Food Carts Europe: Licenses, Permits and Legal Requirements

Food carts Europe licenses and permits

As street food carts manufacturers, we often get questions from our customers  – especially first-time entrepreneurs – about street food regulations in various European countries and the licenses and paperwork required to start a mobile street food business.

Since the legal requirements concerning street food vending vary from country to country and even city to city, it would be a close to impossible task for us to provide a comprehensive answer to each of these questions.

However, we’d love to help every single one of you with at least a couple of pointers in the right direction. 

For this purpose, we put together a guide with the legal and the administrative steps involved in starting a food cart business for the following European countries: 

[we will update this guide regularly, with more countries to follow every week]

  • List of Countries

    Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK

Food Carts Belgium – Licenses, Permits & Legal Requirements

With a strong tradition of street food staples – frites, waffles and sausages, anyone? – Belgium has its rightful place on the European Street Food map, especially with the new breed of entrepreneurs taking things to the next level.

But how easy is it to start a mobile street food business in Belgium?

The short answer is: quite simple, provided you have a solid business plan. Here’s what you need to do:

Preemptive step: check with your local authorities what are the requirements concerning the type of food you are going to sell, including the set-up of your food cart.

  1. In order to start your business, either as a self-employed individual or as a SME, you must first register with the “Banque Carrefour des Entreprises” (BCE) at your local business counter (ondernemingsloket) or a notary.
  2. Register with the tax authorities in your region and get a VAT number for your business.
  3. Apply for an itinerant merchant card (leurkaart). As a business owner and/or employer, you’ll need a card for yourself and an auxiliary card for anyone else working with you. Both can be obtained at your local business counter (ondernemingsloket).
  4. Besides your itinerant merchant card, you will also need a license to sell street food from the municipality (commune) where you want to operate.
  5. Apply for a permit from the Agence Fédérale pour la Sécurité de la Chaine Alimentaire (AFSCA) that proves the safety of your food. You will need to do a mandatory training first and AFSCA will do regular inspections to your place of trade.
  6. Obtain authorization to sell alcohol, if applicable (from your municipality).
  7. Apply for an environmental permit for your cart’s equipment. This can be done at your municipality and, in order to obtain it, you must have your food cart’s gas and electrical installation certified by an approved body.
  8. Get a medical certificate for food handling.
  9. Get your food cart/business insured, if applicable.

These are, at large, the steps that must be completed in order to sell street food in Belgium. For detailed information about all the necessary documents and where you can get them, visit the urbanisation department at your local municipality.

Food Carts Denmark – Licenses, Permits & Legal Requirements

Having no less than 24 Michelin-starred restaurants, Denmark is renowned for its fine dining scene but its street food markets are equally appealing and rising in popularity. 

And the good news doesn’t stop here: when it comes to starting a business in Denmark, the process is one of the most straightforward in Europe.

Here’s what setting up a mobile street food vending business in Denmark entails:

Preemptive step: check with your local authorities what are the requirements concerning the type of food you are going to sell, including the set-up of your food cart.

  1. Choose a business type, such as a partnership or a private limited liability company, and incorporate your business.
  2. Register your company with the Danish Business Authority and get its Central Company Register Number (CVR).
  3. Register with the tax authorities in your area for VAT purposes.
  4. Register with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and apply for authorization to sell food. If your activities require approval, you will be contacted by the DVFA who will ​visit your premises before an approval can be granted.
  5. Obtain your street vending permit from the Danish Business Authority. The permit will be valid for one calendar year and must be renewed every year.

Good to know:

  • While street food vending is allowed in Denmark, selling certain goods such as alcohol, tobacco, chocolates and over-the-counter medicine is prohibited. Please double check these restrictions with your local authorities.
  • If you’re planning to sell in a park, you need to pay a market rent fee.
  • When it comes to obtaining your vending permit, different conditions may apply according to the size of your cart and specific to the area you’ll be conducting your business in. For example, in Copenhagen, small food carts (under 2.5 sqm) may be placed in public squares and pavements, while large carts (over 2.5 sqm), such as food trucks or vans, may be placed in parking lots.
  • Beside the push-cart, you must set up a conspicuous poster with the name and address of the enterprise owner, as well as the enterprise’s CVR/VAT no. (if the enterprise has a CVR/VAT no.). A written copy of this information must be distributed to customers upon request.

For more information about setting up a food cart business in Denmark, click here.

Food Carts UK – Licenses, Permits & Legal Requirements

Part traditional, part exotic, UK’s street food scene is a melting pot of flavours, perfectly mirroring the country’s rich cultural heritage as well as its blossoming diversity.

Provided you’re well-equipped to put up with the country’s moody weather, here are the steps for starting a food cart business in the UK:

Preemptive step: check with your local authorities what are the requirements concerning the type of food you are going to sell, including the set-up of your food cart.

  1. Incorporate your business and register with the tax authorities for VAT purposes.
  2. Register your food business with your local authority at least 28 days before opening, a mandatory step in order to sell food within the UK.
  3. Check with your local council and see if you need a street trading licence for the area where you’re planning to trade.
  4. Get the Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate, mandatory for you and for each of your staff members. This is usually done by completing a day’s course with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health or the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS).
  5. Have your food cart’s gas and electrical installations checked and approved by registered professionals: you need an LPG gas certificate from a registered gas installer and your electrical appliances must be PAT tested by a qualified electrician.
  6. Create and implement a HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) plan for cooking, storing and transporting your food in a safe manner.
  7. Get public liability insurance, if applicable.

Good to know:

  • By law, all food businesses must have separate hand and pot washing facilities.
  • You must have the requisite fire-fighting equipment on-site at all times.
  • You also need to have digital and physical copies of your certifications and permits on-site at all times.
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