Starting a Food Business

A food establishment is any business that serves food to the public. This includes but is not limited to grocery stores, delis, restaurants, bakeries, bars, coffee stands, mini marts, summer camp and school cafeterias.

Prior to remodeling an existing food establishment or opening a new food establishment, the Washington State Food Code requires a plan review approval by the local health jurisdiction. This review process helps to ensure compliance with state and local health code requirements. Look through the Plan Review Guidelines (PDF) and Plan Review & Permit Application Packet (PDF).

To complete the plan review, the following items will need to be submitted to the Health District:

Change of Ownership 

Did you purchase a new food establishment? If so, please submit a Food Establishment Change of Ownership Form (PDF).

Online Application for: Food Establishment Change of Ownership

Risk Factor Classification and Associated Permit Fees

The Food Establishment Risk Classification form is used to determine classification of food permits and permit fees

New Mobile Food Unit

A mobile food unit includes food trucks, push carts, and any other mobile food operation. A mobile food unit is typically supported by an approved commissary kitchen for food preparation and storage.

New mobile food units need to apply for a plan review with the Health District to ensure compliance with state regulation.

Currently, state law does not allow a food establishment to operate in a residential home.

MOBILE Permit Reciprocity 

Mobile food units which are already permitted in another county, meet the criteria in RCW 43.20.148, and wish to become permitted in Northeast Tri County must submit the following items to the Northeast Tri County Health District. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. 

  • Provide a completed Northeast Tri County Health District annual permit application
  • Provide a copy of your current annual operating permit from the primary county
  • Provide a copy of the completed, approved plan review from the primary county
  • Provide a copy of the most recent routine food safety inspection report for the mobile food unit performed by the primary county. The most recent routine inspection must have a satisfactory inspection. 
  • If applicable, provide a copy of any commissary agreements the applicant is required to maintain under the permit from the primary county
  • If applicable, provide a complete restroom agreement letter if the mobile food unit will be serving from a single site longer than 1 hour
  • Upon approval, submit payment for annual permit fees with the Northeast Tri County Health District

You must work with your primary county to ensure that all required documentation is included. If these requirements cannot be met, you must apply as a new mobile food unit for review by the Northeast Tri County Health District. 

Permanent Establishments Exempt From Permit

To see if your establishment is exempt from a food establishment permit, view the exempt food items here. If your establishment falls under the exemption category, please submit an Exemption from Permit Application to

Exemption From Permit Application