Process for Applying & Obtaining Permits

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Step 1: Register your business with the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Louisville/Jefferson County.

Step 2: Understand federal, state and local requirements for operating a food service business.

Step 3: Ensure your employees, equipment and locations meet all state and local requirements.

Step 4: Prepare all the documentation needed to submit with applications for permits.

Step 5: Apply for a Mobile Food Unit Permit

Step 6:
Apply for Vendor IDs

Step 7: Apply for a Vendor Permit

Step 8: Request special permission to vend at Waterfront Park or at a Metro Park



Step 1

Register your business with the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Louisville/Jefferson County.



Step 2

Understand federal, state and local requirements for operating a food service business.

Here is a brief description of the organizations involved and their roles. A link is provided at the end to all official information and documentation.

  • The Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department of Public Health governs food establishments throughout the state. The state regulates food establishments, including mobile food units, based on the Kentucky State Food Code and the Kentucky Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

    This cabinet also governs the KY state plumbing code; which pertains to, and places requirements upon, Mobile Food Units (Food Trucks).
  • Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness| Division of Environmental Health administers the above-mentioned state food hygiene regulations by processing applications for health-related permits and performing inspections.
  • Louisville Metro Department of Codes and Regulations| Inspections, Permits & Licenses authorizes Mobile Food Unit Vendors and employees to operate at compliant locations throughout Jefferson County by processing applications for Vendor Permits and Vendor IDs.
  • Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government Code of Ordinances (LMCO) governs all street vendor rules and regulations throughout Jefferson County. LMCO Section 115.350 et seq. provides Mobile Food Unit Vendors with details about the operational considerations of granting permits, required conduct and other critical information.
  • Limits, restrictions and requirements exist for allowable locations:
  •  Louisville Metro Parks approves and administers permits for operating mobile food units within Metro Parks.
  • Waterfront Development Corporation approves and administers permits for operating mobile food units within Waterfront Park.
  • The Director of the Department of Codes and Regulations, after consultation with the Director of Public Works and Assets, approves and administers permits for operating mobile food units within on-street parking locations (meters).  Public off-street parking locations (garages and lots) owned or controlled by PARC must receive approval from PARC. 
All federal, state and local requirements are accessible on our Official Federal, State and Local Requirements webpage.



Step 3

Ensure your employees, equipment and locations meet all state and local requirements.
  • Employees in charge of mobile food units must have a valid Vendor ID (PDF).
    • Employees must be at least 18 years old;
    • Employees in charge must not have a criminal conviction within the last 10 years; and
    • Must have an acceptable driving record in any state resided in for the past 10 years.
  • Equipment required:
    • 3 – compartment sink
    • Hand sink(s) accessible to wash work station
    • Hot and cold water under pressure
    • Waste-tank 50% or larger than the fresh water tank
    • Screening or air curtains to prevent entrance of flying insects
    • Refrigeration unit (s) registering 41°F or below
    • Sanitizer- Bleach water should equal 50-200ppm, QUAT water should equal 200-400 ppm
    • Proper test strips to test sanitizer residual
    • Hair restraints
    • Metal stem thermometer to check internal temperature of food
    • Thermometer in each refrigerated unit, cooler included.
    • All vehicles, trailers, carts, etc. must be equipped with at least one 2A-40 BC fire extinguisher.
  • Mobile Food Units (Food Trucks) must pass inspection by a Kentucky-certified master plumber. Search online. Check for state license by name or license number.

Locations must meet the following criteria:

  • Vendor licenses and permits cannot be issued for any location within 100’ of any occupied residence on a residentially property.
  • Vendor licenses and permits cannot be issued for any location within 150’ of the entrance to any business which is open for business and features similar products for sale unless approval is obtained in writing from the owner of the business.
  • All vehicles, trailers, carts, etc. must be at least 20’ away from any building or structure, and at least 50’ away from any flammable combustible liquid or gas storage.
  • Vendor licenses and permits cannot be issued within 100’ of a Louisville Metro permitted community fair without written permission of the event organizers.
  • Vehicles, trailers, carts, etc. must be located at least 20’ away from any intersection or driveway.
  • Vendor licenses and permits cannot be issued on sidewalks less than 10’ in width, within 50’ of any entranceway or exit way of any driveway or emergency room of any hospital, or within 10’ of any fire hydrant or fire escape.
  • Vendor licenses and permits cannot be issued for 4th Street between Liberty Street and Chestnut Street.
  • Locations must be authorized by property owners for both public and private.
  • The Director of the Department of Codes and Regulations, after consultation with the Director of Public Works and Assets, approves and administers permits for operating mobile food units within on-street parking locations (meters).  Public off-street parking locations (garages and lots) owned or controlled by PARC must receive approval from PARC.
    • Locations within Waterfront Park are selected and approved by Waterfront Development Corporation.
    • Locations within Louisville Metro Parks are selected and approved by Metro Parks.
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      Step 4

      Obtain and prepare all the documentation needed to submit with applications.

      Quick List of Items to Prepare

      • Proof of business registration and tax ID.
      • Valid government-issued personal identification for each employee.
      • Statewide Criminal histories (background checks) for the past 10 years for employees in charge of mobile food units.
      • Equipment and Vehicle information such as make, model and dimensions.
      • Vehicle Insurance information
      • Equipment list. Equipment must also be labeled on submitted floor plan.
      • Floor plan layout, mechanical schematics, construction materials and finish schedules. Click here for a Mobile Food Unit Sample Floor Plan (PDF).
      • Isometric drawings - riser diagram (PDF) Must be prepared by a KY certified master plumber.
      • Dimensions and color photographs (front, both sides, rear) of the dispensing unit or vehicle.
      • Specific descriptions and drawings for each unit.
      • Written authorization from property owners to conduct business at the specified location(s).  (Additional locations may be submitted after the permitting process.)
      • Menu
      • Hours of operation

      Consult application form instructions for a formal list of requirements and instructions.

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      Step 5

      Apply for Mobile Food Unit Permit

      Mobile Food Unit Permits are issued after proper review and inspection. Permits must be displayed on the unit.

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      Step 6

      Apply for Vendor ID (s) (PDF)

      The Vendor ID is a photo ID card that is required for the employee in charge of the mobile food unit.

      • Employers must fill out and authorize the "Intent to Lease/Hire" portion of the Application for Vendor ID.
      • Employees must complete the Applicant Information section of the Vendor ID Application and sign/authorize.
      • Employees must submit the application in person at 444 South Fifth Street; and
      • Must have a valid government issued photo ID.
      • An application fee of $50 is required at the time of submission and is valid from April 1 - March 31 annually. Fees are not pro-rated.
      • The Vendor ID must be worn and viewable by the employee in charge.

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      Step 7

      Apply for a Vendor Permit (PDF)

      A Vendor Permit authorizes Mobile Food Unit Vendors, among others, to engage in business or operate within Louisville Metro. It is a laminated certificate that must be displayed on the mobile food unit.

      • When filling out the application for a Vendor Permit (PDF) check the box labeled "Mobile Food Unit".
      • Mobile Food Unit Vendors may submit multiple vending locations for approval.  Additional locations may be submitted after the permitting process but no less than 10 hours before use.
      • A written authorization from both private and public property owners to conduct the applicant's business at the property/propeties must accompany the application.
      • The completed application for a Vendor Permit (PDF) must be submitted along with:
        • Proof of registration with the Louisville Metro Revenue Commission
        • Proof of registration with the Kentucky State Revenue Commission
        • Proof of registration with the Kentucky Secretary of State
        • Proof of registration with the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, Deeds and Records
        • Proof of Mobile Food Unit Permit from the Louisville Metro Health and Wellness Department
        • Photographs and dimensions of cart, trailer, vehicle, etc. to be used
        • A statewide criminal history from any state resided in for the past 10 years
        • A driving record from any state resided in for the past 5 years
        • A written statement of authorization from the property owner(s) of intended location(s); if private property, the actual owner, if public property, Public Works
        • Proof of insurance
        • A valid government issued identification or operator’s license
        • The vehicle registration number, description and identification number for any vehicle to be used
        • An application fee of $200 is required at the time of submission and is valid from April 1 - March 31 annually. Fees are not pro-rated. The Vendor Permit will be sent to the business address via US Mail.

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      Step 8

      Request permisssion to vend at Waterfront Park or a Metro Park

      The Waterfront Park vending season is from May 1 through November 15. Vendor proposals will typically be reviewed in fall or winter. Those chosen will accept a license agreement that will define the vendor’s location, operating hours, menu, payment for vending license (which is 10 percent of gross), and require a cell phone.

      In order to help the selected vendors become and remain successful, vendor sites in the park are extremely limited. Specific locations in the park are chosen by the Waterfront Development Corporation.

      To be considered for Waterfront Park:

      • Submit a propropsal letter to the Waterfront Development Corporation.
      • A proposal letter must include the following:
        • Vending Station: Provide a picture of your cart, trailer, or other type of set-up, including signage.
        • Operating Hours: Indicate the weekday hours and weekend hours you will be open for business in Waterfront Park.
        • Menu: Provide a typical list of foods you will sell and the cost you will charge.
        • Proposals must include copies of valid Mobile Food Unit and Vendor Permits.

      Locations within Louisville Metro Parks are selected and approved by Metro Parks. Download the Metro Parks Vending Permit Application (PDF).

      Mail or drop off:
      Louisville Metro Parks Rental Office
      1080 Amphitheater Road
      Louisville, KY 40214
      8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
      (502) 456-8100

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