Temporary Food Service Permit

UW students or personnel hosting or sponsoring an event at a UW location where food will be served, sold, or given away, may need to apply for a Temporary Food Service Permit from UW Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S).

A Temporary Food Service Permit application is a Washington state regulatory requirement when serving foods at public or campus community events. The permit application allows EH&S to assess the safety of the food source, evaluate food preparation steps, handling, and storage to protect health and prevent foodborne illness.

During application review, EH&S may verify a vendor or caterer’s operating permit from the local health department, operating history and inspection history, and require individuals handling food, food equipment or utensils to have current food worker cards

When event organizers submit an application for a Temporary Food Service Permit, they agree to meet Washington State Retail Food Code requirements designed to ensure event food is prepared and handled safely and under sanitary conditions.

An EH&S Temporary Food Service Permit is required for food service if the event is at a UW location in Bothell, Seattle or Tacoma and meets any of the following conditions:

  • The event is sponsored by a UW department or group, including registered student organizations; or
  • The event is open to the public or UW campus community (students, faculty, staff); or
  • Event information was advertised in public media (e.g., posters, flyers, social media) or wider campus communications (e.g., email, word of mouth); or
  • The event is sponsored by a non-UW group and UW campus community members are invited to attend.

An EH&S Temporary Food Service Permit is not required if any of the following exceptions are true.

  • The event is not held on UW property. Check with your event site regarding specific local health department requirements for permits.
  • The event is invitation only and private (hosted and attended by a non-UW group). This may include food service for weddings, birthdays, funerals, or external company retreats at UW venues, where the campus community is not invited and will not attend.
  • The event is limited to members of a small (50 people or less), closed campus community group (e.g., a class, a lab group, an RSO).
  • The only food served will be non-perishable, commercially pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods (e.g., prepackaged chips, candy, individually packaged baked goods, pasteurized, bottled or canned beverages) from a licensed and permitted food establishment or food processing plant.
  • The only food served will be individually prepackaged frozen confections (e.g., ice cream cones or popsicles in their original packaging) from a licensed food business or food processing plant.
  • The only food served is provided by food establishments with current EH&S-issued operating permits (e.g., UW Housing & Food Services, Bay Laurel Catering, UWMC Plaza Café).

Even if a permit is not required, organizers should follow safe food handling practices, including proper handwashing practices, storing food at safe temperatures, limiting food service to a short window of time, and keeping food covered and protected from potential contamination.

University units, departments, registered student organizations, and sponsored non-UW groups are not allowed to give away or sell food prepared or stored at home (or in a kitchen that has not been approved by EH&S or a local county health jurisdiction) at a temporary food establishment.

Questions about food service at your planned event? Contact the EH&S Environmental Public Health team.

Apply for a Temporary Food Service Permit

If an EH&S Temporary Food Service Permit is required, event organizers must apply online at least 2 weeks prior to the event date. EH&S cannot guarantee review of an application submitted within a shorter time frame.

To apply for a Temporary Food Service Permit, you must be a current UW student or personnel with a UWNetID.

If you do not have a UWNetID, please identify a sponsoring UW department, the UW sponsor may complete and submit a permit application on behalf of a non-UW food vendor or group. EH&S may contact the UW sponsor with questions about the event plan.

Not sure whether you need a Temporary Food Service Permit for your event? Review the frequently asked questions below.

Contact the EH&S Environmental Public Health team with questions.

Check the status of your application

Check the status of an existing application.

Food safety guidelines

If you are hosting an event on UW property, please follow the EH&S Guidelines for Temporary Food Establishments for safe food preparation, handling and transport.

The Mobile Food Unit Policy and Guidelines apply to UW mobile food units (a readily movable food establishment, such as a food truck) serving food at UW locations. 

Services available

EH&S offers the following services:

  • Careful review of Temporary Food Service Permits
  • Consultation to groups hosting events where food is served
  • On-site inspection of temporary food establishments

FAQs about the permit application

Do I need a permit if the only food served at the event is…

FAQs about food safety

FAQs about food vendors

More information



Environmental Public Health Contact

(206) 616-1623