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Food Trucks in Chapel Hill


Food truck

The Council enacted new food truck rules and regulatory fees on May 13, 2013. This page will be updated soon to reflect those changes.

Background InformationForms | Applications
Council Items | Ordinance | FAQs


Background Information

A Food Truck vendor operating in Chapel Hill must have a valid Chapel Hill Business License. The licenses and permits are available from Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. It is a violation of Town ordinance to do business without these permits and licenses, which must be prominently displayed.

If the Food Truck is to be located on private property, the property owner must apply for and receive a Zoning Compliance Permit (ZCP) from the Planning Department at Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Beginning on March 1, 2012, vendors and private property owners in commercial zoning districts can apply for ZCPs in the Permit Center, 3rd floor of Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Before a ZCP or Business License is issued, the Food Truck vendor must obtain a County Health Department Permit. The Food Truck Vendor must have a restaurant or commissary that serves as a base of operations for the Food Truck. Permitting and inspection of the mobile food unit is the responsibility of the county health department that holds jurisdiction over the operations base restaurant or commissary. Each Food Truck is assigned a number that is then tracked by NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The permit must be posted on the Food Truck.

Food Trucks may cross county lines to conduct business, and they are subject to inspection by each county health department where they are doing business. Health inspection violations are handled in the same manner as restaurant health inspections.

Food trucks that have received permits to operate in Chapel Hill will display this decal:

2012-13 Food Truck Decal 

Where can food trucks sell?

Private Property: A private property owner must apply to the Town of Chapel Hill Planning Department for a Zoning Compliance Permit for food truck vending as an accessory use on the property. A prespective vendor also needs to apply for a Zoning Compliance Permit. The Planning Department will review the applications for compliance and zoning requirements. For one-day catering for private properties, with no food sales to the public, no ZCPs are necessary. Check with the Planning Department at 919-968-2728.

Special Events: Food Truck vendors wishing to sell on public property (including public streets) at special events must apply for an Outdoor Special Events Permit from the Parks and Recreation Department, 200 Plant Road, 919-968-2784.

Streets and Sidewalks: Town Code Section 17.76 allows for limited outdoor sales of food on the public sidewalk under certain conditions. The Town issues permits for sidewalk dining; however, food service on streets and sidewalks is prohibited. Outdoor dining permits are issued by the Town’s Inspections Division at Town Hall, 919-968-2718.



Applications Received

Council Items


New regulations passed on January 30, 2012. Please see the following:  

Town Code
Land Use Management Ordinance
Fee Schedule
Zoning Compliance Permit Fee Schedule


Frequently Asked Questions

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