- We recommend you talk to us before starting a food business.
- All businesses or groups selling food must be registered with or notify Council before trading.
- A fee applies for registering a food business.
- All food businesses must be classified, according to the food safety risk of the business.
- Class 1 or Class 2 food businesses have to develop a Food Safety Program.
The Food Act 1984 controls the sale of food in Victoria. When you start a food business you have to register it with Council, which involves applying for permits and inspections of your new premises to comply with the regulations.
Once your business is registered, you need to renew your registration and pay a registration fee every year. Council sends an Application for Renewal of Registration to all registered food businesses.
If you're purchasing an existing food business, you'll still need to register it with Council.
Classifying food businesses
Food businesses are classified into 4 classes. The class determines what requirements the business needs to meet before it can be registered with Council.
Class 1, 2 and 3 businesses have to be registered. Class 4 businesses don't need to be registered, but they must notify Council.
Temporary and mobile food businesses
Temporary food businesses, such as food stalls at markets and festivals, and mobile food premises, such as vans, trucks or carts, are required to register or notify Council and lodge a Statement of Trade form each time they operate. For more information, see temporary and mobile food premises.
Other types of food businesses
Other types of food premises need to apply for a licence with other agencies, including:
- PrimeSafe for meat and poultry processing facilities and seafood businesses, such as butchers and fishmongers.
- Dairy Food Safety Victoria for dairy processing premises, transporters, manufacturers and distributors.
Steps to starting a food business
Step 1: Discuss your plans with us
If you are thinking of starting a new food business, we strongly recommend that you organise a meeting to discuss your plans. At this meeting, we can give you information about:
- food safety requirements
- permits and inspections
- standards and codes.
To organise a meeting, call 9278 4710 or email Health Services.
Step 2: Book an onsite appraisal
Before you secure a lease on a new food premises, we recommend that you organise an onsite appraisal by one of our environmental health officers.
A Council officer will visit your proposed premises to recommend any improvements or modifications needed to meet the relevant standards and codes.
To organise an appraisal, call 9278 4710 or email Health Services.
Step 3: Contact utility providers
You'll also need to contact Yarra Valley Water to find out your sewerage and waste water requirements, and other utility providers (gas and electricity) to confirm that you meet their codes and standards.
Step 4: Apply to establish a food business
After you've met with Council, you need to apply to establish a food business.
When you apply, we recommend that you submit your plans and specifications to us for assessment. We'll review your plans to check they comply with the requirements of the Food Standards Code.
With your application, you can submit:
- 2 floor plans showing the layout of your new premises including location, method of installation, types of finishes, surfaces, fixtures and equipment
- specifications on mechanical exhaust systems
- your proposed menu.
For more information on structural standards for commercial businesses, see below for Guidance on structural standards for a food premises.
For more information on structural standards for home based businesses, see below for Starting a new domestic food business.
We'll contact you and send a report within 14 days of receiving your application.
It's your responsibility to apply for a Planning Permit and/or Building Permit before you can commence works on your new food business. For example, you may need a permit if you intend to renovate or extend the building, or you require a liquor licence.
Step 5: Arrange an interim inspection
During the refurbishment of your new premises, you can also contact us to arrange an interim inspection.
We'll inspect your premises to advise if any changes or improvements are needed.
Step 6: Develop a food safety program
If you are starting a Class 1 food business, you'll need to develop a Food Safety Program and submit it to Council.
This program needs to be audited by an independent third party auditor. For a list of approved food safety auditors, see Department of Health and Human Services.
If you are starting a Class 2 food business, you'll need a Food Safety Program. You can choose to develop your own, or alternatively, you can use the Department of Health and Human Services Food Safety Program template.
A Food Safety Program also requires that you appoint a food safety supervisor.
Class 3 or 4
If you are starting a Class 3 or a Class 4 food business you don't need a Food Safety Program, but we recommend you complete the Victorian Government's Do Food Safely online training.
If you are a Class 3 food business, you're also required to maintain Class 3 records, which can be found in the Food Safety Guide for Food Businesses - Class 3.
Step 7: Book a final inspection
Once your food business premises is complete, you can book a final inspection at least 1 week prior to opening.
An environmental health officer will inspect your premises to make sure you have met all the regulations.
Step 8: Register your food business
Once we have conducted the final inspection and you have met all the requirements, you will receive an email from us to complete your Application for Registration online.
With your application, include:
- your Food Safety Program
- details of a food safety supervisor and proof of competency (class 1 and 2 only)
- the prescribed fee (listed on the form).
If your application is successful, you will receive a Certificate of Registration by email. An inspection will then occur within 1 month of being approved to operate.
Registrations are renewed annually and must be paid by 31 December each year. These are emailed to the email address supplied in your Application for Registration. If we do not receive your payment by 31 December each year, you may incur additional costs, such as an infringement notice for trading unregistered, and legal proceedings may be brought against you.
We’ll also let you know if we need more information.