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Registering a Food Business in UK

You may need a licence and premises approval to run a food operation in the United Kingdom. This guide explains how to register a food business with your local council and how to avoid fines and penalties.

Food business registration must take place with the local council authority. So, you would need to contact your nearest council authority to register a food business.

Registering is necessary to carry out the different types of ‘food operations’ that include:

  • Cooking food
  • Distributing food
  • Handling or storing food
  • Preparing or selling food

All premises need registering if you use more than one to carry out food business operations. This rule applies to your home as well as mobile or temporary premises (e.g. stalls, vans).

You would need to fill in a form to register a food business with the council. They would need some basic details of the food activities and a registered address for the food operation. It also applies to anyone operating a website to arrange food deliveries.

The council authority cannot refuse the registration of a food business and there is no charge to get the licence.

Anyone who is already trading with food products, and yet to get a food business registered, must do so without delay. The proprietor must also:

  • Ensure the local council authority has up-to-date information about the premises.
  • Inform the local authority if there are any plans to make any significant changes to the business.

Note: As a rule, food business registration must take place at least 28 days before starting any food operations.

Restrictions on Animal Foodstuffs

Some restrictions apply if you will make, prepare, or handle food products from animals (e.g. dairy products or meat). Unless it is for direct sale to the consumer you may need to get your premises approved by the council. Approval should occur before undertaking the actual activity.

Food Premises Approval (England)

Food businesses that involve the handling of fish, meat, egg or dairy products must get inspected. Most will need approval from the local council.

You can contact the council for food premises approval in England. They will decide whether your operation gets approval or needs to register.

Conditions for Exclusions

Getting food premises approved is not required if you sell direct to the public or to retailers (e.g. caterers, pubs, and restaurants). But, to meet the conditions:

  • The food must account for less than 25% of the trade.
  • You must not handle any wild game meat products.
  • You must not sell food outside the county where the food business is registered.

Note: You must comply with the rules for controlling the temperature, and the storage, of any transported food products.

Displaying a Food Business Licence

Local councils have varying rules on how to display ‘approved status’ for a food operation. But, as a rule they will want it displaying on the food products themselves.

Further guidance is available from the Food Premises Approval sections for other areas of the United Kingdom if it applies to your food operation.

Note: Running unapproved food premises is a criminal offence and can result in a prosecution. Registering a food business is not required if the food premises get approved by a local council authority.

Displaying a Food Business Licence

Running a food business without registering is a serious offence in United Kingdom. Failing to register can result in a fine or a two (2) imprisonment (or both in some cases).

Note: Further help is available for anyone starting up a new business in the UK. The Food Standards Agency also provides extra guidance on managing a food business.

Food Business Registration Process in the United Kingdom