AG 1089D: Vending from a Traveling Cart or Vehicle Along an Approved Route

A Street Use permit for route vending is currently limited to vending flowers and food and non-alcoholic beverages that are exempt from a Public Health of Seattle & King County Mobile Food Unit permit. Please review this list of health-permit exempted food from the Public Health website before applying for an SDOT route vending permit. Route vending is allowed from a vending vehicle or mobile cart.

This applicant guide will walk you through the steps needed to apply for, obtain, renew, and close your permit.

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Step 1: Permit duration

Step 2: Plan your route

Step 3: Prepare information and documents needed for your application

Step 4: Apply on the Seattle Services Portal

Step 5: Understand the application review & decision process

Step 6: Pay for, obtain, print, and store your permit

Step 7: Permit renewal process

Step 8: Adhere to permit conditions

Step 9: Changing or closing your permit


Step 1: Permit duration

Route vending permits are all issued for a period of one year. There is no option for a 4-month trial permit nor a temporary event vending permit that covers route vending. Route vending permits run from February 1 of one year through January 31 of the following year. If an application is approved at any other time during the year, it will still expire on the January 31st for the next calendar year.

You may apply to vend along an approved route for any combination of days of the week. There is no difference in permit fees if you apply for one day a week or seven days a week.

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Step 2: Plan your route

Route vending is allowed on public streets, sidewalks, and plazas. However, it is not allowed in the Prohibited Mobile Food Vending Greater Downtown area, in the Prohibited Mobile Food Vending University District area, or within 1,000 feet of a public or private school with any classes from kindergarten through 12th grade. When planning your route, you’ll need to stay away from these areas.

You’ll need to provide a map of the entire route. Route vending allows you to stop briefly at a location along the approved route, vend briefly, then continue on the approved route. It is important that you are able to vend without causing a disruption to the traveling public and that you adhere to all permit conditions. You do not need to travel the full length of your route on any given day, but you do need to describe the entire route in your application.

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Step 3: Prepare information and documents needed for your application

In addition to telling us where, when, and how long you’d like to vend, you’ll need to provide specific information and documents as part of your application. Based on your business type, you should gather appropriate documents and information included below. You’ll be asked to upload PDF or JPEG copies of all required documents during the application or review process.

  • All Street Use permitted vendors must have a current Seattle Business License. 
  • Route food and/or beverage vendors must provide their menu – a list of the foods and beverages that you intend to sell.
  • Route vendors must show proof that the food they are vending is exempt from the Public Health – Seattle & King County mobile food service business permit.
  • You must provide at least one photograph of your vending unit.
  • All route vending applicants must submit a route map as their required site plan.
    • A route map site plan is an aerial view showing your planned route and clearly indicating the locations where you intend to stop regularly. You may use a mapping tool such as Google Maps to create this route plan. Or use an aerial view from such a map and hand-draw your route and locations on it, photograph that hand-drawn map and upload it to your application as a JPEG file.
    • Your vending setup at each stopping location must meet the clearance and setback requirements described in the draft SDOT Director’s Rule: Vending in the Public Place, on this webpage. We expect this Rule to be approved and published before the 2023 vending year begins. Please see these sections of the draft Director’s Rule for siting standards that apply to route vending as appropriate to your type of vending unit (truck vs cart) and type of location (curb vs sidewalk or plaza) at which you’ll stop: 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, and 6.4. We encourage you to read the entire Director’s Rule, but these sections will help you as you plan your stops. 

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Step 4: Apply on the Seattle Services Portal

All Street Use vending applications must now be submitted via the Seattle Services Portal.  If you’ve never used the Portal before, you must start by registering. Here is a help article on How to Create a New Account, an article on How to Activate Your Account, and a help video on the process as well.  

TIP! Before and during your completion of a vending application, we strongly recommend that you open and closely follow our step-by-step, detailed help article called How Do I Apply for a Street Use Vending Permit.  

Here are some specific tips for applying for a route vending permit:

  • On the home page of the Portal under Create New, choose “Permits – Street Use,” then log in
  • Under Select a Record Type click on Short Term Use, then check the circle next to Vending before you click on the Continue Application button.
  • For site address, use the address of our Street Use office: 700 5th Ave
  • When choosing your Use Description, choose Route Vending

If you get stuck during the application process, please contact SDOTPermits@seattle.gov or 206-684-5253. If you need language assistance, please call our Customer Care Center at 206-684-7623.

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Step 5: Understand the application review & decision process

Once you submit your application via the Portal, it will be screened to make sure all required information and documents were included. If more information is needed, you’ll receive an email with instructions.

TIP! Most emails during the permit review are sent from a Do Not Reply address, so they may go into your spam folder.  Please check your spam folder occasionally after applying to make sure you aren’t missing emails related to your application.  

Once you have completed your application correctly and all documents are uploaded, your application will be assigned for review! 

You can check the status of your application on the Seattle Services Portal at any time. When our application review is complete, we will either approve, approve with modifications, or deny your application. If we require modification or deny your permit, we will provide reasons for the decision.

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Step 6: Pay for, obtain, print, and store your permit

  • Permit fees and payment plans 

Permit fees are posted directly to your Portal record after your application is approved. Permit issuance and occupation fees are due prior to the issuance of the permit. 

  • Payment deadlines (Important New Change) 

Beginning with applications submitted for 2023 vending permits, you must pay your fees within 30 days of notification that your application has been approved or SDOT may close your application. If you were later interested in vending, you would have to begin again by submitting a new application. Notification comes through a Do Not Reply email, so make sure you check your spam folder! 

  • Permit document 

Once your application is approved and your fees are paid, your permit will be issued and you will receive notification via email. At that time, you should review, download, and print the permit document and approved site plan. You must carry a copy of your permit and approved route map (site plan) on your vending unit whenever you vend in public right-of-way. 

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Step 7: Permit renewal process

Effective October 15, 2022, our one-year vending permits will all expire on the same January 31st date each year. Vendors with one-year permits will be able to submit a renewal application on a predictable posted schedule each year.

To ensure you do not miss the deadline for the annual renewal application period, make sure to read your emails from us and check our Vending Webpage for updates every fall.

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Step 8: Adhere to permit condition>

As a permitted vendor, you are required to adhere to all permit conditions. These are listed on the permit document itself, with additional detail contained in the SDOT Director’s Rule: Vending in the Public Place, which is currently in draft format and open for review on this website.

Of particular importance for route vending, vendors must obey all traffic rules and must ensure the wheels on their unit are safely secured whenever they are conducting or are set up to conduct business. 

Route vending permits are the only SDOT vending permits that allow the use of amplified sound, but please note that this sound must comply with the noise control ordinance -- Seattle Municipal Chapter 25.08.

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Step 9: Changing or closing your permit

If you wish to make a change to your current permit, you can request a permit revision through our Seattle Services Portal.

  If you no longer wish to vend at your permitted site, or if you are closing or selling your business, you must notify us by either submitting a withdrawal request via the Portal or by contacting us at publicspace@seattle.gov so we can close your permit and open the site to other vendors. 

If you sell your business, your permit cannot be transferred to a new owner. The new owner must instead apply for a new permit in their name. Please note that the new owner will not be granted site priority.  

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