Mobile Food Unit Business License

A license is required if you operate a mobile food unit, commonly known as a food truck. Mobile food units are motor vehicles, trailers or wagons used to prepare food to be eaten immediately. A separate license is required for each food unit.

If you sell prepackaged food items exclusively, e.g., an ice cream truck, you do not need a license.

A license is valid for one year from the issue date.

Step 1: Read the Salem Revised Code (SRC)

SRC Chapter 30 outlines the requirements for licenses in Salem. You will want to be familiar with the requirements covering mobile food units.

Location guidelines

  • Zones: Operate only in zones where mobile food units are allowed as a permitted use. This includes most commercial and industrial zones. Operation is not permitted in residential zones.
  • Approved lots: Operate only in approved parking lots and other hard surface areas where off-street parking requirements are met. Parking in a public street or in a right-of-way is not permitted.

Call the Planner's Desk at 503-588-6213 to check the zoning of your property and to see if you can operate a mobile food unit in your location.

Operation guidelines

  • Safety: Operate in a manner that does not create a traffic or safety hazard, and maintain clear walking pathways, driveways and drive aisles.
  • Litter removal: Pick up any litter within 20 feet of the mobile unit while open for business.
  • Storage: Provide screening for all storage areas, tanks and conduits using fencing or temporary landscaping when parked in one location for 24 hours or longer.
  • Moveable: Ensure the mobile food unit remains capable of being moved.

Step 2: Apply for a license

Licenses cannot be transferred [SRC 30.035].

You need to apply in person at the Permit Application Center and bring the following:

  • A completed application form.
  • A site plan or marked up aerial map showing the following:
    • Location of the property in the city
    • Location of the unit on the property
    • An accurate count and drawing of parking spaces
    • Street location and entrance to the property from street
  • Payment for the license fee. The application fee is non-refundable. 

Step 3: Application review

Each application will be reviewed to decide if the license requirements have been met and to verify the application information.

Approval: You will be notified in writing, and you can pick up the actual license from the Permit Application Center.

Denial: You will be notified in writing and given a reason for the denial.  You can appeal the decision as outlined in SRC Chapter 20J.

Application renewals

Renewals for a mobile food unit license must be completed within 30 days of the expiration date of the existing license.  A renewed license is effective as of the expiration date of the prior license. If an application to renew an existing license is not turned in before the current license expires, a new license is required.

Renewal notifications are not sent out by the city. You are responsible for renewing your license.

You need to apply in person at the Permit Application Center and bring the following:

Approval: You will be notified in writing, and you can pick up the actual license from the Permit Application Center.

Denial: You will be notified in writing and given a reason for the denial.  You can appeal the decision as outlined in SRC Chapter 20J.

Contact us

Permit Application Center
General Questions
Monday–Friday
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Permit/License Processing
Monday–Friday
8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Plans Intake
Monday–Friday
9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 320
Salem OR 97301
Mail payments to:
PO Box 3405
Portland OR 97208
Phone: