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.

Estimated time until the first reviewCheckApplicationStatus

  • The estimated timeline for the first review of a submitted plan is currently at 12 weeks. 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. Exact time until the first review is dependent on the number of applications submitted and may be longer.


To help save time and help make your permitting process easier, you can now schedule a plan review consultation with one of our reviewers to answer general questions about your project. We understand that every project has different needs and we want to help you succeed. To request a consultation, fill out the application through our online portal.


  • Change of ownership - Assess the facility you are looking to purchase and ensure that you will be in compliance with the Snohomish County Health Department requirements. This is a popular option for new owners.
  • New food service establishment - Help explain and guide you through the plan review process. Assist you with answering any questions or concerns.
  • Remodel/revision to approved plan - Determine how the proposed changes will affect your operation and explain any requirements that will need to be addressed.

Our scheduled appointments can be held at our Everett office or your proposed facility location. Once a consultation request has been submitted, the plan reviewer will contact you to set up the appointment time and meeting location. To help prepare for a consultation, we ask that you do the following:

  • Become familiar with our minimum equipment requirements for food service establishments.
  • Have an idea about what type of establishment you are planning to operate. 
  • Come prepared with your questions.

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 & Screening
  2. Review & Result
  3. Inspection
  4. Annual Permit

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.

We accept applications in person, by mail or online.Food_ApplyOnline

Snohomish County Health Department
Attn: Food Section Plan Review
3020 Rucker Avenue
Suite 104
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. 


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.


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. 

A commissary kitchen is an approved, permitted food establishment where food is stored, prepared, portioned, or packaged to be served somewhere else. This ensures that food safety requirements are met. The MFU must return to the commissary kitchen at a regular frequency, as determined during the plan review process. At least one of the annual routine inspections will be conducted at the commissary to demonstrate moveability of their MFU. Mobile operators are now required to document their presence at the commissary on a log and maintain the log for one year. The logs must be stored onboard the MFU for review during inspections.

If you are changing your commissary, you will need to submit a Remodel/Revision Plan Review Application. If you are a commissary kitchen and are no longer supporting a mobile food unit or an espresso stand please call to have the information updated in our system.

New mobile food units will need to complete the full mobile plan review application. 


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.


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.


There are five main steps to the change of ownership process.

  1. Submittal
  2. Conditional Permit
  3. Inspection & Result
  4. Annual Permit

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. 

Change of Ownership applications can be emailed to the Food Safety program, they cannot be submitted online.