Virginia Beach to Continue with Food Truck Vendor Background Checks, Despite Disagreement

By Michael Klazema on 3/7/2019

In Virginia Beach, uncertainty around the correct classification for food truck operators combined with an ongoing debate about background checks have created a long-running effort to find a solution. The issue came to a vote before the full city council in mid-February. Despite closing arguments from opponents of food truck background checks insisting the rules were unethical, the council voted 7-4 to continue requiring background checks for both operators and employees of food trucks.

The mandated checks cost $40 and require an annual renewal with the Chief of Police in Virginia Beach retaining the right to deny applicants a business license as a result of a criminal past. The reports are likely similar to the state-specific reports offered through, containing information about past convictions not expunged or sealed that occurred anywhere in the state of Virginia. 

Food truck operators speaking to local media after the vote expressed disappointment at the outcome of the council's deliberations. 

The Virginia Beach council's vote also amended rules that previously classified food truck operators as "peddlers," a more expensive licensing class. Food trucks now undergo the same licensing procedures as brick and mortar restaurants and face a smaller fee. Proponents believe that this reduction can help to offset some of the costs of continued background checks. The new licensing category will charge fees based on revenue rather than at a flat rate.

Opponents contend that the background check requirement is both a barrier to owning a business that does not exist for traditional restaurants and a heavy financial burden. Some said they would opt to avoid hiring additional employees rather than pay the fee and risk facing repeated background check expenses due to high turnover. 

Whether this is the end of the debate remains to be seen, as restaurant owners in Virginia Beach are reportedly not satisfied with the new rules, either. Their concerns center around the shift away from the peddler classification; they worry the next step will be to allow food trucks to operate in a broader area, creating what they contend would be an unfair competitive edge. Beyond the council's recent vote, press outlets speculate that food trucks will continue to receive political attention as an equitable solution is sought. 

Food truck operators are far from the only vendors providing services to businesses and the public. For companies preparing to start a partnership with a vendor, whether for a one-off event or over the long-term, proper vetting is an important component of due diligence. provides a versatile vendor screening package based on our multi-jurisdictional US OneSEARCH criminal record check. Explore how you can take action and build trust in the reliability of any third parties you hire.

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