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Food business registration and approval

Register your food premises with us, if you store, prepare, distribute or sell food.

Published: 21 January 2021

Last updated: 10 February 2021

You are required by law (Article (6) of EC Regulation 852/2004) to register any premises used to prepare, store, transport or sell food. You should do this at least 28 days before trading or before food operations start. This allows local authorities to keep an up-to-date list of all those food businesses in their area and this way we can ensure that every premises receives an inspection and resources can be allocated and targeted in the appropriate areas.

Who needs to register?

If you run a food business, you must tell the local authority about any premises you use for preparing, storing, selling cooking or distributing food. Food businesses include:

  • restaurants, cafes and takeaways
  • 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 online

Food organisations that donate food such as charities and homeless shelters and people who produce food in their home for members of the public; jam making, cake baking, etc. will also need to be registered.


Certain types of food activity do not need to register, for example;

  • infrequent activities, such as one-off events
  • if you make foods for your friends and family
  • places where the main activity is not to do with food. For example, hairdressers providing tea and biscuits
  • places where food is only sold through vending machines

Updating your business details

You must:

  • make sure your local authority always has up-to-date information about your premises
  • tell your local authority if you are planning to make any significant changes to your business, including closure

If you operate more than one premises, you need to register each of them with the local authority in which they are located.

What information will I need to register?

  • the name and contact details of the Food Business Operator
  • the name of your Primary or Home Authority, if you have one
  • details about the nature and scope of your business.  It is very important that you provide as much information as possible so we can understand your business
  • the date you plan to start trading
  • planned opening times (commercial premises only)

How do I register?

Registration of your food business is free. You can register by completing the online food business registration form. Please complete all the boxes that apply to your business and give as much information as possible. If you do not provide enough details your registration may be delayed while we obtain further information from you.

Once you have submitted your form online you will be sent confirmation of your business registration form via email.

Premises approval

If a business makes, prepares or handles food of animal origin (e.g. meat, fish or dairy) for supply to other businesses, then that food business and its activities in most circumstances will require what is known as 'approval'.

Food of animal origin includes:

  • meat and poultry - fresh, frozen or cooked
  • meat products such as pies, sausage rolls, black pudding and bacon
  • raw or partially cooked minced meat or meat preparations such as sausages, burgers, marinated raw meat and kebab meat
  • fish and fish products such as fish fingers, prawns, lobsters, crabs and crayfish - whether dead or alive
  • live bivalve molluscs
  • ready meals containing fish or meat
  • milk and dairy products such as butter, cream, cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream, etc
  • frogs’ legs and snails
  • rendered animal fats and other animal by products such as gelatine, collagen, stomachs, bladders and intestines
  • honey and blood

Food premises that require approval must meet additional requirements above those food premises which do not, as they usually involve more high-risk operations. If your food premises requires approval, you will need to meet the hygiene standards set out in the following regulations:

  • Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 Hygiene of foodstuffs
  • Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 Hygiene rules for food of animal origin

If any part of your business requires approval, you will not be able to operate this part of your process until you have received confirmation of your approval or conditional approval for a certain period of time.

How do I apply for approval?

The application process is free of charge.

To apply for approval online, please complete the electronic form.

Following receipt of an application an Environmental Health Officer will assess the application and normally visit the premise to validate the information provided and ensure compliance with the regulations and then make a decision as to whether approval can be granted. We would strongly advise you to contact us for advice prior to starting the application process.


Exemptions are detailed in the Food Law Practice Guidance (England). These are based on the premises selling either directly to the public or to retailers on a marginal, localised, and restricted basis as long as:

  • the sale of Products of Animal Origin (POAO) is less than 25% of your trade
  • you do not sell food outside the county your business is registered in

Consent must be given in writing before you can operate a business which requires approval. Environmental Health Officers must process and approve your application before you can operate. It is an offence to operate a business which is subject to approval without consent under Regulation (EC) 853/2004.

Public Register

Once approved, details of the premises together with information relating to types of foods produced are forwarded to the Food Standards Agency to be kept on a central EU register

More information on Food Business Registration and Approvals can be obtained from the following Government links:

GOV.UK: food business registration

GOV.UK: food premises approval