New retail food mobile application - food truck or food cart

Note: All fabrication of the mobile unit must be complete before submitting application.

Map of restricted areas for mobile food trucks in downtown Denver(PNG, 603KB)

Apply online

Step 1.Before you apply

Read the ordinance for this license under "Municipal Code" on the right side of the page to make sure this license is right for you.

Step 2.Zone Use Permit (if on private property)

This license requires a zoning use permit. 

Instructions for requesting zoning use permits(PDF, 379KB).

A zoning use permit grants the applicant/owner of a lot, building, or structure permission for the requested use of the land. "Use" can be any activity, occupation, business, or operation in a building or on a lot/tract of land.

Plan before leasing or buying property and before applying for a business license.

  1. Before contacting Zoning, email CPD Records to ask if there's an existing zoning use permit for your address. Allow up to 10 business days for them to respond to your inquiry.
  2. If they respond that there isn't a zoning use permit for your address, then contact Zoning to apply for a permit. They will tell you if you're zoned for the use. Allow up to 10 business days for them to respond to your inquiry.

Email

cpd.permitrecords@denvergov.org

zoning.review@denvergov.org

Step 3.Propane permit online application

  • Complete an online propane permit application. You will log in and click on "Fire". You will then click on "Apply for Operational Permits". From the list, select "Fire Prevention Flammable Operational Permit" and click on "Continue Application". You will go through the application. A copy of your registration, driver's license and current fire suppression inspection report will need to be attached to your fire permit application. You will receive an invoice via email to pay online. These documents will also walk you through the online process for the propane permit. How to apply for a propane permit English(PDF, 2MB), How to apply for a propane permit Spanish(PDF, 2MB) and New Process for propane permits(PDF, 157KB).
  • If you do not use propane, please email DFDMobiles@denvergov.org to obtain a propane exemption letter.
  • Do not pay until you receive an invoice for the annual $200 fee. The invoice will be sent to your email from info@denvergov.org. Once the payment has posted to your account you will be able to print, or screen shot your permit. You will need to have a copy with you while open for business. You will also need to provide a copy on inspection day. 
  • For your permit invoice or exemption letter it may take 5-7 business days. Do not apply for the propane permit or exemption letter until you are ready to have the mobile unit inspected.

Step 4.Watch the online training videos 

Online training videos provide helpful and detailed overviews of the application process. They are on the Online Training Videos webpage. They show how to register for an account, how to complete licensed establishment and entity registration records, and how to apply for new business licenses or amendments.

Step 5.Register for a new account 

Register for an account, if you haven't already, in Denver’s Permitting and Licensing Center. For help, navigate to the online training videos and watch the guide for how to register for a new account.

Step 6.Gather all required documents

Make sure you have everything from the "Required documents" section below.

Important notes to keep in mind about your documents:

  • All materials must be digital files saved as a .pdf or .jpg. Do not include any other file types. The Department of Excise and Licenses cannot accept other file types.
  • Use numbers or letters but not characters such as symbols (/ ? < > \ : * | “ ^) or spaces that could cause complications.
    • For example:
      • Good filename: drivers-license-name-2022.pdf
      • Bad filename: last name/ id.pdf
  • In some cases, you might need to combine documents and upload them in a single .pdf. You can use a free, online tool to merge documents into a single file. 
  • Legal documents must be signed, dated and executed. All pages of large legal documents (such as a lease) must be included in the application.
  • All materials must be legible. 
  • Incomplete applications will be rejected.

Step 7.Apply in Denver's Online Permitting and Licensing Center 

In Denver's Online Permitting and Licensing Center:

  • Under Business/Occupational, Short-Term and Residential Rental Licensing, click "Apply New."
  • Select the type of license you want to get and click "Continue Application."
    • Application package contains the following licenses: Child care center, residential rental property, retail tobacco store, massage business, marijuana licenses, retail food, retail food-commissary based, wholesale food and wholesale food-commissary based.
  • Read the introduction page and click "Continue."

This will begin the application process.

You can save and resume within 30 days any time during the process. After 30 days, you must start again.

Go to the Online Training Videos webpage to guide you.

After the online application is complete, you will be prompted to submit fees in the online portal. These can be paid with a bank account or a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover card.

Step 8.Pay required fees

Application fee:
$150

License fee:

The license fee for the food retail license depends on which food-processing activities are performed. The fee is determined by adding $25 for each of the following activities: 

  • Selling prepackaged cold foods
  • Scooping ice (including bagged ice for retail sale)
  • Heating commercially processed foods or cold holding foods
  • Cooking raw animal products
  • Cooling cooked foods
  • Reheating previously cooked foods
  • Serving raw or undercooked animal products (beef, eggs, fish)
  • Specialized process (fermentation, curing, sous vide, etc.)
  • Infusing products with hemp 

Step 9.City application review and next steps

Excise and Licenses tries to conduct an initial review of a complete application within seven business days. The review process might take longer if it is incomplete or requires police review (if applicable).

  • All application related communications will be sent through email, from EXLNotifications@denvergov.org. Do not respond to these emails as this inbox is not monitored.
  • If the application is incomplete, the applicant will receive a "notice of deficiency" email. This allows 14 days for corrections. License endorsement requests and incidents on a background check need police review.
  • All applications will be closed if they are not completed within 12 months.

Once application is approved, Excise and Licenses will notify both the Department of Public Health and Environment and the Fire Department regarding your application.

Your packet will be reviewed by a representative of the Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). You will be contacted directly by DDPHE within 7-10 business days of submitting the packet to gather additional information or approve the unit for operation. (No physical inspection required by the Department of Public Health and Environment)

Step 10.Required inspections

Starting January 1, 2023, all new applicants are required to schedule and pass a fire safety inspection. A courtesy safety inspection can also be scheduled upon request. You will need to contact the Denver Fire Department (DFD) via email at dfdmobiles@denvergov.org to schedule your in-person fire safety inspection. This can be done simultaneously with DDPHE’s review.

The Denver Fire Mobile Retail Food Vendor Inspection List can be downloaded(PDF, 151KB) for your guidance.

Step 11.Day of inspection

Please review the Denver Fire Food Truck Inspection Checklist(PDF, 162KB) or Denver Fire Food Truck Inspection Checklist Spanish(PDF, 164KB) before scheduling your fire safety inspection. Any questions regarding the checklist can be answered by emailing the food truck inspector at dfdmobiles@denvergov.org.

You will need to bring the record number you were provided for your application.

Step 12.License issuance

Once the unit has been approved by DFD during the physical inspection and remotely by DDPHE, a license will be issued for the mobile unit by Excise and Licenses via email within 5 business days.

  • All fabrication of mobile unit must be complete before submitting application.
  • You must have a permanent license plate number for your vehicle.
  • Copy of valid state or federally issued identification.
  • Obtain your propane permit or exemption letter from the Denver Fire Department to submit with the application.  
  • Mobile plan review packet(PDF, 900KB). Please make sure all required documents are submitted with application.
  • Manufacturer specifications (spec sheets) for all appliances.
  • Affidavit of commissary(PDF, 237KB).
  • All pictures submitted must be in color and printed on 8.5" x 11" paper.
    • Pictures of all 4 sides of the truck from the outside. Include a picture of the license plate. 2 pictures of the inside.
  • Zoning use permit (if operating on private property).
  • Permission letter from property owner (if operating on private property).
  • Denver sales tax license (if you answer yes to this question on the application, you will need to provide a copy of this license).
  • Current Denver business license (if you answer yes to this question on the application, you will need to provide a copy of your current business license. This is for licensees that are transferring their current business license online during their renewal process).
  • If applicant is applying as a non-profit, the following documents are required to request non-profit fee waivers:
    • A letter addressed to the Department of Excise and Licenses that contains the following:
      • request of fee waiver
      • name of non-profit
      • explanation of vision/how does the community benefit from this non-profit
      • must be on letter head
      • dated
      • signature
    • The second required document is the 501(C)3 letter from the IRS listing the non-profit's name.

If you have questions for either of these departments prior to your appointment, you may reach them at:

Basic Requirements are as follows (contact the Denver Fire Department for applicable requirements):

  1. All food trucks and/or carts shall have an approved fire extinguisher that has been inspected on a yearly basis by a Denver Fire Department licensed fire extinguisher company or,
  2. Fire extinguishers bought from a retail store shall have the receipt showing the date of purchase. This extinguisher is good for one year only, or can be inspected on a yearly basis.
  3. Fire extinguisher shall be a minimum of 2A: 10BC Classification that is mounted to the vehicle in the appropriate bracket.
  4. All hood extinguishing systems shall be inspected every six months by a Denver Fire Department licensed inspection company.
  5. Any cooking or re-heating operations that produces grease laden vapors (Including but not limited to Frying of any type) will be required to have a Class I hood installed with an approved Fire Suppression System and a Class K fire extinguisher will also be required to be mounted to the vehicle in an appropriate Class K bracket.
  6. Any solid fuel cooking (including but not limited to wood or wood pellets) shall have a Class K rated fire extinguisher AND a minimum 2A: 10BC class Dry Chemical extinguisher that is mounted to the vehicle in an appropriate 2A: 10BC bracket.
  7. Propane tanks shall be mounted securely to truck or cart by metal strap and must be protected from vehicle impact. Bungee cords and fabric tie down straps are not acceptable to secure Propane tanks (contact the Denver Fire Department for applicable requirements).
  8. All propane lines must be installed in accordance with Denver Fire Department policy and NFPA requirements (contact the Denver Fire Department for applicable requirements).

Fire Code Inspections draw from the International Fire Code, Denver Fire Code Amendments and applicable NFPA codes.

  • For Questions and information regarding Retail Food Mobile inspections that are conducted by the Denver Fire Department, please call (720) 913-3405 and ask to speak to a Mobile Retail Food inspector.

License must be displayed

Excise and Licenses will email a professional license to all licensees. This license (or a clear picture of it) must always be displayed.

Requirement to keep contact information up to date

File an online amendment application to notify the Department of any contact information changes (place of business, onsite manager, etc.). These updates must be filed within 72 hours of the change. 

Requirement to renew annually

Professional licenses expire annually. It is unlawful to operate with an expired license. Renewal applications must be filed online before a license expires.

Update contact information

If you want to update your contact information, log in to Denver's Permitting and Licensing Center to access the online licensing portal. At the "My Licenses" page, select "Amendment" for the license you want to update, then follow the prompts.

Legal name changes

If your legal name changed, email a written request to licenses@denvergov.org and include one of the following documents:

  • A certified copy of a marriage certificate indicating your new name
  • A certified copy of a final divorce decree in which the judge listed your desired name change
  • Other certified court documents granting a legal name change