Division of Environmental Health

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our Environmental Health Services office at 10777 Main Street in Fairfax is open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Clinic services are not offered at this location.

703-246-2201
TTY 711

10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

Pieter A. Sheehan, REHS,
Director, Division of Environmental Health

Health Permits for Temporary Food Establishments

Temporary food establishments are usually operated at fairs, carnivals, festivals or similar events. If prepared foods will be sold to the general public, a Temporary Food Establishment Permit must be issued to the food vendors. Applications for a permit must be received at least 10 days prior to the event.

Note: A restaurant that has an active Permit to Operate in Fairfax County may use that permit to operate at a temporary event without filing a Temporary Food Permit application.

Will your event have animal exhibits, such as pony rides, a petting zoo, or a wildlife show? If so, click here for additional resources: event animals

STEP 1: Determine If You Need a Permit

A Temporary Food Establishment is a type of food establishment that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration, including carnivals, fairs, festivals and other events. A Temporary Food Establishment includes at least one of the following:

  • A food establishment with a current and valid Permit to Operate issued by the Fairfax County Health Department.
    • Note that in this case, a separate temporary food establishment permit will no longer be issued. The food vendor remains subject to inspection by the Health Department; however, the Health Department will allow the establishment to operate under their existing Permit to Operate. The owner/operator must post in public view a copy of their Permit to Operate at the point of food service on their stand/booth. There will be no assessment of an additional application fee to operate as a food vendor.
  • A restaurant with a food establishment permit or license issued by a health jurisdiction other than Fairfax County that is participating as a food vendor.
  • A firm that is under an inspection program conducted by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) offering unpackaged samples of their product, including cutting or slicing produce items at a farmer’s market. (See sampling guidelines.)
  • A gourmet food vendor who offers unpackaged samples of their product to the public. (See sampling guidelines.)
  • A mobile food unit without a permit issued by the Health Department.
  • A demonstration cooking booth where samples are offered to the public.
  • A restaurant that donates or sells food to a 501c3 organization.
  • An organization that does not meet tax-exempt status (501c3), whether sponsoring or participating as a vendor in an event.

Please contact the Health Department at 703-246-2444 if you are not sure your operation meets the definition of a temporary food establishment. (For a list of exemptions to these requirements, please refer to Title 35.1-25 of the Code of Virginia.)

Step 2: Event Coordinator Provides Vendor With Appropriate Materials

  • The Event Coordinator is responsible for organizing the event and provides food vendors with the Requirements for Temporary Food Establishments and Application.
  • The Event Coordinator will contact the Fairfax County Health Department with a list of vendors for the event.
  • The Event Coordinator will be responsible for contacting the Fairfax County Health Department to determine if there is a training requirement prior to the event. Advance notice of at least 2 weeks must be given to schedule training.

Step 3: Vendor Applies for Permit

  • Temporary Food Vendors are required to submit an Application for Temporary Food Establishment Permit.
  • Application fee: See the fee schedule. (Cash, check, or call to pay by MasterCard or Visa.)
  • Submit application in person or by mail, fax or email:
    • Mail: Fairfax County Health Department
      Division of Environmental Health
      Consumer Protection Program
      10777 Main Street, Suite 111
      Fairfax, VA 22030
    • Fax: 703-653-9448
    • Email: hdehd@fairfaxcounty.gov
  • Notes:
    • The completed application and fee must be received at least ten (10) days prior to the event. Applications shall be signed acknowledging agreement to comply with applicable requirements.
    • If operating out of a commissary or restaurant, please include the name and location of the facility being used on the application. Please note that a vendor who uses a commissary or restaurant as a base of their food operation is more likely to be issued a permit to operate prior to the event.
    • If you are planning on vending on Fairfax County Park Authority property, you must first get a park use permit. Applications and additional information are available online at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/permits.
    • Permits are not transferable to another food vendor or event and are valid only for the period of time specified.
    • Only those food items listed on the application may be offered for sale, sample or service unless changes are approved in advance by the Health Department.
    • Temporary food establishments shall not open for business until a permit has been issued.
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