Street Vending During COVID-19: What You Need to Know

At lunchtime, on any given weekday, about 80 different food trucks and carts that have our vending permits offer a variety of options for lunch ranging from wood fire pizzas, to traditional Indian fare, to gluten free bowls and everything in between. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit Seattle.

During a recent inspection in South Lake Union, we saw only a small handful of vendors at work. With the streets emptying and much of the lunch customer base now working remotely, food vendors’ businesses are being hit hard.

We prize the diversity, vibrancy, and jobs that street vending brings to our city.

We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about vending permits below. Please let us know if you have other questions or if you need any other permit-related help. The best way to reach our permit office right now is by email at publicspace@seattle.gov. Learn more about street vending permits our website.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I allowed to vend during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. Vending is considered “take-out” food. You may continue vending at your permitted locations, days, and times. Please be mindful of social distancing guidelines when managing your customer queues.

Can I still apply for new vending permits?

Yes. You may apply via the Seattle Services Portal . If you have questions or need coaching, see the question below about how to contact us during the counter closure.

Can I get an extension on picking up my permit?

If you have a pending permit and are not ready to begin vending, send us an email at publicspace@seattle.gov and we will put a hold on your permit application for 30 days. This will prevent your site from going into lottery.

When does my permit expire?

Log into your Seattle Services account in the online portal to check information about your permit.

What do I do if my current vending permit is expiring soon and I want to renew?

You must apply for your Street Use Vending permit at least 30 days prior to your expiration date to avoid your site going into lottery.

Note: there are no fees assessed at the time of application. When you submit your application, please indicate on your application if you plan on delaying permit pick up and your intended vending start date. We will place your review on hold and delay the review process for up to 30 days.

My permit is going to expire soon, how do I reapply?

While last year, you may have applied in person or by email, now you can reapply by submitting a new application through the Seattle Services Portal. Please follow the application instructions listed on our vending permit page.

I have more questions or need coaching. What do I do?

We are always here for you! While our walk-in counter is closed, you can still reach us at publicspace@seattle.gov.

When will the counter reopen?

We tentatively plan to reopen our public-facing counters on Monday, April 13, but this may change as the situation develops. Please see our Permit Service Counters page for the most up-to-date information on when we will reopen.

Where can I look for other assistance?

Go to the City’s main COVID-19: Resources for the Community webpage and scroll to the section on small business/non-profit support.