Starting a Food Business

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Prior to opening a new food service establishment or making changes to an existing food service establishment in Snohomish County, the Washington State Retail Food Code requires that plans be reviewed and approved by the Snohomish Health District. This review process will help ensure that your plans and equipment meet state and local health requirements.

We accept applications in person, by mail or online.
Snohomish Health District
Attn: Food Section Plan Review
3020 Rucker Avenue
Suite 104
Everett, WA 98201-3900

turnaround times

  • Our current estimated timeline for completing a food plan review is 10 weeks. Exact turnaround times are dependent on the number of applications submitted and may be longer.

We are not accepting expedited applications at this time.


To help save time and help make your permitting process easier, you can now schedule a plan review consultation with one of our reviewers to answer general questions about your project. We understand that every project has different needs and we want to help you succeed. 

Example of services: 

  • Change of ownership - Assess the facility you are looking to purchase and ensure that you will be in compliance with the Snohomish Health District requirements. This is a popular option for new owners.
  • New food service establishment - Help explain and guide you through the plan review process. Assist you with answering any questions or concerns.
  • Remodel/revision to approved plan - Determine how the proposed changes will affect your operation and explain any requirements that will need to addressed.

Our scheduled appointments can be held at our Everett office or your proposed facility location. Once a consultation request has been submitted, the plan reviewer will contact you to set up the appointment time and meeting location.

To help prepare for a consultation, we ask that you do the following:

  • Become familiar with our minimum equipment requirements for food service establishments.
  • Have an idea about what type of establishment you are planning to operate. 
  • Come prepared with your questions.

New food service establishment

A food service establishment is a place where food is provided for service directly to the consumer, whether the food is provided free of charge or sold, and whether the food is consumed on or off the premises.

This includes restaurants, employee cafeterias, bakeries, takeouts, pizzerias, bars, senior centers, emergency food relief organizations, public and non-public schools, or religious, fraternal and charitable organizations.

New food service establishments will need to complete the full plan review application.

New Mobile food Unit

A mobile food unit is an operation where the food service establishment is movable. Mobile food units are supported by a commissary facility, which is a permitted food service establishment, to ensure food safety requirements are met. This includes food trucks, food cart vendors,and other mobile operations.

New mobile food units will need to complete the full mobile plan review application. Commissary agreements will need to be submitted.

(Already permitted in Washington State? Please submit the items on the following checklist.)

Tasting, Tap room, Limited Grocery

A food service establishment that does not handle any open food or conduct any food preparation. These facilities are limited to dispensing non-potentially hazardous foods or vending commercially pre-packaged food items.

New Food Stand Concession

A Food Stand Concession is defined as a stand or drive-thru food service establishment that is less than 120 square feet, does not provide warewashing sinks (3-compartment sink), and therefore has an extremely limited menu. Food stand concessions are supported by a commissary facility, which is a permitted food service establishment, to ensure food safety requirements are met. 

Remodel A Food Service Establishment / Revise an Approved Plan

Revisions include changing the menu, equipment, layout of kitchen, or adding catering or specialized processes.

Changing Ownership

Change of ownership is a process for new owners to operate an existing food service establishment in Snohomish County. Food service establishment permits are not transferable to different owners or locations. No changes to the food service establishment can be made without an on-site inspection by the Snohomish Health District. 


  1. SUBMITTAL. Prior to taking over an existing food business, submit the change of ownership application. A copy of the water and sewer service invoice for the facility will need to be included with the application.  
  2. CONDITIONAL OPERATING PERMIT. Upon receiving your application and payment, you will receive a conditional operating permit which will expire after 90 days.  
  3. INSPECTION. Within the first 2 weeks of operation, you will be contacted by an inspector to schedule your first inspection to determine if your facility meets all the current state and local health requirements.  
  4. RESULT OF INSPECTION. If your facility requires upgrades, these upgrades will need to be completed and approved by Snohomish Health District prior to the 90 day expiration date. Some changes may require plan review approval. Plan review submittal is recommended as quickly as possible to allow sufficient time to work with the plan reviewer and make the necessary changes. If all required upgrades are not completed and approved prior to the expiration date, your conditional operating permit will be pulled, and you will be required to close. 
  5. ANNUAL OPERATING PERMIT. Once the facility is fully compliant, you must purchase your annual operating permit.  

Change of Ownership applications can be emailed   to Environmental Health, they cannot be submitted online.