Starting a Food Truck

Whether you are building your food truck from scratch or buying a previously used food truck, this is a helpful checklist for starting a Mobile Food Unit in MN.

If you’re curious about initial start-up costs and nature of the business in a general sense:  Food Truck Business.


Before you get too far down the rabbit hole, check to see what health department your menu/food items fall under. (Licensing “Wizard” or Sorter Quiz)

Why is this important? If you qualify for the MN Dept. of Agriculture License, you are not required to obtain any other health license in the state of MN. Which will save you hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars each year.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will license and inspect menu items like, bakery goods, donuts, funnel cakes, popcorn, fruit, snow cones, pre-packaged Ice Cream/milk/meats/peanuts/fruits/etc.

Most trucks do NOT qualify for MDA. From here you can either license in the jurisdictions where you intend to serve most, or license with Minnesota Dept. of Health (MDH).

Minnesota Department of Health
Many food trucks, that are just starting out, will get licensed with the MDH first because as a transient, mobile business we are typically unsure where exactly our niche will be or where we will prosper most. While the MDH License does not cover as much area in the Twin Cities as it once did, there are many cities and counties that offer discounted licenses (Reciprocity Licenses) if you already have the MDH License. To list a few: Anoka County, Hennepin County, Rasmey County and Washington County all offer reciprocity licenses.

Minnesota map of the jurisdictions that MDH covers/does not cover.

All health agencies must follow the MN Food Code, though they may enact additional local ordinances that do not conflict with and are not less restrictive than the State.

These are the agencies that require separate or additional health licenses.

Hennepin County Environmental Health Department
Ramsey County Environmental Health Department
Minneapolis Health Department
Minnetonka Environmental Health Department
Brooklyn Park Public Health Department
St. Cloud Health & Inspections Department
Bloomington Environmental Health Department