What licenses do I need for a home food business?

If you like to cook and friends and family cannot wait to be invited to a meal, then starting a home cooking business can be the way to turn your talent into a business. You will need ample storage space for kitchen items, packaging materials, a way to deliver your homemade goods and obtain licenses. The most important advice Denise Vivaldo gives in her book “How to Start a Home-based Catering Business” is to obtain licenses. Check with your state, city and county the specific requirements for your location. The local Small Business Development Center office can help you too.

Business license

Your state probably requires a business license, also your city and the county where you live. Call government offices to find a way to get the applications and find out what the rates are.

Business registration

Many states require that the name and type of business, sole proprietor, partnership, LLC or corporation, be registered at the secretary of state’s office.

Sales Privilege License

A sales privilege license is issued to companies that sell retail products. The company must collect the state sales tax, in addition to the price of the goods and present the taxes to the State. Again, some cities and counties require their own sales privilege license, while others only require that an additional percentage be collected and submitted to their office, but they do not issue their own license.

Food Handling License

This license is sometimes called a food and safety certificate, according to HCareers. The test consists of safety in the handling and storage of food. Not only will you have to have a food handler license, but anyone who attends the kitchen will have to get one as well.

Catering license

If you make food and deliveries, instead of making food in the client’s kitchen as a personal chef, then a catering license may be required.

Kitchen inspection

Your kitchen will have to pass a health and safety inspection and be certified, which is a type of license. Preparing food in an uncertified kitchen can cause you state or county fines. If your kitchen does not pass and you still want to run a food business at home, consider cooking food in a certified kitchen during break hours. For example: a restaurant that only serves breakfast and lunch can be happy to rent your kitchen in the afternoon and evening hours.

Zoning Laws

Check the zoning laws of your city to see if you can operate a business outside your home. If people come to your house to collect food, permits may be necessary. Obtaining a variation of zoning would be necessary.

Owner’s Association

Check the rules and regulations of the owners association. It is possible that the operation of a business outside your home is not allowed.