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San Francisco Health Network
Environmental Health

Food Safety Program: Mobile Food Facilities

The Environmental Health Branch (EHB) issues permits to mobile food vendors to lower the risk of food-borne illness. Look for the current year decal to know your mobile vendor has a food permit.

Mobile Food Facilities (MFFs) may operate their business on private property (i.e. private parking lot, BART, etc.) or in a public right-of-way (i.e. sidewalk, street, or alley). Mobile food facilities are classified into one of five categories (pdf). All mobile food facilities must obtain approval from EHB before operating.

Obtaining a Permit

Before you begin the application process, review the mobile food facility flowchart (pdf). This chart outlines the permitting requirements based on the intended operating location of your MFF. Refer to the Fee Schedule in the Helpful Links for information on application and plan check fees. Send all application forms and documents to:

  • Environmental Health Branch
  • Attn: Food Safety Program
  • 1390 Market Street, Suite 210
  • San Francisco, CA 94102
 
Mobile Food Facilities on Private Property

To obtain a permit to operate on private property, you must first obtain approval from the Planning Department for each location. Planning Department approval is requested through Temporary Use Authorization Form. Following approval from the Planning Department, operators must apply for a Permit to Operate from the Environmental Health Branch
(EHB).
To apply for a Health Permit to Operate, provide the following completed forms to EHB along with all applicable application fees. For detailed instructions on completing the forms, see Permit Processes in the Helpful Links section. Once permitted by the Enviromental Health Branch (EHB), owners must notify EHB of added locations or changes in operating locations. An approvedTemporary Use Authorization Form must be provided for each private propery location, with some exceptions.

  1. Plan Check Application Form (pdf) - Submit the following items with the form:
    1. A list of all foods to be served with information on how, when and where each food item is prepared and cooked.
    2. Two copies of the schematic design.
    3. Plan check fee in the form of a check or money order made payable to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
  2. Private Property Health Permit Application Packet (pdf)- Includes the Health Permit Application Form, Fire Marshal Referral Form, Labor Law Checklist for San Francisco Business Owners, Declaration of Healthy and Safe Working Conditions agreement, and Workers Compensation Declaration Form.
  3. Verification Forms (pdf) - Must complete the Commissary Verification, Restroom Verification and Private Property Owner Verification forms.
  4. Written Operational Procedure Form (pdf)
  5. Proof of Food Safety Certification
  6. A nonrefundable application fee in the form of a check or money order made payable to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
  7. A copy of your San Francisco Business Registration

An approved application shall include San Francisco Fire Department clearance, a completed plan check and final inspection. At this stage, you must go to the City Tax Collector's Office to pay a pro-rated annual license fee. Upon proof of payment, you will receive the Health Permit to Operate and the yearly decal sticker.

Mobile Food Facilities on Public Right-of-Way

If approved, MFFs operating on public property will receive a Certificate of Sanitation from the Environmental Health Branch (EHB). Owners must first apply for a route/operating site with the Department of Public Works (DPW). Once a route is applied for, begin the plan check approval process with EHB. To apply for a Certificate of Sanitation, complete the following forms and instructions and provide them to EHB with all associated fees. Detailed instructions are found in Permit Process links in the Helpful Links.

  1. Plan Check Application Form (pdf). Submit the following items with the form.
    1. A list of all foods to be served with information on how, when and where each food item is prepared and cooked.
    2. Two copies of the schematic design.
    3. Plan check fee in the form of a check or money order made payable to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
  2. Public Property Health Permit Application Packet (pdf) - Includes the Health Permit Application Form, Fire Marshal Referral Form, Labor Law Checklist for San Francisco Business Owners, Declaration of Healthy and Safe Working Conditions, and Workers Compensation Declaration Form.
  3. Verification Forms (pdf) -Complete the Commissary and Restroom Verification forms only. The private property verification for MFFs on public right-of-way is not required.
  4. Written Operational Procedure Form (pdf)
  5. A Food Safety Certification
  6. A nonrefundable application fee in the form of a check or money order made payable to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
  7. A copy of your San Francisco Business Registration

Once your application materials have been received, reviewed and approved, you will need to make an appointment for a final inspection. The Department of Public Works will be notified that the MFF is approved and in compliance with the requirements. At this stage, you must go to the City Tax Collector's Office to pay a pro-rated annual license fee. Upon proof of payment, the operator will receive the SFDPH Certificate of Sanitation and the yearly decal. It is the responsibility of the operator to provide a copy of the Certificate of Sanitation to the Department of Public Works.

Related Agencies

Department of Public Works - Mobile food facilities operating on public right-of-ways are required to complete an application with the Department of Public Works before completing the plan check approval process with the Department of Public Health.

Planning Department - Mobile food facilities operating on private property are required to complete a Preliminary Zoning Screening Form. Once approved, an applicant must also complete the Temporary Use Application form. Once the Temporary Use Application form is approved, applicants can proceed with the application process with the Department of Public Health.

State Department of Housing and Community Development - If you are operating certain types of mobile food facilities (classification 4 and 5), appliances, plumbing and other structural items may require certification by the State Department of Housing and Community Development. Contact them at (916) 225-2501 for more information.

 

 

Making a Complaint

If you would like to make a complaint regarding a mobile food vendor, you may call or visit 311.

311 City Customer Service Agency - Service 24x7

San Francisco Department of Public Health Environmental Health Branch