Starting a Food Business in the ACT

Providing safe food to your customers is not only good for your business, it is also required by law. All organisations that prepare and serve food for the public have a responsibility to ensure safe food handling.

The Food Act 2001 contains the compliance requirements for food businesses operating within the ACT. 

The following table shows the registration requirements for selling food in the ACT:

Registration
  • All permanent food businesses
  • Non-profit community organisations selling food for service (e.g. school canteens)
Exempt from Registration
  • A food business that handles or sells food no more than 5 times a year, where each time is no longer than 3 days and where the food handled or sold is either:
    • non-potentially hazardous unpackaged food (e.g. plain scones, whole fruit at a festival); or
    • food sold straight after thorough cooking, for immediate consumption (e.g. barbecue stall).
  • A food business that handles or sells food in or from a food transport vehicle that is registered in another State/Territory (e.g. a food van registered in NSW);
  • A food business that transports food but does not handle or sell food (e.g. courier);
  • A food business that sells only food that is contained in a closed package and is non-potentially hazardous (e.g. chemist or newsagent);
Exempt from Registration and other requirements
  • Some non-profit community organisations are exempt from registration and the Food Act 2001, if they are run by volunteers and only sell food for fundraising purposes.
Declared Event Registration
  • All food businesses, including non-profit community organisations, operating at a declared event, unless they are already registered with the Health Protection Service.

On this page:

Registration

The Food Act 2001 requires most ACT food businesses to be registered with the Health Protection Service before opening. To register a food business the Food Business New Registration Application form below must be completed and submitted to the Health Protection Service.

A registration fee applies. The fee is based on the risk classification of the food business. Please see the Registration Information Sheet below to find out which category your business falls under.

Length of Registration
Risk Classification
Low Risk
Medium Risk
High Risk
1 Year
$127
$185
$249
2 Years
$254
$370
$498
3 Years
$381
$555
$747

Registration applications must be accompanied by plans and specifications of the food premises and an Application for Fit-out and Plan Assessment for consideration by a Public Health Officer. An inspection will be carried out before a new registration can be granted. Once the business is deemed to have met the requirements of the Food Standards Code and the Food Act 2001 a registration certificate is issued. This certificate must be publicly displayed at the food premises.

You can choose to register your business for 1, 2 or 3 years. The Health Protection Service mails a reminder notice 3-4 weeks prior to the registration renewal date. 

It is an offence to operate a food business without a valid registration unless the food business is exempt from registration.

Note: Registered food businesses must appoint an appropriately trained Food Safety Supervisor. Certain non-profit community organisations are exempt from this requirement. For more information, visit the Food Safety Supervisors webpage.

Construction and Fit Out of a Food Business Premises

The construction and layout of a food business are important to food safety. As such, suitably detailed plans and specifications must be submitted to the Health Protection Service and an inspection carried out before a new registration can be granted.

If you want to build a food business or alter the structure of an existing food premises you must submit an Fit-out Assessment Application Form along with suitably detailed plans. These plans are assessed by a Public Health Officer to ensure their compliance with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Forms and plans should be submitted to the Health Protection Service before work commences.

Businesses Exempt from Registration

Some food businesses in the ACT are exempt from registration. However, these food businesses are still required to comply with the the Food Act 2001.

The following food businesses are exempt from registration:

  • A food business that handles or sells food no more than 5 times a year, where each time is no longer than 3 days and where the food handled or sold is either:
    • non-potentially hazardous unpackaged food (e.g. plain scones, whole fruit at a festival); or
    • food sold straight after thorough cooking, for immediate consumption (e.g. barbecue stall).
  • A food business that handles or sells food in or from a food transport vehicle that is registered in another State/Territory (e.g. a food van registered in NSW).
  • A food business that transports food but does not handle or sell food (e.g. courier).
  • A food business that sells only food that is contained in a closed package and is non-potentially hazardous (e.g. chemist or newsagent).

The Health Protection Service strongly encourages all stall operators to complete free online I’M ALERT food safety training. For more information visit the I’M ALERT food safety webpage.

Note: prior to 20 April 2015, food businesses exempt from registration were required to notify the Health Protection Service of their intention to operate. After 20 April 2015, these food businesses are no longer required to notify.

Registration Requirements for Community Organisations

Non-profit community organisations that sell food for fundraising purposes are exempt from the requirements of the Food Act 2001. This means that these organisations do not have to register with the Health Protection Service or appoint a food safety supervisor, unless operating at a declared event. For further information, including a definition of ‘community organisation’ visit the Requirements for Community Organisations webpage.

Declared Event Registration

Some larger events that pose a higher public health risk may be declared by the Minister for Health to be regulated under the Food Act 2001. All food stalls, operating at a declared event, including non-profit community organisations selling food for fundraising, must register with the Health Protection Service and appoint a food safety supervisor.

For further information about declared event registration requirements visit the Declared Events in the ACT webpage.

Forms and Resources for New Food Businesses

Forms

Apply online

 

 

Food Business - Registration Application

Food Business - Fit-out Assessment Application Form

Food Business - Final Fit-out Inspection Checklist

 

Resources

Food Business - Registration Information Sheet

Food Safety is Your Business Booklet

Food Stalls Guidelines