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Health Department Permits

Exempt Food Service

Food Worker Card

Mobile Food Vendors

Cooking On-Site


Restrooms and Handwashing Facilities

Food Packaging

Waste Management

The following applies to all Special Events with food service.  

Health Department Permits 

Public Health - Seattle & King County issues permits that are required for temporary food establishments, such as those selling food at special events.  All food vendors and/or catering companies participating in your event must have the required permits.  

Temporary Food Service Business Permit 

The type of temporary permit required is based on the complexity of the food being served and the food handling that occurs during food service.   Each food vendor must hold a permit or the event organizer can opt for a blanket permit that covers all vendors at the event. Requirements: 

  • A coordinator submits blanket application and 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.    

Information and permit applications are available online at Public Health - Temporary Food Business.

Exempt Food Service 

Some types of food service operations that present minimal risk to causing foodborne illness do not need to obtain a food service permit. Information about exempt foods is available online at Public Health - Food Safety.

Food Worker Card 

For special events, 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.)  

Information about getting food worker cards is available online at Public Health - Food Worker Card.

Mobile Food Vendors (Food Trucks, Carts, Trailers, Kiosks) 

Food trucks and other mobile food vendors must hold an annual or temporary permit from Public Health - Seattle & King County. Information and permit applications are available online at Public Health - Mobile Food Businesses.

Cooking On-Site 

A permit from Seattle Fire Department is required for cooking activities that utilize LPG (propane) and/or open flame (charcoal, wood, etc.).  Permits are not required for electric cooking operations or for operations using "Sterno" canisters to heat pre-cooked food or butane canisters less than 8 ounces in size. Information and permit application are available online at Seattle Fire Department.

Fire Extinguishers 

Fire extinguishers are required for all cooking operations regardless of whether or not a permit is required.  See below for information on size and type.   

Type of Fuel or Cooking Operation  Type of Fire Extinguisher Required 
Charcoal or Wood BBQ  Minimum U.L. Rating of 2A 20BC 
Propane, Butane or Natural Gas  Minimum U.L. Rating of 2A 
Deep Fat Frying (Heated Using   Electric, Propane or Other Means)  U.L. Rated For Class "K" (in Addition to the Fire Extinguisher Required for the Source of Heat Being Used.) 

Fire extinguishers must be affixed with a tag that indicates they have been serviced within the past 12 months.  Exception: New fire extinguishers (those purchased within the past 12 months) may pass inspection by having the receipt showing the date of purchase taped or otherwise attached to the fire extinguisher.  

Dishwashing Sink 

For one day events, food vendors should bring extra utensils and food equipment to change out as needed. For events two days or more, plumbed dishwashing facilities are required.  Soap, sanitizer and sink drain plugs must also be provided. Dish tubs are not acceptable.  

Restrooms and Handwashing Facilities 

Restrooms for food workers must be available within 200' of serving location. Restrooms must have handwash sinks with hot running water.   Double handwash is required, at restroom and at the booth. Portable toilets are allowed only if handwash sinks with hot water, soap and paper towels are provided next to the portable toilet.  A 5 gallon or larger gravity flow, insulated container is required for handwashing in the booth. The container needs a spigot that can lock in the open position to wash both hands. Fill the container with hot water, refill as needed. Provide soap, paper towels, and a bucket for waste water.  

Food Packaging 

Seattle's recycling, composting, and food packaging law (Seattle Municipal Code 21.36.086) requires food service businesses - including food and beverage vendors at events - to use recyclable and compostable service ware instead of Styrofoam or plastic service ware that would need to be thrown in the garbage.   

Download Event Recycling and Composting flyer to share with your food vendors.

Waste Management 

Washington State's Recycling Law (RCW 70.93.093) requires beverage vendors at official gatherings and events to provide recycling for single-serving plastic, glass, and aluminum containers. Event organizers are also responsible for monitoring and servicing recycling bins during events, and for having the recycled items hauled to a recycling and disposal station.  More information about food service recycling and composting is available online at Seattle Public Utilities


Public Health - Seattle & King County Food Protection Program 

Seattle PUblic Utilities Event Recycling & Compostables    

Special Events

Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 5752, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94708, Seattle, WA, 98124-4708
Phone: (206) 684-8017
Fax: (206) 684-7025

The City of Seattle plays a strong role in helping event planners bring people together safely and successfully in both city-wide and neighborhood events.