How to Start a Food Business in the City of Portland

Types of Food Establishments & Food Service Permit Applications

Permanent Food Establishment

A permanent food establishment is an establishment operating at a fixed location for more than 21 consecutive days.

The owner or lessee of the food establishment is required to apply for a license on an annual basis, and licenses expire on January 31st of every year. The cost of the license is $437 if food is stored, prepared, and served on site, plus the application fee. If the food establishment sells pre-packaged or ready-to-eat food only, but does not prepare the food on site, then the cost of the license is $172, plus the application fee. If the food establishment serves alcohol for consumption on the premises, the cost of the license varies depending upon state liquor class (class 1-11) and other factors. The application fee is $35 for the initial application, and $25 annually for renewal. Please see the Business Licensing webpage for license applications and contact information: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/150/Business-Licensing

Please confirm whether or not your business is located within a historic district, by checking the City’s GIS map of historic districts: http://click.portlandmaine.gov/portlandhistoric/

If your business is located within a local historic district, any exterior or site alteration must be reviewed and approved by the Historic Preservation Office prior to undertaking the work. Examples of alterations requiring historic preservation approval include alterations to the building entry; installation of signs, awnings and/or exterior lighting; outdoor dining installations, the introduction of exterior vents, ductwork and/or other mechanical equipment. If you have questions about historic preservation ordinance requirements, the City’s Historic Preservation Division staff will be happy to meet with you. Contact 874-8726 (dga@portlandmaine.gov) or 756-823 (rwiener@portlandmaine.gov) for an appointment.

You are also required to have a state food service license from the Department of Health and Human Services, when 51% or more of your revenue is from prepared food. Applications can be downloaded from http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/el/forms.htm OR the Department of Conservation, Forestry and Agriculture, when 51% or more of your revenue is from pre-packaged food. Applications are at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/qar/permits_and_licenses/application_forms.shtml.


Permanent Food Establishment with Outdoor Dining

Owners of food establishments with outdoor dining must submit an Outdoor Dining Permit, along with the permit fee and a drawing or plot plan of the dining area to the Inspections Division at buildinginspections@portlandmaine.gov Following receipt of the application, the Inspections Division will perform a site visit for inspection.

The cost of the Outdoor Dining Permit is $80 annually, plus a $2 fee per square foot of dining space on streets, sidewalks, and public ways, and $6 per square foot of dining area in parks.

Application forms can be downloaded from this website, and completed applications should be returned to the Inspections Department at City Hall, 389 Congress Street, Portland ME 04101. Questions can be directed to 207-874-8693.

Temporary Food Establishment

Temporary Food Establishments prepare and serve food at a fixed location for less than 21 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event, or for less than 3 days per week in conjunction with a farmers market. All food must be from an approved source such as a pre-packaged source, or prepared in a licensed kitchen.

The cost of a Temporary Food Service License Application is $89 per event. If the applicant is already licensed with the City of Portland, the cost is $20 per event.

Completed applications and the fee should be submitted to the City Clerk at City Hall, 389 Congress Street, Portland Maine 04101. Questions can be directed to 207-874-8557. Also view the food service list of regulations.

In addition to the City of Portland Food Temporary Service Application, all food establishments must also obtain a Maine DHHS Temporary Food Service License. The cost of the license is $60. A state mobile license would also be sufficient to meet this requirement. Applications can be downloaded from this website or obtained from the Maine CDC, Environmental Health Division's website at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/el/forms.htm Questions can be directed to 207-287-5671.

Mobile Food Establishments

A mobile food service includes push carts, base stations, food truck, trailers, and ice cream trucks. Hours of operation for operation for mobile food service establishments are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., or 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for ice cream trucks.

Mobile food establishments, ice cream trucks, and push carts can apply for a night vending permit to sell between the hours of 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. Download the  application and permit for mobile food establishments, ice cream trucks, and push carts.

The cost of an application is $114 for a base station, $307 for a mobile cart or ice cream truck, plus an application fee. Licensure must be renewed annually, and expire March 31st of each year. Completed applications and the fees should be submitted to the City Clerk at City Hall, 389 Congress Street, Second floor, Portland Maine 04101. Questions can be directed to 207-874-8557.

In addition to the City of Portland Food Mobile Service Application, all food establishments must also complete a Maine DHHS Application. The cost of the license is $60. Applications can be downloaded from this website or obtained from the Maine CDC, Environmental Health Division's website at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/el/forms.htm. Questions can be directed to 207-287-5671.