Apply for a food business licence

If you are starting a new food business, you may need a food business licence from Brisbane City Council. If you are taking over an existing food business that already has a licence, you will need to apply for a new one as the existing licence is not transferrable.

Have questions?

Call the Business Hotline on
133 BNE (133 263)

Before you apply

Pre-lodgement advisory service

Want to check your application before you submit it? Council provides an advisory service for new and existing businesses where you can speak with an Environmental Health Officer about meeting the requirements of the food safety standards and ensure any future application is properly made. To book this service please submit a Food Business Licence Application.

Advisory fee (per service or application)
Consultation and report - up to 2 hours$347.50
On-site visit and report - up to 2 hours$610.45

How to apply

Find what you need

  • Check if you need a food business licence, and which type per location where you will be preparing or serving food.
  • If you are required to submit a food safety program, prepare the program separately and include as part of your application.
  • Decide who you will nominate as food safety supervisor/s, which you can nominate in your application. These individuals should have food safety training.

Before you apply (optional)

Ready to apply

  • Apply online and pay the relevant application fee.

After you submit

  • Prepare for inspection - an Environmental Health officer will contact you to book and conduct an inspection. Use the Eat Safe checklist to prepare accordingly. This should be when all your fit-outs are complete.
  • Commence trading - if approved, you will receive your licence and your Eat Safe star rating, and you can open your doors to customers.

Taking over an existing business

If you are taking over an existing food business that already has a food business licence, you will need to apply for a new licence. The existing food business licence (and any additional consent such as commercial activity on a Council road, or footpath dining) cannot be transferred to a new owner or operator. The new owner or operator must apply and receive approval for a food business licence before they start trading. 

Do your research before finalising the sale

If the food business you are buying is currently operating, it is highly recommended to request an inspection report from Council to get as much information as you can before the sale is finalised or contracts are signed. This is not mandatory, but is very helpful when considering purchasing a business.

  • Check the Eat Safe Brisbane listing
  • Request a pre-sale inspection report outlining the current compliance status of the premises/activity if you need to demonstrate compliance for an insurance or bank application.
    • You will need to obtain a letter of consent to the inspection report from the current permit holder/operator. 
    • Apply for an Inspection Report from Council

Inspection report fee 

Inspection report$599.45

Check that any renovations meet requirements

If you are making any changes to the premises, particularly to the food preparation or storage areas, or replacing large appliances, then the layout must meet the requirements of the Food Safety Standard 3.2.3 - Food Premises and Equipment.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need design approval?

No, design approval is no longer a required step for your application, however the inspection will still assess if you meet the fit-out requirements for your food preparation areas.

Do I need a Food Safety Program?

Under the Food Act 2006, licensed food businesses that are required to have an accredited food safety program include:

Before I submit the application, can someone confirm I filled it in correctly?

Yes, Council provides a service to help you review your application before you lodge and pay the fee. Book a meeting through Council’s Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263). There is a fee for this advisory session.

I am taking over an existing food business, how soon can I get a licence?

Once you have completed settlement, you will then be able to lodge your application. You may lodge prior to settlement, but the inspection or issuing of the licence can only happen after settlement. 

We recommend you apply 30 days before you are ready to open for business.

How long before I get an inspection?

Once you lodge your application, the assigned Environmental Health Officer will contact you within a few days to arrange the date and time for the inspection.

Preparing for inspection after application

Once you have applied, an Environmental Health Officer will contact you and confirm how to proceed. If you have not heard from Council within a week of applying, call Council to follow up.

You can arrange for the inspection with the Environmental Health Officer one week before you are ready to start trading, and when any design fit-outs are complete. The Environmental Health Officer will conduct an onsite inspection of your food business prior to issuing you with a food business licence, and will also assign you a food safety star rating for Eat Safe Brisbane program. Consider these requirements:

Is there a chance I do not get approved when I apply, when the previous operator had approval?

If you are taking over a currently licenced food business, you should not assume your application will automatically get approved. There may be requirements that have changed, or alterations to the premises that had not been approved. You also need to be considered as a suitable person to hold a food business licence. Check that your fit-out meets the requirements

Does my food business licence need to be displayed?

Yes, your current food business licence and its prescribed details and conditions must be displayed in a prominent position, so it is easily visible to the public.

How can the Eat Safe star rating reduce my annual fees?

You can get a bigger discount for higher Eat Safe star ratings. Your renewal fee is based on the lowest Eat Safe star rating you receive within the renewal period.

If you achieve 5-star rating (highest), this would help you get up to 50% off your renewal fees. Use this checklist to help you improve your Eat Star ratings.

What if I get my licence approved, but am actually not ready to start trading?

Once issued, your licence will be valid and in effect for a year so it is best to apply for it closer to when you expect to be ready to open your business.

How do I ensure the structure of my premises is appropriate?

When designing, building or fitting out new premises or making changes to an existing one, the design and layout must meet the requirements of the Food Act 2006 and the Food Safety Standards 3.2.3 – Food Premises and Equipment.

What if my application for a food business licence is not granted?

We recommend you use Council’s pre-lodgement advisory service to check that the application is correct and complete.

If my application is not approved, can I get a refund?

Refunds are not applicable if the application is refused.

I lost the copy of my certificate, how do I get a replacement? 

Contact Council on 07 3403 8888 to request a replacement certificate. A replacement licence certificate fee of $129.15 applies.

How can I track my application status?

If you haven’t heard from the assessing officer you can contact them directly for an update or contact Council on 07 3403 8888 to request an update.

I didn’t get the renewal reminder, what do I do?

Renewals are issued 60 days prior to the due date.  If you haven’t received your renewal notice, ensure that your postal address associated with the licence is correct.  You can contact Council via the Contact Centre to confirm postal address details are correct or to request that the renewal is reissued.

More information

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

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