The food industry has indeed witnessed a lot of disruption in the past two decades. One of the many transformations includes the opening up of food stalls and small takeaway restaurants in various locations rather than a big restaurant in one single place. Obviously, it leads to cost-effectiveness, more profitability. It also means better customer reach, which leads to more awareness about the business.
One of the indirect innovations from this disruption was the concept of food trucks, which has become a renowned and wide-reaching business in our country. Though food trucks came into existence in the mid-70s in India, they gained fame quite late when the western food culture became an inspiration for us Indians.
Food trucks, as opposed to established restaurant branches, have the advantages of altering their location as and when required. They are also an organic source of marketing when they are roaming in the streets. People are able to view the branding of the company, and that’s where the customer acquisition process begins.
The downside of having a food truck business ate the extended legal formalities before initiating the business. But there’s no need to worry. In this article, we’ll cover every legal aspect that you’ll need to adhere to before hitting the road. So, here we go:
- FSSAI License
Some people have the conception that since they are not opening a restaurant or a food-manufacturing unit, they don’t require the standard food license for their food truck business. It’s false. FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards of India) is the independent and topmost authority under the Ministry of Health that ensures the safety and quality standards of the food being served to the customers.
For a food truck business, you’ll need to apply for the license in the mobile food vendor category. There are three kinds of license that you’ll need to consider depending upon your annual turnover. The first is the Basic FSSAI registration for food businesses having a revenue up to 12 lac rupees p.a.
The second category is the State FSSAI License, which holds for the revenue bracket of 12 lac to 20 crores. Most food distributors, retailers and other businesses come in this category. The last one is mainly applied for by big manufacturers or restaurant and cafe chains. It is the Central FSSAI License for turnovers more than 20 crores.
The first step requires you to fill up and submit the Form A to the food and security office along with the necessary documents mentioned by them. You should receive a response by them within a week of submission. If you find this step difficult, you may consult a lawyer for assistance.
- GST Registration
After individual tax slabs were abolished and turned into a single-tax system under the GST Council Members, it has become less tedious than during the previous regime. Since the food truck business is a service business, the threshold limit for registration is 20 lac rupees. Apart from the personal documents required for GST registration, you’ll also need to submit documents pertaining to whether it is a private limited company or a partnership.
There is a certain format that GST invoice filling follows as per the government directives. You can use Microsoft Excel and follow the given approach to have the GST invoice format in excel download.
- Shop and Establishment License
Most businesses in India are subject to the Shop and Establishment Act, which comes under the Ministry of Labour. This act keeps a check on the working conditions, hours and all other important details of people working for your business. There are some basic documents required to apply for the Shop and Establishment license. You can visit the online portal of your particular state to apply for this license.
- Commercial Vehicle License
Since you’ll be operating from a commercial vehicle, you’ll be required to obtain a commercial vehicle license from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) of your city/district. The process of applying for a commercial license is slightly different from the process of obtaining a personal vehicle license. The driving test is stricter, and the overall process takes more time.
Also, while applying for insurance for your vehicle, do remember to mention that the purpose of the vehicle is for a food truck business.
- No Objection Certificate from the Fire Department
Since you’ll be using electric and gas appliances inside your vehicle, it is indeed imperative that the fire safety guidelines are followed adequately. There might be some equipment that may not adhere to the fire safety rules. For obtaining the NOC, you can apply online on your respective state government site or visit the fire department in person.
- No Objection Certificate from the Municipal Departments
None of the above licenses gives you the privilege of serving foods in a particular area. Whichever area your food truck business is based out of, you’ll need a no-objection certificate from the municipal body. Fulfilling this requirement gives you the right to base your business out of any area in the given district/city. This is the final legal step for you to begin your business.
Though it may seem otherwise, setting up and running a food truck business is quite different from a normal restaurant business, not only in the legal but other aspects too. So, we guess it’s time for you to get on the streets and discover for yourself the experience of running a food truck business.
In addition to the pointers we have mentioned, there are other important things to keep in mind that don’t necessarily belong to the legal aspect of the business. These things include the quality of the food that you serve – the food has to be of excellent quality so that customers look forward to your arrival in their area.
The condition of the vehicle also has to be top-notch as the entire business depends on it. Lastly, you’ll have to hire staff that is fast and efficient so that you don’t end up with long queues that block roads wherever you go. Once you have these things checked, your business is ready for lift-off.