Overview

This industry comprises businesses primarily engaged in providing food services from motorized vehicles or nonmotorized carts.

Business types included in this category:
  • Mobile Food Services

    This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in preparing and serving meals and snacks for immediate consumption from motorized vehicles or non-motorized carts. The establishment is the central location from which the caterer route is serviced, not each vehicle or cart. Included in this industry are establishments primarily engaged in providing food services from vehicles, such as hot dog carts and ice cream trucks.

General Considerations

Before starting a business, you probably will need to register with the Florida Department of State, the Internal Revenue Service and the Florida Department of Revenue when you are ready to move forward. After completing these steps, you will need to get a license from one of these Florida agencies:

  • Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Mobile food vendors and food establishments that sell prepackaged food such as cookies, potato chips, sandwiches, hot dogs; prepackaged and portioned novelties such as ice cream sandwiches and frozen yogurt bars; fresh squeezed juices; bulk dispensing of non-potentially hazardous food such as popcorn, shaved ice, cotton candy, churros, pretzel and candy apples; and fish products without processing such as head or off shrimp.
  • Department of Business and Professional Regulation – Most hot dog carts and mobile food dispensing vehicles that prepare food.
  • Department of Health – Mobile food units that operate on institutional property or use a commissary that is licensed by the Department of Health.

All mobile food vendors require the use of a commissary.  A commissary is an approved facility that provides the necessary support services for the mobile food operation.  Support services include: obtaining potable water from an approved source, disposing of waste water and solid waste, cleaning and sanitizing utensils and equipment, storing food, storing single service items and other supplies and preparing food.

Business owners in this category may also wish to explore assistance offered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Get Started

The following represents your interactive licensing checklist for this business category. Select the expandable blue bars below for more information on the specific licenses, permits or registrations that may be required to open your business. We have also included a printable version of the following checklist available at the top of this page for your convenience.

Register your business with the Department of State

Department of State

The Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations serves as the state’s central depository for a number of commercial activities. These activities include a variety of business entity filings, trade and service mark registrations, federal lien recordings, judgment lien filings, uniform commercial code financing statements, fictitious name registrations, notary commissions, and cable and video service franchises.

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Agency Introduction

The Department of State (DOS) is where you register your business. You can search and access filed information for corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, general partnerships, trademarks, fictitious name registrations and liens. Also, electronic filing and certification can be processed via the Department’s website.


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Apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the nation’s tax collection agency and administers the Internal Revenue Code enacted by Congress.

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Agency Introduction

If you are required to report employment taxes or give tax statements to employees, you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to send with all items you report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security Administration. If you do not intend to hire others, you may skip this step.


  • You may apply for an EIN online if your principal business is located in the United States or U.S. Territories. The person applying online must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, EIN). You are limited to one EIN per responsible party per day.

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Register your business with the Department of Revenue

Department of Revenue

The Florida Department of Revenue administers three programs: general tax administration, property tax oversight and child support. The general tax administration program works with Florida businesses that are required to register for, collect, report and remit the taxes and fees administered by the Department.

The Department also manages the State of Florida’s New Hire Reporting Center. Federal and state laws require employers to report newly hired, re-hired and temporary employees within 20 days of an employee’s start date. This information is used to assist the Department’s child support program with child support orders. The employment information reported through the state’s New Hire Reporting Center is also used to detect and prevent public assistance and reemployment assistance fraud.

For additional information, please visit www.floridarevenue.com.

Steps to Opening

Agency Introduction

A business owner or contractor may need to register for, collect, report and/or remit one or more of the taxes, fees and licenses administered by the Florida Department of Revenue. This is dependent on the structure of a business, the activities of a business, and whether the business hires employees. In addition, businesses must report newly hired, re-hired and temporary employees through the State of Florida’s New Hire Reporting program managed by the Florida Department of Revenue.


Reporting Employment Information

The Department manages the State of Florida’s New Hire Reporting Center. Federal and state laws require employers to report newly hired, re-hired and temporary employees within 20 days of an employee’s start date. The Department’s Child Support program utilizes employment information and employer cooperation to assist with child support order compliance. The reported employment information through the state’s New Hire Reporting Center is also used to detect and prevent public assistance and reemployment fraud.

  • Register your business to report newly hired, re-hired or temporary employees within 20 days of an employee’s start date.

    More info

  • The Department of Revenue’s Child Support Program works with employers in a variety of ways to ensure compliance with child support orders when applicable. Employers must work with the Child Support Program to respond to income withholding requests and to enroll children in medical insurance plans. Once registered with the New Hire Reporting Center, businesses will be able to access the Child Support Employer Services website to report employee termination and bonus or lump sum payments, request replacement copies of income withholding notices currently in place for employees, and use the Program’s online calculator to get pro-rated child support amounts for employees that have more than one child support case.

    More info

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Business Taxes, Fees and Surcharge

Businesses in this category may be required to register for, collect, report and/or remit one or more of the following taxes and fees.

  • Most corporations and certain entities conducting business, or who are incorporated in Florida, including out-of-state corporations, must file a Florida corporate income tax return.

    Register online or by submitting a Florida Business Tax Application (Form DR-1), or by filing the Florida Corporate Income/Franchise Tax Return (Form F-1120).

    More info

  • Reemployment Assistance gives partial, temporary income to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own and are able and available for work. If your business will employ workers in Florida, you may register online or submit a Florida Business Tax Application (Form DR-1).

    More info

  • Before conducting business, anyone selling, renting, leasing or repairing goods, providing certain services, charging admissions, or renting or leasing short-term lodging, housekeeping accommodations, or commercial real property must register with the Department of Revenue.

    Additionally, use tax is due on the use or consumption of taxable goods or services when sales tax was not paid at the time of purchase.

    Register online or by submitting a Florida Business Tax Application (Form DR-1).

    More info

  • This surtax, imposed by most Florida counties, applies to most transactions subject to sales or use tax. Businesses must also collect the applicable discretionary sales surtax from the purchaser at the time of sale, then report and remit it to the Department of Revenue.

    No additional registration is required.

    More info

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Apply for a food establishment permit from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) supports and promotes Florida agriculture, protects the environment, safeguards consumers, and ensures the safety and wholesomeness of food.  FDACS licenses and inspects various businesses and professions in Florida, such as bakeries, milk producers, weights and measurements, pesticide dealers, oyster harvesting, pre-packaged food sales, beekeepers and travel agents, among others. A variety of different businesses may need to coordinate with FDACS to obtain applicable licenses, registrations and/or permits.

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Agency Introduction

This agency permits mobile food units that derive most of their business from selling only prepackaged foods or non-potentially hazardous food items.


  • Food manufacturers that process, produce, store, distribute or sell foods at wholesale are required to be permitted by the FDACS.  Cold and dry storage warehouses and distribution facilities also require a food establishment permit. Applications and requirements can be found and submitted from the Division of Food Safety website.

    More info

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Apply for a license from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation

Department of Business and Professional Regulation

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is the agency charged with licensing and regulating businesses and professionals in Florida. A variety of businesses will need to coordinate with DBPR to obtain applicable licenses, registrations and/or permits.

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Division of Hotels and Restaurants

This division licenses, inspects and regulates public food service establishments in Florida. These include mobile food dispensing vehicles (food trucks), hot dog carts, theme park carts and temporary food service events. Basically, mobile food trucks can be considered full restaurants on wheels, and hot dog carts are more limited.

Mobile food dispensing vehicles and hot dog carts usually require a plan review and inspection before a license is approved, so be sure to leave time for these processes.

Unlike other food service licenses, temporary event licenses are issued on site at the event.

  • A Mobile Food Dispensing Vehicle (MFDV) is classified as a vehicle-mounted public food service establishment that is self-propelled or otherwise movable from place to place.

    More info

  • Hot Dog Carts are Mobile Food Dispensing Vehicles that limit food preparation to frankfurters (hot dogs and precooked sausages) only.

    More info

  • Theme Park Food Carts are mobile or stationary units that operate within the confines of a theme park or entertainment complex as an extension of or in association with a fixed public food service establishment. Such carts are licensed collectively by the entity that maintains and operates them. “Theme park or entertainment complex” means a complex comprised of at least 25 contiguous acres owned and controlled by the same business entity and which contains permanent exhibitions and a variety of recreational activities and has a minimum of 1 million visitors annually.

    More info

  • A vendor at an event of 30 days or less where food is prepared, served, or sold to the general public and is advertised and recognized in the community

    More info

  • The operator of each public food service establishment to be newly constructed, remodeled, converted or re-opened shall submit properly prepared facility plans and specifications to the division for review and approval in accordance with provisions of law and rule prior to the start of the construction, or change.

    More info

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Apply for a food sanitation certificate from the Department of Health

Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.  The department’s goal is to be the healthiest state in the nation through innovation, collaboration, accountability, responsiveness and excellence.

Steps to Opening

Agency Introduction

The Department of Health works with food service establishments to ensure their products are not a source of foodborne illness. Generally this includes food service operations located in institutional settings (such as schools, assisted living facilities, detention facilities, adult day cares, etc.), civic and fraternal organizations, bars and lounges that do not prepare food, and theaters that limit their food service to items customarily served at theaters (such as beverages, popcorn, hot dogs and nachos).


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Explore assistance from the Department of Economic Opportunity (optional)

Department of Economic Opportunity

In collaboration with our partners, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) assists the Governor in advancing Florida’s economy by championing the state’s economic development vision and by administering state and federal programs and initiatives to help visitors, citizens, businesses, and communities.

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Agency Introduction

The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) utilizes public and private sector expertise to attract, retain and grow businesses and create jobs in Florida. It also provides valuable resources for businesses and entrepreneurs; assistance with recruiting workers; and statistical information regarding Florida businesses and employment. Your business may qualify for various state or federal assistance.


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Federal & Local Government Requirements

This checklist provides state requirements only. Remember to check federal requirements and your local county and municipal agencies. The following organizations and websites can help:

  • Florida’s Small Business Development Center Network (FLSBDC) – State designated as Florida’s principal provider of small business assistance, the network provides no-cost, professional business consulting, in-person and on-demand training, and access to business research resources to help Florida businesses—no matter their stage of business—grow and succeed.
  • Florida Chamber of Commerce – The chamber is a Florida business organization whose goal is to further the interest of businesses in Florida.
  • County Websites – Florida’s county governments require various licenses, permits and filings above and beyond state requirements, depending on the type of business you wish to open. Find out about other public services and opportunities related to Florida counties and their governments by visiting the Florida Association of Counties website.
  • City Websites – Business owners should be aware of local government requirements, especially local business taxes (occupational licenses), building permits and inspections, planning and zoning, and community and economic development opportunities. The Florida League of Cities offers a comprehensive, alphabetical listing of municipality websites and additional information about local events and government requirements.

Disclaimer: The State of Florida operates OpenMyFloridaBusiness.gov as a public service to Florida residents and visitors worldwide. While efforts were made to verify that the content of this website is accurate and comprehensive, it is recommended that you consult with a professional (e.g., attorney, CPA, SBDC, etc.) to ensure you meet all requirements before starting your business. OpenMyFloridaBusiness.gov is not responsible for the content of external websites.