Food business registration

If you are starting or taking over a business that processes, sells or serves food, you need to be registered or have food business approval.

Food business approval - if your business manufactures or processes meat, dairy, egg, fish, shellfish or animal produce, for supply to other businesses, you will require approval before you start to trade. Find out about food business approval.

Food business registration - if your business stores, prepares, distributes or sells food you need to register your premises. Premises include restaurants, cafes, hotels, shops, canteens, market stalls, mobile catering vans, food delivery vans and businesses that are run from home. See more below.

By law, you must register at least 28 days before opening your business, and it is an offence not to register a food business with your local authority.

There is no charge, registration can’t be refused, and you can usually continue with your business as soon as you have applied for registration.

We aim to inspect your new business within 28 days of receiving your registration, if this is not possible we will phone you to let you know.  If you need advice before your initial inspection please contact the food safety team.

Who needs to register?

Any person, company or charity running a business that prepares, cooks, stores, supplies or sells food - whether for profit or not. 

What premises should be registered?

Any premises that are used for storing, preparing, distributing or selling food, such as: 

  • pubs, restaurants, cafes and takeaways
  • shops, markets stalls and food pop ups
  • factories, distributors, wholesalers and warehouses
  • food importers, brokers, and mail order deliveries
  • lunch clubs, village halls, staff canteens, hospitals, care homes and schools

Mobile businesses need to be registered too - such as ice cream vans, food delivery vans and mobile food traders.

You must also register if you use your own kitchen at home for preparing food for sale.

Before opening your business

We recommend that you contact us as early as possible, so we can advise you how to meet the required standards before you open your business. Please also take a look at our advice for starting a food business.

How to apply

The 'food business operator' should apply - that is the person that runs the business and decides what food it will sell, and how it will operate.

We will need to know full details of your business, including the types of food you will handle, previous food business experience, and any training that you and your staff have undertaken. 

We also need details of the documented food safety management system you have in place.

Register a food business

Protecting your privacy - find out how we keep your information safe.

What we will do

When we receive your application, if you fall within the scope of the scheme we will send you an 'awaiting inspection' sticker to display in your business window.

We will then inspect your premises and award a Food Hygiene Rating. The rating is based on how food is handled, the condition of the premises, and the processes, training and systems in place, to make sure good hygiene is maintained. We aim to inspect your new business within 28 days of receiving your registration, if this is not possible we will phone you to let you know.  

If you have any queries or need advice before opening your business please contact the food safety team or see the Food Standards Agency website.

If you are unhappy with the food hygiene rating you have been given you have a right to reply, and can ask us to inspect your premises again. You may also be able to appeal against your food hygiene rating.  

If something changes

You must tell us straight away if you close your food business, or if there is any significant change that could affect your registration. Contact the food safety team.

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We deal with food business registration under Article 6 (2) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004.

Last updated on 01 April 2022