Health Permits and Licenses
Do I Need A Permit?
The Health Department regulates the serving and sale of most food related businesses. It also oversees all publicly accessible aquatic recreational facilities, pool management licenses and wells (geo-thermal, irrigation or potable). The most common type of permit the Health Department issues is an establishment permit.
The following types of facilities* are not regulated by the Health Department:
- Fitness or Health Clubs*: including fitness clubs, gyms, martial arts facilities, or yoga/palates studios.
- Massage*: contact the State Board of Nursing
- Medical Facilities*: Chiropractors, doctor's offices, nursing homes, hospitals, urgent care facilities, etc. Contact the state medical boards
- Personal Grooming*: barber shots, beauty salons, nail salons, tanning, etc.
* Facilities that have pools, spas, food service operations, or overnight guest accommodations are still regulated as an establishment.
Codes and Regulations
The following are the regulations and codes that the Environmental Health Division use to issue, inspect, and enforce permits and licenses within the city. If you have any questions regarding what regulations, codes, etc. are applicable to your facility or project, call 703.746.4910.
- Aquatic Health: Title 11, Chapter 11 - " Aquatic Health Ordinance"
- Food Service and Establishments: Title 11, Chapter 2 - " Food and Food Handling Code; See the FDA's Model Food Code here.
- Hotels / Bed & Breakfasts: See the Virginia Department of Health's website at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Food/Regulations/index.htm
- Marinas: See the Virginia Department of Health's website at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Onsite/MARINA/
- Wells: See the Virginia Department of Health's website at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Onsite/
*The Food and Food Handling Code adopted part of the FDA 2009 Model Food Code; see Sec. 11-2-5 for the exceptions.
Establishment permits are the most common permit issued by the Health Department. These permits include:
Food Permits: Restaurants, carry-outs, caterers, cafeterias, grocery stores, convenience stores, bakeries, meat/poultry/seafood markets, mobile food units (food trucks), commissaries, vending machines (for food that requires refrigeration), and food services for hotels, bed and breakfasts, child care facilities, schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, detention centers, adult care facilities, and summer camps.
- Aquatic Health: Pools, spas, water-slides, interactive fountains.
- Transient Housing: Hotels, motels, hostels, Bed and breakfasts (Some extended stay establishments do not meet the state regulations for a hotel--please call for clarification).
- Camp Grounds and Migrant Camps
To get a new establishment permit:
- Apply for a Plan Review
- Submit an Establishment Permit Application and application fee
- Submit other required paperwork (varies by establishment type)
- Food - menu, food manager cards, HACCP plans, parasite destruction letters, hot water tank specifications, mobile vendor forms (food trucks)
- Aquatic Facilities - electrical inspection, licensed pool operator cards
- Transient Housing - room capacity
- Pass a pre-opening inspection
You will need other permits and licenses to operate in Alexandria. Visit the Licenses & Permits from the Business hub above.
To operate a food truck, or mobile food establishment, in the city of Alexandria, please review our guide first. Because a number of City department regulate food trucks, our rules different than Fairfax, Arlington and other neighboring jurisdictions.
Temporary Food Permits
People or groups that want to sell or give away food at a public event must apply for a temporary food permit. Food vendors must submit an application and fee at least 30 days prior to the event. Charitable organizations are not automatically exempt from permits or fees. Applications submitted after the 30 day deadline will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
- Temporary Food Vendor Permit Application
- Temporary Food Event Coordinator Application
(Must submit if the event, festival, etc. has more than one food vendor)
Additional permits from other city departments may be required. Visit alexandriava.gov/39824 for more information from the Special Events Office. City sponsored events are listed on the City's calendar. For general information about food safety, visit the Food Safety Program
Farmers' Market Vendors
The City of Alexandria has several farmers’ markets operating within the city limits. If you would like to sell or give away food at any of these markets, complete and submit a Farmers' Market Food Registration Form to the Health Department. Remember that any prepared food sold at the market must be made in an approved kitchen. Contact us for more information.
Visit alexandriava.gov/FarmersMarket for more about local markets in the city. Visit http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov to learn more about labeling requirements
Pool Management License
Pool management companies are businesses that operate an aquatic facility for its owner. They are consider experts in their field and usually have a staff of licensed pool operators or lifeguards. Many apartment communities, condominium associations and hotel groups will hire such companies to handle the day-to-day maintenance of their pools. In Alexandria, pool management companies must be licensed by the Health Department if they manage a permitted facility. To obtain a license, they must submit:
Both potable and non-potable wells (including geo-thermal wells) must obtain a permit from the Health Department prior to drilling or abandonment. To obtain a permit, a plan review is required to be submitted Well Permit Application form and fee. Contact us for more information.
A plan review is a process that local governments use to ensure that a business can meet the local building, fire, health and safety codes. In Alexandria, a number of City Departments required a plan review, including the Department of Code Administration, Health, Zoning, etc. Each department concentrates on their area of expertise. The Health Department reviews a business's equipment, processes, and service/food menu items. We require a plan review for:
- Establishments: Prior to construction for all new or changing food service, hotel, and aquatic establishments. A plan review may be required if an establishment is proposing a renovation, equipment replacement, and/or adding or modifying its services or menu items; our office will determine if a review is required.
- Single Family Homes or Duplexes: A plan review is required when a private aquatic facility (such as a backyard pool, spa, etc.) is installed or present at an address where there is also a bed and breakfast or child care facility.
- Abandoning or Well Drilling: A plan review is always required when applying for a well permit. The plan will consist of a drawing of the drill field and stationary objects in relation to the well shafts.
To learn more about other city department reviews, visit alexandriava.gov/PermitCenter for more information.
WHAT MUST BE SUBMITTED?
For specific plan requirements, please review our guide if submitting well plans, consult us first, as a different process is used. Establishment plans, unless for a mobile food vendor, should be submitted to the Permit Processing center at 301 King Street before being brought to the Health Department. All plans must be neat, legible, and drawn to scale, and include:
- a completed Construction or Revision Application with a Permit # designated by the Permit Processing Center. To apply online, visit the Online Permit Center
- all new and existing equipment specifications or cut sheets (the hot water heater specs must also be included!)
- a menu or list of services to be rendered
- Health Department plan review fee
HOW LONG WILL A REVIEW TAKE?
Review times will vary and are based on the complexity of the project, the information provided, and the number of plans already being reviewed by the Health Department. Plans are processed in the order they are received, and for the sake of fairness, we do not 'expedite' one review over another. In general, clients who have reviewed our guide, are familiar with our local codes, and are responsive to questions about their plans have their plans approved faster.
Here are some items that can help you plan your time accordingly:
- Our office will approve or reject a completed plan submission within ten (10) business days of receipt. A completed plan submission refers to a set of plans that includes all documents, drawings, and paperwork needed to verify that the proposed project will comply with our code and regulations. If your original plans are rejected and a revision must be submitted, the revision submission will start a new ten (10) business day deadline.
- The greater the complexity of the project, the longer the review will take.
- The plan review is not an approval to operate your establishment.
- The plan review does not include pre-opening inspections required after a permit application is submitted. An approved plan does not guarantee a permit will be recommended during the first inspection.
Renew a Health Permit
Some health permits must be renewed each year. These include establishment permits and pool management licenses. Temporary Food permits cannot be renewed; the maximum length for this type of permit is fourteen days.
- Submit application with application fee (and late fee if applicable)
- Submit other required paperwork, like Variance Renewal Requests, Mobile Food Establishment forms, electrical inspections forms, etc.
Your new permit will be mailed.
Change of Ownership
Alexandria Health Department permits are not transferable. This means that a permit can only be used by the the owner listed on the permit. All new owners, corporations, LLCs, etc. cannot operate a facility without obtaining a new permit issued by the Health Department. This requirement also applies to establishments that undergoing an "administrative" change of ownership (ex: when an individual or sole-proprietor wants to move his/her permit under a new corporation or limited liability company).
If you are only changing the name:
If your corporation, LLC, or legal name has changed, you can submit an updated permit application . Supporting documentation must be provided. For corporations and LLC's, this documentation should include paperwork from the State Corporation Commission.
If you already changed ownership without notifying us in advance:
Step 1: Close your establishment. Permits are not transferable and it is illegal for you to operate under another business's permit. After you close, use this time to prepare and clean your store for the pre-opening inspection that will be coming shortly.
Step 2: Call our office to notify us of your situation--the sooner the better. We will work with you to re-open your business as soon as possible, but there are certain steps that must be taken. We will advise you of the steps nd begin checking availability of our staff to schedule your pre-opening.
Step 3: Submit a Permit Application and application fee. We cannot conduct a pre-opening inspection unless an application and fee has been submitted.
Health Department collects application, plan review, re-inspection and late fees. Some of these fees are for City of Alexandria (marked with a C), while others are for the Virginia Department of Health (marked with an S). All fees are non-refundable and are subject to return check fees.
You can mail to or make payments at:
Alexandria Health Department
Division of Environmental Health
4850 Mark Center Drive, 4th Floor
Alexandria, VA 22311
Our preferred method of payment is check or money order, and we cannot accept starter checks (common for new businesses). If you want to pay by cash, you must pay in person with exact change. For fees marked with a "S", make checks payable to "Alexandria Health Department." For fees listed with a "C", make checks payable to "City of Alexandria." Only fees marked with an "S" can be paid by credit card.
These forms are provided here for quick reference. Review the information above regarding these permits and licenses before submitting to the Health Department.
- Establishment Permit Application : For new, renewing, and updating facility health permits.
- Mobile Food Vendor Forms : additional forms for mobile food vendors.
- Temporary Event Application - Vendor : food vendor application for events where TCS will be sold (or given away).
- Temporary Event Application - Coordinator : event coordinator application for events with multiple food vendors.
- Farmers' Market Registration : for farmers market vendors who sell food products.
- Pool Management Company License Application : for new, renewing or updating pool company licenses
- Fee Schedule : current fees of the Environmental Health Division