Register a food business

You must register your food business with us at least 28 days before opening. There is no fee to register a food business.

Registration is required for most types of food business, whether trading for profit or not, including:

  • restaurants and cafes
  • hotels and pubs
  • shops and supermarkets
  • takeaways
  • mobile and temporary premises such as stalls and vans
  • staff canteens
  • catering businesses, including those run from home.

Registration allows us to keep an up-to-date list of all premises in the district so we can visit them when needed. The frequency of the visits will depend on the type of business and how well it complies with food hygiene requirements.

If you use vehicles for your food business and have permanent premises, such as a shop or warehouse, you only need to register the fixed premises but you must also tell us how many vehicles you have. You do not need to register each vehicle separately.
If you have one or more vehicles but no permanent premises, you need to tell us where they are normally kept.

If you are going to be producing foods containing meat, poultry, fish, dairy and/or egg products to be sold to other caterers or retail shops, you may need to obtain food premises approval before you start trading.

If there are any changes to your food business you do not need to renew your registration, but please let us know what changes you have made.
If there is a change of ownership of existing premises, the new food business operator must register the business even if the business name has not changed.

What happens if I don't register?

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


You do not need to register if you:

  • produce or prepare food for private domestic consumption only
  • are a primary producer, for example, you grow fruit or vegetables or
  • operate a “product-specific” food business which requires approval under Regulation 853/2004 – eg you produce meat, poultry, fish, dairy and/or egg products.

How do I register?

Register Your Food Business Online

We maintain a register of food premises which is updated quarterly, and can be accessed here:

Setting up a mobile food business

If you are planning to start a mobile food business where the mobile will be stored overnight at an address in Babergh or Mid Suffolk this is what you need to do.

Do I need to let anyone know of my plans?

Yes you do. You will need to register as a food business with Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s Food and Safety Team. You are also advised to contact Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s Development Management (Planning) Team, the local Highways Authority, and the Police.

It may seem a bit over the top for a simple mobile food premises!

But planning and street trading restrictions mean you could risk being moved on from your chosen trading location or even being subject to enforcement action if you have not obtained the necessary permissions.

When I am not trading, can I park my van/trailer wherever I like?

Not necessarily. When not in use your van or trailer is likely to be kept in a different place to where you normally trade. This is often your home address.  Planning permission may be required to store the mobile at your home address if this would amount to a ‘change of use’ of your property or affect the character of the area where you live. Please refer to Development Management (Planning).

Are there any other instances where planning permission may be required?

If you regularly trade on land which is privately owned, even if you have permission from the landowner, planning permission may be required, as this may also be seen as a change of use of that land. In both cases you should seek advice from Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s Development Management (Planning) Team. Most mobile food premises trade on the public highway. In this case consent should be sought from the Highways Department at Suffolk County Council prior to pitching your van or trailer.

Other issues that need to be considered?

One is to ensure that your trading location does not cause an obstruction or nuisance. Whilst your location may appear suitable, your business may indirectly create a nuisance (for example your customers’ parked cars could cause an obstruction). In such circumstances you may be asked to move elsewhere. To reduce the risk of this occurring you are advised to notify the Police of your intentions. You should also be aware of the prohibitions and restrictions on street trading that apply in certain areas.

Once you have addressed all the issues above you need to consider how you will comply with food safety legislation.

How should the mobile be fitted out?

  • You need to ensure that the design, construction and condition of your mobile enables it to be kept clean. Surfaces in contact with food must be in sound condition and be easy to clean (made of smooth, washable, corrosion-resistant, and non-toxic materials).
  • You must also have an adequate supply of potable water, and appropriate means of disposing of waste.
  • You must have facilities for washing hands which are provided with hot and cold water, soap and hygienic drying facilities. It is best practice to have hot and cold (or appropriately mixed) running water. However if this is not possible then other arrangements such as provision of an urn for heating water and containers of cold water for mixing are acceptable. Hand washing facilities must be separate from the facilities for washing utensils and equipment.

Do I need formal training in food hygiene?

In most cases yes, although if you are an experienced caterer this may be sufficient. You must have an adequate knowledge of food safety to ensure that you handle food safely. If you are in any doubt contact the Food and Safety Team for advice. If you will have other food handlers working with you then training them in your documented food safety management system may be adequate.

The documented food safety management system

This is a document that covers all the food safety hazards relevant to your operation along with the controls you will put in place to prevent them. Whilst you can produce your own food safety management system from scratch if you prefer, the Food Standards Agency has produced an easy to use document called Safer Food Better Business: Download the Safer Food Better Business document. You fill the blanks in the Safe Methods to personalise the document to your business and complete the diary every day that you trade to demonstrate that you are putting the Safe Methods into practice. When you are inspected you will be given a Food Hygiene Rating. View Food Hygiene ratings. It is particularly important that your documented food safety management system is in place and being put into practice as without this your rating will be at best ‘1 – Major Improvement Necessary’. If you need any advice ahead of your first inspection to ensure that you get a good rating, officers from the Food and Safety Team will be happy to assist. If you are registered with Babergh or Mid Suffolk but always trade outside of the districts then responsibility for issuing a hygiene rating may be transferred to another local authority.

  • You are required to provide information to your customers on allergenic ingredients in the food you sell. Information on how to comply is available on the Trading Standards website 
  • You must ensure that raw foods and ready to eat foods are stored and handled separately to prevent cross-contamination. Detailed advice is available on the FSA website
  • You may wish to consider joining the National Caterers Association as a source of advice and support.

You must comply with health and safety legislation, for example by making sure gas and electric appliances have been installed by a competent person and are maintained so they are safe to use. Advice is available from the HSE website

Home Cake-Making Businesses

Our cake makers and home caterers guidance is intended for anyone who runs a low-risk food business from home making cakes, biscuits, traybakes etc. This may include preparing food to sell in shops and markets or selling direct to members of the public. 

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have produced guidance on Starting a food business from home which can be read in conjunction with the information given here.

You should also take the following into consideration before you start your business:

Planning permission

You may need planning permission to run a business from home, so take advice from our Planning department.

Business rates

You may have to pay increased rates if you use part of your property for a business. More advice on business rates.


Just in case things go wrong, we strongly recommend that you take out insurance to cover claims against you (third party insurance) in the same way as any other business. You should consult your solicitor or insurance broker about this.

Restrictive covenants

Especially in older properties, you may find that the deeds contain clauses that prevent you from carrying out certain activities and running a food business may be one of them. You should consult your solicitor about this.

Mortgage restrictions

If you have a mortgage on your property you must contact your lender and talk to them about your intentions. If you rent your property, you should consult your landlord.

Waste removal

If your business generates significant amounts of waste, you may need to arrange a trade waste contract. More information about commercial waste.