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FOOD STAND LICENSE EXEMPTIONS

Food Sampling

Licensing is not required when serving free food samples as long as specific guidelines are followed. Review Guidelines for Food Sampling to determine if licensing is required.

Non-Profit Food Stands

A non-profit food stand serving meals may operate up to three days within a calendar year in Dane County, excluding the City of Madison, without having to pay a fee.

A non-profit food stand serving retail foods are allowed to operate up to twelve days per calendar year in Dane County, excluding the City of Madison, without having to pay a fee.

Even though payment may not be required, non-profit groups must register by submitting a Temporary Food License Application and follow safe food handling practices. Review the Temporary Food Stand: Key Points, Cooking for Groups and Be Inspection Ready photo slideshow for food safety information.

Non-profit groups operating within the City of Madison are always required to obtain a temporary food permit application with fees per Madison General Ordinance 7.08(7).

Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) temporary food and mobile licenses

Food vendors at special events with a current DATCP Temporary Restaurant, DATCP Mobile Restaurant, or  DATCP Mobile Retail license are exempt from additional PHMDC licensing. You must stay within the scope of your DATCP license.

DATCP food licenses are intended for vendors who will be participating in special events across multiple cities and counties in Wisconsin. Food vendors who are only participating at special events in Madison and Dane County must obtain a license from PHMDC.

Make sure to always have the current DATCP license with you during food service. Failure to produce your DATCP license at an event may result in purchasing a temporary food license from our department.

It is important to note, that even with a DATCP license, you may still be subject to an inspection and a $25 inspection fee from our department.

Bake Sales and Potlucks

Bake sales are non-profit fundraising events where non-perishable baked goods may be prepared in homes for the public. Review Guidelines for Bake Sales to determine if your bake sale will be exempt from health permitting.

There may be other laws affecting the location of bake sale on public property. For example, the City of Madison requires a permit for any equipment on a city sidewalk, terrace, or street. Food sales on city sidewalks, terraces, or streets are regulated under the Street Vending Ordinance and are not legal in certain locations, including the Capitol Square and the State Street area. Unless you hold a Madison Street Vendor license, a bake sale on a city sidewalk, terrace, or street is NOT legal. For more information regarding street vending or zoning requirements in the municipality where the event is being planned, see:

Sponsored Youth Sporting Events

Food stands at youth sporting events, such as a little league game, that operate for the benefit of the youth sports team or program are exempt from food stand licensing.

Temporary Food Stands on the UW-Madison Campus

If your food stand is located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, you must contact UW Health Services for permitting.
Key Contacts
Environmental Health
2701 International Ln., Ste. 204
Madison, WI 53704
TEL: (608) 242-6515
FAX: (608) 242-6435
Email: Public Health