Below is a step-by-step guide to getting a food truck licensed in the City of Toronto.
For a quick, visual explanation, check out our infographic version.
Buying Your Food Truck
There are two main routes most aspiring food truck owners go when buying a truck. Either they get the food truck customization company they are using to source the vehicle or they find trucks on the internet through websites like Kijiji or craigslist and customize the truck themselves.
In addition to getting your truck customized you also need to make sure it meets the requirements of the four regulatory bodies with which each food truck must comply; the health department, the fire department (NFPA), standards and safety (TSSA), and electrical safety (ESA).
Finally, once you buy your truck and get it customized and branded, you need to get the proper municipal licensing and certifications in place from the City of Toronto.
If you plan on preparing food on your truck then you need a Refreshment Truck License. This is your business license and you get it from the department of Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS).
There are three different license types for Refreshment Vehicles at varying costs:
- Motorised Refreshment Vehicle Owner: $ 1,030.25 for the first year, $690.01 for renewals
- Refreshment Vehicle Driver: $342.52 for the first year, $253.49 for renewals
- Refreshment Vehicle Assistant: $342.52 for the first year, $253.49 for renewals
In addition to every truck requiring an Owner’s License, the current by-law states that all employees that either drive the truck or service customers need to have either a Refreshment Vehicle Driver’s License or a Refreshment Vehicle Assistant’s License.
“No owner to whom this section relates shall permit or allow any person other than a licensed driver employed by the owner to operate the refreshment vehicle or any person other than a licensed driver or licensed assistant employed by the owner to assist in the sale of refreshments from the vehicle.”
If you think that seems like overkill, we tend to agree. Right now we’re unsure whether MLS interprets this part of the by-law literally and would enforce it accordingly. In other words, you might be able to get away with the owner having the Refreshment Truck Licence and employees having just their Food Handler’s Certificate. But we are in no way recommending this and you should check with MLS first and use this approach at your own risk.
Getting your Refreshment Truck License
To get your license, call or visit:
Municipal Licensing and Standards
Hours of Operation: 8:30 – 4:30
Information Line: 416-392-6700
East York Civic Centre
3rd Floor – 850 Coxwell Avenue
Toronto, ON M4C 5R1
Public Health Inspection
All food trucks are considered Food Premises (just like restaurants) and are subject to inspection by Toronto Public Health.
Public Health uses three different categories for food vehicles and most ‘gourmet’ food trucks would be considered Mobile Preparation Premises. Depending on what kind of food is being prepared and with what equipment, there are different standards of inspection.
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To get more information on getting your truck inspected, call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600.
Food Handler Certification
There always needs to be a certified food handler supervising the your food truck. Also, anybody handling food needs to be certified.
Food Handler Certification is issued by Toronto Public Health and can be completed in a classroom setting or a self-study/take home exam option. Visit the City’s food handler certification page for more info.
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When applying for your Refreshment Truck License or renewal for a vehicle with a propane heater, you have to provide a report from the Fuels Safety Branch, Technical Standards and Safety Authority that the vehicle meets the requirements of the propane storage, handling and utilisation code adopted in the regulations to the Energy Act.
That means you need to take your truck to a third party propane company and get your tanks certified and a report to show the City that you’ve done this. This should cost around $50.
For information surrounding the rules about where you can vend in the City, visit our Toronto Food Trucks 101 resource page.
A special thanks goes to Josh Neubauer, a 2012 MES Planning Program Candidate at York University for his help in gathering the information.