Register a food business

What you can do

All food businesses need to register with the Council. 

It is free to register, and your registration cannot be refused. 

You should register at least 28 days before opening. If you are already trading and have not registered, you need to do this as soon as possible. 

A food business is anyone preparing, cooking, storing, handling, distributing, supplying or selling food. 

Registration applies to food businesses like: 

  • restaurants, cafes and takeaways 
  • catering businesses run from home, mobile catering and temporary businesses 
  • food stalls, food pop-ups and food vans 
  • distance selling, mail order and food delivery companies involved with food distribution or supply that operate from an office should register – even if no food is kept at the premises 

If you operate more than one premises, you need to register each premises with the local authority where it is located. 

You may be fined, imprisoned for up to two years or both if you run a food business without registering. 

Childminders or nurseries 

If you are a childminder or run a nursery and provide food for the children you look after, the details you provide to Ofsted will be used to register you as a food business. Your details will be available to your local authority and you will not have to register separately. 

Food hygiene rating system 

Once registered, your premises may be inspected by the Council. 

Food hygiene ratings are grades given to food handling businesses, and how well they comply with food safety law. A rating of five is the top of the scale where hygiene standards are very good. A zero rating is bottom, where urgent improvements are needed. 

Regular inspections 

Registered food businesses are regularly inspected by the Council. 

The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 makes it an offence to supply food which is unsafe. In serious cases, the Council has the power to prosecute, fine and close food businesses over matters of food safety.  

During a food hygiene inspection, the inspecting officer will: 

  • observe working practices 
  • discuss food hygiene training 
  • assess facilities and equipment 

All food businesses must also have a written food safety management system in place. The Food Standards Agency has developed a pack to help business comply with the law. You can download this as a free PDF here:

The pack is easy to use and covers cooking, cleaning, chilling, cross contamination and management procedures. It also contains a diary, which is the only daily food record you will need to keep – and should take just a couple of minutes to fill out every day. 

Register a food business