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How to get a new food business permit

You will need to follow the steps for a permanent food service business permit. This will include:

  • Submitting final business plans along with a plan review application and permit fee.
  • Submitting a permit application after receiving approval on your business plans.
    • The permit allows you to operate and open your business to the public. 
  • A preoperational inspection is required prior to starting operations. 

What is a beverage-related business?

These are businesses such as wine and distillery tasting rooms or beer tap rooms. Businesses that provide food or beverages to the public have to get a food business permit.

How to renew an existing permit

If you are renewing an existing food business permit (with no changes to ownership, facility, or menu,) you can use the online services portal.

If changes are made to facility or menu, a review may be required. If you have changes to the floor plans you will need to submit a new plan review and permit application. If you only have changes to the menu, you will need to submit a new permit application. See how to get a new food business permit.

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, 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 and pay required fees to operate.

These applications can only be mailed in, not submitted online. Please complete the Application for a change of ownership permit (524 KB) and mail it in with payment. Make checks payable to SKCDPH.

Mail to:

Public Health – Seattle & King County

Environmental Health

401 5th Avenue, Suite 1100

Seattle, WA 98104 

What is a menu risk level?

The risk level of a menu determines the annual permit fee and rate of future inspections. There are 3 risk levels for menus. We base these on the types of food offered, and the complexity of food handling processes. You will receive a permit classification based on this.

Risk level 1 tasting rooms:

  • Reuse glassware
  • Can offer commercially packaged portions of cheese
  • Can prepare espresso and/or blended drinks
  • Can offer hot dog service

Risk level 2 tasting rooms - includes the following food preparation:

  • Receiving
  • Storing
  • Preparing
  • Cold holding
  • Serving of Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods*
  • Limited preparation steps, such as baking bread, making cold sandwiches, or grilling sandwiches.

*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.

Risk level 3 tasting rooms - includes the following complex food preparation steps:

  • Thawing
  • Cutting
  • Cooking
  • Cooling
  • Cold holding
  • Reheating
  • Hot holding
  • Time as a control
  • Approved HACCP and serving of Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods

Are there any services that don’t need a permit?

Tasting rooms may not require a permit if they:

  • Only serve wine or spirits into single-service or disposable cups.
  • Provide customers with new, clean glassware to keep.
  • Allow customers to bring their own glassware for use as long as it isn’t reused anywhere inside.
  • Serve non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) beverages into disposable cups from the original container.
  • Offer non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods, ready-to-eat foods such as pretzels or crackers. They must come from a licensed food business or food processing plant. You can serve them in single service dishware with no contact.
  • Offer commercially pre-packaged, non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods served in single service dishware. There must be no contact.
  • Don't charge fees.

Learn more about food permit exemptions

Employee requirements

  • Food Worker Card
    All employees of a food business must get a Washington State Food Worker Card. You can take the class and test online or go to any of our in-person classes.
  • MAST / alcohol server permits, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
    Anyone who serves, mixes, sells, or supervises the sale of alcohol at a business with a liquor license must take the Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST).