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If you are opening a food business you must register your premises with the environmental health service at your local authority at least 28 days before opening. There is not usually a cost to register with your local authority. A food business must also have a food management system based on HACCP principles. 

You will also need to plan your business, organise waste and recycling collection, get appropriate training and equipment. The law is complex but ignorance of the law is no excuse, so if you have questions you should get professional help.

Registration applies to most types of food business, including catering businesses run from home and mobile or temporary premises, such as stalls and vans. If you have more than one premises, you will need to register all of them.

The Food Standards Agency has created a checklist for starting up a food business and this is as follows:

  • Have you registered on your premises?
  • Do the design and construction of your premises meet the legal requirement?
  • Are you aware of the main General Food Law Requirements?\
  • Do you keep written records of all the suppliers that provide you with food or any food ingredients?
  • Have you put food safety management procedures in place and are you keeping up-to-date records of these?
  • Do you and your staff understand the principles of good food hygiene? Have you considered health and safety and fire safety arrangements?
  • Have you registered as self-employed?
  • Do you need to register for VAT?
  • Are you keeping records of all your business income and expenses?
  • Are you keeping records of your employees’ pay and do you know how to pay their tax and National Insurance contributions?
  • Do you describe food and drink accurately?
  • Do you need to apply for a licence to sell alcohol, for entertainment, for selling hot food and drink late at night, or selling food on the street?

You can get more advice on registering and opening a food business from the food standards agency website and we have put a link on the student download area. You should also contact your local authority.