Do Ice Cream Trucks Need a License? (Breakdown By State)

Do Ice Cream Trucks Need a License?

Whether it’s adults or toddlers, ice cream trucks have everyone’s hearts. A hot sunny day brings everyone rushing to the ice cream truck like a kid. As common as they are, you must have wondered if they ever require a license to run their business.

Like every other business, an ice cream truck also requires the right licenses and permits to keep its operations running.  As an owner, you may normally require a street or roadside trading license.

There’s a license and permit for each aspect: from food and hygiene to tax. In this article, I will give a state-by-state breakdown of the licenses and permits ice cream trucks need to keep their operations running. 

Keep reading!

Do You Need a Food Hygiene Certificate To Sell Ice Cream?

Since ice cream trucks sell ice cream, which comes under the food category, they automatically need to follow the food hygiene regulations. As an ice cream truck owner, you will need a food hygiene certificate to sell ice cream.

A certificate will inform the authorities as well as your customers to know that you follow the standard regulations set by the government. 

This will ensure every person you sell ice cream to that your ice cream is safe to eat. 

Do Ice Cream Trucks Require a License? (State By State)

Yes, every state requires an ice cream truck owner to have certain licenses. Every state is governed by its own set of rules and regulations. Therefore, it’s only natural that they have different criteria for their mobile food licenses. 

I have listed below 9 US states and their required licenses for an ice cream food truck. 

StatesLicenses
New YorkBusiness License
EIN
Mobile food vendor personal license
Food handler’s permit
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Washington   Business License
EIN and State Tax ID
Parking permit
Mobile food unit permit
Food handler’s permit
Health department permit
Food truck commissary
OhioBusiness License
EIN and State Tax ID
Parking permit
Mobile food unit permit
Food handler’s permit
Health department permit
Food truck commissary
ArizonaBusiness License
EIN and State Tax ID
Parking permit
Mobile food unit permit
Food handler’s permit
Health department permit
Food truck commissary
ColoradoBusiness License
EIN Parking permit
Mobile food unit permit
Food handler’s permit
Health department permit
Food truck commissary
TexasBusiness License
EIN and State Tax ID
Parking permit
Mobile food unit permit
Food handler’s permit
Health department permit
Food truck commissary
New JerseyBusiness License
EIN and State Tax ID
Parking permit
Mobile food unit permit
Food handler’s permit
Health department permit
Food truck commissary
California   Business License
EIN 
Parking permit
Mobile food unit permit
Food handler’s permit
Health department permit
Food truck commissary
IllinoisBusiness License
EIN and State Tax ID
Parking permit
Mobile food unit permit
Food handler’s permit
Health department permit
Food truck commissary

This table shows the required licenses for ice cream trucks in each US state.

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What License and Permits Do Ice Cream Trucks Require?

To successfully establish and run their business, ice cream trucks need the following permits and licenses:

  • Business license
  • Street trader’s license
  • Tax ID or EIN
  • Driver’s license
  • Parker’s permit
  • Food handler’s permit
  • Health department permit
  • Mobile food vendor permit
  • Vehicle license
  • Food truck commissary

Every country has several licenses and permits that are required to start any type of business. I’ve listed down some of the important ones that are required for the business owners to keep the operations running.

#1 Business License 

A business license is a legal document issued by government authorities that gives a permit to a person to run an organization or a business in the country. 

You can register your business with your city’s or state’s local authorities. Getting a business license will help you in paying taxes and get an employee identification number (EIN). 

Since an ice cream truck is a business that comes under the food retail industry, you’ll be required to have an industry-specific license.

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#2 Street Trader’s License

Another important license is a street trader’s license, which enables a person to do street trading in public places, on a vehicle, or mini kiosk by the street. As you will be selling ice cream on the city streets, this license is essential for you. 

For this, you are required to speak to the council about the area you will sell in. You’ll be asked to tell them about the location where you’re going to park your truck. 

You can easily apply for the street trader’s application and wait for your approval. 

Note: It could take up to 6 months to get the request approved.

After receiving approval, you must strictly follow the conditions, as you might get suspended if you violate any of the rules stated in the license. 

#3 Tax ID or Employer Identification Number

An employer identification number (EIN) or Tax ID is also necessary to run an ice cream truck because it gives the surety that you will be paying all the taxes to the state and government. 

It is a nine-digit unique number assigned to a business entity by the government for the recognition of taxes, it’s also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number. This will make your business a legal entity. 

This Tax ID will help you represent your business whenever you have to discuss any concerns with the state or federal government agency.

You need to apply for it as soon as your enterprise registers. There are no charges for applying for EIN. The easiest way is to apply it online, provide all appropriate data and you will get your EIN once your information is authenticated. 

#4 Driver’s License

Since you will be operating from a truck, it is mandatory for you to have a driver’s license. A driver’s license is a document that proves that you have passed the driving test and now you are eligible to drive. 

Some states might require a driver’s license for every employee you have on the truck. 

The general procedure for the driver’s license requires you to verify your age and show your medical certificate, and you might be called for a driving test.

» Read my blog post: Top Ways to Make Money With a Van or Truck

#5 Parker’s Permit

Another requirement for an ice cream truck is to get a parker’s permit. As the name indicates it’s a license that lets a person park their vehicle at various locations. 

For an ice cream truck, you need to apply for a parker’s permit. You can easily apply for it through the web by giving details about your business, location, and proof of vehicle ownership.

After getting the permit, you will have to get it renewed periodically. 

#6 Food Handler’s Permit 

Since you will be working in the food industry, providing food safety should be your top priority.

A food handler’s certificate or permit acknowledges that you have finished a county-approved food safety program and are conscious of the measures to be taken whilst dealing with food. 

To get a food handler’s certificate, you need to get registered for the course — the course is available at many food institutions.

Complete the course, take the test at the end and get your food handler’s certificate. All your employees will have to take this course. 

#7 Health Department Permit

An ice cream truck owner also requires a health permit since you will have to let your customers know that you follow the safety standards set by the government.

A health permit authorizes the sale of food and drinks that are prepared and offered to the public. 

This health permit will be given after thoroughly monitoring the ice cream preparation process and handling practices. 

To obtain a public health permit, make sure to fill out the public health permit application. Choose a business category to find the required documents and provide the mandatory information. 

#8 Mobile Food Vendor Permit

Several US states (such as Florida) require food trucks to register for a mobile food vendor permit.

You can easily register for a mobile food vendor permit through your local state office, the Department of Health, or the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

» Read my blog post about: How to Start a Mobile Billboard Business for Money?

#9 Vehicle License

Another common legal practice that multiple US states want you to go through is registering your vehicle.

Since an ice cream truck comes under a food truck category, you will have to register your truck and have it undergo an inspection process. 

#10 Food Truck Commissary 

If you’re someone who’s starting a food truck business, you must have come across the term food truck commissary.

Commissary kitchens are fully functioning commercial kitchens in which food companies cook and preserve their food. 

A food truck commissary is a place certified by local health organizations as a safe zone for food preparations. 

Several food truck sellers also park their cars and keep their equipment overnight in commissaries. Whereas some food truck owners employ commissaries because the state demands it. 

Most states will forbid you from preparing or storing food in your house, and others even forbid you from making food on trucks. In this situation, you can easily preserve your leftover food, as well as your vehicle, in a commercially permitted kitchen.

Determine whether you want to operate from a commissary and whether there are any additional licenses or health code criteria you must meet to do so. 

Moreover, before choosing a commissary for your ice cream truck, get the details about the safety practices that are being followed in your state and their certifications regarding food hygiene. 

Conclusion

Judging by the table above, most states only require the common licenses that every other mobile food business would need.

These licenses and permits might seem like a hassle to register for, but starting an ice cream business and earning from it can keep you motivated throughout the registration process. I hope this article was insightful for you.

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Hi’ my name is Simon. I am the owner of Top Work Life.

Together with a my team, I write content about income generating ideas, entreprenurship and growth as a person

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