Temporary Food Service Permit

UW students, faculty and staff hosting a public event with food service on UW property must obtain a Temporary Food Service Permit, which helps protect health and prevent foodborne illness. 

A Temporary Food Service Permit is required for public events on UW property where food is sold or given away. It allows EH&S to evaluate the safety of food preparation, handling and storage by external vendors that operate with a license from the local health department.

To evaluate food safety practices, we need to know:

  1. What food is being served
  2. How the food will be prepared
  3. Under what conditions the food will be served

Apply for a Temporary Food Service Permit

The Temporary Food Service Permit application must be submitted online at least two weeks prior to the event date.

To apply for a Temporary Food Service Permit, you must have  UWNetID. If you do not have one, please identify a sponsoring department, complete the appropriate form, and submit a permit application for each food vendor.

Not sure whether you need a Temporary Food Service Permit for your event? Read the information below and follow the decision tree to determine whether you need a permit.

A, EH&S Temporary Food Service Permit is required if the event is at a UW location 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 general public, campus community (students, faculty, staff), or advertised publicly; or
  • The event is sponsored by a non-UW group and UW campus community members are invited.

A Temporary Food Service Permit is NOT required when:

  1. The food served is limited to non-perishable, commercially pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods, such as:

    • Wrapped or boxed baked goods

    • Pasteurized, canned and bottled beverages

    • Candy

  2. Registered student organizations provide non-perishable, commercially pre-packaged foods (e.g., chips, candy, individually-wrapped store-bought ice cream or cookies) for meetings of their own members.

  3. The food served at an event is provided by UW Housing & Food Services.

  4. Non-UW groups hold private, invitation-only events (e.g., weddings) on UW property, where the campus community is not invited.

EH&S will NOT approve a Temporary Food Service Permit application if:

  • The food will be prepared at home.
  • The food establishment is not in compliance with local health department regulations.
  • The permit application is submitted less than two weeks prior to the event.

Please click on the link below to submit an application.

What you can do to stay safe

If you are hosting an event that is open to the public on UW property, please follow the Guidelines for Temporary Food Establishments for safe food preparation, handling and transport.

The Mobile Food Unit Policy and Guidelines apply to 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 public events where food is served
  • On-site inspection of food service vendors

Frequently asked questions

It is an event during which food is served to the public at a fixed UW campus location and is directly related to a single occasion or celebration.

Yes. A permit is needed for serving food or refreshments on University property in association with public meetings, social gatherings and special events, regardless of whether the food is being sold for profit or provided at no charge. There are some exceptions; please see the Temporary Food Service Permit Decision Tree to determine if your event requires a permit.

The permit acknowledges that vendors agree to meet the requirements designed to ensure food is handled safely and is prepared under sanitary conditions according to the Washington State Retail Food Code.

Typically, events that require permits are:

  • Sponsored by a UW organization or group and open to the public
  • Sponsored by an non-UW organization and open to the campus community
  • Serving perishable food

Please see the Temporary Food Service Permit Decision Tree  to determine if your event requires a permit.

No. The University does not charge a fee to apply for or issue a Temporary Food Service Permit.

Temporary food permit (TFP) applications may be denied by Environmental Health and Safety if the outside food vendor does not meet necessary food safety requirements to serve on UW campus. These evaluations are based on recent food safety inspection scores from the local jurisdictional health department.

In some instances, food establishments that were approved for a permit in the past by EH&S may not be approved at the current time. As health inspections for food establishments are performed several times each year, the ability for a caterer to meet UW safety requirements may change depending upon how they recently scored with the local public health department.

If your permit is denied:

  • Resubmit your temporary food permit application with another vendor, keeping in mind the reason for denial indicated on your email notification
  • Contact the Environmental Public Health Program with any questions at phdept@uw.edu or (206) 543-7262.

EH&S does not issue temporary food service permits for potlucks.

Sharing of homemade food at a potluck may occur when all of the following conditions apply:

  • The gathering is limited to members of a small, closed group (e.g., a class, club or office potluck); and
  • Attendees bring food to share; and
  • There is no compensation given to individuals bringing the food; and
  • There is no charge for individuals eating the food; and
  • The event is not for commercial purposes.   

Home-prepared foods (and foods prepared in kitchens without EH&S or a local county health jurisdiction approval) are prohibited from being served or sold to the general public or broader campus community.

Potlucks (and home-prepared foods) can have inherent food safety risks related to potential unsafe ingredient sources, and improper food preparation, cooking, food storage and service. This is why it’s important for potlucks to be small and controlled if they do occur. There are best practices that groups can take to ensure that food is prepared and shared safely, including:

  • Prepare shared food safely. Review state and federal food safety guidance related to picnics and barbeques and cooking for groups.
  • Be conscious of the ingredients in the food items being served. Consider that attendees may have food allergies or sensitivities. Proper ingredient labeling of items (especially ingredients that are food allergens) is highly encouraged.
  • Protect food from potential contamination (i.e., keep food covered when not being served and use utensils to prevent hand contact with shared food).
  • Choose a potluck location where handwashing and/or hand sanitizer supplies are available for attendees.
  • Consider limiting potluck food items to those that typically don’t require temperature control (e.g., baked goods like cookies, muffins, brownies, candy brittle, breads and pretzels; dried fruits and nuts; whole fresh fruits like bananas, apples oranges)


We accept permits from any county health department, as long as the restaurant has documented proof that it meets the county’s food safety requirements. .

Yes. All foods that require cooling (according to the Washington Retail Food Code) must be done at an approved or permitted kitchen.

It depends on whether the event is open to the public or not. If it is open to the public, it requires a permit and home-prepared food may not be served. If it is a closed group or private event, it doesn’t require a permit and home-prepared food may be served.

You need to have a sponsoring UW unit to apply for a temporary food service permit that will allow you to serve food at a campus event.

Yes; approval for any changes must be requested before the event.

Yes; all persons who handle perishable, non-packaged foods must have a food worker card. For more information, please visit the Seattle-King County Health Department food worker website.

To obtain a permit, submit an online application at least two weeks prior to the event. 



No. You do not need a Temporary Food Service Permit if you are serving pre-packaged, non-perishable food from a commercial retail store.

More information


Perishable foods are those likely to spoil, decay or become unsafe to consume if not kept refrigerated at 40 F° or below or frozen at 0 F°.

current faculty or staff member, UW department, or registered student group that represents a non-UW vendor or group at an on-campus event