Change of Ownership or Food Service

When changes are made to a food service establishment (such as a change of ownership, name, menu, seating or equipment) Environmental Health must give approval. This helps ensure that the changes meet safe food handling practices and updated state and local regulations.

See the Washington State Retail Food Code (PDF) for the comprehensive document all Food Establishments in Washington State operate under. Please also see the Washington Department of Health Food Safety Rules and Regulations for a list of relevant links.

Change in Ownership

When someone buys or sells a food service establishment, Environmental Health must be notified of the change in order to issue a permit to the new owner. Food Service Establishment Permits are not transferrable and operating without a permit is against the law.

The new operator will submit a completed new Plan Review Application (PDF), including all required documents since facilities often accumulate small changes over time. Carefully complete the application as incomplete applications will be returned.

Change in Food Service

If you are a current owner of an establishment and you wish to update or change the menu, remodel the establishment or add services like a catering component to your operation, a change in service application is required. Use the plan review application packet and expect the 30-day turnaround time.


A plan review application packet will be re-submitted for any changes to the establishment. Please utilize the Plan Review Guidance Manual below when filling out a Change in Ownership or Food Service Plan Review.

If there is a remodel of a food service establishment, increased seating capacity, or a substantial change to the menu, a full plan review must be completed. See the Plan Review Application below.


A change in ownership with no other changes will be charged a fee equal to 50% of the plan review fee. This is based on the complexity of the menu. A change in menu or facility only will require a minimum hourly rate of technical assistance.

If the change in service changes the classification of an establishment, the annual permit fee will be adjusted. Once the plan review has been completed, a prorated fee for the new classification will be charged for the remainder of the permit year (October 1 to September 30).

If additional inspections and services are requested or required and provided, you will be billed the hourly rate for technical assistance. See the Environmental Health Fee Schedule (PDF) for more information.


It is the responsibility of the buyer to submit the required paperwork and fees to Environmental Health. The seller is encouraged to notify us as well, in case the buyer does not.

Food service operating permits are not transferable.