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Registering a food business

Registering a food business

You have decided to jump into the world of selling food. We wish you all the best from The Chaplain. But all the goodwill in the world will not get you started. What you need is a lot of hard work to get things up and running before you start. This blog will guide you through the the step of registering as a food business.

What is a food business/operator?

It may sound like a simple question but the definition of a food business and the need to register your business with a local council depends on if you want to carry out any ‘food operations’.

Food operations include:

  • selling food
  • cooking food
  • storing or handling food
  • preparing food
  • distributing food

What if I have Multiple Premises?

You must register every premises where you carry out food operations, including your home, and mobile or temporary premises such as stalls and vans with the local council. This applies to any premises used for storing, selling, distributing or preparing food and relates to both new businesses and existing premises which change ownership.

Can I trade before I have registered a food business?

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

Hence, at The Chaplain we do not recommend you trade before you register; if you are already trading and have not registered a food business you need to do so as soon as possible.

How much does registering a food business cost?

It doesn’t cost anything to register a food business.

Can my registration as a food business be refused?

Your local council cannot refuse your registration of a food business.

What If I don’t register as a food business?

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

What if I want to sell to other businesses?

If you make, prepare or handle food that comes from animals, for example meat or dairy products, other than for direct sale to the consumer, your premises may need to be approved by the council before you can undertake the activity. This will be covered in a seperate blog.

How long does registering as a food business take?

When registering your food business you must do so with the local authority at least 28 days before trading or before the food operations start. The registration form requires basic details of your food business including the address and the food activities involved. As mentioned earlier, registration is free.

Who do I register my food business with?

Food Businesses are registered with a Issuing Authority. This is usually the local council.

What do I do if I am a child minder?

To many readers this may sound like a strange question, but the process for registering as a food business is slightly different in that you would need details of OFSTED registration, and details of food handling for children e.g. if you cut up the food for children, if drinking water is provided or if you store children’s own food etc.

What information will I need to register a food business?

At The Chaplain we recommend you gather the information required before you start your application to register a food business.  Each Issuing Authority has it’s own criteria. However, in most instances the information will you need include the following.

Establishment/Company Details

This is information about the structure of your food business e.g. are you a sole trader, a partnership or a limited company. Details needed include your trading name, company name and company number for limited companies. You can easily get this information from the Gov.UK website.

Food Operator Details

The Food Operator is usually the owner of the business but can be a manager if you have a local manager. You will usually also have to supply the details of how many people who would be engaged in the business. This includes business partners, managers, delivery staff, part time staff and volunteers.

Start Details of Your Food Business

It is important to remember you must give 28 days notice before you start trading. Hence the best start date to give is 28 days from today if you wish to start as soon as possible. If you have already started trading then it is advised to be honest and give the date you started.

Food Hygiene Certificate Details

The Issuing Authority may ask for details of food safety training/Food hygiene certificate. This information is not needed at this stage but useful to have.

Type of Food Business

You may be given the option of selecting the type of food business you are running. It is advised to choose all that apply. For The Chaplain we chose Restaurant/cafe/snack bar, Catering, Moveable establishment (e.g. ice cream van), Market stall and Takeaway to cover the main areas of our business.

 So how do actually register as a food business?

1. Find your local Issuing Authority

It is very simple to register your business. Even if you know your local Issuing Authority (usually the local council) click here to go to the Gov.UK website. Enter your postcode and you will be told who to register with. For the purpose of demonstrating we will use our postcode.

find issuing office
Find your Issuing Office

2. Search for the Issuing Authority

Many council website have a poor search facility and it can be infuriating to find the right page. This is why at The Chaplain we recommend using a great time saver for finding the right page using a powerful feature on Google. It simply entails typing the name of the issuing office and register food business as shown below. As the issuing Office for where The Chaplain is based (Kidlington, Oxfordshire) is Cherwell District Council we used that.

search for registering food business
Google Search for registering food business using Site:

As you can see from the result page it takes us to the right page without having to tear what’s left of our hair our.

Search result
Search result

3. Gather your food business details

Each Issuing Authority will have their own method of gathering the information they need from you to register your food business. Thankfully, Cherwell Council has an online form to submit. Regardless of the method of sending the information to the Issuing Authority the details needed will be similar. Therefore, it is advised to have the required food business information at hand before you start.

4. Submit your food business details to your Issuing Authority

Once you have submitted your food business details to your Issuing Authority, you have to wait 28 days to start trading. Normally you will get a response from the Issuing Authority with details of one of their officers to carry out a food hygiene inspection. This is an ideal opportunity to get all the legal requirements in place before you start trading.

Please comment below if you need any advice as we are happy to provide guidance to help you register your food business. If you have found this guide useful, please share on social media.

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