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Mobile Food - Trucks and Carts

Information for Vendors on Permits, Renewals, Documents and Inspections Required, and Location Requirements  


WHAT is a Mobile Food Facility?  

California has TWO categories of Food Trucks and Carts.  

Mobile Food Facilities include any truck, trailer, or cart that prepares food or drinks in the vehicle or sells food and drinks prepared at an off-site commissary (a professional kitchen or catering facility). Orange County MFF operators must use a commissary approved by Orange County.  

Compact Mobile Food Facilities (CMFOs) include individuals, pushcarts, stands, displays, wagons, etc. CMFOs may only sell prepackaged foods, whole uncut produce, or food with limited food preparation. For more information: Click here for Compact Mobile Food Operation 


Examples of popular Mobile Food Facilities: 

Unpackaged Trucks/Trailers 

Examples: catering trucks, taco trailers, lunch trucks, hot trucks, chef trucks or any fully enclosed vehicle used for food preparation activities. All food preparation, cooking and storage must occur inside the vehicle or at an approved commissary. 

Prepackaged Trucks 

 Examples: ice cream trucks and grocery trucks or any mobile food facility that stores and sells only prepackaged food. If prepackaged perishable foods are sold, approved refrigeration is required on the vehicle. 

Unpackaged Carts 

Examples: carts selling churros, pretzels, popcorn, shaved ice, hot dogs and coffee/cappuccino. These carts can serve unpackaged food with limited food preparation. 

If you are not sure about a type of facility, how to get a health permit to operate in Orange County, or have questions pertaining to regulations, please contact us at 714-433-6416

Prepackaged Carts  

Examples: Carts selling prepackaged ice cream and chips. These types of carts are limited to selling of prepackaged foods only. 

If you are not sure about which type of facility you have, how to get a health permit to operate in Orange County, or have questions pertaining to regulations, please contact us at 714-433-6416


DO I need a permit and HOW do I get a permit?  

All food trucks and carts operating in Orange County need an Orange County Permit. Permits from other California counties are not valid in Orange County.  

First Time Permits must be obtained through OC Environmental Health. You must complete the Vehicle Plan Check Submittal Checklist and MFF Construction Guidelines found here as part of your plan submission. Plans and plan check fees are submitted to OC Environmental Health (EH) at 1241 E. Dyer Rd., Ste. 120, Santa Ana, CA 92705 

Health permit renewal payments and past due fees must be made in person at the Environmental Health Division Office at 1241 E. Dyer Rd, Suite 120, Santa Ana, CA 92705. 


What do I need for a permit?  

Helpful BASIC Information 

ADDITIONAL PERMIT INFORMATION If you sell dairy products (ice cream, yogurt); If you use electricity or gas, plumbing, etc.  



  • Permit renewal is not complete without proof of payment AND a vehicle inspection conducted in the field at a route or event stop.
  • All vehicle permits that expire on August 31, 2023 will lapse after December 30, 2023. MFFs without a valid Orange County permit and inspection decal will be issued a closure notification.  
  • Lapse of health permit may require vehicle construction plan submittal to bring the vehicle into compliance with California Retail Food Code requirements.  

MFFs that use commissaries within Orange County must bring the following to their permit renewal: 

MFFs that use commissaries outside of Orange County must bring the following to their permit renewal: 

If the MFF has a change of business ownership, discontinued operations in OC, or was sold - written notification is required at the time of the change by submitting a completed Change of Ownership/Termination of Ownership Form and return by mail to Environmental Health 1241 E Dyer Rd, Suite 120, Santa Ana, CA 92705 or email to  



More details at Accounting Fees & Services



As of January 2021, a paper health permit, which has been designed to look like all other health permits issued to food operations in Orange County will be mailed to the business owners current mailing address, therefore please verify all information provided on your application submittal is accurate. The state health code requires all food operations post their health permit in a location where your customers can see it.




VEHICLE PERMIT RENEWALS – It is the business owner’s responsibility to notify this Agency in writing at the time of any change in ownership, sale of the vehicle, or if the vehicle stops operation in Orange County.  At time of the change, written notification is done by submitting by mail or email to a Change of Ownership / Termination of Ownership form found HERE.

Vehicles / Carts with a: 

  • Lapsed Permit 
  • Change of Ownership 
  • Change in menu, equipment, or operation 
  • Remodel 

Will need to meet current California Retail Food Code requirements, which may involve upgrades and plan submittal before a permit is issued.  For more information call 714-433-6416. 

Vehicles operating without a valid permit are subject to closure. 

Learn about how to get a mobile food facility permit.


RESTROOM REQUIREMENTS: A Mobile Food Facility (MFF) that stops for more than one hour to conduct business at a single location is required by the California Retail Food Code Section 114315 to operate within 200 feet of travel distance of an approved and readily available toilet and handwashing facility. Restroom facilities must be available to MFF employees. Approved restrooms must be restrooms that are currently inspected by this agency. They include restrooms at a retail food facility (i.e. a county-permitted restaurant or market). Other approved facilities are public restrooms (not inside a private residence) that are available for inspection by OC Health and are properly equipped and maintained. 




Vehicle Program Awarded for Achievements at the OC Fair 
The Food Vehicle Program was recognized by the Orange County Business Council with an honorable mention award for "Turning Red Tape into Red Carpet" in the category of “Bureaucracy Busters” for their work at the OC Fair. The Vehicle Program created a food safety and inspection tools to expedite the inspection and permit process and allow the food vendors to open on time for the 1.3 million OC Fair patrons. The new approach includes pre Fair coordination with the stakeholders, development of a Self-Inspection form for the Fair operators, and bringing in a team of food inspectors to inspect all the Food Vehicles on the first day of the Fair. This approach has helped to facilitate the opening and permitting of the Vehicles in a timely manner, given more responsibility to the Fair food vendors, and focused the inspection efforts more on issues of public health significance.