What permits are needed for a food truck in Wisconsin?
How do I get a food truck license in Wisconsin?
So welcome to marketing food online, to the new channel, Food Truck Freeks. We are all about food truck entrepreneurship. And in this particular video, we had a question from one of our subscribers about how to get a license for a food truck and how to get a food truck actually up and running. So welcome to our brand new channel. Of course, hit that subscribe button. We definitely appreciate all the support and help. We are launching.
This is our fourth food entrepreneur channel. Check out the links down below the description by the way, for our other channels, and we will also have a handful of useful links directly to the state of Wisconsin's mobile food website page to actually help you out even more by giving you additional resources. So let's hop right into it. There are a lot of really unique actual permits, licensing, and processes when it comes to operating a food truck in Wisconsin, unique unto itself.
How do I Start a Food truck in Wisconsin
Many states have a lot of similar laws, but there are some unique things about Wisconsin, so we're going to definitely cover that here in the video. So first off, what you need to get is what's known as a mobile retail food establishment permit. So basically, how this works is that all mobile retail food establishments and mobile services that have not been licensed during the previous year must be inspected before opening for business. So what that means is that you have to abide by this specific mobile retail food establishment license.
Food Trucks For Sale In Wisconsin
That's kind of how it's actually labeled or categorized in Wisconsin. If a mobile service is based in a location other than the jurisdiction of the mobile retail establishment, The operator of the mobile food truck establishment must first apply for a license for the mobile service base, which means something to the effect of a commissary kitchen or a commercial kitchen. That is something that you need to check out. Also, if you want to get a transient retail food establishment license, you must apply.So basically, all in all, what this means is that any retail food establishment that actually serves or operates in a fixed location for no more than two weeks, can't be there for more than 14 days in conjunction with any other occasion, sales promotion, or special event.
Or some court of some kind. You need to apply for that license. Now, something that's really unique is that Wisconsin state statutes actually require that the person operating the food service establishment, or the food truck itself, have a valid license issued by the department and or the agent health department in Wisconsin. These license types are transferable from one location to another, meaning this is actually really the unique part about Wisconsin in their mobile food licensing. What this specifically means is that if you travel from one county to the next, you can still operate without having to buy or get an additional license or permit to operate your food truck in a new county.
This is very, very unique to Wisconsin, because a lot of states actually require this the moment that you cross into a different country. You have to go there to their business development office or their business licensing, and you actually have to get an additional permit to operate within that new county. I know it sounds kind of weird and strange, but it's actually true. So in Wisconsin, once you get it and you cross over to a different county, you can still operate without having to get it, so it actually cuts back on your expenses as well. Next, I'm going to go through a list of permits and licenses. In terms of basic business licensing and such, conductor, excuse me, guys, those are pretty much the same across the board.
These are things that pretty much every state implements and you need to make sure you have, number one, a seller's permit, which is a seller's permit to allow foodservice operators to actually acquire materials and supplies at wholesale cost without actually paying sales tax on them. So a lot of food truck operators buy ingredients, packaging, plates, smallwares, plastic straws, anything that's actually used to create and develop a final product that is going to be sold to a customer. You don't collect. You don't pay tax on that. You collect the sales tax when you actually sell it to the customer. A lot of people don't realize that. So you want to make sure that you get a Seller's Permit. It actually goes by several different names, but all in all, it's the permit that allows you not to be taxed twice. So you basically, like I mentioned, collect the tax when the product is sold to the buyer. So to find out if a seller's permit is required in your state and how to actually apply for one, go to the Wisconsin State website. And again, I'll have links for that down below. And you can follow up on the seller's permit. Next to fire certificates, Yes, a fire inspection.
So basically how this works is if you're new to the food truck industry, your food truck is literally a kitchen on wheels. So, if you have any propane, generators, or electrical equipment that runs on gas or propane.All of this on and off will run into any situation that could potentially ignite, it could explode, or you could have some potential accident. God forbid, but you have to get a fire inspection to make sure everything's hooked up correctly. Things are working properly. You may also have to have fire extinguishers to make sure the electrical work is done correctly. If you've had a customized truck, make sure it's correctly done. So there's a lot to it.
But fire inspections and certificates are another one. Next up, parking permits. You're going to need to find out within the city if a lot of counties will have this ordinance, but the city will have you need to make sure that you're not going to have to pay for a parking permit. In some cases, you may have to pay for a parking permit. And what that means is that they're going to designate a specified spot within another roadway or an area where there's commerce, commercial buildings, or some type of retail area that's going to allow you to park your truck legally for a set designated time on a set designated day or a certain week.
Normally, How it works is that you're going to be given a set amount of time in a couple of days. It can be Hey, you know what Damien said? You can operate your truck. It has to be now, and you can't be on that curve or this curve.You have to be within this area. So the parking permits will tell you specifically what you'll need to get next, a commissary letter of agreement. So if you're actually tied to a commissary or commercial kitchen, you need to have a commissary letter of agreement. What does that mean? So your food truck will be attached to a designated commercial or commissary kitchen, a place where you get fresh water for the day, empty out your dirty water, get away with your trash, clean out everything. Maybe even they offer food storage for the following day's ingredients, and that kind of thing that is refrigerated or possibly potentially frozen.
So you're going to have access to all of these types of pieces of equipment, kitchen equipment, and other other services and utilities. Okay? That's what a commissary letter agreement is. It's you signing an agreement with a specific commissary or commercial kitchen. That is the place where I'm going to be parked. That's where I do my cleaning. That's where I finish off my day. That's what that means. Next up, some cities will also require you to have a SOP. It's a standard operating procedures document. Now what that means is that everything you do, the city's going to say, "Hey, you know what, John, Chris, whatever your name is, I need you to have a standard operating documentation." What exactly do you make? How do you make it? What's the process of cleanup? What's the process of sanitizing your equipment? All of your employees need to be aware of the SOP and what is expected, and we're going to keep that on file.
Food Truck Builders in Wisconsin
Cities will require this, so you need to check specifically with the county but with the city. You're going to be operating in it. Okay, Next up, special events permit food truck businesses. No matter where you go, you normally and almost always have to have it's kind of a temporary permit for a different event. If it happens to be a private event like a wedding, or a corporate event, if it's in a park, and a specific park, If you're doing a specific event for a company, you need to have a special events permit. It's also known as a vending permit or a temporary authorization permit. Okay, These are basically, like I said, you're going to be there for a set number of hours.
You're going to be there on a Friday or Saturday. You've got a corporate event for local businesses. great. You're going to be parked there. But you need to have a specific event permit to park there. Okay, Next up are the licenses for the business. Let's get into that. Now, More specifically, you're going to have a vendor's license or basic business operation license, also known as just a business license. It all means the same. In order for you to operate a food truck, you need to be a legitimate business. You need to register with your state and have a business license. That's going to allow you to open business bank accounts. It's going to allow you to create business accounts that are specifically for the food truck and not you yourself individually as a sole proprietor of some kind, but incorporate that business.
Okay, the business license can be anywhere from $50 to $100. Or even I've seen them as high as 500, depending on what your state charges for that. Next up, the big one, the big, big, big one. Okay, IRS, They're going to ask for an ei N and they're going to issue you an EIN. That's an employer identification number. If you're going to run a business and you're going to have a profit, you need to obviously file taxes. Your business is to file taxes. You do as well, but the EIN is kind of like a social security number for your business if you're not familiar with it. Plus, down the road, as you have employees, payroll, and anything else that goes along with the expenses of hiring additional help, you're going to need to have an EIN, so for tax purposes, you're going to be able to give that information to the IRS about how much money you made. What's taxable, and obviously, your accountant can handle all that?
Next, a valid driver's license. Now you might be thinking, "Well, Damian, that's kind of silly." I mean, of course I have to have it. Well, you'd be surprised. Believe it or not, a lot of food truck owners will bring one or two extra people to help. Or maybe three people if you've got employees, and let's just say you have two, and you have one of them driving your vehicle with an expired license and you happen to not be in a vehicle that day or just for a certain period of time, but they're driving and they get into an accident and they don't have a valid license. Guess what, you are the owner of the food truck. That's going to fall on you and the employee too. But not having a valid license is going to cause some legal problems, potentially for your business. Remember, your food truck is the actual business. It's not like you have a restaurant and you have a vehicle that someone was driving and you're catering an event and they didn't have a legal, legitimate license.
That's not it. This is like your entire vehicle could be ticketed, impounded, or you could lose a license, permit, or whatever. It may be that it could be a serious problem. So yes, a valid driver's license for everybody who is in the vehicle, in case they happen to be driving in you, the owner is not doing that. Okay, that can cause you a lot of problems. Next up, a permit to work as a food handler, also known as a food handler license, is required. The certification program for that is actually a food management certificate certificate. That is a process where you go through a program that teaches you how to properly store food, how to properly cook it, what temperatures need to be kept at, sanitize the equipment, and so on and so on. It's basically about food safety, obviously. But in some cities, they require that for food trucks.
Normally you'll see these at almost every restaurant. If it's a food establishment licensed facility, there's a chance that people will get sick if the food isn't cooked properly.You can also have a lot of cafes and restaurants that have requirements for management on duty to make sure that they are actually licensed and certified through that program. So you want to make sure that you have that as well. That may be a requirement in the city that you work in, but normally the county won't require that it's a city ordinance. Finally, and not the lease, but the health department.So the permit that you need from the Department of Health, which is, of course, standard across the board, is going to be a food service license, and that's going to actually be the license that allows you to get inspected by the health department. They could come at any point in time. They also do a lot of inspections during food truck rallies or food truck events. If you're at a special event, there may be a potential for an inspection at any moment.
Basically, the health department is going to enact any type of rules or regulations that they need to to ensure that the food that you're serving is served properly, food stored things are cleaned at the end of the day. And that's something that you definitely just don't want to play around with because if you get health inspection violations, you're going to get into some serious problems. I can tell you I've had health inspections when I owned and operated Italian bakeries. They come in and check everything from head to toe. It's no different on the food truck. You know, in Wisconsin, it's the same. Wisconsin's health department's not going to play any games with you.
They're going to want to make sure everything is good. And normally, as far as the cost of those permits, they can range from $50 up to about $500. Most of the ones I've seen him in the past were around $150-$275 a year, and those are annual.Okay, so this is a gist of some of the licenses and permits when you are starting to ask the question, how do I get a food truck licensed in Wisconsin? Of course, what permits do you need for a food truck in Wisconsin? This is a good rundown. I'm going to give you some additional resources below this video. You can do a little more research, of course, on your part and take a look at that. So if you have any questions about starting a food truck business in Wisconsin, definitely let us know and hit the subscribe button.
We appreciate every new subscriber. We have a load of content that we are making and uploading as soon as we can. It has all kinds of fantastic marketing tips for food trucks, starting with what kind of insurance you need, how to get the licenses and permits, and so much more. So, we'll see you guys in our next video.
Retail food operations that are mobile and transitory
Mobile Food Retailing Establishments
Before launching for operation, all mobile retail food restaurants and mobile service bases that were not licensed the previous year must be inspected. If the mobile service base is in a different jurisdiction than the mobile retail food business, the operator of the mobile retail food establishment must first apply for a license for the mobile service base in that jurisdiction. An operator's license as a temporary retail food establishment does not exempt him or her from licensure as a mobile retail food establishment.
Temporary Retail Food Establishment License
A transitory retail food restaurant is one that sells or serves food at a fixed location in association with a special event for no more than 14 consecutive days or in conjunction with an infrequent sales campaign.
To safeguard the general public's health and safety, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, or a local public health department acting as an agent for the state, may limit or change the nature of the food service or the food being provided. The type of food offered, methods of preparation and storage, number of individuals served, and utensils available to transient food stand owners may be restricted. The licensing and/or inspection requirements are ultimately intended to guarantee that the public receives the safest food possible and to avoid foodborne disease outbreaks.
Anyone operating a food service facility in Wisconsin must have a valid license granted by the Department and/or Agent Health Department, according to Wisconsin State Statutes.
These license categories are transferable from one area to another, which means that if you have a license from Sheboygan County, you may operate in Marathon County without obtaining extra Marathon County licensing. When operating inside their limits, all local governments reserve the right to examine your unit and impose an inspection fee.
The location of the license will be determined by whether the event is located within the authority of an agent health department or within the jurisdiction of the state.