Starting a food business

Information on starting a food business and whether you need to register or apply for food premises approval.

Food premises registration

The premises you choose for your business must:

  • comply with the necessary regulations
  • allow you to prepare food safely.

The Food Standards Agency has provided guidance on choosing the right premises and how to keep them clean (opens new window).

Registration is free of charge and cannot be refused. A food premises registration is also necessary where a change of ownership has taken place at an existing business

All new food business establishments must register with the council at least 28 days before starting food operations.

Registration applies to most businesses that store, prepare, distribute or sell food on premises, including:

  • restaurants
  • pubs
  • bars
  • cafes
  • hotels
  • canteens
  • schools and colleges
  • nurseries
  • takeaway shops - guidance on food delivery and takeaway (PDF) [2MB]
  • supermarkets and smaller food retailers
  • chemists
  • newsagents
  • freight companies
  • delivery vans
  • wholesale warehouses
  • workplace or institutional catering operations
  • catering businesses run from home
  • mobile or temporary premises, such as market stalls and vans

The Nationwide Caterers Association can provide mobile and temporary premises with good advice, training and documentation on, for example, assisting with the completion of SFBB packs.

Occasional home bakers, seasonal jam and preserves makers and people catering for one off events are not required to be registered as food businesses. Where small amounts of food are produced on an occasional basis and where a minimum level of organisation is required you are not required to be registered as food businesses. The Food Standards Agency provides advice on providing food at community and charity events (opens new window).

Business that do not need registration must still produce safe food.

Register a food business

Please note: We aim to process food business registrations within 28 calendar days. 

Food premises approval

Food premises approval may be required if you produce or handle products of animal origin, for example meat, which are then supplied to other food businesses. This is a requirement of retained European law in Community Directive 853/2004. In general, the following types of food businesses will require approval:

  • food manufacturers producing products of animal origin
  • home caterers selling products of animal origin to other businesses
  • central production kitchens that supply catering establishments or retailers
  • stand-alone cold stores
  • establishments that pack or wrap (or repack or re-wrap) products of animal origin such as meat fish dairy or egg products.

Apply for food premises approval

Please note: We aim to process food business approvals within 90 calendar days.

Useful websites and information

Page last updated: 20 Feb 2023