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Food business permits

Learn how to get a new food business permit, renew an existing permit, or submit construction plans for retail food businesses.

King County issues food business permits for local businesses and community feeding programs. We also review and approve construction plans for retail food businesses, such as: 

  • Restaurants
  • Caterers
  • Grocery stores
  • School cafeterias
  • Mobile food vehicles

Types of food business permits

Permanent food business

A permanent food business operates at the same location for more than 21 consecutive days. Examples of permanent food businesses are restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, delis, grocery stores, school kitchens, and some Donated Food Distributing Organization (DFDOs).

Mobile food business

Mobile food businesses include food carts, trailers, trucks, and food kiosks. Business owners must submit plans for review and approval. This needs to happen before construction, remodeling, or change of ownership.

Temporary event food business

A temporary food business operates at the same location for less than 21 days, for a single event or celebration (WAC 246-215-01115(124)(a)(b)). Temporary food businesses operate at events such as fairs, festivals, fundraisers, farmer markets, concert series, sporting events, circuses, carnivals, and conventions.

Farmers market

Farmers or their representatives can sell the food they produce to consumers.

Catering and home-based food business

You must have a permit to prepare and serve food for private parties and events in King County. A catering operation means a person who contracts with a client to prepare a specific menu and amount of food in an approved food establishment for service to the client's guests or customers at a different location.

Beverage-related business

These are businesses such as wine, beer, and distillery tasting rooms.

Cottage food and wholesale food operations

Washington State Department of Agriculture regulates these operations.

Food exemptions

Certain food operations and bake sales do not need permits. These have low risk of causing foodborne illness.

Micro-Market (Unattended Retail, 537 KB)

This is the plan review submittal cover sheet for a Micro-Market (Unattended Retail). A micromarket is an unmanned retail space where individuals can purchase food and beverages. For instructions on submitting, please contact the Plan Reviewer at 206-263-9566 or 206-477-8050.

Food business resources

Find resources, requirements, and safety tips for King County food businesses.

Important external agencies

To sell any food or beverage, you need to contact several agencies to find out what you need to do. Most agencies have an information specialist who can answer your specific questions. Which agencies you need to contact will depend on your particular business.