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Mobile Food UnitA mobile food unit is defined as a food service establishment mounted on wheels or otherwise designed to be immediately moveable. To operate a mobile food service establishment in New Hampshire, a license is required.

All applicants for a mobile food service license shall submit to the Food Protection Section:

  • A completed, legible Mobile Food Unit Application Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol.
  • A check or money order for the applicable fees. All fees are nontransferable and nonrefundable.
  • If the application is for a mobile food unit that uses a commissary, the identification of the commissary and a copy of the commissary license must be submitted with the application.
  • A list of vehicles used as mobile food units or to sell retail food and related vehicle information.
  • All other information that may be specific to the mobile food service operation.

It is unlawful for any person, unless exempted under New Hampshire Administrative rules, to operate a food service establishment or retail food establishment within the state without having obtained a food service license. If the Food Protection Section is satisfied that the information regarding the applicant, the applicant's operation, and facilities are in compliance with New Hampshire Administrative Rules for the sanitary production and distribution of food, a license shall be issued.

The operator of a mobile food unit shall submit a Mobile Food Unit Application Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol for a license to the Food Protection Section prior to operating. Once the application is processed, an inspection is required to obtain the food service license.

Please be aware that there are 15 self-inspecting cities and towns in New Hampshire. If you plan to operate in one of these communities, you will need to contact the local authority regarding licensing. See the list of the self-inspecting cities and contacts Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol.

Before operating, it is recommended to also check with local authorities regarding any other regulations the city or town has to operate there. Also, check with the New Hampshire Secretary of State regarding Hawkers and Peddlers licenses
at (603) 271-3246.

License Classes for Mobile Units

Mobile Cook Unit Class D ($225)
These units cook/prepare food or distribute refrigerated food. These shall be fully enclosed

Home Delivery Class F ($150)
These are delivery vehicles of packaged or frozen food. These do not include delivery of prepared foods intended for immediate consumption such as pizza delivery vehicles.

Pushcart Class F ($150)
These units are limited to serving:

  1. steamed frankfurters
  2. packaged foods that require refrigeration maintained at proper temperatures

Other Mobile Food Units Class F ($150)
These are fully enclosed units limited to serving:

  1. non-packaged foods that do not require refrigeration for safety foods,
  2. packaged foods that require refrigeration maintained at proper temperatures

Basic Requirements

Push Carts
No plan review is required

  • Pushcarts serving steamed hot dogs must have a handsink equipped with soap and paper towels.
  • Customer self-service is limited to condiments, such as ketchup and mustard from squeeze or pump bottles or individually packaged condiments. No chili or cut vegetables can be offered from the pushcart.
  • No sinks are required if serving pre-packaged foods only.

Mobile Food Cook Units

Any newly constructed Mobile Unit or Unit that has not previously been licensed shall submit a plan review application with plans and specifications to the Food Protection Section for review and approval at least 30 days before beginning the construction of a mobile food unit. See the See the Food Establishment Floor Plan Review Application Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol.

  • The floor, wall, and ceiling surfaces must be smooth, durable, and easily cleanable. Floor surfaces should be vinyl or equivalent.
  • Interior lights must be shielded or coated.
  • All foods, beverages and ice must be obtained from an approved source. Any food preparation or food storage done off-site, must be accomplished at a licensed food establishment. No preparation may be conducted at home.
  • All equipment used in this operation must meet applicable NSF International food service equipment standards.
  • Commercial refrigeration must be provided for all food that requires refrigeration for safety.
  • Accurate temperature measuring devices must be provided in each refrigeration unit and for monitoring internal food temperatures.
  • Single service disposable utensils must be provided for eating and drinking purposes unless approved warewashing facilities are provided.
  • A handsink equipped with soap and paper towels and hot and cold running water.

Dishwashing Facilities
If multiuse utensils are used, provide dishwashing facilities, which consist of at least a three-compartment sink, either freestanding or installed in a counter. Each bay must be large enough to accommodate the largest utensil or equipment. Space must be provided for air-drying utensils. If the three-compartment sink is not on board the unit, the operator will need access to a 3 bay sink at a licensed servicing area/commissary location. A copy of the food service license for the servicing area/commissary location must be submitted with the food license application.

Water Supply
The water supply in a mobile food unit must meet the following requirements:

  • Hot and cold water must be supplied under pressure with a mixing faucet.
  • Water must be obtained from an approved public water supply system. If water is from a residential well, water test results for bacteria, nitrates and nitrites shall be submitted with the application

Water tanks must be provided which are easily cleanable, of sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the operation and constructed of an approved non-toxic material. The water inlet must be protected from contamination and be designed to prevent attachment of a non-potable service connection.

Hoses used to obtain water must be of food grade quality and provided with an approved backflow prevention device.

Water tanks, pumps, and hoses must be flushed and sanitized before being placed into service after construction, repair, modification, and periods of nonuse.

Waste Disposal
A wastewater holding tank must be provided which is sized 15 % larger in capacity than the water supply tank.

Wastewater must be removed in such a manner that a public health hazard or nuisance is not created. Wastewater must be discharged into a sanitary sewer or other approved sewage treatment system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a NH state food license if I want to operate my mobile unit at a fair or farmers market?

If a mobile unit only operates as a "Temporary food service establishment'' which means any food service establishment which operates at a fixed location for a temporary period of time not exceeding 2 weeks, in connection with a fair, carnival, circus, public exhibition, or similar transitory gathering, it is exempt from a food service license.
- or -
If a mobile unit only operates as an "Occasional food service establishment'' which means any food service establishment where food is served or provided for the public on the premises of the establishment, whether or not there is a charge for such food, no more than 4 days during a 30-day period, it is exempt from a food service license.

Mobile units which do not meet the definition of a temporary food service establishment or occasional food service establishment shall apply for a Mobile Food Unit Application Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol.

Before operating, it is recommended to also check with local authorities regarding any other regulations the city or town has to operate there.

What sinks are required in a mobile unit?

You will need a minimum of a handsink on the mobile unit and access to a 3-bay sink (either on board or at a servicing area/commissary location).

Can any type of vehicle be modified into a mobile food unit?

Yes, but a plan review application Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol is required to be sent to the Food Protection Section prior to construction.

Can we set up other cooking equipment such as a grill or smoker outside the mobile food unit during hours of operation?

No, there shall be no cooking equipment or other accessories outside the mobile food unit. Everything that is used on the mobile food unit shall be an integral part of the unit. All storage tanks shall be part of the mobile food unit.

As a mobile food unit, can we offer any type of food that we want?

A menu shall be provided to the Food Protection Section in conjunction with the plan review application to ensure the mobile food unit has the necessary equipment. All food must be prepared at the mobile food service operation or licensed food establishment and no preparation may be conducted at home. No home canned foods are permitted. All foods shall be obtained from sources that comply with all the laws relating to food and food products.

May we use ice for cold holding our food inside the mobile food unit?

It depends on the types of food, but all food items that require refrigeration shall be mechanically refrigerated while stored within the mobile food unit. Ice is only permissible for push carts and for other mobile units when storing customer beverages that do not require refrigeration.

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
129 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3852

copyright 2016. State of New Hampshire