How to register a food business
Information on how to register a new food business and when registration is required.
When you start a new food business, or take over an existing business, you must register with your local authority. You should do this at least 28 days before you start trading.
Registration of your food business is free and can’t be refused. If you are already trading and have not registered yet, you need to register as soon as possible as this is a legal requirement.
Types of food businesses that need to register
Registration with a local authority is required for all types of food and drink businesses who sell food directly to the public.
Registration is required regardless of where a business operates from in the UK. This includes food businesses trading from physical customer-facing premises, from home, a mobile unit or temporary premises such as a stall of van, or through online or distance selling.
Companies involved with food distribution, brokerage or food supply that operate from an office should also register as a food business, even if no food is kept at the premises.
If you sell, cook, store, handle, prepare or distribute food for the public, you may be considered a food business and will need to register with your local authority.
If you operate in more than one location, you must register each premises with the appropriate local authority.
Here are examples of types of operations that require registration. This list is not exhaustive.
- restaurants, cafes and takeaways
- making food and selling from your home
- catering businesses run from home, B&Bs, mobile catering and temporary businesses marquees, food stalls, food pop ups and food vans
- nurseries, schools and care homes
- distance selling, mail order and food delivery, including food supplied online or through social media channels or marketplaces.
If you are unsure whether you need to register, contact your local authority for further advice specific to your operations.
Registering as a childminder
If you provide food with your childminding business in England, the details you provide to Ofsted or your childminder agency will also be used to register you as a food business with your local authority. You will not have to register separately.
Childminder registration requirements differ in Wales and Northern Ireland if you provide food with your childminding business. Contact your local authority for more information.
Starting a food business
Those intending to start a food business must first consider a number of actions to ensure food hygiene and safety standards are met.
We have guidance to help food businesses through this process, with information on how to:
- set up a food business and choose appropriate premises
- start making and selling from home
- sell food online.
Taking over an existing food business
If you take over an existing food business, you will need to register that business again in your name. You need to advise the local authority that there has been a change in ownership.
You must register your food business at least 28 days before taking over the business. If you have already taken over and have not yet registered under the new name, you need to do so as soon as possible as this is a legal requirement.
Changing your business model or closing your business
If you are changing the operating model for your food business, such as selling food online, selling food from a mobile unit, or diversifying your business, it is important to understand the additional safety risks this may introduce.
You should inform your local authority of any changes to your registerable food activities. This includes the introduction of a new delivery or takeaway service.
The local authority may not need to inspect your new business operation, but should be informed of any changes that may introduce additional risks into your food production processes.
You must make sure your local authority has up to date information about your food business.
You should tell your local authority if:
- you decide not to start trading
- you are planning to make significant changes to your business model
- you plan to close your food business.
We have more guidance on changing your business model, to ensure you address any additional safety risks changes may introduce.
Published: 9 January 2018
Last updated: 9 May 2022