What is a permanent food business?
A permanent food business operates at the same location for more than 21 consecutive days. Food business owners must submit plans for review before construction, remodeling, or changing ownership takes place.
Review the Food Service Plan Submittal Tip Sheet (287 KB) before you start the process.
In Seattle and King County, there are about 11,000 permanent food businesses that have permits, including:
- Food and espresso carts
- Coffee shops
- Donated Food Distributing Organization (DFDO)
- Fresh food sections of grocery stores
- School kitchens
A successful plan review approval and preoperational inspection are required prior to starting operations.
How to get a new food business permit
Review permanent food service plan guide
Review the Plan Review and Permitting Guide (970 KB) if you are starting a permanent food business. This guide includes a checklist of items you will need to include in your final food service plan review. The checklist will make sure you cover every area of your business.
- View a sample plan drawing (536 KB)
- View kitchen equipment drawings (216 KB)
- General plumbing requirements for food businesses (208 KB)
Submit plan review application
Once you complete your final business plans, you will need to submit them for review along with the Plan Review Application. The preferred and most efficient way to submit your plans and application is online.
If you can’t submit online, please complete and mail in the following documents:
- Plan review submittal cover sheet for permanent food service businesses (372 KB)
- Plan Review Application for permanent food business (304 KB)
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
Once the plans have been stamped and approved, the Plans Examiner will email the approval letter and supporting documents to you.
Note: Due to current application volumes, it may take up to 6 weeks for a Plan Reviewer to complete an initial review.
Pay your operating permit fee
When you are ready to open, submit the "Application to Operate a Permanent Food Service Establishment (377 KB)" and pay the permit fee at least 10 business days before scheduling the Pre-operational Inspection.
The operating permit fee is separate from the Plan Review fee that was initially paid when the equipment floor plans, equipment list, menu and documents were submitted.
Schedule a Pre-operational inspection
After the Application to Operate a Permanent Food Service form and fees have been submitted, contact the Plans Examiner to schedule the Pre-operational Inspection at least 1 week in advance before opening your business. Refer to the Pre-operational inspection checklist for details.
The food establishment operating permit will be approved and issued after a successful completion of a Pre-operational inspection. A Pre-operational inspection is required before starting operations. Opening without completing a Pre-operational inspection may result in closure of the business and fees, including 50% of the annual permit fee.
How to change ownership
You are strongly encouraged to contact the Food Plans Examiner before a change of ownership.
When changing ownership of an existing food business, field plan review may be required. The original owner does not receive any refund of paid permit fees. The new owner must apply for a change of ownership permit and pay required fees to operate.
These applications can only be mailed in, not submitted online. Please complete the application for change of ownership permit (324 KB) and mail it in with payment. Make checks payable to SKCDPH.
Public Health – Seattle & King County
401 5th Avenue, Suite 1100
Seattle, WA 98104
Note: If the business has been closed for more than 1 year, a plan review will be required.
To request copies of the previously approved plans, submit a public record request here.