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.
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
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)
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 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.
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)
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Contact the Planning Division at 407.246.2269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.