Mobile Food Vendor Regulations

Both food trucks and carts are covered

NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Health (DOHMH)  regulates Mobile Food Vendors (MFVs) which includes both trucks and food carts.  MFVs must comply with DOHMH rules as to where they can be located in streets and on sidewalks.  (This is separate from street parking and traffic regulations, which is handled by the Police Department.)

These regulations are contained in several City legal documents. Here are links to NYC regulations and resources for food vendors.  Here’s our summary.

Where can food vendors legally be located?

Except in specific areas of streets on which MFVs are restricted, mobile food vending units are generally legal, so long as they comply with all other rules and codes.  There are very few restrictions on food vendor location. There are no restrictions on location related to competition with other vendors or establishments, and no limit to the number of MFVs on a block. Food carts:

  • must be located on a sidewalk no less than twelve feet wide,
  • must be at least 10 feet from any crosswalk, driveway or subway entrance,
  • must be at least 20 feet from all building entrances,
  • must touch the curb,
  • they cannot touch other objects, including other carts, although they can be adjacent or close
  • carts cannot vend in bus stops or sidewalks next to no standing zones of health facilities
  • carts must be placed right up to the curb.
  • carts can’t be located on sidewalks adjacent to and controlled by the Department of Parks.

How to complain about the location of a food vendor

To complain about the placement of a MFV, call 311, or go to the food vendor complaint form on the 311 website.  Under “Details,” under “Placement,” there are 9 choices for “additional details,” including, for example, “within 10 ft of Subway,” and “not at curb.” If your placement complaint is for another matter, select “not at curb” and enter the rest under the request description.

Keep the service request number you’ll receive.  Include that number if you need to follow up with that request, whether with Dept. of Health staff or with the CB6 office.

Other grounds for complaints about food vendors

DOHMH can also enforce against vendors emitting smoke or creating nuisance conditions. To report an unsanitary or unlicensed mobile food vendor use this online form or call 311.

You can request inspection reports for up to five MFVs. Include the permit number found on the food cart, truck, or stand as well as the street location and borough of the vendor. Mail it to the Mobile Food Vending Program, NYC DOHMH, 253 Broadway, 13th Floor, CN-59A, NY, NY 10007.