
  • You only offer prepackaged TCS foods.
    • All foods are packaged.
    • No sampling of unpackaged foods.

Multiple permit and unlimited permit - voluntary incentive program

For moderate and complex food handling permits, you can get a permit package that rewards safe food handling with reduced fees. Multiple and unlimited permit packages are valid only in the calendar year purchased. If you want to apply for a permit package, you must have a valid Certified Booth Operator (CBO) card (see below). If an event is before the class, you must apply for a single permit.

  • Multiple permit package - 5 events
    • Requires a Certified Booth Operator (additional food safety education) for the business.
    • Allows attendance at up to 5 events and markets for the price of less than 3 single permits.
    • Requires application with menu and location information for each event you attend.
    • You can use one permit package for both farmers markets and temporary public events.
  • Unlimited permit package
    • Requires a Certified Booth Operator (additional food safety education) for the business.
    • Allows unlimited event and market attendance for the price of less than 3 single permits.
    • Requires application with menu and location information for each event you attend.
    • You can use one permit package for both farmers markets and temporary public events.

3. Will there be multiple vendors at the event you are coordinating?

If yes, a blanket permit may be a good option for this event. A blanket permit is a single permit billed hourly ($229.80) for all services provided to all vendors. Individual vendors and event coordinators are not required to buy a permit.

  • A coordinator submits a blanket application and $229 non-refundable fee 30 days before the event.
  • The coordinator also submits a packet containing an application with the menu for each food vendor at least 14 days before event.
  • The coordinator participates in an office plan review with an inspector to review food requirements.

The coordinator identifies a person in charge who will be on-site at the event and will address food safety issues should they happen.

4. Situations where you might not need a permit

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