How Do I Start Operating a Food Truck in Wake County, North Carolina?

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This guide will walk you through several essential administrative steps required to launch and operate a food truck in Wake County.

  1. Wake County Food Truck Permitting Process: The Wake County Health Department oversees the permitting process for food trucks. To begin, visit their official website at []. This resource provides valuable information on regulations, guidelines, and the necessary steps to obtain a Mobile Food Vendor Permit.
  2. Registering Your Business: To establish your food truck business officially, you need to register with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Visit the NC Secretary of State website [] to create an account and complete the registration process. It’s essential to use the exact business name consistently throughout all applications and documents.
  3. LLC Formation and Assumed Name: While not mandatory, forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or other business entity can provide legal protection and other benefits. See more at [What Type of Business Entity Should I Choose?] and [How Do I Organize a Business In North Carolina?]. If you choose to operate your food truck under an assumed name (“doing business as”), file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the Wake County Register of Deeds. You can access the Wake County application at []. See more at [What Is Doing Business As?]
  4. Brand Protection and Trademark Considerations: When selecting a business name, it’s advisable to choose one that is unique and less closely tied to the food industry, such as BBQ. This can enhance your brand’s trademark protection. Conduct a search in the US Patent and Trademark Office’s database [] to check for existing trademarks. Additionally, verify the availability of your desired domain name for online presence.
  5. Employer Identification Number (EIN): You typically apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS after your LLC formation is processed. However, you can apply for an EIN beforehand if needed. Use the IRS online application portal [] to obtain your EIN.
  6. Sales and Use Tax Certificate: Obtain a Sales and Use Tax certificate from the North Carolina Department of Revenue if you plan to sell taxable goods, such as food and beverages. Visit the NCDOR website [] for the necessary forms and information.
  7. Parking Permits and Additional Permits: Depending on the city or town where you operate your food truck, you may need parking permits for both public and private property. For Raleigh, visit their application portal []. Other towns and cities, such as Cary, may have specific regulations related to parking permits for food trucks []. Check with the local municipality for detailed information. Additionally, special events, festivals, or markets may require separate permits, usually obtained through the event organizers.
  8. Operating Agreement and Business Bank Account: Opening a separate business bank account is highly recommended for better financial management. Some banks may require an operating agreement, which outlines the ownership and operational structure of your LLC. Consult with your bank to determine if this document is necessary.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to realizing your dream of operating a successful food truck. Remember to stay updated with the Wake County Health Department’s guidelines and consult with local authorities to ensure compliance with all requirements. Good luck with your food truck venture!

Will Blackton is a business lawyer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can reach Will at or (919) 636-5979.

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