Food business registration

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The law requires that food business operators must register every separate unit of their food business establishment that carries out any of the stages of production, processing and distribution of food.

What constitutes a food business?

A 'food business' is any undertaking, whether for profit or not, and whether public or private - that carries out any activities related to any stage of production, processing and distribution of food. The term 'food' also includes drink. If you are unclear as to whether or not your business or activity falls into the definition the examples below should help you.

Examples where registration IS required:

  • Restaurants;
  • Hotels;
  • Cafés;
  • Shops;
  • Supermarkets;
  • Staff canteens;
  • Kitchens in offices;
  • Warehouses;
  • Guest houses;
  • Delivery vehicles;
  • Buffet cars on trains;
  • Market and other stalls;
  • Hot dog and ice cream vans
  • Regular, at least monthly provision of food requiring more complex safety control such as temperature control;
  • A sports club serving hot meals regularly during the season (e.g. football club serving food every other Saturday from September through to May);
  • Volunteers serving hot soup and sandwiches on regular basis to homeless and potentially vulnerable people;
  • Hot food served by volunteers on quarterly basis to larger numbers of vulnerable persons.

Examples where registration is NOT required:

  • A one-off event such as a church or school fete, or a street party.
  • Daily small-scale provision of low-risk foods by community / charity volunteers.
  • Scout or Guide camp lasting a few days at a time.
  • Provision of food by the members of a club or society for their shared consumption on an infrequent basis.
  • Amateur drama group serving low-risk food for audiences for limited periods.
  • A 'cooking club' where members bring in own food ingredients or pay the course leader to supply the foods. Those attending learn to cook using equipment in the hall and then all sit down to eat together or take food home.
  • A 'foraging course/event' or similar where a group of people gather wild products (e.g. wild garlic, nettles, rosehips for cordials, mushrooms, sloes for ‘sloe gin’) which are brought back to a hall and cooked or otherwise handled and eaten. Such courses may last a few hours and are held over weekends throughout the year and daily in July and August.

How to Register

The legal requirement to register is found in Article 6(2) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs.

Registration allows local authorities to keep an up-to-date list of food premises in their area so that they can plan inspections and target advice and other food safety activities. The frequency of inspection or other types of contact will depend on the type of businesses.

If the business address has a postcode beginning IP1, IP2, IP3, IP4, submit an application here:

Register online now

All other postcodes click here.

Please note:

  • If you use premises in more than one council area you must register each establishment with each council separately. Moveable establishments, such as ice cream vans and burger vans should be registered with the council in whose area the food business operator's vehicle is normally kept.
  • Seasonal businesses operating only for a certain period each year should give the dates between which they will be open in Question 6.
  • It is an offence to give information which you know is false.
  • Please make sure that you answer all of the questions in the application.
  • Incomplete or unsigned forms will be returned to you.
  • Establishments must be registered for 28 days before they are brought into use.
  • Registration is free and cannot be refused.

What happens to the information you provide

The details provided will be entered on our database. Ipswich Borough Council is required to keep a list of food business establishments registered with them. This list is available for inspection by the general public at all reasonable times.

The list contains the following information about each food business:

  • Name of food business operator;
  • Name of food business;
  • Address of the food business establishment;
  • Particulars and nature of the food business.

We may give or send a copy of the list or any entry on it to any person who makes a request for such information.

The Council must have regard to the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in relation to any information which it holds.

Updating your details

Food business operators must ensure the Council always has up-to-date information on their food business establishments and must notify the authority of any significant changes of activity, or closure.

Such notifications should be made, preferably in writing and before the changes occur, and in any event no later than 28 days after the change has occurred.

Notification of a change to the operator of a food business establishment should be made by the new business operator.

What happens next

If you are a small business you will usually receive a call from the Food Safety team to discuss the way forward and to give some initial advice. You will eventually receive an inspection at your premises and in most cases will receive a food hygiene rating.

Medium to large sized businesses will usually receive an inspection as the first contact, as initial advice is usually not necessary. Again a food hygiene rating will be given where appropriate. The target for such contacts is 28 days from the registration date, but this can vary widely dependant on available resources.

Businesses may trade following registration (although it is a requirement to ensure you have registered 28 days prior to your intention to start trading), but you must ensure you fully comply with the law – the fact that an inspection has not taken place is no defence against breaches of the law.

These notes are provided for information only and should not be regarded as a complete statement of the law.

Contact Details

Food Safety,
Ipswich Borough Council, 
Grafton House, 
15-17 Russell Road,

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01473 432000