Cafe, restaurant or takeaway

If you are opening a cafe, restaurant, takeaway or similar food business in a fixed location in Brisbane, you may require a licence from Brisbane City Council.

When you need a licence

As a general guide, any cafe, restaurant, takeaway or similar food business in a fixed location that prepares or handles unpackaged food for retail sale needs a licence.

Examples of food that are unpackaged or handled that require a licence include:

  • cut fruit or vegetables
  • fruit or vegetable juice processed at the place of sale
  • sausage sizzle or barbecue
  • cakes or biscuits with dairy fillings or icings
  • unpackaged takeaway foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, pizzas, hot chips or curry
  • unpackaged cooked pasta or lasagne
  • unpackaged yoghurt
  • any other unpackaged food, unless included in the exemptions.

For example, a cafe selling coffee and tea will need a food business licence if it also serves toast.

If you are a non-profit organisation, different rules may apply.

When a licence is not needed

As a general guide, you do not need a licence for a cafe, restaurant, takeaway or similar food business in a fixed location if:

  • you only handle packaged food
  • you only sell unpackaged snack food, including:
    • croissant, friands, doughnuts, muffins, churros, biscuits or cakes without dairy fillings or dairy icings
    • carob, chocolates, chocolate bars, confectionery, or muesli bars
    • dried vegetable chips, corn chips, potato chips, or nuts
    • pretzels, puffed rice, soy chips or toasted corn
    • meat jerky, dried or glazed fruit
  • you only sell whole fruit or vegetables
  • the only preparation carried out involves the grinding of coffee beans
  • you only sell the following, unless it forms a potentially hazardous food:
    • whole, crushed, puffed or toasted nuts, grains and seeds
    • quinoa, spices, dried herbs, tea leaves, coffee beans, cereals or cocoa
    • coconut, couscous, edible oil, flour, legumes, lentils, noodles, oats or pasta
    • preparations for spreading on bread such as honey, peanut butter, hazelnut spread, vegemite, marmalade and jam
    • sugar and syrups such as golden syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, malt syrup, glucose syrup and coconut syrup
  • you only sell drinks (other than fruit or vegetable juice processed at the place of sale), including:
    • tea or coffee
    • soft drinks
    • alcoholic drinks (you may still require a liquor licence from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation)
  • you only sell ice or flavoured ice, for example:
    • shaved ice or snow cones
    • slurpees.

For example, a cafe selling coffee and tea does not need a food business licence if it only serves pre-packaged cookies.


As a general guide, the fees in the table apply for the 2018-19 financial year for a new cafe, restaurant, takeaway or similar food business in a fixed location.

Table showing size of premises, design application fees, food licence fees and fees for food safety supervisor.
Size of premises Design application Food licence
Less than 250 square metres $380.85 $770.30
250-1000 square metres $622.95 $1052.15
Over 1000 square metres $826.25 $3287.80

These fees do not attract the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

If you require a food safety program for your business, an additional fee will apply.

How to apply

The application process has a number of steps. You can complete them all online using the application for food business approvals online form.

Before submitting an application, review helpful hints about preparing an application and common application problems to avoid.

The food business licence roadmap (PDF - 61kb) follows two stages. 

Stage 1: Application for design assessment

Lodge this application first using the application for food business approvals online form (pay with Visa or Mastercard). It will take approximately 20 business days to assess this stage. 

The requirements for a licensed kitchen are detailed in the design and fit-out guide for food businesses. Check the application process and assessment page of the Local Government Toolbox website for further information.

If you are taking over an existing food business with a licence, you do not need to lodge a design assessment application unless you are renovating the premises, or making changes to the fit-out.

Stage 2: Food business licence assessment

Once your design assessment is approved and fit-out has started, you must submit an application for a food business licence no more than 30 days before the desired start date of operation

Lodge your food business licence using the application for food business approvals online form (pay with Visa or Mastercard).

Before you can start operating, an environmental health officer will conduct a final site inspection.

Council will issue the food business licence when the completed fit-out has been approved.

Food safety program accreditation

You do not need food safety program accreditation for a cafe, restaurant or takeaway. However, if you are planning to do catering as a part of business, use the application for food business approvals online form to apply for the food safety program accreditation at the same time you lodge your food licence application.

Find out more about food safety programs.

Food safety supervisor notification

All licensable food businesses in Queensland must have a food safety supervisor. You can nominate this person when you make your licence application using the application for food business approvals online form. Alternatively you can apply by completing the hard copy forms. Otherwise you can nominate a Food Safety Supervisor by phoning the Business Hotline team on 133 BNE (133 263) within 30 days of permit issue.

Find out more about food safety supervisors.

Preparing for Council inspection

Before you start trading, a Council environmental health officer will conduct a final inspection to ensure the construction of the food premises is in accordance with the approved design plans. To arrange your final inspection, contact Council approximately one week before construction is due to finish.

To limit delays, use the food business final inspection checklist (Word - 134kb) to confirm essential works are complete before final inspection.

Other approvals

You may need to consider planning approval for restaurants.

Council developed a food business checklist (Word - 110kb). The checklist helps you consider approvals you may need to start and operate a food business in a fixed location.

Application assessment

Prior to the food business licence being issued, Council will conduct a full Eat Safe audit of the premises. Find out more information about Eat Safe Brisbane.

More information

The Local Government Toolbox provides helpful tools and resources.

For further information, phone Council's Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Potentially hazardous food

You must store potentially hazardous food below 5 degrees celsius or above 60 degrees celsius to minimise the growth of bacteria in the food.

Examples of potentially hazardous food include:

  • raw and cooked meat or foods containing meat, such as casseroles, curries and lasagne
  • dairy products (e.g. milk, custard, dairy-based desserts)
  • seafood (excluding live seafood)
  • processed fruits and vegetables (e.g. salads)
  • cooked rice and pasta
  • foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein rich foods, such as quiche and soy products
  • foods that contain these foods such as sandwiches and rolls.
Last updated:15 May 2019