If you store, sell, distribute, cook or prepare food, you will need to register your business. It's free.

Register your food business

We must receive your application form at least 28 days before you start any food operations. Tick all the boxes which apply to your business and answer all the questions honestly. We cannot refuse your application to register your premises unless you are dishonest.

Types of businesses that must register

You must register if you have a:

  • cafe
  • restaurant
  • pub
  • hotel
  • shop
  • takeaway business
  • business that caters from home or at events and market stalls.

It's a criminal offence to run an unregistered food premises and you can be prosecuted for doing so. You may be fined, imprisoned for up to 2 years or both if you run a food business without registering.

If you have more than one premises

You will need to register all of them. If you use premises in more than one local council area, you must register with each authority separately.

If a premises is used by several food businesses

This could be for a community hall, church hall  or conference centre. The person who operates the food business is responsible for registering it. For example, if a community hall is hired by a luncheon club or playgroup that provide food, it is the organisers of the club/group that must register, not the hall management committee.

Further guidance on the provision of food in a village hall, or other community setting (and whether registration is required or not) may be found on FOOD.GOV.UK.

If a vehicle is used for your food business

If you use vehicles for your food business in connection with permanent premises such as a shop, or warehouse you do not need to register the vehicles. If you have one or more vehicles but no permanent premises, you must register the vehicles at the premises where they are normally kept overnight.

If you have a mobile food business

In the case of a mobile food business, such as a burger or ice cream van, you only need to register with one local council, not every authority where you are going to operate. You will usually register with the local authority where the vehicle will be kept overnight.

Some local councils, including Medway Council, require mobile food businesses to have street trading consent for certain locations.

If you have a permanently moored boat

Permanently moored vessels, such as floating restaurants, must register with the local authority in the area they are situated. Vessels travelling on inland waterways (for example, pleasure craft), must register with the local council where they are normally kept.

If you're a childminder

If you're a childminder and usually provide meals and drinks for the children in your care, you do not need to register separately as a food business with your local council. This will happen automatically when you register with Ofsted.


Certain businesses producing meat, meat products, eggs, milk, dairy products, fish and fish products are exempt from registering, as they need approval under regulation EC853/2004 instead.

Change of circumstances

You must tell us within 28 days of any significant changes in your business by completing the register your food business form.

Significant changes that should be notified to the council:

  • Change of business address or trading name
  • Change of Food Business Operator (for example, different owner or company name)
  • Change in the type of food activity
  • If you stop selling food
  • If you stop trading.