Permanent food service business permit
Follow the 3-Step Plan Review process to get a permit
A permanent food business is an establishment operating at a fixed location for more than twenty-one (21) consecutive days.
The Food Protection Program reviews and approves applications for the construction of new food establishments or the remodeling of existing ones. The process begins by submitting plans to the Food Protection Program. Plans are reviewed to ensure that the establishment will have all the necessary facilities and equipment. Permits are not transferable. Before you start, please review the Food Service Plan Submittal Tip Sheet.
When changing ownership of an existing food establishment, the original owner does not receive a refund or any proration of permit fees and the new owner must apply for a permit to operate.
Note: If you are renewing an existing food business permit (with no changes to ownership, facility, or menu,) you may do so using our online services portal. Food establishment permits can be paid online now.
Step 1: Permanent food service plan guide
Checklists covering every area of your business.
- Plan guide for permanent food service plan review
The Plan Guide is a checklist of items you will need to review and include in your final plans to ensure that you've covered every area of your food business. Use this Plan Guide if you are starting a permanent or catering food service establishment.
- Attention City of Seattle Plan Review applicants:
All City of Seattle food plan review submittals MUST be submitted directly to the Health Department. City of Seattle applicants must submit Two (2) sets of plans — Required for City of Seattle and King County projects. Please check with your local building department for the number of approved Health Department plans required for their building department submittal for special projects.
- Cover sheet (See Step 2 above)
- Plan review application (Step 2)
- Appropriate plan review application fee
Please refer to the Permanent Plan Review Guide above for all other requirements to ensure that plans are complete before submitting to the Health Department.
Step 2: Plan review application
Submit an application for a Plans Examiner to review the proposed plan for your business.
Once you complete your final plans of how your establishment will be set up for business according to the Plan Guides in Step 1, you will need to submit them for review along with the Plan Review Application.
Step 3: Permanent food service permit application
After your business plan has been approved by a Plans Examiner in Step 2, the final step is to apply for a permanent food service business permit.
- Application for permanent food establishment
This is the permit that allows you to operate and open for business to the public.
Contact a Plans Examiner for questions about Food Service Plans ONLY. Plans Examiners cannot respond to questions about Temporary Event Permits or Farmers Markets. Contact the Plans Examiner serving the area of King County where your food establishment is located as noted below.
For businesses located within the cities of Burien, Seattle, Mercer Island, Shoreline, Vashon Island, and Unincorporated King County (Skyway and White Center only):
- Pat Murphy: 206-263-8484 or 206-263-9566
- John Shin: 206-263-8531 or 206-263-9566
For businesses located elsewhere in King County (cities not listed above) and in Unincorporated King County, please contact:
- Mike Bratcher: 206-477-8144 or 206-477-8050
- Diane Agasid: 206-263-2157 or 206-477-8050
- Food Worker Card
All employees of a food establishment are required to obtain a Washington State Food Worker Card. You can take the class and test conveniently online or go to any of our in-person classes.
- Meat cutter license
If your job requires the cutting of fresh beef, veal, lamb and/or pork within a meat establishment you will need to pass an exam to obtain a personal occupational Meat Cutter license in addition to the Food Worker Card exam.
- MAST / alcohol server permits, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) is required by law for persons who serve, mix, sell, or who supervise the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption at liquor licensed establishment.
- Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan applications:
- List of important agency contacts
You may need to contact several local agencies to find out what you need to do to complete your Food Business Plan including the Fire Department, Building Department, business licensing, liquor permits, sewage hookups, etc. Most agencies have an information specialist who can answer your specific questions. Which agencies you need to contact will depend on your particular business.
- Request for variance from the food code
- Risk-based inspection program
Description of the three different risk type categories that can be assigned to a food service establishment.
- Risk levels and permit classifications
Permits are now based on risk levels determined by type of food and preparation steps. This information will assist you in determining what food permit to apply for and obtain. The more complex the menu and preparation of foods, the higher the risk level, which in turn relates to more frequent inspection of your establishment.
- Restaurant Success
For restaurant entrepreneurs in Seattle or for those thinking of becoming one from the Seattle Office of Economic Development.
- Sidewalk cafes in Seattle city limits
- King County Board of Health (BOH) food codes
If you wish to reference the detailed Food Codes for King County, click on the link above and view BOH Titles 5, R5, 6 and R6 as they pertain to food service establishments.
- Washington State Retail Food Code