What Kind of License Do You Need to Be a Food Truck Driver?

The operation of commercial vehicles within the food industry receives close scrutiny and supervision from state and local governments. You need a series of permits and licenses covering the driver, food service workers and the business itself -- and that's just to pull the truck out of the lot.

Commercial Drivers License

If you are doing nothing more in the business than driving the truck -- never touching the freight -- you will still generally need a commercial driver's license, or CDL, issued by your state. To get one, you must complete a CDL driving course authorized by your state's DMV. Some employers will help you obtain this training.

CDL Classes

Federal law defines the basic commercial driver's license classes that states may issue. Specifically, a Class A license allows the driver to operate vehicles weighing 26,001 or more pounds, as well as tow vehicles of more than 10,000 pounds GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating. Class B licenses authorize the driver to operate vehicles in excess of 26,001 pounds or more, but no towed vehicle can be rated at more than 10,000 pounds. Class C licenses are for large passenger vehicles and vehicles containing hazardous materials.

Food Service Licenses

If your involvement in the food service business also extends to handling, preparing or cooking the food, your jurisdiction may require an additional food service license, or a food service manager's license if you are acting in a supervisory position. This is in addition to your commercial driver's license. Contact your state department of health or department of food service officials for more information on how to obtain these licenses for yourself, your business and your staff.

For Owner/Operators

If you are the owner/operator of your truck, or you actually own the food business, you may need several additional licenses, depending on your business. For example, you may need to obtain a business license or sales tax receipt from your local or state government, a food service license from your state department of health officials, and a license to transport or serve alcohol, if applicable. You may also need to get food service licenses for your entire staff, which frequently involves sending them to a class on food safety. Some jurisdictions require a separate food service license for catering operations.