Mobile Unit – Facts and Requirements

These requirements apply to all food service facilities licensed as a mobile unit.

What is a mobile unit?

A mobile unit is a food service facility that operates on land or water and moves as part of its routine operation to change location for sales; obtain food or supplies; fill and empty water supply and wastewater holding tanks; or to clean and sanitize equipment and utensils. Structural and HACCP plan reviews must be completed prior to to opening a new or remodeled mobile unit.

A mobile unit does not include a food service facility that is capable of being moved, but does not routinely move for the purposes listed above. This type of operation is classified as a semi-permanent food service facility.

How often must a mobile unit move?

Mobile units must move as part of their routine operation or at least once a week.

What special conditions apply to mobile units?

Certain exceptions, such as connections to a permanent water supply and sewer system, are provided to mobile units due to the nature of operation. Mobile units are required to meet the following special conditions:

  • Adequate disposal facility for sewage. An onboard holding tank shall be provided and maintained in a safe, sanitary and functional manner to avoid creating a public health nuisance. The owner is responsible for the disposal of waste at a licensed depot, an approved wastewater treatment and disposal facility.
  • Approved water supply. The mobile unit must provide an adequate supply of hot and cold running water. Water and ice must be obtained through an approved source. A licensed food service facility or depot may be designated as the source for obtaining water and ice.
  • Approved trash collection and disposal. The mobile unit is required to provide adequate facilities for the collection and disposal of refuse and trash generated by the mobile unit.

What information is required for approval of a mobile unit?

A Structural and HACCP plan review must be completed prior to opening a new or remodeled mobile unit. The Structural and HACCP plan reviews are completed by the Department of Health. The applicant must submit a floor plan; the name and type of food service equipment; the finish material(s) of floor, wall and ceiling surfaces; a copy of the menu; and the location of a hand sink and three compartment sinks.

The mobile unit must be adequately sized to support food service equipment, including refrigeration, and to carry out all tasks associated with preparation, service and food storage. Where a licensed depot is used, an authorization letter including the name of the facility, location, permit number, contact person and telephone number is required. Use of generators is limited to the exterior of the mobile unit only, and generators must be installed in accordance to manufacturer specifications.

How often will my mobile unit be inspected?

Mobile units are inspected based on the type of food they serve or on the risk category. Mobile units that prepare and serve food for immediate service are a moderate risk food service facility and are inspected twice a year. One of the inspections is conducted at the licensed depot or a base operation. The second inspection is performed at the Department of Health.

How do I obtain a permit to operate a mobile unit?

The application and instructions for operating a mobile unit are available at License Application or call 410-222-7192. A mobile unit food service facility permit application must be submitted to the Housing Protection Services Program at the address listed below. The application must include the vehicle identification number (or VIN) obtained from the vehicle registration and a completed Workman’s Compensation form. A mobile unit permit must be secured in each jurisdiction where the mobile unit operates.

See Mobile Unit – Plan Review and Requirements.

What other County licenses are required?

A huckster’s license is required for any vehicle that moves about the County for the purpose of selling, delivering, or offering for sale and simultaneous delivery, any food or goods of any kind with the exception of seafood, uncooked meat, fish, produce, farm products or other perishables in their natural state. For more information on licensing requirements, call 410-222-7788.

Where can I get more information?

Housing Protection Services Program
Anne Arundel County Department of Health
Bureau of Environmental Health
3 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

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