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  • Existing Food Businesses

    Information and resources for your food business.

    Do you use or serve as a commissary kitchen?

    Washington state food code requires commissaries to have a permit.

    If the kitchen you use to support your food establishment doesn’t have a Commissary Permit, share this information with them.

    If other operators already use your commissary, you don’t need to do anything. We will send you a 2023 Commissary Permit with no fee. You will need to buy a Commissary Permit in 2024.

    What qualifies as a commissary?

    A commissary kitchen provides space for operators to make, store, portion, or package food. Certain operators must use a commissary:

    • Caterers.
    • Mobile food operators.
    • Temporary event vendors.
    • Some to-go style restaurants.

    Benefits of a commissary permit.

    When your business has a commissary permit, you make it easier for food businesses to find a kitchen that supports their operation.

    If you own both a mobile unit and the food establishment it uses as a commissary, you don’t need a commissary permit.

    For example, if own a dine-in restaurant and a food truck, you don’t need a commissary permit. If you want to allow other food businesses to use your kitchen, you need to apply for a permit.

    You don’t need to do anything if other operators already use your commissary kitchen.

    You will receive a 2023 Commissary Permit with no fee. You will need to buy a Commissary Permit in 2024.

    If you make a change, you need to submit a plan review application. This includes if you:

    • Change your plan facility floor plan or equipment list.
    • Add more operators to the kitchen.
    • Change ownership.

    You must submit a plan review application and get final approval before operators can use your kitchen. Applying for a Commissary Permit does not guarantee approval. Learn more about opening a commissary kitchen.


    Contact us at (253) 649-1706 or Learn more about commissary requirements.

    All permitted food establishments must connect to public water and sanitary sewer or septic. This change doesn’t affect mobile food units that move daily.

    What do you need to do?

    • Existing facilities—You don’t need to do anything if you currently operate with holding tanks. But, if you make a change to your facility, you need to submit a variance application. This includes plan review to change your menu or processes or if a change of ownership occurs.
    • New facilities—You may submit a variance application with your plan review. Applying for a variance does not guarantee approval.

    With a variance you can operate with a limited menu, such as coffee or commercially made foods.

    You must use a commissary to support the operations of the food establishment, like:

    • Filling and emptying holding tanks.
    • Employee restroom access.
    • Mop sink for cleaning the food establishment.

    Want to open or buy a food establishment that operates with holding tanks?

    Get a consult to see what you need to operate safely and meet code requirements. Visit the Health Department or call us at (253) 649-1417.


    Contact us at (253) 649-1417 or

    See more code changes.

    Food Safety Recalls

    Communications to food establishments