Mobile Food Service Units (Food Trucks)
No seats, just eats!
Fueled by clever dishes, amazing chefs, and savvy social media, food trucks have emerged as culinary staples in cities across America.
The City of Savannah invites food truckers to join our diverse culture and southern flair! Our city understands that regulations govern every phase of a food truck's life, from startup to operation and compliance. The Office of Special Events, Film & Tourism will assist you through the permit process through service and communication.
We now offer a convenient way to navigate the annual permit process through our online permit portal where you can communicate directly with our staff from all of your connected devices.
Where standing room only applies, we welcome the best meals on wheels to Savannah!
Q: What is a Mobile Food Service Unit?
Mobile Food Service Unit (MSFU) is a fancy government term to group Food Trucks, Trailers, and pushcarts together into one term. You will see us refer to MSFU often in the application, permit, and inspection documents.
Q: I have my business tax certificate, do I need a permit to operate?
Yes. You need an MSFU permit to operate anywhere in the City of Savannah
Q: I just want to participate in an event, do I still need a permit?
Yes. You need an MSFU permit in order to operate in any capacity. The good news is that once you are permitted for the year you can join all the events that are accepting food trucks. So it helps to get this done as early as possible.
Q: How long will the permit process take?
This really depends on how prepared and organized you are. Obtaining an MSFU permit can be a daunting task as there are multiple governing agencies involved in the process. We hope to make this easier for you. A typical application can take around two weeks from start to finish with the proper inspections taking place. Scroll down to find a list of things you should have ready before you start your application. Being prepared will make the process much quicker.
Q: Do you permit for Chatham County?
No. Our permit to operate is just for the City of Savannah.
Q: Do I need to finish my application in one sitting?
No. Your application will save as you go, so you can complete it piece by piece and even jump from section to section.
Q: When do you start accepting applications?
We begin accepting permits on the first of the year to coincide with your business tax certificate. MSFUs seeking renewal are granted a grace period until February 28th to complete their applications. Operating after that date without a renewal will result in enforcement action.
Q: When do you stop accepting applications?
We typically stop accepting applications on September 1st as they are annual to the calendar, just like business tax certificates. We do not prorate our permit fee, so applying early in the year offers the most return on your investment. However, we will handle requests on a case-by-case basis for those who absolutely need an MSFU permit after September 1st.
Be Prepared and Plan for Success!
Having these documents ready before submitting your application will expedite the process. Your progress will be saved as you complete each application section, so you can still start even if you don't have everything yet.
- Valid license
- Valid vehicle registration
- Valid vehicle insurance
- Authorization letter (If you are not the business owner)
- Business tax certificate (Business license)
- Certificate of Liability
- GA Dept. of Public Health permit for your base of operations
- GA Dept. of Public Health inspection certificate for your base of operations
- GA Dept. of Public Health permit for your mobile unit
- GA Dept. of Public Health Inspection certificate for your mobile unit
- Grease interceptor permit (if applicable)
- Recent color photo of your food truck, trailer, and/or cart
- Lease agreement for each private property operating location
- Site plan for each operating location
REMEMBER: Mobile Food Service Units (MFSUs) must obtain an annual permit regardless if they operate on the public right-of-way or on private property.
- Mobile Food Service Unit (MFSU) - A trailer, pushcart, vehicle vendor or any other similar conveyance operating as an extension of and under the managerial authority of the permit holder of its permitted base of operation. The mobile food service unit and its permitted base of operation together make a mobile food service establishment.
- Base of Operation - A food service establishment or any other permitted location in which food, containers, or supplies are kept, handled, prepared, packaged, stored, or placed in containers for subsequent transport, sale, or service elsewhere.
- Fixed food service establishment - A non-mobile public or private establishment that prepares and serves meals, lunches, short orders, sandwiches, frozen desserts, or other edible products directly to the consumer either for carryout or service within the establishment. The term includes restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, short-order cafes, luncheonettes, taverns, lunchrooms, places that retail sandwiches or salads, soda fountains, and similar facilities by whatever name is called. This term shall not apply to establishments offering food service incidental to their operations.
- Food truck - All mobile food service units with the exception of pushcarts. Food trucks shall be no larger than 30×8 feet.
- Pushcart - means a human-propelled, self-contained, enclosed food service cart that operates at pre-determined locations as approved by the health authority and the City of Savannah. Pushcarts shall be no larger than 5×10 feet.
Mobile Food Service Unit Fees
- Application: $30.00 (Per Application, due on submission of application, non-refundable)
- MSFU Annual Permit: $200.00 (Per Unit)
- City of Savannah Food Truck Rodeos: $200.00 to $500.00 (Per entry)
MSFU operators found to be in violation of the MSFU Ordinance or their permit are subject to the following fines
- First violation: $500.00
- Second violation in a rolling 12-month period: $750.00
- Third violation in a rolling 12-month period: $1000.00 and revocation of your mobile food service unit permit for six months from the date of the violation.
Nothing in this section shall limit the city from enforcement of its code, state or federal law by any other legal remedy available to the city.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or supplant the power of any city inspector, deputy marshal, or another duly empowered officer under the city's ordinances, rules, and regulations or the authority granted under state law, as amended, to take necessary action, consistent with the law, to protect the public from the operation of a mobile food service unit as a nuisance, including abatement thereof by lawful means.
Documents and Links
- City of Savannah - Mobile Food Service Unit Ordinance
- City of Savannah - Business Tax Certificates
- City of Savannah - Fire Marshal Page
- GA Dept. of Health - Mobile Food Service Permits Page *
*You must complete the City of Savannah Mobile Food Service Unit application in addition to any application Georgia Department of Public Health applications.