Food business registration and approval

Food business registration and approval

Registering a food business

You are legally required to register any premises used to prepare, store, transport or sell food. 

You should do this at least 28 days before trading or, if being added to an existing business, before food service starts.

Who must register?

If you run a food business, you must tell us about any premises you use for prepping, storing, selling, cooking, or distributing food.

Food businesses include:

  • restaurants, cafes and takeaways
  • catering businesses run from home
  • mobile catering and temporary businesses
  • marquees, food stalls, food pop ups and food vans
  • schools, nurseries and care homes
  • distance selling, mail order and food delivery, including online

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


Some food activities do not need to register, for example:

  • Infrequent activities, such as one-off events
  • If you make food for friends and family
  • Places where the main activity is not to do with food, such as a hairdresser providing tea and biscuits
  • Places where food is only sold through vending machines

How to register

Registration of your food business is free.  You can register a food business by completing an online 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 successful registration via email.

Approval of food businesses

You may need to apply for approval if your business produces and supplies foods that come from animals to other food businesses (though not directly to the public).

Food of animal origin includes:

  • meat, including minced meat and mechanically separated meat
  • fish, including wet fish and live bi-valve molluscs
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • frog legs and snails
  • rendered animal fats and greaves
  • treated stomachs, bladders and intestines
  • gelatine and collagen

Food premises that require approval must meet additional requirements above those food premises that do not, as they usually involve more high-risk operations. 

If your business requires approval, you will need to meet the hygiene standards set out in the Food Standards Agency's guide to applying for approval of a food establishment.

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. It is a criminal offence to operate without it.


You are exempt if you sell 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 percent of your trade.
  • You do not sell food outside the county your business is registered in.

How do I apply for approval?

The application for approval is free of charge.  You can apply for approval online.

Following receipt of an application an officer will assess the application and visit the premises to validate the information provided and ensure compliance with the regulations.

If you are unsure whether your business requires approval, please email our food safety team or call 0191 211 6102.

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.

Updating your business details

You must:

  • Make sure that we have up-to-date information about your business.
  • Inform us if you are planning to make any significant changes to your business, including closure.

More information

More information about the registration and approval of food businesses can be found on the Government website: