Food business registration

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When you start a new food business or take over an existing business, you must register with your local authority.

It’s free to register, and your registration cannot be refused.

You should register at least 28 days before opening. If you’re already trading and have not registered, you need to do this as soon as possible.

Who needs to register

A food business is anyone preparing, cooking, storing, handling, distributing, supplying or selling food.

Registration applies to food business like:

  • restaurants, cafes and take-aways
  • catering businesses run from home, mobile catering and temporary businesses
  • food stalls, food pop ups and food vans
  • distance selling, mail order and food delivery
  • nurseries
  • companies involved with food distribution or supply that operate from an office should register - even if no food is kept at the premises

If you operate more than one premises, you need to register each premises with the local authority where it’s located.

You may be fined, imprisoned for up to 2 years or both if you run a food business without registering.

If you’re a childminder

If you’re a childminder and provide food for the children you look after, the details you provide to Ofsted or a childminder agency will be used to register you as a food business. Your details will be available to your local authority and you will not have to register separately.

Food hygiene rating scheme

Once registered, you may be inspected by your local authority.

Preparing thoroughly for inspection means your business has the best chance of getting a top rating (5) in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

Visit the Food Standards Agency for more information on starting a food business.


Your premises may need to be approved by your local council if you make, prepare or handle food that comes from animals for supply to other businesses.

Check the Food Premises Approval sections if you think that this applies to you: