Health Permit to Operate - Restaurants, Bars, and Retail Food Markets

All restaurants, bars, and retail food markets must obtain a permit to operate from the Department of Public Health. This application packet includes the required forms and procedures to apply online.

Issuing Department

SF Department of Public Health

Agency Type



Submit online in 3 easy steps

Be sure to log in to your account or create an account before you begin.

1. Add the application to your folder.

2. Download and fill out the application on your computer.

3. Attach the completed application and additional requirements (where applicable) to your folder, and then click on "Ready to Submit".

Signature requirements: This permit application requires a "wet" signature. Be sure to sign the form with a pen, take a picture with your phone or scan a copy of your signed application, and then attach it to your folder.

Payment requirements: Mail your original check to the department's address listed on the application and add "ATTN: Environmental Health Online Submission" to the envelope above the mailing address information. The department will not review applications until they receive payment. Clearly print your name, DBA (Doing Business As) or FBN (Fictitious Business Name), and business address on the check. The Department of Public Health will call you once they receive your check and reviewed your application.

Prerequisites for application approval: Prior to application approval, the applicant shall provide copies of the following: 1. City and County of San Francisco Business Registration Certificate; 2. If preparing food, a menu or listing of all foods served; 3. A drawing of premises depicting all rooms with new and existing equipment; 4. Certificate of Liability Insurance for Workers’ Compensation; and 5. California State Board of Equalization Seller’s Permit

Additional information from the Department

All restaurants, bars, and retail food markets must obtain a permit to operate from the Department of Public Health. Should the site location require new construction or remodeling, the Department of Public Health is required to check plans and inspect the construction or remodeling.


A permit to operate is not transferable. When a new business owner takes over an existing business, the new owner must apply for a permit to operate within two (2) days, otherwise a citation will be issued. Once applications are received, an inspection will be scheduled. A 45-day temporary permit will be issued and a reinspection conducted at the end of the 45-day period. Upon a successful inspection, the permit to operate will be issued.


To obtain this Health Permit submit the appropriate forms with the following to the Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Unit:
- Proof of Food Safety Certification.
- Application fee in the form of a check or money order made payable to the SF Department of Public Health.
- Proof of Business Registration with the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector (See Business Registration Certificate)


NOTE: Make sure that all applicants sign the applications: if partnership, all partners must sign; if corporation, authorized officer must sign.


Once DPH recieves the application with payment, a Health Inspector will call you to set up an appointment for an inspection.


The permit to operate will be issued by DPH upon the successful conclusion of their final inspection, the Tax Collector's confirmation that fees have been paid, and approval from the Building, Planning and Fire Departments, if they were involved.


The permit will be mailed or given to the operator. It must be placed along with the Tax collector's License Certificate where it can be easily seen by the public.


See Retail Food Safety Program: Restaurants and Bars for more information. Be sure to review the SF Fire Department Referral Inspection Guideline/ Checklist and Environmental Health Required Steps Flow Chart to ensure the approval of your application in a timely manner, and to minimize additional inspection fees.

Permit Documents

The following documents are part of this permit. Fill out the necessary forms and submit them to the issuing department to apply.