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Development Services Center
First Floor, Town Hall
1. When do I need to obtain a food truck/food cart permit to operate in Chapel Hill?
Permits are required when food truck/food carts operate in the following places and conditions:
- On private property.
- For temporary events on Town property, vendors wishing to sell food must apply for an Outdoor Special Events Permit from the Town Parks and Recreation Department.
2. Are there any circumstances when a food truck/food cart permit is not required in Chapel Hill?
Permits are not required when food truck/food carts operate in the following places and conditions:
- On private residential property for one day only (catering a private party, for example), and the food is not being sold to the general public.
- On UNC-Chapel Hill property. The vendor must make arrangements directly with UNC administration.
- Temporary events on private property (shopping center, office park, community clubhouse, or public school, for example) as these events are covered under a separate event permit obtained by the event organizer. The food truck vendor will not be required their own permit in this scenario.
3. When permits are required, which permits do I need to operate a food truck/food cart in Chapel Hill and how do I apply for them?
Zoning Compliance Permits (submitted together):
- Vendor Permit for food truck/food cart owner (expiring June 30 and renewed annually)
- Property Owner Permit for the site(s) where the food truck/food cart is proposed to be operated.
4. What are the Town fees associated with operating a food truck?
- Zoning Compliance Permit fees for vendors; the vendor permit must be renewed annually
- Zoning Compliance Permit fees for private property owners
5. What else should I know about operating a food truck in Chapel Hill?
Here are a few things to remember:
- Your food truck must have a restaurant or commissary that serves as a base of operations for the food truck.
- Permitting and inspection of the mobile food unit is the responsibility of the county health department that holds jurisdiction over the vendor's restaurant or commissary.
- Each food truck is assigned a number that is tracked by NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
- Food trucks may cross county lines to conduct business, and they are subject to inspection by each county health department where they are doing business. Health inspection violations are handled in the same manner as restaurant health inspections.
6. I have concerns about a food truck that is operating in Chapel Hill. Whom should I contact?
- If concerned with unsanitary conditions of a food truck: Contact the Orange County Health Department at 919-245-2360.
- If concerned that a food truck is not complying with local rules, contact the Town of Chapel Hill's Development Services Center at 919-969-5066 or send an email to email@example.com. Code enforcement complaints can be found here.