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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Temporary food service business permit

Permits are required for temporary food establishments, such as fairs, festivals, fundraisers, sporting events, circuses, carnivals, conventions and other public events.

Temporary food establishments must operate at a fixed location with a fixed menu for:

  • up to twenty one days
    OR
  • up to 3 days per week in conjunction with an approved recurring event, such as a farmers market.

The type of temporary permit you get will be based on the complexity of the food you are serving and the food handling that occurs during your food service.

You may also choose to opt into an incentive based permit option. This enables you to attend multiple events for a lower cost if you are able to demonstrate and maintain good food safety practices.  Certified booth operator class completion and certificate is required for this option.

Step 1 Considerations for getting a temporary event food permit

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What kind of food are you serving?

Three levels of permits based on how complex your food will be:

  • Minimal food handling
    • Packaged potentially hazardous food made under permit; no handling of unpackaged food -- no sampling

  • Moderate food handling
    • Unpackaged, potentially hazardous foods; includes sampling; not including raw animal products; reheating commercially made foods (USDA/WSDA); hot holding; no cooling

  • Complex food handling
    • Food cooked from raw animal products; serving raw animal products; cooling steps – any foods cooked and cooled in a prep-kitchen
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Are you going to one event or will you go to many events in a year?

If one event, you should purchase a single event permit.

  • Submit an application and receive a permit for event.
  • Receive an inspection for each permit.

  • Minimal temporary food permit (single event)
    • No location information required
    • No Certified Booth Operator required
    • Only prepackaged potentially hazardous foods are offered
      • All foods packaged
      • No sampling of unpackaged foods

  • Moderate temporary food permit (single event)
    • May apply for additional single permits at any time
    • No Certified Booth Operator required

  • Complex temporary food permit (single event)
    • May apply for additional single permits at any time
    • No Certified Booth Operator required

If many events, consider these options:

  • Minimal unlimited temporary food permit
    • Can attend unlimited number of events until the end of the calendar year
    • No location information required
    • No Certified Booth Operator required
    • Only prepackaged potentially hazardous foods are offered
      • All foods packaged
      • No sampling of unpackaged foods
  • Multiple permit and unlimited permit - voluntary incentive program
    For moderate and complex food handling permits, consider the permit package that incentivizes safe food handling with reduced fees

    • Multiple permit package - 5 months
      • Requires a Certified Booth Operator (additional food safety education) in every booth using the multiple permit
      • Allows unlimited event attendance for the price of less than 3 single market permits
      • This permit option available for moderate and complex food handling
      • Requires menu and location information for each event you attend
      • Will receive random inspections
      • Or buy single permits for each market with no Certified Booth Operator requirement

    • Earn an unlimited permit package
      • Requires a Certified Booth Operator (additional food safety education) in every booth using the unlimited permit
      • Allows unlimited event attendance for the price of less than 3 single event permits
      • Must complete a multiple (5) permit package before obtaining an unlimited permit
      • This permit option available for moderate and complex food handling
      • Requires menu and location information for each event you attend
      • Will receive random inspections

 

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Will there be multiple vendors at the event you are coordinating? If yes, a blanket permit may be a good option for this event

A blanket permit is single permit billed hourly ($215) for all services provided to all vendors; individual vendors not required to buy a permit

  • A coordinator submits blanket application and $215 nonrefundable fee 30 days before event.
  • The coordinator also submits a packet containing an application with the menu for each food vendor at least 14 days prior to event.
  • The coordinator participates in an office plan review with an inspector to review food requirements for the event.
  • The coordinator identifies a person in charge at the event who will be present on site and will address food safety issues should they occur during the event.
  • The coordinator ensures the invoice is paid following the event.
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Situations where you might not need a permit
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Certified Booth Operator training - part of the voluntary incentive program

This training is for those vendors participating in the voluntary incentive permit program. Multiple and unlimited moderate/complex permits require a certified booth operator in each booth at every event.

  • Course fee is $95 per person
  • Certification lasts two years
  • Preregistration is required. Walk-ins will not be admitted to class.
  • To register for a class, please download the Certified Booth Operator Application form (fillable PDF format,) complete, and mail or bring to our offices
  • Current Tacoma-Pierce County Certified Booth Operator certifications are honored in King County

Course schedule (will be updated as courses are added):

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Permit fees

Permit Type
Single Event Permit
Multiple (5) Event Permit
Unlimited Event Permit
Minimal
$120
None
$236
Moderate
$290
$640*
$750*
Complex
$350
$700*
$850*

*An incentive program based on food safety practices. Read more about this option above.
*A certified booth operator is required. $95.00 course fee.

Blanket permit
$215 non-refundable deposit + $215 an hour for all inspector services

Step 2 Temporary Food Service Plan Guide
Checklist and guidelines covering every area of your event
Step 3 Temporary Food Service permit applications

After you submit your application, you will be contacted about the status of approval. If you would like a hard copy of the application mailed to you, please call us at 206-263-9566.


Additional information and how to contact us

  • Food Worker Card
    For temporary events and farmers markets, at least one person with a valid food worker card must be present at all times during the event to oversee other workers (this would be the person in charge of the event.)

  • For temporary events within Seattle city limits, call the Downtown Seattle Food Protection Program at 206-263-9566.
  • For temporary events in all other areas of King County, call 206-477-8050.