Figuring out everything that you will need to begin operating your mobile food vending unit can be a daunting task. There is a lot of information to absorb, so we have compiled this short guide as a reference tool. Keep in mind that this addresses only the State of Florida requirements for the Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR): Division of Hotels & Restaurants. This guide does not cover information regarding setting up your complete Florida business structure such as: obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), Florida State sales tax identification number, setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Florida Corporation (INC). There are many resources that are available to help assist you in these areas such as a tax consultant, CPA or a business lawyer.
Once you have taken drawings to your local health department and they have told you your cart or mobile kitchen will meet the state requirements, it is time to start thinking about getting your "Florida State Food Service License". This can be completed while your cart is still in production. Since the Florida State paperwork takes approximately 30 days to process, it is beneficial to begin as soon as possible.
- Proof of Commissary
- Plans / Schematics for your cart
- A minimum of two photos of your cart
- Food Handling Safety Course certification
Below is a detailed description for each step in the licensing process
First, you must become a member of a commercial commissary that is licensed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) or Department of Agriculture. (If you are using a commissary that is licensed by the Department of Health, such as Elks lodge, and other non-profit entities, you will need to apply for your license directly with the Department of Health and not the Department of Business & Professional Regulation.)
In the state of Florida, the general rule is that your commissary must be within one and one half hours driving distance from the location in which you operate your hot dog cart. This is an important first step, because you will need to provide proof of commissary membership when submitting your cart to "Plan Review".
The cost of a commissary membership varies from city to city. The average fee for a annual membership is $400-600 per year, with monthly fees for additional services such as storing your food and/or cart.
When you sign up for the commissary, please make sure they provide you with a signed DBPR Form 7022 and a copy of their water bill. If they do not have this form, we can provide one for you to forward to the commissary owner.
Once you have obtained your commissary membership, DBPR Form 7022 and water bill, you will be able to move forward with the licensing process.
We do offer Commissary services for residents of Florida who meet the distance requirements. Our annual membership fee is $400 per year with renewal years at $200.
If you are purchasing a new cart or a used cart that has not been licensed in Florida within the last 12 months, you will need to submit physical drawings along with your application and complete a process called "Plan Review". These documents provide specifications of your cart for the state to review and possibly ask questions, if they have any.
The drawing can be original plans/drawings you received when you purchased the cart or they can be hand drawn with a pen/pencil and ruler. These drawings are a basic map of what your cart looks like and where everything is located on the cart, i.e., sinks, appliances, water tanks and size, etc. You will need a view from the Top and Side at the very minimum. If you are purchasing one of our carts, we will provide the plans.
There is a one-time $150.00 fee that is required to submit your plans to "Plan Review". This fee is paid directly to the DBPR.
You will need a minimum of two photos of the actual cart which show the appliances, propane tank locations, and general layout. The more photos you can provide, the better.
If you are purchasing one of our carts, we will provide the photos.
It is best if you complete this certification before your actual inspection so the state can assign a temporary license at the time of your inspection. However, you have thirty days to comply after receiving your license from the state. The course fees range from $100-$300, depending on what company you use and what level certification you receive.
If you will be working alone, you must complete the manager course. If you are working for somebody else who already has a manager course certification, you can complete the employee course.
There are many companies that provide this course online or in person, but if you want to be able to train your own employees, you will need to complete the manager course through one of the state approved vendors listed below:
Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association
NATIONAL REGISTRY OF FOOD SAFETY PROFESSIONALS
When you submit your application, you will have the option to apply for your license only or apply for your license and plan review at the same time. It is best to request your license and plan review at the same time in order to simplify the process. The plan review is simply the state reviewing and approving the drawings/schematics to your cart.
Make sure you have the following documents ready to submit with your application:
- Proof of Commissary Form (DBPR HR-7022) and Water Bill
- Plans/Schematics for your cart.
- A minimum of two photos for your cart.
- Payment for License and Plan Review Fees.
You can download the application from the DBPR website at: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/CheckListDetail.asp?SID=&xactCode=1035&clientCode=2014&XACT_DEFN_ID=13959 or submit your application online at: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/
The State of Florida has 7 separate districts for licensing, and each district has a different cycle. You have the option of paying for a full year or a half year when you apply for your license, depending on which makes the most fiscal sense given where you are in your license cycle. The license cycles are chosen by legislation, and they do not prorate. A full year’s license is $397.00 and a half-year is $228.50. This fee is also paid directly to the DBPR. Please see below to determine your district.
DISTRICT 1. DORAL FL,(Miami area) DADE, MONROE
- Full Year: Starts and ends 10/01. Half year starts 04/01 and ends 10/01.
DISTRICT 2. BROWARD, MARTIN, PALM BEACH
- Full year starts and ends 12/01. Half year starts 06/01 and ends 12/01.
DISTRICT 3. CITRUS, HERNANDO, HILLSBOROUGH, PASCO, PINELLAS, POLK, SUMTER
- Full year starts and ends 02/01. Half year starts 08/01 and ends 02/01.
DISTRICT 4. BREVARD, INDIAN RIVER, LAKE, ORANGE, OSCEOLA, ST. LUCIE, SEMINOLE, VOLUSIA
- Full year starts and ends 04/01. Half year starts 10/01 and ends 04/01.
DISTRICT 5. ALACHUA, BAKER, BRADFORD, CLAY, COLUMBIA, DIXIE, DUVALL, FLAGLER, GILCRIST, HAMILTON, LAFAYETTE, LEVY, MARION, NASSAU, PUTNAM, ST. JOHNS, SUWANEE, UNION
- Full year starts and ends 06/01. Half year starts 12/01 and ends 06/01.
DISTRICT 6. BAY, CALHOUN, ESCAMBIA, FRANKLIN, GADSDEN, GULF, HOLMES, JACKSON, JEFFERSON, LEON, LIBERTY, MADISON, OKALOOSA, SANTA ROSA, TAYLOR, WAKULLA, WALTON, WASHINGTON - Full year starts and ends 06/01. Half year starts 12/01 and ends 06/01.
DISTRICT 7. CHARLOTTE, COLLIER, DE SOTO, GLADES, HARDEE, HENDRY, HIGHLANDS, LEE, MANATEE, OKECHOBEE, SARASOTA
- Full year starts and ends 12/01. Half year starts 06/01 and ends 12/01
Once you have submitted all the required paperwork and fees, you will receive some communication from the DBPR via postal mail and/or email. They will tell you if anything is missing or if any other requirements need to be met. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to check with your health department beforehand to find out if they have any special requirements. If this has been done ahead of time, then the chances of the licensing process being held up are slim. A state health inspector will call you on the telephone to schedule your hot dog cart inspection.
The hot dog cart inspection will take place at your commissary, which also acts as your primary license location. Make sure to have the following items with you when you arrive on that day:
- Proof of Commissary form (DBPR Form 7022)
- Your copy of the division approved and stamped drawing (blue print) and specification worksheet (will be emailed directly to you from the State)
- Hand wash sink installed and working properly; hot/cold water must be provided/functioning
- Fresh water/wastewater tanks installed with proper plumbing connections; wastewater tank at least 15% larger by volume than fresh water tank
- LP-gas tanks properly installed and protected (if applicable); generator installed (if applicable)
- Covered trash container
- Method for serving Self-Service Condiments (mustard, catsup, etc.). Must have dispensers or pre-packaged items. Dispensers can be empty.
- One (1) Roll of Paper Towels
- Hand Sanitizer
- Hand washing sign at hand wash sinks
- Chlorine Test Strips (for testing water)
- Latex Gloves (No bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food without an approved Alternative Operating Procedure)
- Antibacterial Soap
- Stem Thermometer; properly scaled (0 - 220°F) available to measure food temperature
- Portable Fire Extinguisher with current, valid inspection tag; properly sized and mounted or located within reach. (must be classification: 3-A:40-BC)
- No extension cords installed
- Multiple sets of clean utensils
If you desire, all of these items can be purchased here at the DreamMaker showroom. We offer them as a complete inspection kit for $29.95 (excluding the fire extinguisher). If you are missing anything or need to make any corrections, the inspector will let you know and provide you with a checklist. He or she will also issue you a temporary license on the spot. The DBPR will then send your official license to you in the mail.
It is up to you to find the location for your business. Many people go to big box retailers such as Home Depot, Kmart, Car Dealerships, and other shopping centers to get permission to operate on the premises. You can also sign up to be a vendor at local festivals and events and cater to private events. The sky is the limit!
After this, you will just need to keep your commissary membership up to date, and renew your state license annually at the beginning of your license cycle.
If you wish, DreamMaker Hot Dog Carts® can file all of your state paperwork for you. We will complete all of the proper documents, and mail them along with the appropriate fees to the State of Florida. We will interface with the state on your behalf and work with the Plan Reviewers directly in the event that they have questions. We will literally handle the entire licensing process for you, from beginning to end! You will have nothing to worry about or stress over, as we have done this hundreds of times before... We are the pros! We also have a terrific relationship with the state offices in Tallahassee. We charge a small fee of $200.00 for this convenient service. Let us help you get your new licensed quickly and properly!
If you have any questions regarding licensing or commissary, please feel free to contact Sherri at anytime. If she is not available, please leave a message and she will return your call just as soon as possible.
Call Us Today at: 727-735-2412