Food Trucks and Hot Dog Carts

Food truck and hot dog stand

In North Carolina food trucks and hot dog carts are very different but both sell food and are mobile. Food Trucks and Pushcarts are regulated by the local health department. We recommend you submit plans and receive approval before building or buying. This step may save you money by avoiding having to do work over. 

What is a Food Truck (Mobile Food Unit)?

A mobile food unit is a restaurant on wheels that is fully enclosed with floors, walls and ceilings. Some of the items it must have are refrigeration for cold storage, cooking equipment, hood system, utensil sink, handwashing sink, water heater, and preparation space. 

What is a Hot Dog Cart (Pushcart)? 

A pushcart is designed to prepare and serve hot dogs only and can be easily moved. 

Do I need a permit?

If you only serve commercially packaged foods, those are regulated by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. For information contact the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services at 919-733-7366. Some examples of foods that may be regulated by the Department of Agriculture are dipped ice cream, doughnuts, funnel cakes, popcorn, peanuts and cotton candy.

How do I get a permit? 

You may download this information here: Checklist for a Successful Mobile Food Unit Permit Application

Once a complete application has been submitted, plans will be reviewed, and a response provided within about 10 business days. When the plans have been approved, a construction evaluation of the unit can be requested.

1

Before Submitting an Application

  1. Become familiar with mobile food unit (MFU) requirements and what you will need to successfully apply for an MFU permit:
  2. Begin to identify the Commissary you will be using (a commissary is not required at time of application but is required prior to permit issuance)
    • A commissary is a food establishment that serves as the base of operation for a food truck or hot dog cart.  The following activities occur at the commissary:
      • The food truck/hot dog cart is required to visit the commissary every day of operation for servicing, cleaning, and supplies.
      • Washing/cutting/marinating of meats, produce, and vegetables
      • Cooking and cooling of foods
      • Storage of food, dry goods, and paper goods
      • Onload of water and offload of wastewater
    • Wake County does not provide a list of commissaries.  A commissary can be found by searching the Internet.  Please keep in mind that restaurants and other permitted food establishments such as delis, catering facilities, etc. can serve as a commissary if they meet certain criteria and are approved through this Department.
  3. Review the following guides:
  4. Gather the necessary documents:
2

Submitting Your Application

  1. Go to the portal – Create an account
  2. Apply for a Food Truck or Pushcart permit.
    • Use the Submittal Guide to assist you with the online application.
    • Upload all required documents.
  3. Once a complete application has been submitted, plans will be reviewed, and a response provided within about 10 business days.
3

After Your Application is Submitted

  1. Once plans are approved and the MFU is constructed, review the MFU Inspection Checklist. A construction evaluation of the unit can then be requested.
  2. Secure a Commissary and email the Commissary Form to escustomersupport@wakegov.com for evaluation. An approved commissary is required in order to receive your permit.
    • Wake County does not provide a list of commissaries.  A commissary can be found by searching the Internet.  Please keep in mind that restaurants and other permitted food establishments such as delis, catering facilities, etc. can serve as a commissary if they meet certain criteria and are approved through this Department.
  3. Once the MFU or Pushcart is found compliant with the rules, a Food Service permit will be issued which allows you to begin operating.