How Do I Get a Street Vendor Food Permit?


Street vendors are everywhere, but are most popular in large cities. In New York City alone, there are 3,000 street vendor carts. The problem in most cities is that getting a street vendor food permit can be a long expensive process that may take years. For instance, New York City stopped handing out new street vendor licenses in the 1970s. You have to go through the town or city in which you want to be a vendor, and follow its rules explicitly because usually there are stiff fines and penalties for not following the rules.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawyer
  • Push cart
  • Identification
  • Decide what type of food you would like to sell from your street cart. Do you want to sell processed food such as coffee or do you want to sell unprocessed food such as fruit? The cost difference for a license to sell these products can be huge in many cities.

  • Find a lawyer that knows about street vendor laws, and have him help you apply for a street vendor food permit at your city's Department of Health. Your lawyer should look over all of the documents and should be able to help you fill them out and give you step-by-step process on how to apply in that jurisdiction.

  • Call the Department of Health before you officially go to register. Ask exactly what the fees are and how they will take the payment. Sometimes the Department of Health will only take certified checks or money orders. Also, double check to see what documents you must take with you.

  • Prepare all of your documents, application and payments, and have your lawyer look over them. Take this information down to the Board of Health for your city and apply for a street cart food vendor permit. In some cities, they will just have to process your information and then you will get a permit. In other cities you may just be put on a waiting list.

  • Make sure you know all of the rules and laws of being a street vendor who sells food once you are given your permit. Some cities require you to take a course, others do not, but many street vendors are put out of business from fines levied against them by the city in which they work.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep your street cart clean once you have your vending permit. Once a year the health inspectors will pay a surprise visit to make sure everything is clean and running the way it is supposed to.

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