Even though you can probably operate an ice cream truck as a one-person operation, to do so legally, you will need to take care of a number bureaucratic requirements. You must register with revenue-collection authorities at the municipal and state levels. You will also need to register your truck and obtain any necessary food-service permits, depending on your jurisdiction.
Generally, you must obtain a business license from the city or county in which your business is located. Some jurisdictions require you to get a business license if you operate in their jurisdiction, even if your offices and facilities are not located there.
Excise or Sales-Tax License
Some jurisdictions will require you to forward sales tax to revenue-collection authorities. Your city, county or state government may add a sales or excise tax to your transactions. You will need to register with revenue-collection authorities in order to comply with these tax requirements.
You will generally have to get a food-service or safety permit from your state department of health or from county officials. If you serve unwrapped food -- such as ice cream in a cone or bowl, or snow-cones -- you may have to submit to periodic inspections of your food-preparation area.
Taxpayer ID Number
If you are driving a vehicle for a living, chances are good that you will want to form a corporation or limited-liability company. If you have an accident, that will help prevent someone who sues you from taking everything you own. To form a corporation or limited-liability company, you will have to file articles of incorporation or organization with your state's office of the secretary of state. You will also need to obtain a taxpayer ID number for your business, which you can get from the Internal Revenue Service.
Workers' Compensation Insurance
If you plan on having an employee, most jurisdictions will require you to purchase workers' compensation insurance. This protects you against having to liquidate your business in case a worker is injured on the job, while also ensuring your employees that they will have their medical needs taken care of in case of a work-related injury.