Temporary Food Stands
A temporary food stand serves food to the public at one location for no more than 14 consecutive days.
Food Stand Licenses are issued for an event or celebration, such as a fair, carnival, circus, sporting event, or occasional sales promotion. Licenses are issued to individuals or groups that operate a temporary food stand.
To alleviate some of the financial burden on our licensed establishments due to COVID-19, we have reverted our license fees back to 2019 rates effective April 2, 2020.
- Apply and pay Online for your annual Temporary Food License at City of Madison Licenses and Permits. If you are a new user, you will click "Register for an Account."
- Temporary Food License Application and fees are also accepted by mail or in person at the City of Madison Clerk's Office.
- Applications and fees must be received a minimum of 7 days prior to the first event.
- Please contact a Public Health Sanitarian at (608) 242-6515 prior to the event to discuss your food stand set up.
- Remember to contact your local municipality for zoning, fire, and/or other local requirements.
Food Stand Inspections
To prepare for the inspection, follow the guidelines in the following documents to learn about food safety requirements.
- Temporary Food Stands Key Points: English, Spanish
- Example of Food Stand Layout
- Supply List for Temporary Food Vendors
Event Coordinator Information
The event coordinator has an important role in assuring food safety. By working together, we will:
- Identify and resolve potential public health concerns before the event
- Ensure vendors complete their Temporary Food License Application and pay the fees at least 7 days before the event.
- Educate vendors about food safety requirements
Food vendor meeting(s) with Health Department attendance is highly encouraged.
If your food stand is located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, you must contact UW Health Services for permitting.
- Bake sales are non-profit fundraising events where shelf stable home baked goods may be sold to 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, unless you hold a Madison Street Vendor license, a bake sale on a city sidewalk, terrace, or street is NOT legal. Bake Sales on Public Property, City of Madison
- For more information regarding bake sales in other Dane County municipalities, contact the Municipal Clerk: Municipal Clerks, County Clerk's Office, Outside the City of Madison but within Dane County
- You do not need a permit when serving free food samples as long as specific guidelines are followed.
- Review Guidelines for Food Sampling to determine if a permit is required.
Non-Profit Food Stands
- A non-profit food stand serving meals may operate up to three days within a calendar year in Madison and Dane County.
- A non-profit food stand serving retail foods are allowed to operate up to twelve days per calendar year in Madison and Dane County.
- 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 for food safety information.
Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Temporary Food and Mobile License
- 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.
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.