Starting a Food Business

You are required by law to ensure safe food handling if your business prepares and serves food for the public. The Food Act 2001 includes compliance requirements for food businesses operating within the ACT. The table below shows the registration requirements for selling food in the ACT.

You are required by law to ensure safe food handling if your business prepares and serves food for the public.

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

The table below 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.

 

Registration

Most ACT food businesses need to register with the Health Protection Service before opening. You can do this by completing the Access Canberra online Food Business New Registration Application Form.

A registration fee applies and is based on the risk classification of your business. Please see the Registration Information Sheet below for each category.

Length of Registration Risk Classification
Low Risk Medium Risk High Risk
1 Year $132 $192 $259
2 Years $264 $384 $518
3 Years $396 $576 $777

All applications must be accompanied by your food premises plans. ACT Health also performs an inspection before granting new registrations.

A registration certificate is sent to you once your business has met all requirements of the Food Standards Code and the Food Act 2001. You must display this certificate publicly at your business.

Businesses can be registered for one, two or three years. We will send you a reminder notice 3 to 4 weeks before your registration renewal date.

All registered food businesses must nominate a Food Safety Supervisor who is trained appropriately. Some 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 assists in the designing of new food businesses.

The guide outlines minimum construction requirements and best practice recommendations in line with the Food Act 2001.

We recommend all food business owners, designers and builders use this guide as a reference when working with food premises.

Please Note: All applicants should contact the Health Protection Service in the early stages of planning and design to discuss fit-out requirements.

Businesses Exempt from Registration

Certain businesses are exempt from registration. These include:

  • businesses that handle or sell food no more than 5 times a year, for longer than 3 days and where the food is unpackaged and non-hazardous or sold straight after thorough cooking
  • businesses that handle or sell food in or from a food transport vehicle that is registered in another State/Territory
  • businesses that transport food but do not handle or sell food
  • businesses that only sell food contained in closed packaging and is non-potentially hazardous

We strongly encourage all stall operators to complete free online I’M ALERT food safety training. You can access this via the Food Safety programs, training and resources page.

Registration Requirements for Community Organisations

Non-profit community organisations who sell food for fundraising purposes are exempt from the requirements of the Food Act 2001.

This means you do not need to register with the Health Protection Service or nominate a Food Safety Supervisor unless you are operating at a declared event.

For more information, please see Requirements for Community Organisations

Page last updated on: 26 Oct 2018