Mobile food vehicle

A 'mobile food vehicle' is defined as a vehicle propelled by a motor or a food vending machine. A mobile food vehicle cannot be a converted bicycle or push cart.

Mobile food vehicles do not include food transport vehicles to deliver food:

  • for catering, or
  • from a business to a retail premises for sale or home delivery (e.g. pizza delivery).

Find out about the Brisbane Food Trucks initiative.

Mobile food vehicles are a great way to take your food business on the road to your customers. The Food Act 2006 enables an operator of a mobile food vehicle to take the vehicle into any local government in Queensland. You only require one licence to operate.

When you need a licence

A mobile food business that conducts the following activities requires a licence from Brisbane City Council:

  • preparing and selling food from a motor vehicle
  • ice cream van
  • pie van (smoko truck)
  • mobile snack trucks
  • mobile food trailers
  • domestic water carriers
  • unpackaged food from a vending machine.

The type of mobile food vehicle you plan to use may influence the type of foods you can provide. For example, a pie van (smoko truck) handling food outside the van, may be limited in terms of the items it can sell. This is due to a higher chance of contamination to food preparation surfaces. Council may not permit making sandwiches from smoko trucks.

If you are a non-profit organisation, there may be different rules that apply.

When a licence is not required

Mobile food businesses that sell only the following do not require a licence:

  • coffee or tea
  • slushies
  • pre-packaged food.

Permitted locations

Markets and events

The best place for mobile food vehicles to operate is at organised markets and events.

Council parks

Operating an approved mobile food business in a park activates green spaces. Council encourages this operation. Find out more about operating a commercial activity in a park and how this can help grow your business.

Private property

Mobile vehicles can operate on private property in an itinerant way. This means arriving at work places, selling and then moving on. Mobile vehicles based permanently on private property are considered a restaurant under the City Plan. These vehicles may require planning approval. Find out the preferred locations and approvals required for a restaurant.

Other locations

Roadside

Mobile food vehicles operating on the roadside or colonnaded area (columns support part of a building or roof) require an additional licence. The required licence is a roadside vending (standing vehicle licence).

Preparing food at other locations

If you prepare ingredients or food at another location, the preparation location must be licensed as a food manufacturer.

For example, if you want to use your home kitchen to bake cakes to sell, your home kitchen must have a licence. Find out more about getting a food licence for a home-based food business.

Fees

As a general guide, for new mobile food vehicles, fees that may apply for the 2020-21 financial year are set out below.

Small business fee reduction

If you run a small business, you may be eligible for a small business fee reduction.

Table showing types of applications and fees.
Type Fee Small business fee reduction
Food Business Design Application $390.35 100%
Food Business Licence Application $789.55 50% for new applications
10% for renewals

These fees do not attract GST.

How to apply

The application process has a number of steps. You can complete them all online using the application for food business approvals online form.

Before submitting an application, review helpful hints about preparing an application and common application problems to avoid.

Council has introduced a free advisory service for new and existing businesses. Contact Council for more information. The advisory service allows you to speak with one of Council’s Environment Health Officers to provide advice on meeting the requirements of the food safety standards and ensure any future application is properly made. To book a meeting, please apply by contacting Council’s Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263).

Stage 1: Design assessment

Application for design assessment

It is strongly recommended that businesses submit a design assessment however this is not mandatory. The assessment of the structural fit-out will be undertaken at the food business licence assessment stage.

Food businesses may still choose to apply for a design assessment to ensure your kitchen design complies with the food standards code prior to construction, prevent delays with the processing of your food business licence application and reduce the potential for costly re-work . Please note, incomplete or defective food business fit-outs will not be approved. 

Ensure you:

Stage 2: Food business licence assessment

Application for food business licence

For small businesses with up to 19 employees with a proposed kitchen area of less than 250m2, suitably made food business licence applications will be decided within 3 business days. For all other food business licence applications, properly made applications will be decided within 10 business days.

You can lodge your food business licence application using the application for food business approvals online form (pay with Visa or MasterCard).

Before you can start operating, an Environmental Health officer will conduct a final site inspection.

You will be issued the Food Business Licence when you receive approval for the completed fit-out.

Food safety program accreditation

You do not require a food safety program accreditation for a mobile food vehicle.

If you are planning to do catering as part of your business, use the application for food business approvals online form to apply for food safety program accreditation at the same time as you lodge your food licence application.

Find out more about food safety programs.

Food safety supervisor notification

All licensable food businesses in Queensland must have a food safety supervisor. You can nominate this person when you make your licence application using the application for food business approvals online form. Otherwise you can nominate a food safety supervisor by phoning the Business Hotline team on 133 BNE (133 263) within 30 days of your permit being issued. Alternatively, you can apply by completing the hard copy forms.

Find out more about food safety supervisors.

Application assessment

Prior to Council issuing a food business licence, a full Eat Safe audit of the mobile food vehicle will be conducted. Find out more information about Eat Safe Brisbane.

Surrender

To surrender a mobile food vehicle licence, complete the licence or permit surrender application online form.

More information

The Local Government Toolbox provides helpful tools and resources for mobile food vehicles.

To find out more information, or to check your approval requirements:

Last updated:1 July 2020