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, complete the online Food Business New Registration Application form below.

A registration fee applies. The fee is based on the risk classification of the food business. 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 food premises plans.  An inspection will be carried out before a new registration is granted. Once the business has 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 send a reminder notice 3-4 weeks prior to the registration renewal date. 

It is an offence to operate a registerable food business without a registration.

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.

Food Business Construction and Fit-out

The ACT Food Business Fit-out Guide has been developed to assist in designing new food businesses. The guide outlines minimum construction requirements and best practice recommendations to ensure food business fit-outs comply with the Food Act 2001 and support the production of safe food. Food business proprietors, designers and builders should use this guide as a reference when working with food premises.

Applicants should contact the Health Protection Service at the earliest stages of planning and design to discuss their fit-out requirements.

Businesses Exempt from Registration

Some food businesses are exempt from registration.  These food businesses still have to comply with 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.

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

Forms and Resources for New Food Businesses

Apply online

 

Resources

Food Business - Registration Information Sheet

Food Safety is Your Business Booklet

ACT Food Business Fit-out Guide

Food Stalls Guidelines