Food Permits

The Snohomish County Health Department wants to help you get your business up and running with all the proper permits to ensure your food establishment meets state regulations for food safety. Additional information on permitting for NEW food establishments, as well as for making changes to an existing establishment, can be found on the Starting or Revising a Food Business page. 


In order to operate a food service establishment, you must have a permit. A food permit ensures that your business complies with the local Snohomish County Health Department Code and the Washington State Retail Food Code. The type of permit you need will vary, depending on the type of food establishment. 

Permits are required for a food service establishment to offer food to the public. Examples of different types of food establishments include restaurants, grocery stores, taverns, temporary food establishments, mobile food units , bed and breakfasts, bakeries, caterers, concession stands, retail meat/fish dealers, campground cafeterias, school cafeterias, and vending machines. Click on the type of permit you want to get more information on. 

Permanent Fixed Business
Temporary Food Booths
Mobile Food Units
Food Donation
School Food Safety Icon

For a full list of our different permit fees, go to the Snohomish County Health Department Permits & Fees page.

To see what permits in Snohomish County look like, watch the video below.


The following do not meet the definition of a food service establishment, so do not require a permit from Snohomish County.  

  • Prepackaged, non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Food products produced in a licensed food processing plant or food service establishment. (i.e. chips, soda, candy bars) 
  • Minimally cut, unprocessed fruit, vegetables, or fresh herbs that are non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety Food and non-Ready-To-Eat. 
  • Hot beverages that are non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety Food, and served into single-service cups. (i.e. coffee w/ powder creamer, tea)
  • Dry foods that are non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety Food and non-Ready-To-Eat. (i.e. beans, pasta, tea leaves, dry grains, in-shell nuts) 
  • Prepackaged frozen confections produced in licensed food processing plant or Food Service Establishment. (i.e. ice cream bars) 
  • Ready-to-eat foods that are non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety Foods that are produced in a licensed food processing plant or Food Service Establishment (i.e. premixed soda, powdered creamer, pretzels, donuts, cookies, cake, meat jerky) that are served: 
  1. Without direct hand contact. (i.e. deli tissue, napkins, tongs, toothpicks — NO GLOVES!)
  2. With limited portioning. 
  3. From the original package. 
  4. Directly into or onto a single-service container.

other regulatory agencies

An annual operating permit from the Snohomish County Health Department is required to ensure that your business meets local requirements. You may need to get additional permits from us or be required to comply with other government permit requirements. 


Retail food, schools, camps, jails, senior centers, senior independent living communities Local health department
Tribal facilitiesNW Washington Indian Health Board
Hospitals, prisons and ferriesWashington State Department of Health
Nursing homes and assisted living facilitiesWashington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)
Child care centersWashington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF)
Wholesale food processorsWashington State Department of Agriculture
Wholesale food processors interstate/internationallyU.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Wholesale Meat processingU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)


Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) also regulates the following activities:


The Washington Cottage Food Operations Law allows people to make low-risk food in their home kitchens and sell directly to consumers. Gross sales of cottage food products may not exceed $25,000 annually.


If you process, manufacture, store or handle any food or dairy products for wholesale or retail distribution, or if you custom slaughter or custom cut meat, you need to contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture Food Safety Program, for licensing and/or inspection information.


If you have any questions about serving or selling beer, wine or hard alcohol, you need to contact the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.