If you would like to sell food at a special event in Wake County you may need a temporary food establishment permit. Temporary Food Establishment (TFE) permits are issued to food and drink vendors that operate in conjunction with a fair, festival or other special event. The NC State Fair, Apex PeakFest and Raleigh First Night, for example, are events that qualify for a TFE permit.
Examples of events that do not qualify for a TFE permit are yard sales, auctions, farmer's markets and flea markets. A TFE permit is good only for a specific event and expires at the end of the event.
Some vendors may be exempt from the North Carolina regulations requiring an operational permit to prepare and sell food or drink for pay. See below for more information.
Vendors and Event Coordinators must submit an application for each event. See link below on how to apply.
How to apply for a permit
All applications must be submitted through the Permit Portal.
Submittal guide for Event Coordinators
There is a $75 fee for each TFE permit issued. Coordinator applications, vendor applications and vendor fees must be received by Wake County Environmental Services at least 15 calendar days prior to the event for consideration. Each question must be answered, or the application will be returned.
Temporary Food Establishments must comply with the North Carolina Administrative Code Governing the Sanitation of Restaurants and Other Foodhandling Establishments, Temporary Food Service Establishment Rules.
Some vendors may be exempt from the North Carolina regulation requiring an operational permit to prepare and sell food or drink for pay. Please review this entire section to have a full understanding of GS 130A-250(7) Exemption.
Wake County Health Inspectors often stop and check events where food or drink is being sold. It is best if you talk to us before selling any food or drink at an event (919-856-7400).
If you are:
- Incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in accordance with Chapter 55A of the North Carolina General Statutes OR
- Exempt from federal income tax under the Internal Revenue Service code as defined in General Statute 105-228.90 (have 501(c)(3) status) OR
- A political committee as defined in North Carolina General Statute 163-278.6(14)
then you may prepare and sell food to the public one time a month for no more than two days in a row without a permit from Wake County Environmental Services.
You must provide proof of the organization’s tax-exempt status such as a copy of the Letter of Determination of Non Profit Status from the North Carolina Department of Revenue or the Internal Revenue Service, or a letter from the candidate or political action committee authorizing you to have the event. You must keep a copy of this documentation on site to show a Wake County Health Inspector should they visit your event.
Download the Documentation of Exemption form.
Drink vendors who only sell drinks such as lemonade, coffee, soda and tea (in single-service cups) do not need an operational permit from this Department. Please contact us if you want to sell drinks made from fruit (like smoothies).
Vendors who sell only dipped ice cream, popcorn, candied apples, cotton candy, funnel cakes, doughnuts, peanuts and commercially prepackaged chips and candy are not required to obtain an operational permit from this Department; however, you should contact the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services at 919-733-7366 to find out if you need a permit from them.
NC State Fair
Submittal guide for Vendors at NC State Fair
Vendors who only sell popcorn, peanuts, candy apples, ice cream, funnel cakes, doughnuts or cotton candy do not need to submit this application.
Please call contact us if you are uncertain whether a permit is needed.
A phone line has been developed for your use in reaching Wake County Environmental Services concerning permitting of food vendors, inspections of sewage and water connections and animal care and control issues.
To access the Wake County Environmental Services State Fair phone line please dial 919-664-7700 and leave the following information:
- Your Name
- Name of booth or living quarters
- Phone number(s)
- Site location (physical description, such as between Gate 4 and 5)
- Booth number
- Reason for call (food permit/occupancy permit needed, animal control issue)
Voicemail messages will be retrieved throughout the day and calls will be returned promptly.
Visit www.ncstatefair.org for more information about the North Carolina State Fair.