Mobile Business Guide

Overview

Mobile businesses fall into three categories:

  • Mobile food vendors: This includes food trucks, food carts and lunch trucks.
  • Mobile retail vendors: These businesses sell non-food merchandise. Mobile retail vendors typically have a table and a tent at maker's markets, flea markets or other city-approved events. Mobile retail trucks have different regulations. See that section for more details.
  • Mobile services: Some mobile businesses provide services instead of selling food or merchandise. These companies include all service uses without a “brick and mortar” central office. They are typically operated from a small home office and the business is conducted at various locations, usually at the customer’s home, but not at the operator’s residence. 

Mobile Food Vendors

In order to support local entrepreneurship, innovation, and tastes, the city permits food trucks and carts in various areas. There are even parking spaces downtown available nearly round-the-clock to serve the lunch crowd and those waiting at the city’s late-night ride share hubs. 

Read About the Mobile Food Vending Pilot Program

Downtown Food Truck Program

The Downtown Food Truck Program was launched in 2019 to support Orlando’s growing foodie scene, and make it easier for “foodpreneurs” to start and grow their businesses.

On June 15, 2020, the Downtown Food Truck Program expanded to include three new locations.

As part of this update, a total of 10 on-street food truck parking locations are available. 

Food Truck Parking Approval Process

To park in one of the downtown food truck parking zones, the food truck must obtain the following:
  • Active State of Florida business license
  • Valid City of Orlando Business Tax Receipt
  • Valid Orange County Business Tax Receipt
  • Certificate of liability insurance (minimum coverage of $1,000,000, and an aggregate limit of $2,000,000) indemnifying the City of Orlando
  • Downtown Mobile Food Vending Zone parking permit (decal)

Register for the Downtown Mobile Food Vending Zone parking permit here. Permits are subject to availability. Food carts or trailers are ineligible from participating in this program. 

Operational Requirements for Downtown Food Truck Program

  1. Size. Food Trucks are limited to 27 ft. maximum truck length total (including bumper, generator, or any accessories), 8 ft. maximum truck width total.
  2. Appearance. In line with the goals of the Appearance Review Board for Downtown Orlando, food trucks will be required to meet the following aesthetic guidelines:
  3. Any portion of the food trucks in view by the public must be maintained as to not show signs of deterioration including: holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, cracking, peeling, rusting or other evidence of physical decay or neglect, excessive use or lack of maintenance.
    1. Any exterior lighting used by the food truck shall be designed and placed in such a manner that it does not result in glare or light spillage onto other properties or interfere with vehicular traffic. Lighting shall be directed in a downward manner, so as to minimize light pollution.
    2. The Appearance Review Official shall work with food truck owners to achieve compliance if a food truck does not comply with the appearance regulations listed above.
  4. Generators. In an effort to minimize impacts to surrounding brick and mortar businesses and residents, Food Trucks seeking a Downtown Permit are required to utilize an inverter generator of 65 decibels or less.
    1. The generator is required to be mounted on the rear of the truck to keep pathways around the truck clear of obstacles.
    2. The generator may be enclosed, but may not be enclosed in a solid material which could amplify the sounds of the generator, and cause the fumes to accumulate.
  5. Location of Sales. Food Trucks must park in accordance with Sec 39.13 and sales by licensees in curbside food zones shall be made on the curbside only, and the vehicle shall be parked within one foot of the curb.
  6. Parking. When not open for business, or within hours outside of the permitted hours of operation, food trucks must vacate the assigned Food Truck parking space, and park in accordance with Sec. 58.926 of the Land Development Code.
  7. Fire Separation. Adhere to all NFPA food truck safety standards including clearance of at least 10 ft. separation between a food truck and a building, structure, or another vehicle/food truck.
  8. Vehicle Registration. Vehicle registration must be valid and up to date.
  9. State License. All Food Trucks must obtain the any required state licenses prior to obtaining a business tax receipt (BTR) from the City of Orlando.
  10. Business Tax Receipt. Food Trucks must obtain a BTR from the City of Orlando and must also obtain a business tax receipt from Orange County as a requirement to participate in the Downtown Food Truck Pilot Program. Orange County will require a copy of the state license and copy of the City issued BTR.
  11. Access. Mobile Food Vendors may not disrupt the pedestrian circulation, vehicular ingress and egress from a property, or landscaped areas of the property. Vendors shall not “hop” curbs or perform any other illegal traffic maneuvers.
  12. Alcohol. No alcohol is allowed to be sold from food trucks.
  13. Signage. Each of the designated locations will include signage that only food truck parking is allowed during specifically permitted hours. No exterior, freestanding signage shall be permitted.
  14. Waste Management.
    1. Mobile food vendors are required to provide trash receptacles for their operation (minimum 48-gallon size), and provide proper disposal of trash and waste associated with their operation. A minimum of one trash can must be provided; but, more may be needed to adequately serve their operation. Recycling containers shall also be provided for any containers that are recyclable.
    2. Vendors must keep clean the site where they operate, including rights of ways within 25 ft. of the subject property of their operation. This includes grease, trash, paper, cups, cans and any other items associated with the vending operation.
    3. Liquid waste or grease may not be disposed of in tree wells, storm drains or onto streets, sidewalks or any other public or private property. Vendors are responsible for removal of grease or liquids wastes from their operation, including the legal disposal of wastewater and grease in accordance with City Code.
  15. Styrofoam Ban. Per City’s adopted Sustainability Action Plan, Styrofoam cups or packaging, single use straws, and single use plastic bags are prohibited for use by vendors operating on City properties, parks and rights-of-way.
  16. No Outdoor Display. All operations shall be contained within the approved vending vehicle approved by the state.  

Food Truck Locations and Operating Times

Food Truck Zone Name  # of Food Trucks  Operating Times 
Sperry Fountain   2 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
7 days a week 
Heritage Square   2 7 a.m. - 3 a.m.
7 days a week 
Magnolia Loop*   2 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
7 days a week
North Eola Playground*   2 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Monday - Saturday
West Church Street*   2 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Monday - Saturday 

* Indicates new location.

As a food truck operator, how much is the cost to pay the parking meters?  

Previously, food truck operators were required to pay the parking meters throughout the duration of their operation. The Community Redevelopment Agency will cover these parking costs temporarily until September 1, 2020 for food truck operators in association with the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Initiative.

Other than the costs associated with required licenses and permits, there is no other costs to participate in the Downtown Food Truck Program during the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Initiative.

Will food trucks still operate in downtown after September 1, 2020?

We anticipate operating food trucks past September 1, 2020.

Is there a time restriction as to how long a food truck can stay in a space?

While the city does not have a max allotment time for a food truck to stay in a space, food trucks are required to adhere to the posted hours of operation for their zone. A truck must be open for business when parked at a food truck parking zone. Food trucks are not to remain parked before or after posted hours.

Mobile Retail Vendors

Because Sec. 58.946 of the City Code prohibits permanent outdoor display of merchandise, except for specific uses such as garden centers for home improvements stores, mobile retail vendors have been approved solely for approved special events or for sales which are only allowed to be temporary in nature such as Christmas trees, fireworks and sporting event sales, per Sec. 58.833

All mobile retail vendors are considered an Intensive Retail land use. This means these businesses can operate only in zoning districts that permit Intensive Retail. These zoning districts include: 

  • MU-1, MU-2, AC-3, I-G and I-C
  • Conditional Uses in AC-1, AC-2 and AC-3A (Conditional Use Permit required) 

Temporary Uses

To be allowed on an intensive retail property without a Master Plan or Conditional Use Permit, the mobile business needs to be temporary and must fall into one of the three specific situations below: 

  • City-approved special events. Mobile retail vending is permitted for many city-sanctioned events, including those that have obtained an 18A Special Events Permit, an approved Main Street event or Farmer’s Market. In these cases, the zoning district may not permit Intensive Retail, but mobile vending is permitted as part of the approved event temporarily. Locations where the vendor may conduct business during these events are approved via site plan through the 18A permit. 
  • City park ending. The Department of Families, Parks and Recreation has concession agreements with certain City Park sites for mobile businesses. 
  • Twice-a-year vending. City code states that tent sales may occur twice a year on property that is zoned for Intensive Retail. This section also governs Christmas tree sales, fireworks and sporting event sales. 

Permanent Uses Require a Master Plan or Conditional Use Permit

Mobile retailing by nature is a temporary use with the ability to change locations. If a property owner wants to create a permanent outdoor market in a zoning district that permits Intensive Retail, the development proposal would be subject to the Master Plan or Conditional Use requirements set forth in Chapter 65

  • Any other proposed temporary use must obtain a Temporary Use Permit through the City Planning Division via a Zoning Official determination. 

Mobile Retail Trucks

Mobile Retail Trucks display all goods inside of a truck. The customer may either enter the truck to shop or prepay for goods or services online, and the items are retrieved by the operator inside of the truck, and brought to the customer.

Because these businesses have no outdoor display of merchandise, the city regulates them like food trucks. Here are a few guidelines: 

  • Zoning: Mobile Retail Trucks must be located in a zoning district that permits Intensive Retail. One truck may be at an improved property as an accessory use twice a week within the hours of operation listed below, with property owner permission and a valid city Business Tax Receipt.
  • Hours of Operation: Mobile Retail Trucks may operate from 6 a.m. to midnight, unless coordinated with an approved event with different hours. 
  • Permanent Food Truck Pods: Mobile Retail Trucks are permitted 7 days a week on sites that have been approved for permanent food trucks, where these trucks may simply replace the parking spot of a food truck. 
  • Food Truck Events (2+ Food or Retail Trucks): These are permitted through a Planning Official Determination in coordination with food trucks for an event. These events may be recurring and can be approved via one application. 
  • Other Temporary Uses: Mobile Retail Trucks may also be permitted through the Temporary Use Permit. 

Mobile Services

Some mobile businesses provide services instead of selling food or merchandise. These businesses do not have a “brick and mortar” central office. They are typically operated from a small home office and the services are conducted at various locations, usually at the customer or client’s home, but not at the operator’s residence.  

Mobile services that are permitted without City Planning application or review: 

  • Bounty Hunter
  • Building/Home inspector
  • Car Washer
  • Contractor not DBPR (not pulling permits/work under licensed contractor/labor only) 
  • Courier 
  • DJ or Promotor of Entertainment
  • Gardener or Landscape Architect
  • Hair Dresser or Barber
  • Home Health Aid
  • Household items repair and/or service that is not regulated by DBPR 
  • Janitor
  • Locksmith (no physical storefront)
  • Massage Therapist 
  • Nanny/ AuPair/ Babysitter
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Personal chef (no state license required) 
  • Pet Sitter (includes training, walking, and grooming – no grooming)
  • Photographer (no processing lab or studio) 
  • Physical Therapist
  • Pool Cleaner
  • Private Investigator
  • Professional Spray Tan
  • Speech Therapist 
  • Translator 
  • Tutor/Personal Trainer/Music Teacher
  • Upholsterer (minor and onsite)  

Home Locations. If the services are provided at the customer’s residence or location on an appointment basis, there is no limitation on the location. Examples include: lawn maintenance, home cleaning, dog washing, etc.   

Commercial Locations. If the services are set up at a designated location and attract customers to it, then the site must be zoned for Intensive Retail. 

Process. If the mobile service meets the above criteria, a Business Tax Receipt may be issued without City Planning application or review. Any other mobile service vendor must have a Zoning Official approval. 

Prohibited Mobile Services 

  • Uses that require an office and/or may qualify as home occupations such as manufacturer’s rep, consulting and professionals (real estate, attorney, accountant, physician, architect, psychologist, etc.) are not classified as a mobile service use, yet may qualify as a home occupation.
  • Any service that requires a building permit such as plumbing, mechanical, electrical, contractor, etc. must have an office in an appropriately zoned district. The Business Tax Receipt for these uses will be linked to the office or commercial location and field employees will operate under that same business and are not classified as a Mobile Business.
  • Many uses prohibited as a home occupation from Section 58.939, including: 
  • Adult Entertainment
  • Antique Shops
  • Auto Service & Repair
  • Bed and Breakfast Facilities
  • Body Scrubs
  • Churches
  • Clubs, Private
  • Commercial Physical Contact Establishments
  • Eating and Drinking Establishments
  • Escort Services
  • Food Processing and Handling 
  • Fortune Tellers
  • Group Instruction of More Than (4) People
  • Health Spas
  • Hospitals and Clinics
  • Massage Establishments
  • Modeling of Clothes
  • Pain Management Clinic
  • Plasmapheresis Facilities
  • Whole Blood Facilities
  • Also, any other similar use or activity as determined by the Zoning Official.

Other Rules and Regulations

The issuance of mobile licenses (both mobile vending and mobile services) is prohibited in any planned development that does not allow home occupations, including the following: 

  • Bryn Mawr: Unit 5, Unit 7, and Unit 8
  • Bryn Mawr South: Unit 3
  • The Villas at Signal Hill: Unit 1
  • Shadybrook Village 
  •  Autumn Green Village
  • Cherry Hill Village
  • Ventura
  • Rosewood Colony Phase

Parking: All mobile businesses are subject to Section 58.926 for the parking of commercial vehicles.  

  • Commercial vehicles can't be parked in residential or office zoning districts unless conducting business for that day. 
  • Commercial vehicles can't be parked in residential or office zoning districts overnight unless they are stored in an enclosed garage. 

Contact and Application Information

Questions?

Contact the Planning Division at 407.246.2269 or cityplanning@orlando.gov.

Ready to Apply?

You'll need a business tax receipt to sell food, merchandise or services from a mobile business in the City of Orlando.

The instructions can be found here.