Restaurants and other food establishments that serve food to the public have a role to play in keeping people healthy and safe from foodborne illnesses. We work with food establishments to make sure their facilities are safe for preparing and selling food.
To start a new food business or remodel one, you'll need to submit a food establishment plan review application.
Food business approval is a three-step process:
Be sure to also contact local building and planning departments about their separate review and permit processes.
To operate a new food truck or other mobile food unit, you will first need to submit a mobile unit plan review application packet.
Most mobile food businesses must use a commissary to store, prepare, or package food for the mobile unit.
Follow these steps to get approval for your mobile food business:
If you are a new owner of an existing food business, you'll need to complete a change of ownership packet. An operating permit for a food establishment is not transferred from one owner to the next.
It takes about 2 weeks to review your application after you submit it. It may take longer if you are making changes to the menu, equipment, or building.
Most farmers market food vendors must have a permit to operate. Application materials are not available on our website. Call us at 360-778-6000, email us, or visit us at 509 Girard Street, Bellingham to speak with an inspector about permits for selling food at farmers markets.
Fairs, festivals, special events, and non-profit fundraisers that serve food are called temporary food establishments. If the event is open to the public or if guests are charged for food, you must apply for a temporary food establishment permit.
Get an application packet (PDF) for a free community meal or food donation program.