Health Permits & Licenses

Find information on how to obtain, retain, or modify a Health Department permit or license in the City of Alexandria. In addition, learn more about plan review procedures, current regulations and codes, and Health Department fees.

Page updated on Jul 22, 2021 at 2:23 PM
All Alexandria Health Department Services by Appointment Only
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, all Alexandria Health Department services will only be available over the phone or by appointment, 8 am - 4:30pm.  
Please call 703.746.4910 to make an appointment. 
For updates on COVID-19, visit

Permit Types 

The Health Department issues five types of permits:

You can also:

  • Renew a Permit
  • Update Permit Ownership

Health Specialists will be available at Alexandria Permit Center (City Hall, 301 King Street, Rm 4200, Alexandria) M-F 8:30 a.m. – noon for free consultations and plan review support.

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:

  • Acupuncturists
  • 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.

Establishment Permits

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:

  1. Apply for a Plan Review
  2. Submit an Establishment Permit Application and application fee
  3. Submit other required paperwork (varies by establishment type)
  4. 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.  

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.

  1. Submit application with application fee (and late fee if applicable)
  2. Submit other required paperwork, like Variance Renewal Requests, Mobile Food Establishment forms, electrical inspections forms, etc.

Your new permit will be mailed. 

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.

Additional permits from other city departments may be required. Visit 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' Markets

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 703.746.4910 for more information.

Visit for more about local markets in the city. Visit to learn more about labeling requirements.

Pool Management Licenses

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:

Well Permits

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. Call 703.746.4910 for more information.  

Plan Reviews

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 for more information.

What Must Be Submitted?  

For specific plan requirements, please review our  Guide (.pdf); 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 Constrction 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.

Updating a Permit's 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.

Regulations & Codes

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. 

*The Food and Food Handling Code adopted part of the FDA 2009 Model Food Code; see Sec. 11-2-5 for the exceptions.


These forms are provided here for quick reference.  Review the information above regarding these permits and licenses before submitting to the Health Department. 


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
Environmental Health Division
4480 King Street, 3rd Floor
Alexandria, Virginia 22302  

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.