Starting a Food Business
Prior to opening a new food service establishment or making changes to an existing food service establishment in Snohomish County, the Washington State Retail Food Code requires that plans be reviewed and approved by the Snohomish County Health Department. This review process will help ensure that your plans and equipment meet state and local health requirements. If you are taking over an existing business, information on the change of ownership process can be found at the bottom of this page. Information on the different permit types can be found on the Food Permits page.
PLAN REVIEW CONSULTATION
EXAMPLES OF CONSULTATION SERVICES:
Plan Review Process
There are six main steps to the plan review process. Click on the titles below for information on each of the steps.
1. SUBMITTAL. Submit everything listed on the plan review checklist, along with the plan review fee. Incomplete applications are not accepted. Prior to submittal, applicants are encouraged to use our Agency Resource List to contact their local building and planning departments for additional requirements, obtain their business license, obtain water and sewer/septic approval, and review our minimum equipment requirements.
2. SCREENING. The application will first be screened to make sure all of the necessary information has been included. Once the application is screened, you will receive an email with your service request number which you can use to check the status of the application online.
3. REVIEW. The plans are sent to a queue to be reviewed on a first come-first served basis, regardless of the type of plan review submitted. The estimated timeline for the first review of submitted plans is located above. Exact time until first review is dependent on the number of applications submitted and the completeness of the application(s) and may be longer.
4. RESULT OF REVIEW. The plan reviewer will send a response letter, either approving or disapproving the project. A disapproval letter may be sent for a variety of reasons: missing application items, unclear plans of operation, incomplete or unreadable floor plan, and lack of necessary equipment are just a few examples. You may resubmit at any time, and the resubmitted plans will be reviewed in the order that they are received. Once an approval letter is received, you may begin construction on your project.
5. PRE-OPERATIONAL INSPECTION. Once the project is completed, you will contact the plan reviewer to schedule a pre-operational inspection. This inspection will ensure that the project has been built, remodeled, or implemented according to the approved plans and approval letter.
6. ANNUAL OPERATING PERMIT. Once the facility passes the pre-operational inspection, you must purchase your annual operating permit prior to opening for business.
We accept applications in person, by mail or online.
Snohomish County Health Department
Attn: Food Section Plan Review
3020 Rucker Avenue
Everett, WA 98201-3900
Plan Review Options
Scroll through the following types of plan review to find which plan review applies to you. Guidance materials and application links are below. Make sure you complete the required documents listed on the checklist of each application.
General FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT
A food service establishment is a place where food is provided for service directly to the consumer, whether the food is provided free of charge or sold, and whether the food is consumed on or off the premises.
This includes restaurants, espresso stands, employee cafeterias, bakeries, takeouts, pizzerias, bars, senior centers, emergency food relief organizations, public and non-public schools, or religious, fraternal and charitable organizations.
New food service establishments will need to complete the full plan review application.
MOBILE FOOD UNIT
A mobile food unit is an operation where the food service establishment is movable. This includes food trucks, food cart vendors, and other mobile operations. All mobile units must have a commissary kitchen (unless they meet the exemption criteria in RCW 43.20.148), and commissary agreements need to be submitted annually.
New mobile food units will need to complete the full mobile plan review application.
- Mobile Food Unit Plan Review Guide (PDF)
- Spanish Mobile Food Unit Plan Review Guide (PDF)
- Mobile Food Unit Plan Review Application Packet (PDF)
MOBILE FOOD PERMIT RECIPROCITY
A Mobile food unit that is already permitted in another county in Washington.
Submit the items on the following checklist. Work with the primary county to ensure that all required documentation is included. If these requirements cannot be met, apply as a new mobile food unit for review by the Snohomish County Health Department.
A reciprocity permit may only be issued if the most recent routine inspection report for the mobile food unit has no violations.
Tap Room and TASTING room
A food service establishment that does not handle any open food or conduct any food preparation. These facilities are limited to dispensing non-Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods or vending commercially pre-packaged food items.
REMODEL A FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT / REVISE AN APPROVED PLAN
Revisions include changing the menu, changing equipment, changing the layout of kitchen, changing a commissary or adding catering or specialized processes.
Change of ownership is a process for new owners to operate an existing food service establishment currently permitted in Snohomish County. This includes adding or removing ownership group names or if there is a change in the Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number. Food service establishment permits are not transferable to different owners or locations. No changes to the food service establishment, menu, or equipment can be made to qualify as a change of ownership.
CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP PROCESS
There are five main steps to the change of ownership process.
1. SUBMITTAL. Prior to taking over an existing food business, submit the change of ownership application. A copy of the water and sewer service invoice for the facility will need to be included with the application.
2. CONDITIONAL OPERATING PERMIT. Upon receiving your application and payment, you will receive a conditional operating permit which will expire after 90 days.
3. INSPECTION. Within the first 2 weeks of operation, you will be contacted by an inspector to schedule your first inspection to determine if your facility meets all the current state and local health requirements.
4. RESULT OF INSPECTION. If your facility requires upgrades, these upgrades will need to be completed and approved by the Snohomish County Health Department prior to the 90 day expiration date. Some changes may require plan review approval. Plan review submittal is recommended as quickly as possible to allow sufficient time to work with the plan reviewer and make the necessary changes. If all required upgrades are not completed and approved prior to the expiration date, your conditional operating permit will be pulled, and you will be required to close.
5. ANNUAL OPERATING PERMIT. Once the facility is fully compliant, you must purchase your annual operating permit.
3020 Rucker Avenue
Everett, WA 98201
3020 Rucker Avenue Suite 104 Everett WA 98201
Phone: 425-339-5250Fax: 425-339-5254
- Food safety voicemail line:
- Report a foodborne Illness:
Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Please arrive no later than 3:30 p.m.
Customer service counter
opens at 9:30 a.m. the first
and third Thursdays of every
- Food safety voicemail line:
Plan Review Related Documents
- Agency Resource List (PDF)
- Catering Questions (PDF)
- Commissary Agreement (PDF)
- Minimum Equipment Requirements for Restaurants (PDF)
- Minimum Requirements for Mobile Units (PDF)
- Preoperational Inspection Checklist (PDF)
- Mobile Preoperational Inspection Checklist (PDF)
- Sales Site Agreement (PDF)
- Food Fee Schedule (PDF)
- Time as a Public Health Control Form (PDF)
- Using Time as a Control for Sushi Rice Safety (PDF)
- Acidification of Sushi Rice for Food Safety and HACCP Plan Guide (PDF)
- General Food Code Variance Request (PDF)
- Variance Form A Curing Smoking Foods for Preservation (PDF)
- Variance Form B Acidification of Rice (PDF)
- Variance Form B Using Food Additives to Render Non-PHF (PDF)
- Variance Form C Reduced Oxygen Packaging (PDF)
- Variance Form D Molluscan Shellfish Tanks (PDF)
- Variance Form E Custom Processing of Animals (PDF)
- Variance Form F Alternative Methods of Food (PDF)
- Variance Form G Sprouting Seeds or Beans (PDF)
Did You Know?
There are nearly 500 full-service restaurants in Snohomish County.