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You may not realize it, but you need have special licensing and paperwork to be a street food vendor in California. No one can legally go out and start selling food to make a few extra bucks. The state requires these licenses in order to keep people safe and healthy.

No one ever wants to get sick, especially if it can be avoided. This means that no one ever wants to get sick from eating bad, or ill prepared food. That is why the state of California, as well as most of its cities, require street vendors to have special permits and licenses. Having the proper paperwork helps ensure customers that the food they are purchasing was treated properly and safely.


Any legal street vendor should have a special sticker on that publicly displays their license number. The owner’s contact information and the business’ name should both be clearly visible on the license.


In Los Angeles County, the Street Vending Compliance Program is responsible for investigating street vendors throughout the county. Here is a quick list of some of the things they look for to determine if every is up to the local standards.

  • A source of potable water for food handlers to wash their hands or utensils
  • Food is obtained from approved sources
  • Proper equipment to maintain food at the required temperatures
  • Sanitary conditions for the work area and equipment
  • Food is protected from contamination
  • Restroom are available for food handlers
  • Approved food equipment

If a vendor does not meet one of these requirements, then they can be penalized. Vendors who are missing some of the proper paper work, or who do not meet the set rules and regulations, run the risk of being fined, being jailed for a short period, and/ or losing their license. The rules and penalties can vary from city to city, so be sure to be up to date on the regulations in your area if you are a street vendor.

As a vendor, you not only need to have the proper license to sell the food, you need to be sure that you are permitted to sell food at whatever location you are at. Cities often set zoning laws and restrictions on where street vendors can setup and sell their food. To learn more about where you can and cannot sell food in your area, contact your local city hall.

Remember, all of this is to help keep customers safe. After all, no one wants to get sick from eating ill prepared food.